Megabus, Idbus and National Express / Eurolines long-distance intercity coaches are the cheapest way to travel between London and Paris.
Long-distance intercity buses continue to compete with Eurostar trains and airlines when traveling between London and Paris. Although coaches are much slower than the high-speed trains, ticket prices are also much cheaper. Several coach companies offer daily services from London to Paris including big names such as Megabus, Idbus and National Express / Eurolines. It may be near impossible to land the oft advertised £1 specials but it is fairly easy to book one-way bus journeys from London to Paris for under £30 while travelers with flexible departure dates may find deals much cheaper too.
Travel to London or from the UK to Europe often requires much longer check-in times, even for buses, than are customary for other European journeys.
Traveling from London to Paris
Travelers between London and Paris generally have three public transportation choices:
- Fast and convenient but expensive on high-speed Eurostar trains (2h20);
- Cheap but slow and not that comfortable on long-distance, intercity buses; or
- Flying – generally less convenient and slower than the railways but sometimes cheaper.
Flying Between Paris and London
The short flights between London and Paris were long money-spinners for airlines, even after low-cost airlines had entered the market. High-speed railways were supposed to have killed-off most of these flights. Although Eurostar trains are by far the fastest way to travel between Paris and London, flights between these two cities continue.
Legacy airlines such as British Airways and Air France continue to fly between various London and Parisian airports but these flights are often to connect passengers to longer and intercontinental flights. Low-cost airlines such as EasyJet also fly between Paris and London and are often price competitive with the Eurostar trains. However, for most travelers, the schlepp of getting to airports in both London and Paris would probably outweigh the saving except on the most exceptional deals.
By Eurostar Trains from London to Paris
High-speed Eurostar trains are generally the fastest and most comfortable way to travel between London and Paris. Eurostar trains depart from London-St Pancras International Station or from Paris-Gare du Nord – both stations are near the center of the cities and well connected to local train transportation networks.
Eurostar trains run generally hourly between Paris and London with traveling time around 2h20 (plus around 30 minutes check-in time).
The downside of Eurostar trains is the price – tickets are not cheap. Standard one-way fares between London and Paris are £180 / €250 (£280 / €350 first class). Booking a few days ahead can easily half the price.
Special deals are widely advertised and are often very good value for return trips, especially for travel over weekends and holiday periods. Returns for under £75 / €90 is not that hard to find if booking several weeks ahead.
By Intercity Bus from London to Paris
Budget travelers can save big by taking the bus from London to Paris. Megabus, Idbus, and National Express / Eurolines have bus services several times per day between Paris and London at a fraction of the price of a Eurostar train ticket. One-way journeys for £30-40 (€40-50) are very easy to find with £20 deals not particularly hard to book either. The best deals on buses are often for travel within two weeks of booking.
The top deals on buses will always undercut the trains but where coach travel really saves the most is at full fare. When no deals are available, the full price on the bus is going to be well over £100 less than on the Eurostar trains.
The downside of coach travel is the lack of speed – buses from London to Paris take between 7h30 and 10 hours. Faster buses may use the Eurotunnels while slower services are usually via ferry and may stop more frequently en route. Some buses stop en route – especially in Kent but also in France – which may add to travel time but ferry times and city traffic are more often the speed determining factors.
All intercity buses depart in London from Victoria Coach Station but use different bus stations (gare routiere) in Paris.
On Megabus Coaches from London to Paris
Megabus usually has the best deals for cheap bus travel between Paris and London. Although the oft-advertised £1 deals may be hard to book, ticket prices generally range from £20 to £50. The expected load factor influences the price more than how far in advance the reservations are made.
Megabus connects London and Paris usually twice per day – the daytime bus usually take 7h30 while the overnight service is closer to ten hours. Megabus coaches usually call at Boulogne en route.
In Paris, Megabus uses the Porte Maillot Coach park next to the Palais de Congres to the northwest of central Paris. From here, use Metro line 1 from Porte Mailot station or RER line C from Neuilly-Porte Maillot to reach central Paris in a few minutes.
On Idbus Coaches from London to Paris
Idbus (or iDBUS) is part of the French railway company SNCF, which owns a big chunk of Eurostar. As a recent entrant to the long-distance, intercity bus market, Idbus sports new coaches with comfortable seats and free wifi in both France and England.
A further attraction of Idbus is the high frequency of bus services – seven coaches per day run in each direction between Paris and London. Travel times range from 7h30 to 9h20.
Idbus’s lowest one-way fares are £33, which is slightly higher than on Megabus but with the large number of services available, the actual price may be closer or even cheaper. Idbus’s ticket prices range from £33 to £50 (€39 – €60) – once again, the expected load factor determines the price with the lowest fare fairly easy to book. Idbus currently offer one free ticket if a group of four travel together.
Idbus coaches stop in Paris at Paris-Gare Bercy, 48 bis Boulevard de Bercy, 75012 Paris. From here use the Metro station Bercy on lines 6 and 14, or a short walk from Gare de Lyon with many further transportation options.
On National Express / Eurolines Buses from London to Paris
National Express / Eurolines , which has a much larger network of intercity buses in the UK and Europe, have around seven coach services daily between Paris and London. In contrast to Megabus and Idbus, Eurolines buses often stop en route, which may be useful for passengers from Kent or Calais but do add a few minutes to journey times.
One-way fares from London to Paris on National Express / Eurolines buses are from £20 to £40. Discounts are available for return journeys booked online – returns for around £45 are fairly easy to find. The best deals and cheapest fares are usually for trips departing within two weeks.
Eurolines passengers can also take advantage of the special offer of adding an onward trip from London to any destination in the UK for £19 one-way or return. This is good value to many towns but for major cities special offers may be a better deal.
In Paris, Eurolines long-distance buses use the International Bus Station Galliéni, which is to the east of central Paris. This bus stop is directly linked to the Galliéni metro station – line 3. This is probably the least convenient stop of the three bus services but it avoids some traffic and once on the metro train, there is very little in it.