• To Paris by Rail or Air?

    by  • August 8, 2013 • City Breaks, Paris, Rail • 0 Comments

    Paris is one of the best loved and most visited cities by British tourists, but which is the best way of travelling to the French capital? 

    For those travellers who live in the south-east of England it would seem an obvious choice to opt for the Eurostar service from London St. Pancras.  Eurostar is the high-speed passenger train from London to Paris via the Channel Tunnel, taking as little as 2 hours 15 minutes for the 495 km (307 mile) journey. Trains run approximately every hour and can be booked up to four months ahead of travel.  Eurostar has an advantage over the airlines in that in principle, passengers are allowed two large items of luggage plus a small item of hand luggage.  There is no weight limit and nobody actually measures your bags or even worries if you have an extra carrier bag or two.  Eurostar operates a check-in policy and for the journey to Paris passengers must check in at least 30 minutes before train departure.  Some people find the standard class carriages rather tight on space, so prefer to upgrade to the more roomy standard premier class (first class) but this is usually quite a lot more expensive.  

    The terminus of the Eurostar in Paris is the Gare du Nord, right in the heart of Paris.  From here it is easy to take a taxi from the taxi rank just outside the station or head downstairs to the Metro for easy access to all parts of Paris and there are also some good hotels within walking distance of the Gare du Nord. 

    For those travellers who prefer to fly, particularly those living further from London, the low cost airlines offer services from regional airports including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Bristol to Paris Charles de Gaulle.  Charles de Gaulle Airport lies 23km (14 miles) northeast of Paris.  London to Paris flights are limited to Heathrow, LondonCity and Luton.  From CDGAirport, it takes about 45 minutes to get to the centre of Paris on the RER B express underground service which links in with the Metro.  There is also a “Roissybus” shuttle bus which runs regularly between Paris Opera station and all the airport terminals.  Some flights from Heathrow and LondonCity land at OrlyAirport, 17km (11 miles) south of Paris.  Orly is linked in to the Paris Metro system and also offers a shuttle bus service, Orlybus, which takes about 20 minutes to travel to Denfert-Rochereau station in central Paris. 

    We should not forget that Ryanair offer regular flights to Paris Beauvais from Edinburgh, Glasgow Prestwick and Manchester.  The prefix “Paris” is stretching the truth a little because Beauvais is actually located 88 km (55miles) to the north of Paris.  However, there is a good shuttle bus connection into Porte Maillot in the centre of the city which takes about 1 hour 15 minutes.  For those travellers living close to an airport such as Prestwick this route offers a very attractive alternative to a flight into Charles de Gaulle or a train journey via London.  

    The question of whether to fly or take the train between the UK and Paris has been posed many times.  A number of challenges have taken place to try and show that one method is superior to another but both have their merits and it really has to be a matter of personal preference.  Some people hate airports or are afraid of flying and would much prefer to travel overland, enjoying looking out on the passing countryside en-route. Others, particularly those from outside London, prefer the speed of a flight from a regional airport. We’re fortunate to have the choice of so many ways to reach the wonderful city of Paris!


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