Cheap travel to France: Where to find the best discounts

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travel to france

travel to franceWith France just a short hop over the Channel from the UK, it’s the perfect destination for a day trip, short break or longer holiday, so make sure you take a look at these deals and offers for cheap travel to France.

For many years, the traditional British gateway for travel to France was via its northwest coast – by ferries to ports such as Calais in Normandy or St Malo in Brittany. And today, ferry services are priced even more competitively than ever for  cheap travel to France that won’t break the bank, following the introduction of the Eurostar and Eurotunnel.

Flying to France is not the cheapest option, but if you don’t want to travel by Eurostar and aren’t looking for a driving holiday then no-frills airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair and bmibaby have value fares from London and regional airports to destinations across France.

 

Where to find tickets for cheap travel to France?

Finding tickets for cheap travel to France means savvy shopping and booking as far in advance as you can. The best price tickets advertised by Eurostar and Eurotunnel, for example, need advance booking of at least four months (the earliest you can book before departure) to snag them.

Ferry companies offer great value for families looking for cheap travel to France, even without special deals – you usually pay for the car, carrying anything up to nine people, which can break down into a bargain price for each passenger.

Coach journeys to Paris (with ferry or Eurotunnel crossing included) can work out as exceptional value –providing you don’t mind an eight hours-plus journey.

 

Ferry

A standard return from Dover to Calais on DFDS Seaways starts from £29 each way for a car and up to four people. Longer crossings to Brittany and Normandy offer the chance to relax, possibly even sleep overnight, but they’re more expensive initially. Brittany Ferries is offering 50% off Sun-Thurs 13 Sept – 31 October . However depending on where you’re going they may also save you enough on the reduced driving mileage to offset the extra cost.

 

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Discounts with the AA

If you need to renew your breakdown cover then consider joining the AA, which offers members up to 15% off travel to France with ferry operators Brittany Ferries

  • Benefits of breakdown cover plus members’ travel deals
  • No restrictions on car/passenger tickets – ferry savings apply to vehicle and occupants elements of mini-break and fully flexible fares
  • Use this discount as many times as you like during the year

 

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P&O short break deals

Spread the cost even further with a P&O each way deal (any duration) from Dover to Calais from £39 for a car and up to nine passengers, making a crossing £4.33pp if you have a full people carrier!

  • Travel with one of the UK’s premier ferry companies
  • Comfortable ships with family lounges, restaurants and shops
  • Family friendly – kids play areas, quiet video lounges, video games and kids menus in restaurants.

 

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Comparison websites such as FerryOffers.co.uk will also yield great ticket prices. And look out for periodic newspaper deals offering money off trips to France by ferry – The Sun and The Daily Mail recently had vouchers for £1 journeys.

 

Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel has return tickets to France from £44 per car (and up to nine people) each way this summer for stays of up to five days, but as usual these low ‘best-price’ fares depend on advance booking.

Eurotunnel positives include a crossing time of 35 minutes, Folkstone to Calais, that’s unaffected by the weather. Plus you can coral everyone in the car for the journey, so no need to watch the movements of your children like a hawk in transit.

 

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Coach

Tickets for coach journeys to Paris include a ferry or Eurotunnel crossing – but also a long journey, up to 9 1/2 hours (not a good option for families with young children). But modern coaches are comfy and the price can be very right – even without money saving deals – a standard return ticket with Eurolines bought online starts from £39pp.

Eurolines

London to Paris from £58 both ways including your booking fee plus more great deals on trips to France.

  • Comfortable coaches with reclining seats, air-conditioning and onboard toilets
  • Large luggage allowance – two large suitcases carried free
  • No booking fee on top (included in price)
  • Special rate connection fare for those travelling from outside London – £15 return from any National Express departure point in the UK.

 

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Megabus

If you’re tenacious you can get to Paris and back with great deals from Megabus. Ticket numbers on routes are limited – you’ll need to book way in advance and be flexible with dates to get the best offers.

  • London and regional routes; Birmingham, Coventry and London to Boulogne Gare du Maritime and Paris Porte Maillot Coach Park
  • 20kg free luggage allowance (plus free carriage of pushchairs in the hold)
  • Two services each day in each direction
  • Free Wifi on UK-to-Continent coaches

 

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Eurostar

Eurostar is a fast and frequent train service (journey time 2 hrs 15 mins) that cuts out the stress of wrangling bored children at busy airports. Return tickets to Paris start from £69. However, these tickets sell out fast and you’ll need to book four months ahead (the maximum advance booking for these cities) to get the lowest fare.

A one-way ticket to Paris from St Pancras International bought on the day can be upwards of £150. Eurostar services also go to Lille and Disneyland Paris, as well as Avignon on summer Saturdays and the French Alps during the ski season.

Eurostar Plus Points

Join the Eurostar Plus Points loyalty programme and spend £300 on Eurostar travel to receive a £20 e-voucher to spend on your next ticket. Plus if your friends and family book a Eurostar journey online, they can also contribute to your £300 total (if they’re not saving for their own voucher!) Benefits include:

  • Free to join loyalty programme
  • E-vouchers valid for a year and stored in your online account
  • Vouchers can be accumulated – so you may be able to get enough to get a free trip to France
  • Easy and quick stress-free travel from the heart of London and stations in the southeast.

 

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Nectar

You can cash in Nectar points for money off Eurostar journeys – 500 points get you £2.50 to spend on train travel to Paris, Lille, Disneyland Paris or the French Alps. And for every additional 500 points you spend you get another £2.50 off the price of your ticket.

  • Can be used to book from 24 hours in advance of travel
  • A great way to get cashback rewards on all types of everyday shopping and services.

 

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Flying

Flight prices cannot generally compete with ferry or coach journeys for  travel to France – and struggle against the cheapest Eurostar tickets at £69 return. But there is a wider range of destinations that you can reach in a relatively short amount of time, and periodic seat sales mean you can pick up a bargain.

Ryanair’s recent 24-hour May Day sale had a million seats for £10.99 one-way – including taxes and charges (the airline’s usual way of raising the cost by stealth) on all of its 28 of its French routes.

 

Travel and accommodation deals

AA Getaways

Get a three-night Eurostar break from £139pp with AA Getaways until 31 August – that’s just £70 on top of the cheapest ticket to France with Eurostar – and includes return train travel, accommodation with breakfast

  • You don’t have to be a member to book, but AA members save a further 5% on short breaks
  • Free AA Guidebook to Paris with each short break
  • No need to organise separate accommodation with a package.

 

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Great Getaways

Great Getaways offers even better savings on trips to France with Eurostar travel two for 1 on Eurostar breaks.

  • Independent internet travel agent able to compare and offer best prices from a wide range of tour operators
  • Wide selection of hotels in Paris and Lille to choose from
  • No need to organise separate accommodation with a package.

 

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Brittany Ferries

Book your holiday accommodation from the self-catering and B&B selection advertised by Holiday France Direct, and you’ll get a voucher code for 20% off ferry travel to France with Brittany Ferries – a saving of £17.80 off the best price Portsmouth to Caen fare.

  • Ferries recently rated Which’s best ferry company with 4 stars
  • Sail from Portsmouth, Poole or Plymouth direct to Brittany or Normandy
  • Discount can be used on day crossings, overnight sailing or high-speed services.

 

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