Take me to the river, and be quick

How long does it take to get by train from the British capital to the banks of the River Seine in Paris? A mere three hours, according to the short-break specialist Travelscene. "In just three hours from London Waterloo, you can be cruising down the Seine," its brochure claims. So we tried this out.

Despite the strength of the franc, Paris remains by far the most popular city break for travellers from Britain. One reason is Eurostar, the high- speed passenger train through the Channel tunnel, and Travelscene runs a whole programme based on these.

Yet, as our eagle-eyed slogan scrutiniser has remarked in the past about claims of 200mph Eurostar trains, they are not that quick. We found that the fastest possible journey between the two capitals is six minutes short of three hours. Even if you are at the front of the quarter-mile-long train and are first past the barrier at the Gare du Nord, the nearest boat embarkation point is more than six minutes away by taxi, Metro or even motorcycle.

The claim could be made for train travel in the opposite direction - "Gare du Nord to the Thames in three hours" - because Jubilee Pier is a two-minute jog from Waterloo Station. But if you are determined to do the Waterloo-to-waterborne trip, you could devise it for yourself: the train to Gatwick (45 minutes), flight to Charles de Gaulle (90 minutes, including check-in, with a following wind and good connections) and train from there (30 minutes to the waterside station), should see you on board a few minutes ahead of the three-hour limit. Then you can sit back and wave at the puffed-out Euro-trainers who have missed the boat.

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