Thursday 21 September 2023

One day one photo - 21: London to Paris on the cheap with FlixBus

FlixBus at Victoria Station, London 

I could have gotten myself organised earlier and booked to travel to Paris by Eurostar. I guess I could have gotten on the train with my bike and then got the ferry to Dieppe, followed by local trains to Paris. But I decided to take the cheap and cheerful option which wouldn't involve much walking or cycling, and where you could just turn up at Victoria station a few minutes before hand. I took the coach - FlixBus.

I can't remember the last time I took this option. It probably pre-dates the time that the Eurostar train existed. As a young adult in the early 1990s trying to make ends meet in Paris, what was then known as Eurolines was the go-to mode of transport when travelling between London and Paris. £40 return was a bargain. 

There was always a bit of an adventure, with it involving the bus driver having to reprimand some noisy students, an individual, sometimes even a family, being thrown off the bus at Calais for not having a valid passport. It was where I met my then best friend, Sylvie, who was visiting London for the first time. She couldn't speak a word of English and I helped her with translation on our arrival in London. It turned out that she also lived in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, like I did. Then a great friendship blossomed from there. 

Things have changed now and Eurostar tends to be the transport of reference when going to Paris - at least from London. Customs controls are stricter than ever, so no one without papers even entertains the idea of getting on the bus. Back then, we would get on a ferry at Calais, whereas now a half-hour crossing through the Eurotunnel at Folkestone is all that is needed, so you don't even have to get off the bus if you don't want to. Now that really is coach class.

So it would be interesting to see how things go. We leave London, Victoria at 11pm and are scheduled to reach Paris, Bercy at 9am tomorrow. I will just make sure to keep my mask on.

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