England to France without flights? Here’s how!

With flights being cancelled left, right, and centre, crossing ‘The Pond’ (the sea channel between the UK and Europe) can seem to be off the menu. But don’t despair; there are plenty of other options (and you can book them all through British TIPS). Get in touch at sales@britishtips.com

Option 1: Eurostar

The fastest way to move between London (or Ebbsfleet or Ashford International Station) and Paris, Disneyland Paris, Brussels, Lille, and Amsterdam! Rates vary widely as Eurostar pricing works similarly to flights, with prices changing depending on time period, date, and how close to travel you’re booking. This is known as a dynamic booking system.

In a nutshell, the more in demand the tickets are, the higher the rates will be so we strongly recommend booking in advance (bookings open 6 months prior to departure).

Weekend travel (particularly Friday to Mondays afternoon/evenings), around public holidays and special occasions like Valentine’s Day, and over the festive season are very popular and rates rise very fast.

Standard class rates, on average, range from around R 1 500 up to R4 000, but this is very much subject to the dynamic booking system.

Option 2: Coach

This may not be the fastest or the most comfortable, but it is the most affordable. At around 9 to 10 hours from London Victoria Coach Station to Paris Bercy station (via the Dover-Calais ferry route), this one’s for people with a little extra time on their hands. The coaches and ferries usually have free WiFi on board, so you can work, etc. en route. There are a few overnight options, which may be preferable if you don’t want to waste a day. Selected options take the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle (see below).

Rates range from around R 1 300 and up.

Option 3: Train & ferry

There are a few ferries between England and Europe, the shortest and most popular being Dover to Calais (around 1 ½ hours). However, if you’re travelling between London and Paris, bear in mind that Dover is some 2 hours by train from London, and a train from Calais to Paris takes around 3 hours (you will need a taxi between Calais ferry port and the train station too). You also need to check in on the ferry around 30 – 60 minutes prior to departure. So, added up, you’re looking at 10 – 11 hours of travel time. But it can be quite scenic and has an iconic feel to it.  It’s also very popular with cyclists.

If you take this route, we would recommend staying overnight in Calais to do some sightseeing, visit the beach, and, perhaps, try the local Le Calais cake (a yummy combination of almonds, macaroon, and coffee buttercream) and cheeses. Or, if you’re crossing over from France, spend the night in Dover, see the famous White Cliffs and visit Dover Castle, and indulge in some fish ‘n chips.

Other routes include Dover – Dunkirk, Harwich – Hook of Holland, Newhaven – Dieppe, Portsmouth – Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, or St Malo, Poole – Cherbourg, and Plymouth – Roscoff.  Several of these ferries travel overnight and have cabins so this is one way to travel that also takes care of a night’s accommodation!

Option 4: Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

This is the best option if you’re travelling by car and wish to use it in England and Europe*. The Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is a train service between Folkestone and Coquelles (near Calais) for people travelling with their vehicles (you can take a ferry with your car but it does take longer). It is not possible for foot passengers to use the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. You drive your car into a container on the Le Shuttle and stay in your car while the train goes through the tunnel; on arrival, all the cars drive off and go on their way.

Both Eurostar and Eurotunnel Le Shuttle use the Channel Tunnel but they are different companies and the trains have separate schedules. Rates vary widely.

*Note: Be aware that most car hire companies will not permit you to take a rental car out of the country so be sure to check when planning your trip.

Approximate average times* to cross the Channel

  • Eurostar London – Paris: 2.5 hours (bear in mind, you need to check in 45 – 60 minutes prior to departure)
  • Ferry Dover – Calais: 90 minutes.
  • Rail-Ferry-Rail London – Paris: 11 hours
  • Driving from London to Paris via the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle: 6 hours (35 mins in the shuttle)
  • Coach and ferry London to Paris via ferry: 9 – 10 hours

*All times are approximate to provide a general guideline to assist in planning.

To book, please get in touch at sales@britishtips.com

Important: Remember that you will need to have all your paperwork in order (passports, visas, etc.) and ready to present at borders! Just because you’re not flying, does not mean these aren’t needed.

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