A look into the ways to travel London to Paris (and the other way around) by train, ferries & train, as well as buses.
Train from London to Paris
Taking a train for the route between London and Paris is today the most popular alternative to traveling these two metropolitan areas…
…especially since Eurostar trains started to use (on the London side) the station of St. Pancras, shortening total travel times to just 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Eurostar, which has been available since 1994, is the bullet train passenger connection between London and Paris, traveling through thechannel tunnel (www.eurotunnel.com).
The channel tunnel, Eurotunnel, is operated by a consortium of French Railways (SNCF), Belgian Railways (SNCB), and Eurostar UK Ltd.
You should keep in mind that Eurostar provides transportation only topassengers, not for vehicles.
The total distance on the train route between Paris and London is around495 km, so these are quite fast trains, with the journey taking just a little over 2 hours.
On both ends, the train stations are centrally located, with the Eurostar traveling from central London – St Pancras (www.stpancras.com) — to similarly central Paris Gare du Nord station…
…and you’ll have your pick of traveling times, as Eurostar trains travel every day at a frequency of about once every hour.
The trains’ itinerary includes…
- starting from the British side, first through Kent,
- spending about 20 minutes on the channel tunnel, continuing
- to Northern France, with many trains
- stopping first at Lille, before
- continuing to Paris.
Ticket sales to the Eurostar trains open 120 days before the day of travel, for each departure.
You may purchase tickets and view timetables from the the officialEurostar website, at www.eurostar.com. Alternatively, their customer service phone number can help you on a ticket purchase.
Once the tickets are purchased, you can print them to take with you, or you can collect the tickets from the station before departure, using the e-ticket machines.
Final check-ins to the Eurostar trains take place 30 minutes before departure (10 minutes for full price 1st class passengers)…
…with check-in opening an hour before train’s departure time.
The check-in happens by either using your ticket on the automatic entrance gates within the departure lounge…or, you place the (printed) ticket to the barcode scanner at the ticket gate.
Alternatively, there are manned check-in kiosks, which you should use if you have trouble in registering the ticket, or if you want to change your seating arrangement.
Once you’ve cleared the check-in, there is an airport-like (but faster)security check, after which you’ll be able to board the train.
PHOTO: Eurostar train at the London – St. Pancras station.
To plan your train trip between Paris and London, and to browse through what the first and second class wagons are like, you can use a virtual tour to the trains, available from www.eurostar.com.
You can also plan your seating within the train by looking at the available seatplan documentation for the trains at:
Once you’ve boarded, you can enjoy from the in-train services, which include (on both of the classes) of two restaurant wagons, with tea, coffee, and small snacks.
If you are staying at the 1st class, to charge your laptop / cell phone, the alternatives include British and European plugs.
Of the second class wagons, however, only two wagons have these plugs (the locations are listed at Eurostar’s website).
Train + Ferry + Train London to Paris
While trains are popular way to travel Paris-London, you may also use a train + ferry + train between the two cities.
Before the channel tunnel, in fact, using a ferry & train was the regular way of getting to the British/French side.
Using the train + ferry + train combo, the trip will take around 9 hours, but the time is well spend, as the sights along the route are very nice…
…and include the famous white cliffs of Dover.
Ferry companies that make carry passengers on the channel include P&O Ferries (www.poferries.com), and they use the traditional route, Dover-Calais.
Bus London Paris
Taking a bus between London and Paris is often the cheapest choice of the alternatives….but the “price” is that the travel times are often long…
…typically about 8.5 – 9 hours, and bus seating may feel cramped.
My favorite bus line on the route is Eurolines, and they are, in fact, a reliable bus company for most of Europe, not just for the bus routes London to Paris.
You can purchase Eurolines tickets from their official website, at eurolines.com, or by visiting one of the ticket kiosks (or a reseller) in person.
PHOTO: Eurolines bus in Paris.
Another reputable bus company for the route is Busabout (www.busabout.com).
Busabout specializes in backpacker bus travel, offering some of the cheapest bus connections for this route…so you should check their offers out before settling on any one alternative.