Train and ferry from London to Paris:  Dover Eastern Docks
 

White Cliffs of Dover...  Returning from France the ferry approaches Dover Eastern Docks, with Dover Castle above the White Cliffs...

The ferry alternative to Eurostar...

  Why go by train & ferry and a reality check!

  London to Paris via Dover-Calais - shortest crossing, fastest journey

  London to Paris via Newhaven-Dieppe - slower, slightly cheaper, easier transfer in Newhaven

  London to Paris via Portsmouth-Le Havre - overnight with private cabin, the 'sleeper' option!

Why go by train & ferry?

High-speed Eurostar trains link London & Paris in just 2h20 from £52 one-way or £78 return.  But you can still travel from London to Paris by train-ferry-train, and there are several reasons why you might want to:

First a reality check...

But on the plus side...

Which ferry route to choose?

London to Paris via Dover-Calais

The route via Dover-Calais is the traditional route, with the fastest journey time, the widest range of departures, and the shortest sea crossing.  Buying tickets on the day, the whole trip will cost around £80 one-way if you use a Calais Day Tripper ticket, or £115 if you use separate train, ferry & train tickets.  You may be able to reduce those prices to £70 & £95 if you buy the French train ticket in advance online.  Click here for the slower but slightly cheaper route via the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry.  I describe a London to Paris journey here, just reverse the steps for a northbound trip from Paris to London.  Watch the video guide.

Step 1, London to Dover by train...

South Eastern train to Dover at Charing Cross   Seats on the London to Dover train

The classic option:  An express to Dover waits to leave Charing Cross.

Seats on the high-speed train from London to Dover   High-speed train from London St Pancras to Dover

The high-speed option:  A train from London St Pancras to Dover.

Transfer from station to ferry in Dover...

Dover Priory station   Foot passenger entrance at Dover Eastern Docks ferry terminal

Dover Priory station.  There are usually plenty of taxis waiting outside...

 

Foot passenger departures, cleverly marked 'arrivals'...

P&O Ferries foot passenger check-in   P&O courtesy bus from terminal to ferry

P&O foot passenger check-in...

 

Courtesy bus from terminal to ferry...

Step 2, Dover to Calais by ferry...

A nice day for a Channel crossing!   The White Cliffs of Dover

A nice day for a Channel crossing...

 

Dover's famous White Cliffs...

A meal on board P&O's Pride of Kent as it leaves Dover   The ferry arrived at Calais

Lunch in the brasserie on board P&O's ferry Pride of Kent...

 

Arrival at Calais.  A courtesy bus shuttles you to the terminal building at the entrance to the port area.

Transfer from ferry to station in Calais...

Calais Ferry Terminal   The walkway from the ferry terminal towards Calais town centre

Calais ferry terminal.  Buses to the town centre & Calais Ville station leave from the forecourt (if running).

 

Walk out of the terminal building and turn right for this walkway to the town centre.

Step 3, Calais to Paris by train...

TER regional train from Calais Ville to Boulogne   Inside the TER train from Calais to Boulogne

A comfortable air-conditioned TER regional train at Calais Ville.  If you're heading for Boulogne's pretty old town, alight at Boulogne Tintelleries as this is closer than Boulogne Ville.  Some TER trains now run direct to Paris.

Example timetable...

Here is an un-updated example timetable showing typical London-Paris connections, using the classic train route from London to Dover, P&O ferries from Dover to Calais, and the classic route from Calais to Paris via Boulogne & Amiens.  Please use these times as a rough guide, then work out actual train, ferry & train times for your specific date of travel as explained below.

 London ► Dover / Calais ► Paris  by train+ferry

 Train:

Mondays-Fridays

Saturdays

Sundays

 London Charing Cross

depart

07:09

08:34

09:40

09:40

08:40

09:40

11:40

 Dover Priory

arrive

09:11

10:38

11:33

11:33

10:33

11:33

13:35

 Ferry:  (in Dover, take a taxi from station to Dover Eastern Docks)

 Dover Eastern Docks

depart

11:10

12:55

13:55

13:55

12:55

13:55

15:40

 Calais Ferry Terminal

arrive

13:40

15:25

16:25

16:25

15:25

16:25

18:10

 Train:  (in Calais, take bus, taxi or 35 min walk from ferry terminal to station) 

 Calais Ville station

depart

14:36

16:36

17:36

17:36

16:36

17:36

19:30

 Boulogne Ville

arrive

15:08

17:06

18:06

18:06

17:06

18:06

20:01

 Etaples / Le Touquet

arrive

15:22

17:22

18:22

18:22

17:22

18:22

20:15

 Amiens

arrive

16:21

18:21

19:21

19:21

18:21

19:21

21:16

 Paris Gare de Nord

arrive

17:29

19:29

20:56

20:29

19:29

20:29

22:29

How to read these timetables     No UK trains run on these routes on 25 or 26 December.   Watch the video guide.

