How to Travel From London to Paris by Train, Bus, Plane, and Car

Champs-Élysées aerial view, Paris (France)
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The withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU), a move known as "Brexit," formally occurred on January 31, 2020. Following that departure is a transition period lasting until December 31, 2020, during which the UK and EU will negotiate the terms of their future relationship. This article has been updated as of the January 31 withdrawal, and you can find up-to-date information about details of the transition on the UK's government website.

With only around 300 miles (483 kilometers) and the English Channel separating the capitals of England and France, it has never been easier, or quicker, to travel from London to Paris. This is great news for anyone hoping to spend time in both cities during a longer trip to Europe—or even a shorter one.

  Time Cost Best For
Train 2 hours, 20 minutes from $62 Sometimes faster than flying
Bus 8 hours, 45 minutes from $18 Budget travel
Flight 1 hour, 15 minutes from $56 Shortest time spent in transit
Car 5 hours, 30 minutes 287 miles (462 kilometers) A unique road trip

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Paris?

BlaBlaBus is the bus company that offers the cheapest tickets to get from London to Paris with fares starting at just $18. Other bus companies that typically offer low fares include Eurolines and FlixBus. The bus ride is pretty long and takes at least eight hours, 45 minutes, but the good news is that buses from London to Paris are usually direct and don't make too many stops along the way. They also run frequently and there are multiple departures daily across all the bus lines.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Paris?

Some may argue that it is actually faster to take the high-speed train to Paris once you factor in the time it takes you to get to the airport and through security, but technically, flying is still the quickest mode of transportation. A direct flight takes just one hour, 15 minutes and because London and Paris are two of Europe's largest and most important cities, many airlines operate multiple direct flights throughout the day.

International carriers including British Airways and Air France offer daily flights to Paris, as do regional and budget airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet. Easily connecting London and the French capital, these flights land at either Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or Orly Airport (ORY). Flights to Beauvais Airport located in the far outskirts of Paris tend to come with less expensive fares, but you'll need to plan on at least one extra hour to get into central Paris and in this case, taking the train would definitely be faster.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

Despite the body of water that separates the British Isles from Continental Europe, it is possible to drive from London to Paris and it will take you at least five hours, 30 minutes. Thanks to the world's longest undersea tunnel, the Channel Tunnel (also known as "the Chunnel"), you can actually drive underneath the English Channel to cross into France. If you drive, it will take you about 35 minutes to get through the 31 mile- (50 kilometer-) long Chunnel, but you won't actually be driving. Your car will be loaded onto a carriage train and you can ride out the journey with your car parked. The train even has restroom facilities, so this is a great opportunity to squeeze in a bathroom break. Be aware that crossing the Chunnel in a car will cost about $55 each way. Alternatively, you could also take your car across on the ferry that travels between Dover, England and Calais, France, and will cost at least $60 each way.

Unless you need to get your car from the UK to Continental Europe, driving is the least efficient way to travel between London and Europe in terms of travel time and cost. However, the Chunnel is certainly a modern marvel of engineering and an experience worth having in itself.

How Long Is the Train Ride?

You can get to Paris from London in about two hours, 30 minutes via the high-speed Eurostar train, which also traverses the English channel via the Chunnel. With tickets starting at $62, the London to Paris route on the Eurostar leaves from the St. Pancras International Station and arrives at Paris Gare du Nord Station. Some trains will make stops in the towns of Ashford, Calais, and Lille among others, but most are direct.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Paris?

As the saying goes, "Paris is always a good idea," but there are better times than others to visit Paris. To avoid the city at the height of its summer heat or during its cold and sometimes snowy winters, you should plan to visit Paris during the Spring or Fall. This is also the time of year when the crowds of tourists are at their thinnest. Although, Christmastime is also a good time to see the City of Lights even more lit up in festive lights than at other times of year.

If you're hoping to catch Paris in an exciting moment, you may consider traveling there for Fashion Week, which happens twice a year in February and September, or the Tour de France in July, the cross-country bike race that always finishes in Paris. July is also a great time to be in France to experience the festive patriotism of Bastille Day on July 14, which is basically the French equivalent of the American Fourth of July.

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Paris?

Americans do not need a visa to enter the UK, France, or any country part of the EU, but you will still need a valid passport to take travel between the two countries. If you're a citizen of one of the EU member states, you may still use a valid I.D. card from your home country in lieu of a passport, but it's strongly recommended that you bring a passport. With Brexit negotiations currently underway, there have been scattered reports of tougher border security checks from UK officers.

What Time Is It in Paris?

At any time of year, Paris is always one hour ahead of London. As soon as you cross over from the UK into France, you will be leaving the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is at UTC +0 and entering the Central European Time (CET), which is at UTC +1. During daylight savings time, the UK changes its clocks at the same time as France, so you don't have to be concerned about that.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

From both Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports, you can take the commuter train (RER) into Paris, which will arrive in about 30 to 45 minutes. There is also an express bus from each airport that may be slightly cheaper than the train.

What Is There to Do in Paris?

In addition to the major tourist attractions of this metropolis, it's easy for anyone to find a niche that appeals to them in Paris, whether that means spending time scouting out independent bookstores or looking for street murals painted by world-class artists.

You can also dedicate your trip to thoroughly exploring a particular neighborhood, such as the Pigalle District or Montparnasse. Or, if you're feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of well-reviewed restaurants in Paris, consider signing up for a food tour that will give you the best sample of what the city has to offer. Depending on what you like, you could choose a tour that focuses on one particular part of French cuisine, such as chocolate and pastries or a wine and cheese experience.

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