LivingTravelHow to travel to the UK from Paris and...

How to travel to the UK from Paris and Northern France

Traveling between England, Paris and northern France is so easy that it is surprising that more long-haul visitors are not combining the UK and France for a 2-center holiday.

American travelers who wouldn’t think of traveling a thousand miles on a tour of New England, or on a trip up the east coast from New York to Florida, balk at the 280 miles between Paris and London, or the less than 50 miles between the Normandy coast and Charles Dickens country in Kent.

Maybe it’s because considering the different transportation options seems too confusing. Which routes are the shortest, cheapest, and best suited to your own travel preferences? This compilation of travel options between the UK and Paris, as well as some other popular starting points in Northern France, will help you weigh the trade-offs and make an informed decision.

Travel from Paris and northern France by train

Eurostar is a great option for fast canal hopping between Paris and London. The high-speed train covers the 306 miles between Paris Gare du Nord and London St Pancras in two hours and fifteen minutes. That’s less time than some people spend at work.

But you don’t have to travel from Paris to London to take advantage of these trains. Eurostar also has fast direct trains from Lille in north-eastern France, with stops at Ashford and Ebbsfleet in Kent, skipping points for an excellent tour in south-east England, before arriving in London.

And if you don’t mind changing trains, Eurostar can arrange connecting trips through Ashford, Kent between the entire British rail network and French destinations such as Caen, Calais, Reims, Rouen and Disneyland Paris.

  • The professionals:
    • Downtown to downtown for quick connection to local public transportation without the time and expense of airport transfers.
    • Generous free baggage allowance.
    • No booking fees.
    • Lots of space and the ability to walk.
    • When considering the extras (luggage, credit card, and online booking fees) charged by some airlines, as well as the cost of ground transportation to city centers, the rates are comparable to or better than flying.
  • The cons:
    • Longer journeys: the south of France, for example, may involve rushed transfers between stations or more than two transfers.
    • Train stations can be exciting, but they can also be hectic and confusing depending on your point of view, how long you have between trains, and the languages you speak.
    • The waiting areas at Paris Gare du Nord have limited seating and poor food options.

Fly to UK destinations from Paris and Northern France

A large number of airlines fly from both Paris airports, Charles de Gaulle / Roissy Aeroport and Orly Aeroport, to destinations across the UK. Airlines and air routes change from time to time. These are some of the airlines offering direct routes as of 2019. Many other airlines offer routes that involve multiple stops.

  • London airports:
    • London Heathrow – British Airways to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Air France to Paris Charles de Gaulle
    • London Gatwick – EasyJet to Paris Charles de Gaulle
    • London City – CityFlyer to Paris Orly
    • London Luton – EasyJet to Paris Charles de Gaulle
  • Other UK International Airports:
    • Aberdeen – Air France to Charles de Gaulle
    • Birmingham – Air France and Flybe to Charles de Gaulle
    • Bristol – EasyJet to Charles de Gaulle
    • Cardiff – Flybe to Charles de Gaulle
    • Edinburgh – Air France and EasyJet to Charles de Gaulle
    • Glasgow – EasyJet to Charles de Gaulle
    • Liverpool – EasyJet to Charles de Gaulle
    • Manchester – Air France, Flybe and EasyJet to Charles de Gaulle
    • Newcastle – Air France to Charles de Gaulle
  • The professionals:
    • Faster access from France to further UK destinations in Wales, Northern England and Scotland.
    • Some price benefits over the train and car on longer trips or with low-cost airlines.
  • The cons:
    • Smaller airports can only be served by simple and inexpensive airlines.
    • Price benefits can be absorbed by local transportation costs or additional charges for luggage.

Driving to the UK

Paris is approximately 178 miles from the entrance to the Channel Tunnel at Coquelles, near Calais, and a canal junction at what is known as Le Shuttle. It’s a good option if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage, a large family, or a microchipped pet that qualifies for a pet passport. Just drive your own car on Le Shuttle. Tickets are issued per vehicle (with cars and larger passenger transports at the same price) and each vehicle can carry 9 passengers at no additional charge. The crossing itself takes 35 minutes to Folkstone in Kent, 66 miles from central London.

  • The professionals:
    • Fast, relatively cheap for large groups.
    • Convenient if you are touring the North of France, especially the Pas de Calais, and planning to travel by car in Kent and South East England.
  • The cons:
    • You must drive in and out of Le Shuttle. There are no foot passengers.
    • You need to take into account fuel costs and tolls on French motorways.
    • Not all car rental companies allow cross-border or one-way rentals. Those that do add a surcharge for the service.

Drivers and cyclists also have the option of ferry crossings from northern France.

Ferry crossings

The growth in popularity of Eurostar and the Canal Tunnel has meant that fewer ferry companies now cross the canal. If you like the idea of a break before and after your vacation, are towing a trailer, or have a full vehicle, ferries might be your choice. The shortest crossing, from Dunkirk to Dover, takes about 2 hours. Crossings from Dover to Calais take around 2.5 hours and ferry crossings between three and five hours will take you from Le Havre and Dieppe in Normandy to Newhaven or Portsmouth on the south coast of England.

Brittany Ferries offers night cruises from some ports.

  • The professionals:
    • Carry a car full of passengers – You can pay more per passenger, but not a lot, since the main cost is your vehicle.
    • Very economical for foot passengers and nearby train stations or even ferry ports.
    • Food, shopping, games and entertainment and sometimes slot machines at sea.
    • Choice of departure and arrival ports to suit your other vacation plans.
    • If you cross into Dover you can see the unforgettable white cliffs from the sea.
    • If you go on an overnight cruise and reserve a sleeping cabin for longer crossings, you can substitute your transportation for a night at a hotel, sleep across the Canal, and arrive early for a full day of sightseeing or sightseeing.
  • The cons:
    • The canal can get rough so this is not for you if you get seasick.
    • Risk of cancellations in bad weather.
    • Industrial action risk. French crews and dock workers are notorious for wildcat strikes.


The long way is also the cheapest. Coach operators, using ferries or Le Shuttle, offer regular services between Paris, Lille, Calais and other cities in northern France, and London, Canterbury and several other cities in the south-east. Decent bathrooms on board, air conditioning, and wi-fi are usually included. A nonstop journey between London and Paris takes around nine hours via Eurolines, a branch of National Express Coaches. Fares in 2019 were around £ 42.

  • The professionals:
    • Downtown to downtown.
    • Cheap.
  • The cons:
    • They spend two days of their rest traveling.
    • Bored.


  • Ferry : If you are cycling touring, a ferry is probably the easiest way to cross the canal, as your bike will generally travel free, as a foot passenger. However, you will need to reserve it and a boarding pass will be issued to you.
  • The Channel Tunnel – Up to six bikes can be taken on each Le Shuttle trip – Cyclists ride a minivan in the wagon like trains through the tunnel while their bikes ride separately.
  • Eurostar – Passengers with bicycles that can be folded or taken apart and packed into a bike rack can take them on board Eurostar trains as carry-on luggage. Places must be reserved for bicycles that cannot be disassembled or folded and there is a charge to carry them.

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