 Paris ► Calais / Dover ► London  by train+ferry

 Train:

Monday-Friday

Saturdays

Sundays

 Paris Gare de Nord

depart

07:31

10:31

13:31

09:31

10:31

09:31

13:31

 Amiens

depart

08:40

11:41

14:41

09:41

11:41

09:41

14:41

 Etaples / Le Touquet

depart

09:42

12:42

15:42

11:42

12:42

11:42

15:42

 Boulogne Ville

depart

09:58

12:58

15:59

11:58

12:58

11:58

15:59

 Calais Ville station

arrive

10:33

13:33

16:33

12:28

13:33

12:28

16:33

 Ferry:  (in Calais, take bus, taxi or 35 min walk from station to ferry terminal)

 Calais Ferry Terminal

depart

12:35

15:20

18:50

14:20

15:20

14:20

18:50

 Dover Eastern Docks

arrive

12:55

15:50

19:20

14:50

15:50

14:50

19:20

 Train:  (in Dover, take a taxi from Eastern Docks to Dover Priory station)

 Dover Priory

depart

13:58

16:58

20:58

15:58

16:58

15:58

20:58

 London Charing Cross 

arrive

15:52

18:57

22:52

17:52

18:57

17:52

22:52

How to check times for your specific date of travel. 

  • Step 1, start by checking French train times from Calais to Paris as this is the least frequent part of the journey, using either Raileurope.co.uk or www.trainline.eu (use Raileurope.co.uk, click More options and enter Amiens as a via station if you want the classic and cheapest route).

  • Step 2, then work backwards, looking for a ferry at www.poferries.com which arrives at Calais ferry terminal at least 1 hour before the train leaves Calais Ville, preferably more.

  • Step 3, now look for a London to Dover train at Raileurope.co.uk which arrives at Dover Priory at least 70-80 minutes before the ferry sails. 

  • Unlike the integrated pre-Eurostar train+ferry services, this is not an organised service where ferries are held if trains run late, but completely separate trains and ferry.  If you have important connections in Paris, bear this in mind and take an earlier train from London.

The Calais Day Tripper Ticket...

Watch the video guide...


London-Paris via Newhaven

London to Paris for £73 one-way, even for immediate departure, no reservation necessary...

The slower Newhaven-Dieppe route has always been a second-best option compared to the faster Dover-Calais route shown above, but it's worth considering because it's significantly cheaper, and the train-ferry transfer at Newhaven is much easier than in Dover.

 London ► Newhaven-Dieppe ► Paris  (by train+ferry)

 Train...

Mondays-Fridays

Saturdays

Sundays

 London Victoria

depart

06:47

20:17

06:02

20:17

06:32

20:06

 Newhaven Town

arrive

 08:06e

  21:36e

  08:24b

  21:36e

  08:33b

  21:33b

 Ferry...  In Newhaven it's a 300m walk from Newhaven Town station to the ferry

 Newhaven ferry terminal

depart

10:00

23:00

10:00

23:00

10:00

23:00

 Dieppe ferry terminal

arrive

15:00

04:00

15:00

04:00

15:00

04:00

 Train...  In Dieppe it's a 35-minute walk or 10-minute bus or taxi ride to the station

 Dieppe Ville station

depart

16:04

 05:23*

16:04

08:04

16:04

05:23

 Rouen (change trains)

arrive

16:48

 06:05*

16:48

08:48

16:48

06:05

 Rouen

depart

16:56

 06:15*

16:56

08:56

16:56

06:15

 Paris St Lazare

arrive

18:23

 07:38*

18:23

10:53

18:23

07:38

* = On Saturday mornings, depart Dieppe 06:17, change Rouen, arrive Paris 09:43.

e = change trains at Lewes.   b = change at Brighton.  c = change at East Croydon & Brighton.   An underlined time means change trains. 

In Newhaven, get off at Newhaven Town station not Newhaven Harbour.  You check in your big bags at the ferry terminal and get them back in the Dieppe terminal.

In Dieppe, there are taxis or (1 May- 30 September) there's a shuttle bus costing €2.50, or it's a 35-minute walk.  Walking route to station in Dieppe.

