Hot-foot it to St Pancras, buy a ticket, board the Eurostar, and you could be swanning down the Champs-Élysées or loafing through the Jardin du Luxembourg in a little over 2 hours.
Not quick enough for you? What if the journey time was reduced to under two hours. Impossible? Not according to Air France who, despite their aviation-inspired name, are planning to run trains through the Channel Tunnel when Eurostar's monopoly ends in 2010. According to the French flag carrier, they will unleash a new fleet of high-speed trains linking London to Paris in just shy of 120 minutes, at a speed of 224mph, 38mph nippier than the current trains.
Across Europe train travel has the upper hand right now: while airlines flounder and struggle to fill seats, Eurostar can barely keep up with demand, and this year they have seen a considerable increase in passenger numbers. While professing to "welcome" competition from the airline industry, Eurostar chiefs also claimed that current speed limits are due to track limitations, a notion poo-poohed by an engineer who surmised that the new TGV stock could indeed run at the mooted speeds.
While competition for cross-Channel rail is good news for passengers, it's worth noting that Virgin Atlantic are also contemplating a high-speed rail bid: a thought to chill the bones of anyone who's had the misfortune to be stuck crawling through the countryside on one of Branson's infernal railway contraptions.