Where are the cheap Eurostar tickets?
September 1, 2006 6:11 PM   Subscribe

How can I get really cheap Eurostar tickets (London-Paris and back)?

I'm taking my sister to London. I want her to see a bit of Europe too. We're going to Rome for a few days, but she is dying for Paris. I'm going to do a day trip, as described in EssexJan's post.

I want to go on Sunday, September 17, but am willing to go on Saturday, September 16.

Where are the top secret cheapo tickets?
posted by k8t to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, and we have international student ID cards but are too old for the youth rate.
posted by k8t at 6:18 PM on September 1, 2006

Oh, we could also go on Monday September 11.
posted by k8t at 6:23 PM on September 1, 2006

There aren't any at such short notice, really. The UK press often have cheap Eurostar offers, but usually only for three or four weeks' time.

But you'll still get a student discount. Book online to see the best selection of fare options (at http://www.eurostar.com)
posted by athenian at 11:05 PM on September 1, 2006

^ What athenian said. You needed to have booked about eight weeks ago in order to get the £59 return tickets.

It's a daft policy if you ask me -- Eurostar trains often have a lot of empty seats, perhaps they could sell a limited number of cheap tickets on the day. But they don't.

You might still be able to get an ultra-cheap flight at short notice. Maybe.
posted by randomination at 2:10 AM on September 2, 2006

Aside from the Eurostar sticker-shock, you've probably seen that the earliest train doesn't get to Paris until almost noon on Sunday, which might really shorten your time there. So here are some suggestions for flying from Heathrow, since that seems closest/most accessible to central London.

Amazingly, flying is almost exactly the same price as the Eurostar would have been had you got the cheap returns weeks and weeks ago, and given that you won't have any bags and can check in online for both flights the day before, you won't really lose much time with airport silliness.

Monday the 11th: BA wants $240.20 for both of you, taxes/fees included - about the same as the £59 returns offered on Eurostar. LHR-CDG. Depart LHR 0620, arrive CDG 0825, depart CDG on the way home 2145, arrive LHR 2200. Itinerary/fare details in the link above; tell them you want the exact fare/booking code in bold in the price summary at the bottom of the page. Call BA at 1-800-247-9297 to book the ticket over the phone as my link doesn't have a way to buy on the website (and though I attempted to do this on ba.com, I couldn't get this fare).

Saturday the 16th: I couldn't get this one down to an absurdly low price without making you trek out to Stansted or Luton at 3 in the morning. Meh, you didn't really want to go on this day anyway. :)

Sunday the 17th: Exactly the same flights/times/price as the 11th above, but you can book this one online at the BA website here. Best option?! I think so!

On the 11th and the 17th, there were BA flights leaving Heathrow for the same price around 0720 should getting up too early be beyond the pale, but on the 16th that 0720 flight was almost three times the price.

In any case, you would have left your house at the same time to arrive in Paris at the same time if you assume 3 hours for the train from your house to Waterloo to Gare du Nord and 3.5 or 4 hours to get from your house to Heathrow and to CDG and then the RER into the city.

I think the excitement of the trip will drive you both into action. Think of this a surgical airstrike: get in, get Parisianized, get out. If you check in online the night before and print your boarding passes at home, and you're not carrying any luggage, I don't see why you'd have to be at the airport before 5, and if you're in central London, it won't take an hour to get there. Wallet maps of the Metro and main bus routes are free for the asking ("Excusez-moi, avez-vous une plan de poche?") at any Metro stop, or they're just lying out waiting to be snatched by luggageless daytrippers like yourselves.

My one (longish) Paris tip: rent a bicycle from Roue Libre (in conjunction with RATP, the people who run the Metro) for a paltry 10 or 15 euros per day so you can ride under the Eiffel Tower and whiz past all the tourists and the machine-gun-toting guards! (I did it in November so there was more room for popping wheelies.) You've got to either leave a credit card deposit with them, or a piece of ID like a passport or a drivers' license, and you've got to reserve by 6pm the day before, and they'll e-mail you confirmation. You can pick them up right near the Chatelet-Les Halles RER/Metro stop on the way in from CDG, which is in the center of the 1er, so you're right in the middle of everything.

Also, not to impose my bike-ly ways, but here's a neat DIY highlights-of-Paris bike tour: from Les Halles, cross the Seine to Ile de Cite, hit Notre Dame, cross the river again and ride toward the Eiffel Tower past the Assemblee Nationale and the Musee d'Orsay. At the Eiffel Tower/Champs de Mars, cross the Seine and ride back toward Les Halles, passing the Place de la Concorde, heading up to Madeleine, then down toward the Louvre and the Tuileries, and then back to Les Halles. You'll need a map, or the ability to ask for directions. :)

Have a great time!
posted by mdonley at 4:57 AM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

A cheap Eurostar ticket is a rare animal indeed.
The cheapest Eurostar ticket,a different but similar animal,is obtained thus:
Book now.At least two weeks before travel.
Book direct with Eurostar.com.
Log on as an American and pay in $ via CC.
Try different combinations of times and dates.
You may want to consider staying over a night or two using packages from the site.Tickets come down and Paris.....she is magnifique.
posted by Dr.Pill at 12:00 PM on September 2, 2006

Personally... I would definitely recommend catching the Eurostar to Paris and NOT flying. ESPECIALLY from Heathrow. Eurostar is door to door on the train.. easy and no ridiculously long queues for checkin or hours commuting to airports. If you want to have a GOOD day out.. flying there will be painful stressful and you'll arrive in Paris exhausted and tired... not to mention repeating it on the way home.

The cheaper airfares are NOT worth the hassle.

Especially now that they've made security that much more intense at British airports, it WILL take about 3 hours to even get through checkin and to the gate. So a 9am flight will require you to be at Heathrow before 6am. Not to mention the hour on the other end to get from CDG to Paris. Having only done this about 2 weeks ago.. I know how painful it can be.

Eurostar on the other hand is so much simpler.. Tube to Waterloo.. self checkin at the counter.. spits out your tickets.. through the gate.. bag through metal detector and passport control in about 5-10 minutes total. Wait for the train to be called.. board.. 2 hours 40 minutes later of a smooth peaceful journey later.. arrive in the centre of Paris at Gare du Nord. Piece of cake.

Just get on it and book it now!!!

Email me if you have more questions...
posted by snarkle at 4:55 PM on September 3, 2006

Of course the train is more convenient and the security hassles of flying are, well, something to be endured. But if you don't want to spend $500 on a five-hour round-trip journey, flying is cheaper (in a purely monetary sense).


"Heathrow is currently operating normal schedules and has normal check-in times."

Heathrow's website
has all the details sans media hysteria and asks you NOT to arrive more than three hours in advance. BA still lets you check-in online or at kiosks in the terminal.

Snarkle: I wonder if the security situation has eased since two weeks ago - I would have hated to have been stuck in the Heathrow security shuffle.
posted by mdonley at 7:21 PM on September 3, 2006

just to say that at Gatwick things have gone back to normal.
Having said that I would pay the extra every time to avoid Heathrow and jump on the Eurostar, love it!
Good point about arriving with the day half-over though.
posted by Wilder at 5:51 AM on September 4, 2006

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