#travel to paris
Which is the cheapest way to get from London to Paris – car, Eurostar, coach or plane?
There are many different ways to get to Paris. Today, we did a spot check comparison on as many of them as possible, including rail fares, plane tickets, car – including options by ferry or by Eurotunnel – and by coach.
We should sound a note of caution in that some tickets are for travelling on a Friday (see methodology below), often the most expensive day to travel, which will distort the results somewhat. But they give a sound indication of how budget-conscious travellers should plan their journey to the French capital, whether travelling in the short-term or several months down the line.
Prices checked are for a single adult, with no discount cards
Prices were checked on the morning of Friday September 4, for full adult fare, both single and return journey (four days after outbound trip). Airfares are hand-luggage only.
We have not included the cost of airport transfers for Easyjet and Ryanair. But a return train ticket from Charles de Gaulle to Gare du Nord will cost about 20, and from central London to London Gatwick is at least £10, and likely to cost more, unless booked in advance.
What we have learned (or confirmed)
On the launch of its international routes three years ago, Megabus (megabus.com ) carved a reputation for value with its headline £1 fares. However, when we carried out this same research last year, we found that the cheapest coach to Paris was run by iDBUS (now rebranded as OUIBUS; ouibus.com ). But wait, there’s more: for 2015, Megabus has reclaimed its throne, again providing the cheapest route on wheels to the French capital.
Both budget coach companies trump the National Express arm, Eurolines (eurolines.co.uk )
It’s also worth noting that travel company’s websites have become pretty good at pointing you in the direction of the cheapest fare, so it’s no longer necessary to be suspicious they’re hiding the best value.
For Eurostar (eurostar.com ), Friday is an expensive time to travel: the cheapest fare available was often £30 more expensive than the same for the previous or following day (a Thursday or Saturday). This is particularly true when booking in advance.
The same goes for Eurotunnel (eurotunnel.com ), only to a lesser extent, with only a couple of pounds variation between the cheapest ticket available for next Thursday (£76) and Friday (£78). As per usual, the most anti-social travel times wins you the best deals.
P O Ferries (poferries.com ) is marginally more expensive than Eurotunnel in our study.
The cliffs of Normandy await ferry passengers Photo: Fotolia/AP
Eurostar booked well in advance is still very competitive – only £33.50 more than the cheapest return by coach. Plus, the coach services we surveyed had an erratic approach to advance bookings, with no clear timeline available, where Eurostar allows bookings 180 days in advance.
Obtaining one of the limited number of cheap seats on the Eurostar plays a large part in determining the size of your final bill (fail to book a discount seat on Eurostar and the prices rise steeply).
However, it costs similar to easyJet and becomes a much better deal once you take into account transfers to the airport.
For drivers, Viamichelin is a terrific website. As well as the route, it calculates your likely fuel costs, and tells you how much to expect to pay for tolls. Impressive.
Travel times vary for coaches surprisingly widely (up to two hours), and consider just how much you fancy eight hours in a coach before being lured by the prices.
Group travel can be an advantage. OUIBUS, for example, offers discounts for groups of more than 10. And as for travelling by car, if several (paying) people are in the same vehicle, it is almost without question the best deal of all no matter when you travel (without taking into account any additional fees for travel insurance/ roadside assistance).
Note too that the Man in Seat Sixty-One has an interesting option if you wish to travel by train, ferry, then train again. Surprisingly it s not the shorter route via Calais that is cheapest, but a longer way, via Newhaven to Dieppe. Read full details of his suggested train-ferry-train combination here
Spot research comparison table in full
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