If you're planning a trip from Madrid to Paris, you may be wondering whether it's best to get there by plane or train. Perhaps you're even considering renting a car and enjoying some scenery along the way. Madrid is roughly 650 miles from Paris, which may lead you to assume that flying is the best option.
This certainly is the most pragmatic and convenient choice if you need to get from one point to the next as quickly as possible. However, if you have a bit more time to enjoy, taking the train or renting a car is by far a more picturesque, and potentially more relaxing and enjoyable, way of traveling.
Flying: the Pros and Cons
International carriers including Iberia Airlines and Lufthansa and low-cost regional companies such as Vueling and Air Europa offer daily flights from Madrid to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport or Orly Airport. Flights to Beauvais Airport located in the far outskirts of Paris tend to be a cheaper option, but you'll need to plan on at least an extra hour and fifteen minutes to get to central Paris.
On the plus side, flying is quick and can be cheaper than taking the train, especially if you book with low-cost airlines. On the downside, when you factor in time to check backs, go through security, and waiting for takeoff and approach to the final gate, flying can take many more hours than it initially "seems" to. What's more, there are no airports in Paris that are less than 40 mn to an hour outside the city-- so you'll need to add that time to your trip as well.
What About Travelling by Train?
You can get to the city of light from Madrid in roughly 13 hours via a direct night train serviced by Elipsos on the Spanish side, and the French rail company SNCF on the French side. If you dislike flying and enjoy the old-world appeal of long train rides, this might be the right choice for you.
The downside of taking the train? Those direct night routes from Madrid to Paris are scarce, and connecting trains will likely be complicated. You should be a big lover of trains-- or a dedicated hater of planes-- to choose this mode of travel.
Should I Rent a Car Instead?
It can take 12 hours or more to get to Paris by car from the Spanish capital, but as long as you don't mind being behind the wheel and navigating traffic rules in two different European countries, driving can be a nice way to see northern Spain and France. Expect to pay somewhat hefty toll fees at several points throughout the trip, however.
Arriving in Paris by Plane? Ground Transport Options
If you're arriving in Paris by plane, you'll need to figure out how to get to the center of the city from the airports. Read our complete guide to ground transportation options in the capital for information and advice on how to get around.