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 alternatives to Eurostar

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Why go by train & ferry and a reality check!

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

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

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London to Paris via Portsmouth-Caen - the comfortable 'sleeper' option with private cabin

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London to Paris via Portsmouth-St Malo - a more leisurely '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 route to choose?

Route map

London to Paris train & ferry route map

 

Click for larger map

Highlighted = London to Paris routes.

Red = high-=speed line.

Green = scenic sections of line

European Rail Timetable and mapReproduced from the excellent European Rail Map with kind permission of the European Rail Timetable people.

I recommend buying a copy of the European Rail Map for your travels, www.europeanrailtimetable.eu with shipping worldwide.

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London to Paris via Dover-Calais

The route via Dover-Calais is the traditional one with the shortest sea crossing.

Below is an example timetable, using the classic train route from London Charing Cross to Dover, P&O ferries from Dover to Calais (the only company that carries foot passengers at all), and the classic route from Calais to Paris via Boulogne & Amiens.

Unfortunately, only designated P&O ferry sailings now take foot passengers and you need to allow plenty of time for lengthy station-port transfers plus P&O's ridiculous 90-minute ferry check-in for foot passengers.  So the journey now takes around 11 hours, when it only took 7 or 8 hours in the 1930s.

I compiled the timetable below around the handful of sailings shown as carrying foot passengers at the time I wrote this, but P&O occasionally switch these sailings around, so first check foot passenger sailing times at www.poferries.com for your specific date, then work out connecting train times in Britain and in France, as explained below.

 London ► Dover / Calais ► Paris  by train+ferry 

 Train:

Mondays-Fridays

Saturdays

Sundays

 London Charing Cross

depart

09:00

08:59

09:59

 Dover Priory

arrive

10:49

10:49

11:49

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

 Dover Eastern Docks

depart

13:45

13:45

13:45

 Calais Ferry Terminal

arrive

16:15

16:15

16:15

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

 Calais Ville station

depart

18:20

19:11

19:38

 Boulogne Ville

arrive

18:48

19:45

20:02

 Etaples / Le Touquet

arrive

19:07

20:06

20:19

 Amiens

arrive

20:12

21:10

21:21

 Paris Gare de Nord

arrive

  21:57 c

-

22:29

c = change at Amiens

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

10:27

10:31

09:31

 Amiens

depart

11:38

11:41

09:41

 Etaples / Le Touquet

depart

12:40

12:42

11:42

 Boulogne Ville

depart

12:56

12:58

11:58

 Calais Ville station

arrive

13:23

13:33

12:28

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

 Calais Ferry Terminal

depart

15:50

15:50

15:50

 Dover Eastern Docks

arrive

16:20

16:20

16:20

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

 Dover Priory

depart

17:54

18:00

18:00

 London Charing Cross 

arrive

19:49

19:49

19:49

How to check times for your 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 www.thetrainline.com.

  • Step 2, then work backwards, looking for a ferry at www.poferries.com which carries foot passengers and which arrives at Calais ferry terminal at least 90 minutes before the train leaves Calais Ville, preferably 2 hours.

  • Step 3, now look for a London to Dover train at www.thetrainline.com which arrives at Dover Priory at least 2 hours 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.

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.

Step 2, transfer from station to port 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 3, Dover to Calais by ferry

Crossing the Channel by ferry

Sailing across the Channel with the White Cliffs of Dover disappearing astern.

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 at the entrance to the port.

Step 4, transfer from port to station in Calais

Calais Ferry Terminal

Calais ferry terminal, opened in 2021 and even further out of town than the original one.  A free bus runs to the town centre & Calais Ville station Monday-Saturday, on Sunday you'll need a taxi.  Courtesy of Andrew Turnbull.

Step 5, Calais to Paris by train

TER regional train from Calais to Paris   Interior of TER regional train from Calais to Paris

These new air-conditioned regional trains now run direct from Calais to Paris Gare du Nord.  2nd class only.  They are bi-mode, capable of running on diesel (Calais-Amiens) and electric power (Amiens-Paris). Courtesy of Nicholas A Milligan..

TER regional train from Calais arrived at Paris Nord

Arrived at Paris Gare du Nord.  See Paris Nord station informationCourtesy of Nicholas A Milligan.

Watch the video

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London to Paris via Newhaven-Dieppe

London to Paris for £89 one-way, even for immediate departure

The slower Newhaven-Dieppe route has always played second fiddle to the faster Dover-Calais route shown above, but these days it's worth considering because it's significantly cheaper, and the train-ferry transfer in Newhaven is much easier than in Dover.  This is also the ideal route if you live in Brighton, as there are direct trains from Brighton to Newhaven Town every half hour, taking 30 minutes.

This is an example timetable, DFDS tweak sailing times throughout the year.  So use this as a guide.  To find times for your date of travel, first check ferry times at www.dfds.com, then find suitable UK connecting trains arriving at Newhaven at least 1h30 before the ferry sails using www.nationalrail.co.uk.  Then find a suitable French connecting train leaving at least 1 hour after arrival using www.sncf-connect.com or www.thetrainline.com.

