It would seem logical to start with the first step of any adventure – travel. In a prime position just across la Manche, there are plenty of ways to get to Paris from the UK.
Personal preference plays a huge factor here, and I tend to opt for the train. But then again, there’s nothing quite like that feeling of takeoff… nor the sound of that Jet2 jingle which cheerfully welcomes you on-board.
So, what are the options? For me: Eurostar, Eurotunnel or flying. As in the case of that classic childhood favourite ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’, none of them are an obvious winner. So let’s fast forward a few years in our trip down memory lane and think of that tweenager trend ‘Top Trumps’; in this case, this comparison is probably a bit more accurate. All the methods of travel have their strengths and weaknesses…
…but are all efficient and get you where you want to go.
Flying is, of course, the quickest. Paris CDG being a hub of Europe makes finding cheap flights easy – they’re practically queuing up waiting for you to pick one. Once you actually touch down in Paris, however, you’re faced with a few choices. You can either queue up and buy a metro RER ticket, and catch it straight to the centre (costing around €9), or get a bus to Opéra. The RERs are fairly frequent, around one every 10 minutes, until after about 11pm when they have a limited service or sometimes stop running. Having arrived into CDG at around midnight before, I can vouch for the fact it’s a fairly empty place at that time. Spookily so. Of course, taxis are always at your service, charging between €30 and €50 – definitely worth it to spot the monuments as they appear on the skyline, to flashback to going to a theme park as a kid and spotting the rides from the motorway when you were getting near. Top excitement.
However, what sways me towards the Eurostar is the simplicity. You board at London and, lo and behold, 2.5 hours later you’re in Paris. Not on the outskirts, having to figure out the best way to finish your journey, but right in the middle at the thriving hub of Gare du Nord. No waiting for baggage, no showing passports and queuing, just straight off the train and into the heart of the city. Bliss.
As for the Eurotunnel – this is the option if you fancy taking your voiture. Essentially a Eurostar for cars, departing from Folkestone instead of St. Pancras. Probably more relevant if touring France, or going anywhere other than Paris. Driving in the centre is not what you may call a walk in the park, and the metro links, bus routes and ‘vélibs’ (Paris’ answer to Boris bikes) are so great that a car may even be a hindrance. If you really miss that thrill of driving though, you can always rent an ‘autolib’, what I guess London would call ‘Boris cars’; cute little electric cars which are handily placed around the city.
So, in a nutshell, all 3 ways are perfectly viable. However, with the Eurostar, there can be the added bonus of an impromptu shopping trip/sightseeing tour in the capital whilst waiting for your train. 😉