Travel between Kent and Paris, France

I am visiting the UK for the first time. We want to take a side trip to Whitstable, Kent, and then take a train to Paris from that area. I would like to take a train from London to Kent and then hire a car for the overnight trip. The next day, I would like to return the car to Ashford International and catch the Eurostar to Paris. My husband prefers to rent a car from London and return it there, taking the train to Paris from London. Any insights to the advantages or disadvantages of either?

Posted by Allie
130 posts

I have rented a car at Heathrow, driven in the countryside, returned the car to Heathrow and after a few days in London taken the Eurostar to Paris. It was no problem. Haven't tried the train.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8700 posts

If you depart from Ashford, be aware that on Mondays-Saturdays only three Eurostar trains/day stop there on their way from London to Paris. On Sundays it's only two trains.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
9883 posts

Was there another destination for which you wanted the car? Although Whitstable is not shown on some rail maps, I do find schedules for direct London Victoria-Whitstable trains on either DB or National Rail. Off-Peak Return (roundtrip) ticket costs 29 pounds per person in standard class. (Trains from Whitstable to Ashford require a connection, so less convenient.) There's probably no price difference to book the Eurostar to Paris from London St. Pancras station or from Ashford; you get the best rates by booking months ahead from either location.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13875 posts

I think this is the first time I have seen a first time visitor to our shores pick Whitstable for a side trip. I bet there is a story there. Do you mind sharing?

What do you want the car for? Is it actually somewhere in the countryside that you are trying to reach?

Can I point out that it will quite different driving in Kent countryside on little one car width lanes with passing places, driving on the left, steering wheel on the right, with lots of roundabouts than in Los Angeles?

Regardless of what you do with the car, if it were me I would take the local train 9 minutes from Whitstable (have some shellfish for me please) to Faversham and change onto the high speed Javelin train right into St Pancras and walk the few feet to the Eurostar check-in. Remember that if you haven't checked in an absolute minimum of 30 minutes prior to the departure time they won't let you travel. Eurostar are now suggesting 45-60 minutes prior depending on time of day and day of the month.

When is your trip?

I can't see any reason to take the train from Whitstable to Victoria and then have to change onto the Underground - Victoria Line - with so many stairs and luggage when it is a simple change at Faversham. Local knowledge is always good to have.

It is the same amount of time into St Pancras International as it is to Ashford, and there are many many more Eurostar trains to Paris from there every day.

If you give us a tad more information I'm sure we can be more helpful.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
2243 posts

If doing the trip to Paris in the morning, you may be able to shorten the doubling back to London somewhat by changing to the Eurostar at Ebbsfleet instead if it suits your schedule.

Posted by crisi
Los Angeles, CA
3 posts

Fantastic, suggestions. I will look into taking the train back from Faversham to San Pancras, and book the Eurostar from there. Nigel, we own a couple of seafood restaurants and wanted to go to the Sportsman near Whitstable and also see the countryside in Kent. I also thought it would be fun for our kids to stay in the Fisherman's huts for a night. Thanks for the insight into driving. I will take that into account. I have a little bit of experience with small country roads, growing up in Kentucky. Hopefully that will help.

Posted by crisi
Los Angeles, CA
3 posts

Marco, thank you for the suggestion to travel out of Ebbsfleet. I will look into that option as well. I was thinking that Ashford would prevent me from doubling back north toward London.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
2243 posts

Yes take a look at the timetable - it might be that one of the less frequent services will actually suit, although you will need to deal with the car.