Help with London to Paris Itinerary

Mar 13th, 2004, 09:35 AM
  #1  
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Help with London to Paris Itinerary

My brother, his wife and 2 teenage girls are going to London and Paris for the first time this July. They are a little resistant to my advice so I thought I'd ask the experts! They have booked this itinerary so far:

Fly into LHR on July 1

First 3 nights London - Comfort Inn Notting Hill

Depart CDG on July 13. They need to plan the in-between and get their Paris hotel reserved ASAP since they want a quad room.

They want 3 nights in Paris and also want to see a bit of both English and French countryside (as opposed to all city-stay).

They state they want to spend a couple days in perhaps Bath or the Cotwolds, then go to Paris, then 2-3 in the Loire Valley. I keep telling them they need to think this through so they reserve the right 3 nights in Paris.

I suggested they rent a car in England, take driving tour, drive the Chunnel and deposit the car in Paris or perhaps Versailles and spend their last 3 nights in Paris. They seem to think this would be crazy but for me, it makes more sense than two separate car rentals of 2-3 days each AND the hassle of getting oneself to a London airport or Waterloo station for the Eurostar.

Alternatively, they could turn in the rental car at Dover, ferry to Calais but then what? I don't know this option. Is there a train they could take from Dover to Paris? If they do the Loire for the last few days, I know they could just drive themselves to CDG on the last day to return the car...because this I have done and it worked fine (last night spent in Fountaibleu perhaps?

What would you advise?
LeslieC is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 09:51 AM
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What I would NOT advise is taking a car from England to France: the car from England will have the driver on the right-hand side instead of the left, as is normal in France (and the U.S., of course). Taking the Eurostar and picking up another rental car in France works far better, and your brother can check with the rental agency about a combined rental price.
Underhill is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 10:01 AM
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Is it difficult to drive into London to return a rental car to Waterloo station? I've never tried this.
LeslieC is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 10:38 AM
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It doesn't seem a good idea to me me to take a car from England to France. Not only would the steering column be on the wrong side but I imagine you'd pay an awful lot for that, if they even allow it -- they can't rent that car in France, and you'd have to pay for the transport across the channel. I would think that would cost a fortune to do all that, but I admit I've never checked.

I know they do have car ferries, of course -- some go from Dover to Calais There is certainly a train from Calais to Paris (or Boulogne). There is no train from Dover to Paris, because that's whether the channel is and the only train across it is the Eurostar. You mention driving through the Eurotunnel, but I wasn't aware you could do that. I thought that was only for the train and you'd have to pay to transport the car on either the train or the ferry.

They could pick up the Eurostar at Ashford in Kent (a little to west of Dover), instead of London. I think that is the only other boarding point down there, but I'm no expert on the Eurostar.
Christina is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 12:51 PM
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Taking the car across is REALLY a bad idea. And going into London, out to the country, back into London to catch the Eurostar at Waterloo and then over to Paris is a pretty convoluted itinerary - especially when they have so little time.

With the "wants" you have noted here is how I would do it:

Arrive LHR and go first to either the Cotswolds or Bath (they could easily do a bit of both in 3 days) first. Then drop the car back a LHR and take public transport or a car service into London for those 3 days. Whereever they stay in London would be a relatively short tube ride to Waterloo. Then spend the rest of their time in Paris with a couple of day trips out into the country.