 London & Brighton ► Newhaven-Dieppe ► Paris

 Train

Mondays-Fridays

Saturdays

Sundays

 London Victoria

depart

  07:54e

  19:58b

 07:54e

  19:29b

  07:02b

  19:46e

 Brighton

depart

08:36

21:11

08:36

20:41

08:47

20:41

 Newhaven Town

arrive

09:11

21:39

09:11

21:11

09:16

21:16

 Ferry  In Newhaven it's a 3-minute walk from Newhaven Town station to the ferry

 Newhaven ferry terminal

depart

11:00

23:00

11:00

23:00

11:00

23:00

 Dieppe ferry terminal

arrive

16:00

05:00

16:00

05:00

16:00

05:00

 Train  In Dieppe it's a 30-minute walk or 10-minute bus or taxi ride to the station

 Dieppe Ville station

depart

17:15

 06:17*

18:02

08:00

17:02

06:17

 Rouen (change trains)

arrive

18:16

 07:15*

18:47

08:47

17:47

07:15

 Rouen

depart

18:57

 07:23*

18:55

08:55

17:56

07:23

 Paris St Lazare

arrive

20:23

 08:39*

20:25

10:23

19:23

08:39

* = On Saturday mornings, depart Dieppe 07:00, change Rouen, arrive Paris 09:23.

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 and walk 300m to the ferry terminal, see walking route.  You check in any large bags and get them back at Dieppe.

In Dieppe, there are taxis or (1 May- 30 September) there's a shuttle bus costing €2.50, or it's a 30-minute 2.4 km walk, see walking route.

Important:  As with the Calais timetable, I wont keep this page 100% updated with every minor ferry sailing time change.  So use it as a guide,  check ferry times at www.dfds.com then find suitable connecting trains at www.nationalrail.co.uk for the UK side and at www.sncf-connect.com for the French side.

 Paris ► Dieppe-Newhaven ► Brighton & London 

 Train

Monday-Friday

Saturdays

Sundays

 Paris St Lazare

depart

07:40

10:40

07:40

12:39

-

12:39

 Rouen

arrive

09:02

12:01

09:01

14:06

-

14:06

 Rouen

depart

09:10

12:10

09:10

14:14

-

14:15

 Dieppe Ville station

arrive

09:59

12:59

09:59

15:03

-

15:03

 Ferry   In Dieppe it's a 30-minute walk or 10-min taxi ride to the ferry terminal

 Dieppe ferry terminal

depart

12:00

18:00

12:00

18:00

12:00

18:00

 Newhaven ferry terminal

arrive

15:00

21:15

15:00

21:15

15:00

21:15

 Train   In Newhaven, it's a 3-minute walk from the ferry to Newhaven Town station

 Newhaven Town

depart

16:01

22:00

16:01

22:01

16:06

22:04

 Brighton

arrive

16:29

22:30

16:29

22:29

16:41

22:33

 London Victoria 

arrive

  17:36e

  22:11e

  17:36e

  23:38e

  17:30b

  00:17b

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

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London to Paris via Portsmouth - Caen

A luxurious 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 by train next morning.  A time-effective and comfortable alternative to Eurostar if you need one.

The Man in Seat 61 says "Brittany Ferries ships are comfortable, luxurious even, 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."  

London & Portsmouth ► Caen & Paris

Paris & Caen ► 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 to Portsmouth.  Trains run regularly 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

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

Ferry arrival in Portsmouth at dawn

Step 2, take a ferry from Portsmouth to Caen.  Check in at the Brittany Ferries desk and board the overnight ferry to Caen, sleeping in a private en suite cabin. Above, the luxurious Normandie at Portsmouth.

Cabin on the Portsmouth-Caen ferry

A cosy cabin with shower & toilet on the Portsmouth to Caen ferry.  Courtesy of @AscotPhill.

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 at dawn.

Train from Normandy at Paris St Lazare

Step 3, take a train from Caen to Paris.  This is a double-deck TER Train Nomad at Paris St Lazare.  See St Lazare station informationCourtesy of Nicholas A Milligan.

1st class on Le Havre to Paris Train Nomad   2nd class on Le Havre-Paris Train Nomad

1st class on a Train Nomad TER train, upper deck.

 

2nd class on a Train Nomad TER train, upper deck.

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London to Paris via Portsmouth - St Malo

A more leisurely London-Paris 'sleeper' option

Although Portsmouth-Caen is the faster & cheaper overnight 'sleeper' option, you might prefer the Portsmouth-St Malo route for a more leisurely journey with more sleep and a lovely dinner aboard ship, in effect a mini-cruise.  It also allows a stopover in pretty St Malo.

The Man in Seat 61 says "Going Portsmouth-St Malo takes longer than going Portsmouth-Caen, but it's a treat - the ships used on this route are the wonderful Bretagne, a true cruise ferry, and the Amorique, with a few sailings operated by the luxurious Pont Aven.  With an earlier evening departure from Portsmouth  you get to experience sailing past the naval dockyard, HMS Victory & HMS Warrior and the Spinnaker Tower, as dinner is served on board in the elegant restaurant.  Retire to your en suite cabin, as good as any hotel room, and wake up in France..."

London & Portsmouth ► St Malo & Paris

Paris & St Malo ► Portsmouth & London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

Boarding the ferry Amorique from Portsmouth to St Malo   Boarding the ferry Amorique from Portsmouth to St Malo

Private en suite cabin on the ferry to St Malo.

 

The ferry Amorique to St Malo.  Courtesy of Ivor Morgan

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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 at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses) or www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

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Hotels in London, Paris & France

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: www.booking.com

Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust booking.com's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, booking.com usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

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 Vendτme 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 Citι & 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.

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Travel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  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, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection and gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Maya.net logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a European mobile data package and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list.  There's no need to buy a physical SIM card!  Maya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.

 

Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate then add a foreign transaction 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 money you spend on your Curve card 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 Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  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, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When travelling you may use free public WiFi which is often insecure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using this link you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I also get some commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, hotel bookings and Interrail or Eurail passes are often now held on your mobile phone.  You daren't let it run out of power, and you can't always rely on the phone's internal battery or on being near a power outlet.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or Buy from Amazon.com.

Touring cities?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!

 


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