Questions re: train from Eng. to Paris

Old Nov 9th, 2003, 05:05 PM
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Questions re: train from Eng. to Paris

The kids are both in college (one near to graduating) so I'm planning one last family trip for next summer.

We're planning 5 days in London, then a week in Chipping Campden and finally a week in Paris. I don't like the idea of taking my first right-hand driving lesson in London, so I thought we could take the train out of London to Oxford where we'll rent a car for our week in the Cotwolds.

My family likes the idea of taking the train into Paris and then flying back to London.

What I'm trying to figure out is the logistics of the leg between England and Paris. I have to return the car to Oxford to avoid extra charges. Do we have to get back to London to take the Eurostar? Am I being silly putting the four of us on a train when we can fly to Paris for 14GBP?

Any advice is appreciated.
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Old Nov 9th, 2003, 05:40 PM
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To get from Oxford to the Eurostar, you have to take a train from Oxford to Paddington Station, then probably a taxi from Paddington to Waterloo Station (departure point for the Eurostar).

Probably a flight on a budget airline would be cheaper. Only your family can decide whether the experience of going through the Channel Tunnel and crossing northern France at high speed is worth the extra expense.

I would suggest, however, an open-jaw ticket that lets you fly home from Paris instead of going back to London.
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Old Nov 9th, 2003, 05:46 PM
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I'm going out on a limb here...first assuming you are flying home from Paris.

I'd fly to London, if landing at Heathrow pick up the car..spend the night in Windsor, go on to Chipping camden for my time there, drop off the car, train to London for my 5 days and take theEurostar to Paris. Might cost a few 100 dollars more but less time and fuss.
even if flying into Gatwick there are places to spend a few enjoyable hours and sleep without a long drive after deplaning.

The cheap flights sound good but in time spent and getting to and from airports to city centers..I'm not sure it's worth my time.
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Old Nov 9th, 2003, 05:52 PM
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I believe you will find the Eurostar one-way tickets quite a bit more expensive than 15GBP pp. Even when you add in airport transportation, flying will be a lot cheaper. This might make the rest of your questions irrelevant.

We took the Eurostar from London to Paris one-way last May. I thought it would be kinda cool. Perhaps I've grown too jaded, but really, it was just a train. I tried to get a thrill thinking about being under the English Channel, but when all is said and done, it's just a loooong tunnel.

I think you do have to get to Waterloo to catch the Eurostar, so that will involve changing stations as trains from Oxford come into Paddington. The biggest advantage, IMHO, is that you don't have to go to the airport. You start in the city center and end up in the city center. But the hassles would seem to outweigh the advantages in your case.
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Old Nov 9th, 2003, 06:07 PM
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jody's itinerary makes a LOT of sense. Pick up your car at LHR upon arrival. Then drive just 7 miles over to Windsor - to get used to "wrong side" driving", visit the castle and stay the night. The next morning you would have an easy drive to Chipping Campden.

After your stay in the Cotswolds, simply drive back to LHR, drop the car and take the train or tube into London. Then on to Paris - eith by train or plane - train is more convenient an actually faster, plane is cheaper.

If your flights and Chipping Campden dates are already locked in and you have to do it in the order you listed it is still doable but you'll have a lot more to-ing and fro-ing. But still - pick up the car at Heathrow. The airport is right on the motorways that head west and it is an easy drive.
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Old Nov 9th, 2003, 10:46 PM
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hi,

jody, you missed the "my kids like the idea of train to paris and flying back to london" comment.

greytop, from this in your post, I am assuming that you are flying into london and departing europe from london not paris.

the simple answer to your question is yes, you have to depart eurostar via waterloo station in london. if you decide to stick with your original plan of car rental in oxford, I would pick train or flight to paris but not both. using Both would complicate your trip way too much and make connection logistics much to complicated for this trip. Going one way different methods would also make it much more expensive. (eurostar is actually more expensive one way, the specials are geared toward roundtrip, therefore even going one way most people choose roundtrip).

Some things to consider before making your choice of air vs eurostar to paris:

1)If you think flying to paris will save time, you would be wrong. Because you have to arrive at airport 1 hour prior to flight, then the flight takes 1 hour, then about 45 min to 1 hour to get from CDG PARIS to central paris or your hotel. this is 3 hours (then add hour for time difference). this is longer than eurostar. eurostar takes about 2 1/2 hours and arrives central paris at major tube station gard du nord.

2)the cost of eurostar roundtrip advance leisure tickets (with overnight saturday stay) is about 59 pds or $90/person. the cost of that airfare special is really 39 pds(with taxes) roundtrip and that is about $68 converted. the airfare is cheaper, but by the time you factor in the cost of the airport transfer or train tickets roundtrip to central paris for 4, you save nothing, in fact it could actually be more expensive. ($25 per person for transfer/train at least, making it $93/ person).

I opt for the eurostar each time, simply because I would rather be watching the countryside than be stuck in an airport or in traffic. the convenience of ending at a major station in the center of the city also is a plus.