Important:  As with the Calais timetable, I wont keep this page 100% updated with every timetable change, and ferry times can vary due to tidal constraints.  So use it as a guide and check UK train times at www.nationalrail.co.uk, the ferry times at www.dfds.co.uk and French train times at www.raileurope.co.uk or www.trainline.eu.

 Paris ► Dieppe-Newhaven ► London  (by train+ferry)

 Train...

Monday-Friday

Saturdays

Sundays

 Paris St Lazare

depart

-

11:40

-

10:51

-

10:40

 Rouen

arrive

-

12:50

-

12:02

-

12:02

 Rouen

depart

-

13:43

-

12:15

-

12:15

 Dieppe Ville station

arrive

-

14:45

-

13:01

-

13:01

 Ferry...  In Dieppe it's a 35-minute walk or 10-min taxi ride to the ferry terminal

 Dieppe ferry terminal

depart

05:30

18:00

05:30

18:00

05:30

18:00

 Newhaven ferry terminal

arrive

08:30

21:00

08:30

21:00

08:30

21:00

 Train...  In Newhaven, it's a 300m walk from the ferry to Newhaven Town station

 Newhaven Town

depart

09:32

22:25

09:32

22:25

09:34

22:34

 London Victoria 

arrive

  10:58e

  23:52e

  10:57e

  23:52e

  11:03b

  00:39b

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...


London-Paris via Portsmouth

The London - Paris 'sleeper' option!

This is the overnight 'sleeper' option, where you leave central London early evening, have a decent night's sleep in a comfortable cabin with en suite shower & toilet on the overnight ferry, and arrive in Paris just after midday next day.  A time-effective and comfortable alternative to Eurostar if you need one.

The Man in Seat 61 says "Brittany Ferries ships are always comfortable, with cosy cabins, bars & restaurants.  Sailing out of Portsmouth past the naval dockyard and the historic HMS Victory and HMS warrior is always a treat."  The ships on this route are the 'Brittany Ferries Economy Service'  Etretat and Baie de Seine (formerly DFDS Dana Sirena from the Harwich-Esbjerg route).

London & Portsmouth ► Paris

Paris ► Portsmouth & London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

The journey in pictures...

Train from London to Portsmouth   Waterloo Station, London

Step 1, take a train from London Waterloo to Portsmouth & Southsea...

Standard class seats on train from London to Portsmouth   Train from London to Portsmouth

The trains are air-conditioned & carpeted...

Portsmouth & Southsea station   Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port

In Portsmouth, it's a 10-minute taxi ride from Portsmouth & Southsea station (above left) to Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port (above right)

Brittany Ferries check in desk at Portsmouth   Private en suite cabin on the ferry Etretat

Step 2, check in at the Brittany Ferries desk and board the overnight ferry to Le Havre, sleeping in a private en suite cabin (above left, a cabin on the Etretat.

Ferry arrival in Portsmouth at dawn

Sailing out of Portsmouth is lovely, past the naval docks with historic ships HMS Victory and HMS Warrior visible, then past the town and Spinnaker Tower.  This photo was taken from an inwards ferry arriving in Portsmouth from Le Havre at dawn...

Le Havre station   Train to Paris at Le Havre

Step 3, at Le Havre, it's a 15 minute walk from Brittany Ferries terminal to the railway station for a morning Intercité to Paris St Lazare...

1st class on Le Havre-Paris train   2nd class on Le Havre-Paris train

1st class seats...

 

2nd class seats...

Intercite train at Paris St Lazare

Arrival at Paris St Lazare...

A more leisurely cruise via St Malo...


European Rail Timetable

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.


Hotels in London, Paris & France

My favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Hotels near the Gare du Nord & other Paris stations:

If you need to stay over in Paris between trains, here are some hotels that are both close to the station and get good reviews:

Hotels for that romantic break...

There's the famous Paris Ritz in the Place Vendôme of course (almost €500 a night) or the similarly-priced Le Meurice, but if you want a really special hotel for a luxury break or romantic weekend and can afford to splurge around €280 a night, try the small, sumptuous and intimate L'Hotel.  It's on the bohemian left bank a short distance from the Seine, the Ile de la Cité & Notre Dame.  Oscar Wilde spent his last days here in room 16, and the hotel has been used by many famous people from Sinatra to Mick Jagger.  Rooms are beautifully decorated and have character that other hotels lack.

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in Paris and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.


Travel insurance & health card

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from ww.nhs.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

 

Curve card

Get a free Curve card to save on exchange rates & foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself and it's great - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I only recommend such things when I've read up on reviews and tried it myself.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card. Use code MAN61 to get £5 cashback after signing up and using your Curve card the first time.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing when you travel.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use them myself.

 


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