This would be a much more efficient use of their time w/o backtracking.
janis is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 01:17 PM
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Driving into and in central London is nothing you want to do if it can be avoided.
Underhill is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 01:17 PM
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A slightly different scenario. Go to London first & get used to the idea of left side driving in cabs, buses etc. Then rent a car to do the countryside--either go to one of the airports to pick it up OR train to say Bath or Oxford or Stratford & pick up the car (if Bath or Oxford, pick it up car after the city visit since you don't need a car in Bath or Oxford really. Then, return car to airport and FLY one of the discount airlines (easy jet, ryainair etc.-look on applefares.com or skyscanner.com) to France. Yes, it's probably faster to train but it's also a lot more expensive & it's convenient to drop car at any airport (the cheaper airlines tend to fly out of Gatwick, Luton, Stanstead etc.) They can decide if they want to do Paris first or the countryside. Personally, I think they're trying to do too much & I would skip the country drive in one countries in favor of a day trip or 2. Less hassle, less packing/unpacking/, less tension!!
mclaurie is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 01:35 PM
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This is great feeback. Re: driving, I had heard some rental car agencies offer a change of vehicle from England to France. One poster referred to "Le Swap" program through Hertz. This was the only basis on which I had thought to recommend driving...

However, I didn't realize they could pick up the Eurostar outside of London at Ashford. I see that the fare is the same as from London... the best rate seems to be booking 60 - 90 days out standard class - $90 for the adults and $45 youth fares fir the kids. That sounds like a good option to go to Paris. They could then decide if they really want to bother renting a car in France or just booking some day trips out of Paris.

I've searched for economical flights and the only options seem to be:

Luton to CDG on easyjet for really cheap or BMI baby LHR to CDG for a little more. If they were coming from the Cotwolds, how easy would it be to drop the car at Luton? LHR I know they could stay a night in Windsor and drop the car. This I've done..

But...with flying they now have to get from CDG to the city so all in all it seems the Eurostar would be best, right? It doesn't sound like the train from Calais to Paris would be as fast.
LeslieC is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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I'm not an expert for either flying or taking the train. But from reading this board constantly I do know thta flying is slightly longer (because of check-in times & travel to/from airports to city centers) BUT in this case, starting at an airport could make flying at least an option to consider, especially for 4. I also know one way fares are often MORE than roundtrip so make sure you're looking at prices for both (They can always buy say a RT London/Paris & only use the first leg). This may also be true for the Eurostar. And make sure the teens would qualify for youth fare.
mclaurie is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 10:53 PM
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ttt
LeslieC is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 01:42 PM
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OK..just spoke to my brother. He really wants to take the Eurostar from London to Paris after touring the Cotswolds and Bath a few days.

They are staying in Notting Hill area of London. So my suggestion is to pick up the rental car at one of the offices near Marble Arch, Paddington or Euston for easy connection to the A40/M40 and then return the car to Waterloo Station to pick up the Eurostar.

Is this really crazy to drive into London to Waterloo Station?

Also, do you know what car rental agencies have offices at/near Waterloo. I've checked autoeurope, europecar, kemwel, budget, Travelocity, Expedia and Avis. It seems only Avis has an office there and their price is very high. Any other car hire agencies?
LeslieC is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 07:12 PM
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Try Godfrey Davis, an English firm.
Underhill is offline  
Mar 21st, 2004, 09:58 AM
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When we rented a car in London a few years ago, we found the problem wasn't driving in London (so long as you have a front-seat navigator to yell when you fade to the "wrong" side of the road), but parking in London. I suggest you rent wherever your best deal is, pick up the car on the way out of town (like we did), return the car to wherever the rental agency is, then take the tube to the Waterloo station.
dddick is offline  
Apr 19th, 2004, 04:23 PM
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We are also planning a trip to England in May. We will fly to London and plan to spend time in Dover and take the Chunnel to France and drive on to Trier,Germany then to Switzerland and then return to London. We have checked with Hertz and have been told you can rent a car at the airport, take it through the Chunnel and exchange it for another car at the other end in France. When you return you exhange the car again at the Chunnel and go on to England. We were told that the ticket it costs for the Chunnel would be included in the rental fee. They also said it was less expensive to do it that way, maybe this is the "Le Swap" by Hertz that you saw, Leslie. We have an e-mail to Hertz to confirm that this is the way it would work. Will let you know what we find out. If we do go for it we can let you know how it really worked when we return the first part June.
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