Driving from Heathrow to Paris

Apr 7th, 2011, 09:39 PM
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Driving from Heathrow to Paris

My wife and I are planning our honeymoon. We are to fly into Heathrow since the plane tickets are cheap then rent a car from Sixt and drive down to Paris. I'll spend a few days there then drive down to Provence, then Rome, Venice, Milan, back to Paris, then drive back to London and fly out.

Is this a good idea? I'm hesitant on using the train as I loved driving last time I traveled to Germany. Any advice on how difficult it is going from London to Paris would be greatly appreciated. What train ticket must I purchase to get the car on there? Is Sixt a good company to rent from?

Many thanks in advance!
timzerofive is offline  
Apr 7th, 2011, 10:03 PM
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Why on earth would you drive from London to Paris instead of taking the train to Paris and renting a car there - with the steering wheel on the side you need for the continent (!!!) - and not needing to try to park in Paris. And why drive all the way back north instead of flying open jaw?

And while congratulations seem to be in order, don't you mean "we'll" spend a few days in Paris, not "I'll" spend a few days...
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 7th, 2011, 10:35 PM
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The fastest normal drive from Heathrow to the motorway exit for Paris CDG is about 4-5 hrs. Like millions of Britons driving to the Continent every year (and millions of Continental lorries delivering here, because we don't share America's bizarre and illegal delusion that you can ban trucks from countries you share a free trade area with), I find my car's "wrong-handedness" almost trivial.

The fastest route involves booking a Eurotunnel ticket(Heathrow to the Tunnel toll booth is almost always 90-120 mins): prices vary immensely according to time of day and when you book. It's usually about half the price, about 90 mins longer and IMHO a drastically greater pain in the rear end, to take the car onto a ferry from Dover (google Channel Ferry). But by ferry you get a great view of the White Cliffs. London-Paris by car and tunnel is possibly the world's most scenically boring journey.

In your case, though, you have either to:
- prewarn yor hire company, and pay a significant insurance premium, or
- use the Hertz le Shuttle service, where you take your UK car onto the Eurotunnel shuttle, drive it off at Calais and get it replaced by a French car.

All of which said, there are excellent reasons why holidaying Britons, or Turks delivering Italian tomatoes, drive the whole route. They don't apply to someone who'll find that a plane to Paris will cost an enormous amount less, and get you onto the motorway outside CGD several hours faster, than the paperwork-rich option of driving between the two airports.
flanneruk is offline  
Apr 7th, 2011, 10:48 PM
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Renting a car (or cars) for part(s) of your route makes sense -- but driving from London to Paris to Italy and back to London in a rental car makes next to no sense.

How long do you have for this trip? Trains and/or planes will be easier/faster/cheaper for some legs. Hopefully you are talking at least 5 or 6 weeks to cover all that territory.
janisj is online now  
Apr 7th, 2011, 11:48 PM
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Why not book a flight from Heathrow to Paris? Even if you allow several hours between flights you will still be in Paris before you would if driving

Makes substantially more sense than arriving off a long haul flight, hiring a car, driving to the Channel, taking a ferry / Eurotunnel, find the steering wheel is now on the wrong side of the car, that you hire costs have doubled because you are taking the car abroad and then drive to Paris.

Sorry this plan is probably the most stupid idea since someone suggested driving the length of the UK twice in 8 days as a "holiday".
alanRow is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 12:05 AM
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Just take the Eurostar to Paris and pick up a rental car at Gare du Nord.
kerouac is online now  
Apr 8th, 2011, 01:27 AM
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It is no big deal to drive Heathrow - Paris other than heavy traffic, LHD v RHD and the cost of getting the car across the channel.

If you are certain that you want to drive, look at one of the ferry comparison sites. I've used Norfolk lines (cheaper and not significantly further from Paris) and gives you the opportunity to grab a meal during the crossing.

I would suggest, however ...............

Take the underground to central London, rest for 1 night in a hotel, then take the TGV from St Pancras to Paris and rent a car there.

Drop offs are relatively cheap within countries, but very expensive across borders.

Travel light and check out Ryanair or Easyjet for a cheap flight back to London from Provence, Paris, Italy, etc

mpprh is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 11:39 AM
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Thanks for the responses. I had originally planned on driving from London to Paris because I wanted to experience driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Traffic is not a major concern for me as I drive 45 miles each way to work everyday here in southern california. I'm used to the 405 parking lot in the morning.

With that said, I actually found very cheap flight on Lufthansa directly into CDG so I will go with that and skip London this time.

