Europe

This article aims to provide some advice on how to conveniently travel between London (or nearby Oxford) and Paris.

 

1. Between London and Paris

The choice between plane and train is an easy one. With the high speed Eurostar train you can travel between London and Paris in just over 2 hours. This is not only more comfortable and environmentally friendly than flying, but usually faster and cheaper as well. The Eurostar runs from St Pancras station in London to Gare du Nord station in Paris. Booking your train online is very convenient, but in order to get the cheapest tickets, you will have to do so a few weeks in advance. Then you have to pay less than £100 for a return journey. There don't seem to be any student deals, but if you're under 26 you can get a youth ticket. If you want to avoid the £3 credit card handling fee, you can pay with a debit card (Solo/Maestro).

Power sockets in both UK and continental type are available on Eurostar trains, but if you want to use them, you need to book accordingly. There is only a limited number of seats with power sockets available in Standard class, and their type (UK/Europe) alternates between the seat rows. You should therefore select your seat manually during the online booking process. First you need to look for a train compartment that has power sockets (usually compartment 4 or 5), and then look for the labels UK or C (continental) next to the seat rows.

Eurostar

The Eurostar currently does not provide any WIFI, so if you need to go online during your journey, the best option is to use your own mobile internet plan or mobile USB sticks. Of course, you need to keep potential roaming charges in mind, since you're crossing country borders.

 

2. Between Oxford and London

When travelling between Oxford and St Pancras station in London, you have the choice between train and bus. They both bring you to central London (in 60 minutes and 100 minutes, respectively), but neither of them runs directly to St Pancras. Trains usually end at Paddington, so you need to connect via the Tube (London Underground) from there. You can get very cheap train fares if you book a bit in advance (as low as £7). On the other hand, the price of the bus tickets are fixed and they usually cannot be booked in advance. This makes the train the best option for journeys that are planned in advance, and the bus the best option for spontaneous trips to London.

If you decide to take the bus, you have the choice between two companies that offer bus services between Oxford and London. These are the Oxford Tube and the X90 service (formerly Oxford Espress) of the Oxford Bus Company. They are very similar to each other, with nearly the same fares and stops, and both of them offering free WIFI during the journey. You can just take whichever of them arrives first, but if you buy a return ticket, keep in mind that the companies don't accept each other's return tickets!