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London and Paris are two of Europe’s biggest tourist destinations, just a few hours away from each other by road or rail; about an hour’s distance in the air. Barring car travel, there are three ways to make the journey between the two capitals: by air, by rail and by road.
But what about the train-ferry combination, the one many may recall fondly from their childhoods? It is still feasible, but these days it is not a streamlined option. You’ll need to purchase train and ferry tickets separately and finesse train station-port transportation on your own. The journey will also take 10 hours, so it’s best to leave that option to your memories.
Related: England to France by ferry options
Here are the most viable and cheapest ways to get between these two European centers.
Though flying between London and Paris is by no means our recommended mode of transportation—the distance is simply too short to warrant the hassle, not to mention the carbon expenditure—there are a few ways to get between these two dynamic capital cities by air. These days the Paris-London route is used disproportionately for passengers connecting on to a long-haul destination, with the exception of business travelers flying in and out of London City Airport. That said, we did find one-way fares for around £40 to £50 searching on EuroCheapo a few months in advance, but of course that doesn’t include all of the rail or taxi fares in between the airports and the city center.
• From London Gatwick, easyJet flies to Paris-Charles de Gaulle.
• From London Luton, easyJet flies to Paris-Charles de Gaulle. We found one-way fares two months in advance for as low as €38.99.
• From London Heathrow, Air France flies to Paris-Charles de Gaulle, while British Airways flies to both Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly.
• From London City Airport, Air France partner CityJet flies to Paris-Orly. This is the fastest route door to door with a 20 minute ride from central London via Dockland Light Railway to LCY and then 45 to 60 minutes to Orly from the center of Paris via RER.
The experience feels a bit like air travel, with its security checks and passport control in both directions. (Because the UK is not part of the Schengen Area, passengers go through passport control prior to boarding their trains. Traveling from Paris to London, passengers first exit France through French passport control and then enter the UK via British passport control. In London, passengers will officially enter France in the station, submitting passports to French passport control before boarding their train to Paris.)
From London, return Eurostar London-Paris fares begin at a very reasonable £69 round trip. Booking nonrefundable tickets as far as possible in advance (up to 120 days) is your best bet for finding this low-cost fare.
For those who don’t need their sleep, there is also a cheap NightClubber ticket. It restricts travel from late Saturday afternoon onwards, with a return commencing on Sunday morning before noon; these also tend to sell out far in advance.
The bus is by far the least expensive way to travel between Paris and London. It also takes much longer than a flight or the train. Megabus, Eurolines and iDBUS are three major bus lines traveling between the two capitals. The Megabus journey takes nine hours; the Eurolines journey takes between seven and a half to eight and a half hours. French iDBUS takes between seven and a half and nine hours. All three lines advertise free Wi-Fi.
One-way Megabus fares begin at £1.50, including booking fee. The Megabus terminal in London is Victoria Coach Station; the Megabus Paris terminal is the Porte Maillot Coach park.
One-way Eurolines fares begin at £31. The Eurolines terminal in London is Victoria Coach Station; the Paris terminal is Gallieni.
iDBUS, a subsidiary of French train company SNCF, is a more comfortable option, with good legroom and sockets. Fares begin at £31 for a one-way journey—promotional one-way fares dip as low as £25. In The iDBUS terminal in London is Victoria Coach Station; the iDBUS Paris terminal is Paris-Bercy.
How do you prefer to travel between London and Paris? Have any tips on ways to save on any of the transport options listed above? Share your tips with us in the comments section!