One major thing bothers me about your proposed plan. By doing what you are doing (picking up car in oxford and doing Chipping Campden after london visit) you add several steps to your trip and some unnecessary costs. also if you choose to do different methods to paris, you will add in 3 or 4 more steps.

By making one small change you could make your trip much more simple. That change would be either to do the cotswald trip before your london visit or after your paris visit. not between the two.

If you are arriving at gatwick, my choice would be to do the following:

Arrive gatwick, purchases a roundtrip gatwick express ticket to victoria station, then metro/taxi to hotel. Spend 5 days in london, then take eurostar waterloo to paris and return from paris to waterloo. Take tube from waterloo to victoria station, then use the gatwick express return to gatwick. Rent car at gatwick to travel to cotswalds on back end of trip. return to gatwick to return car and fly out.

by doing this you would not have to worry about the train travel to and from oxford and you would not have to worry about airport transfers to any airport. You only have to purchase one roundtrip from gatwick express at gatwick to get you in and out of london. You could also switch the cotswald trip on the front end, by simply arriving gatwick and then renting car to cotswalds then return to do london and then paris.

if your airfare takes you into heathrow, simply substitute heathrow and heathrow express, and renting car out of heathrow and return.

if you choose to do it the way you stated you will have to:

buy tickets for 4 to oxford from london and return

if you split air/eurostar you will have to worry about which airport you are using and airport transfers.

if you use air from london to paris you will need to add on airport transfers in paris and possibly transfers to and from connecting airports in london (most paris flights go out of gatwick) you will also have to get from oxford to paddington, then paddington to airport.

hope this helps!
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Old Nov 10th, 2003, 08:18 PM
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Wow! Thanks to all for your advice and in particular to erinb for your well-reasoned proposal.

I probably should have said in the original message that our accomodations are already set. We ordered them with Chipping Campden in the middle because it seems to work best for us to have our vacations urban-rural-urban. When we do major cities back to back we get museumed out so we decided to bookend the trip with London and Paris.

I've looked at different train sites (Britrail, Eurostar, etc.). Should I go through one of them for the $90 r/t train ticket or is there a special site folks recommend?

Thanks again.
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Old Nov 11th, 2003, 12:35 AM
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If you take the train from Oxford to get the Eurostar to Paris, don't go into Paddington. Take the train from Oxford to Reading, then from Reading to London Waterloo. The services run at least every half hour and the connections will be simpler and cheaper than going via Paddington.
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Old Nov 11th, 2003, 10:34 AM
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GeoffHamer, you get my vote for most valuable, specific tip of the month!
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Old Nov 11th, 2003, 06:59 PM
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Thanks GeoffHamer! If I do as you say, would I be better off just taking the Tube to Waterloo when we head out to Oxford? That way I could purchase a r/t ticket. Or, am I better off going with a one-way out of Paddington and one-way into Waterloo?

It's our first time doing this and everything I do gets multiplied by four so I need all the help I can get. Thanks.
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Old Nov 11th, 2003, 09:51 PM
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Hi, I'm debating on whether to take the train from London to Paris, or simply fly. So after reading the posts here, I just wanted to clarify.....is it more cost effective to do a round trip on the Eurostar, or is it more cost effective to fly (taking into account the shuttles to and from the airports in each city)? Sorry if I am getting confused, there are so many details that I am swimming in right now.
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Old Nov 11th, 2003, 10:03 PM
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PakePorkChop, there's no simple answer to that question. It's going to depend on when you are going, what fare you can get on Eurostar and what fare you can get on an airline. Also how many people in your party (transportation to and from airports would be shared and therefore cheaper per person for 2 people than for 1). But you can certainly figure it out with a little detective work.

After you have the specific costs, however, you still need to put a value on your time and convenience. When you compare "door-to-door", flying will actually probably take longer because of the need to arrive at the airport 1-2 hours ahead of time. But this is why this issue gets debated on here all the time.
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Old Nov 12th, 2003, 10:41 AM
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Hi Greytop,
The trains from Paddington to Oxford are direct and faster than going through Reading so I would leave London on the direct train. The only reason to chose the via Reading route is to arrive at Waterloo. I've done this exact trip (even stayed in Chipping Campden) and really much easier to change trains at Reading, as Geoff says, than to transfer stations in London.
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Old Nov 12th, 2003, 05:25 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the great advice. It sounds easiest to leave from Paddington for Oxford and return through Reading. Should I arrange rail tickets from the US or wait until I get to London?
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Old Nov 12th, 2003, 06:14 PM
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It's easy to do from London, by phone, with a credit card. You pick up the tickets at the station.
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 03:30 AM
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Greytop:

The tickets you buy from the machine at Paddington say "From London Terminals to Oxford". So you can return to any reasonable London station. Which must include Waterloo.

An off-peak period return is about 50p more than a single. For four of you, buying returns at Paddington is a lot cheaper than buying separate singles.

Buying in advance - especially from First Great Western - may result in tickets that specify the London station, as they are likely to be operator-specific.
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Old Nov 13th, 2003, 06:02 PM
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Thanks flanneruk, that makes it easier since we'll be staying near Paddington. We'll just come back into Waterloo and meet the Eurostar there.
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