I will still go with a rental car though. Is Sixt a good company to rent from?
timzerofive is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 12:03 PM
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Wouldn't it be a good idea to get some sleep first?
alanRow is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 12:36 PM
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Sixt is fine, but check the options proposed by www.autoeurope.com or one of the other consolidators as well. All of those place provide the cars from the major companies but are regularly about 40% cheaper than booking directly.
kerouac is online now  
Apr 8th, 2011, 12:48 PM
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Unless you have some relevant places to stop on the way, I should take the train to Avignon and pick up a car there (I too recommend Autoeurope). Train tickets are cheap if purchased in advance and you´ll have more time available to be where you want to be.

In either event, consider leaving the car in Nice and taking the train back to Paris on the return. Europcar, Sixt, Citer, or just about any company except Hertz or Avis will not charge a one way drop off fee as long as the pickup and drop off are in France.

For train tickets:

Sarastro is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 01:34 PM
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Driving in the French countryside is a joy but do not even think about driving around in Paris. I am also a person who is accustomed to heavy rush hour traffic but I will never, never again drive in Paris. Public transport is faster, easier, cheaper and much more enjoyable.
P_M is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 05:13 PM
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How long is your trip???

This is actually really important missing info.
janisj is online now  
Apr 9th, 2011, 12:33 AM
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My trip is about 16 days. I'm picking up the car when I leave for Provemce from Paris. Is it easy to drive in Italy? I had no problem driving in Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria. Anything unique for Italy?
timzerofive is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 08:07 AM
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Italy requires an International Driver's Permit, a translation of your license easily available at AAA/CAA if you're in North America. Driving in northern Italy isn't bad, just the occasional suicidal passer on a blind curve.

So now you're picking up the rental car as you leave Paris. Where do you plan to drop the car? There's usually a significant charge for dropping a car in a foreign country.

And where do you plan to go in Italy? You don't want a car for any of the cities or for the Cinque Terre. A car is great for driving the hilltowns of Tuscany and Umbria.
Mimar is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 08:58 AM
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If Italy is just Rome, Venice and Milan a car will be more of a liability (parking!) than an asset. Would make more sense to drop the car in France and take trains and planes for the rest of the trip. I've also read some anguished posts here from people fined for driving in the wrong parts of Italian towns - although that's more often Florence.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 10:35 AM
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As I feared -- you are talking 2 weeks (16 days but two of those are probably travel days).

I think you seriously need to re-think things just a bit. And ESPECIALLY if your honeymoon is right after the wedding.

After all the festivities you will fly over night to Paris and then want to see Paris, Provence, Rome, Venice, and Milan -- by car. This would be difficult if you used trains/planes everywhere and next to impossible by car. Plus what will you do w/ the car in Rome and Venice?

This is a 3+ week itinerary.
janisj is online now  
Apr 11th, 2011, 09:11 PM
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Once again, thanks for the replies.

Well I did Paris, Zurich, Munich, Salzburg/Bavaria in 11 days a couple years ago all in a car. Especially when I have only so many vacation days and would like to see these places on this trip. Need to be a bit of touch and go. I'm not worried about time. As for the car, I will pay for parking at the hotel. Did that on the last trip as well. Wedding is already done so honeymoon is not immediately after.

I rather not go through the hassle of catching a train. Lugging around luggages on and off the train/plane. Making sure I'm connecting to the right train or getting off at the correct station. I am ok with paying a little more for parking at hotels but have the car at my disposal.

It seems like the most difficult city will be Venice but I also found parking lots in Mester where you can then ride the bus onto the Island.

I haven't rented the car yet so I will look a bit more at train schedules, but it appears for now car is still the best bet. Consider a wife who wants to look good where ever she goes. She won't be able to pack light. Dragging two or three large roller bags around train station is not too appealing to me.
timzerofive is offline  
Apr 11th, 2011, 09:52 PM
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>>Consider a wife<<

That was rather my thought. What does she want to do?

Paris, Zurich, Munich/Bavaria/Salzburg are much closer together and linked by, I suspect, better roads with better drivers. Even a journey like that in 11 days would be a severe test of relationships with anyone I know, and what you're proposing is a much greater challenge. You'd be in the car more than you'd be out of it.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Apr 12th, 2011, 08:59 AM
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If she's worried about looking good wherever she goes; won't pack lightly; and plans to have you rent a car under improbable circumstances because she has 2-3 large roller bags, I think I'd re-consider the wife. At least try to talk some sense in to her.
sap is offline  

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