I will be traveling this summer with my claustrophobic Grandmother, who refuses to take the Chunnel, but I've heard the trip from UK to France via train-ferry-train takes forever. Just wondering if a) there are reasonably priced flights b) how long the train-ferry-train method is likely to take and c) if there's another method I'm not considering. Thanks in advance!
There are discount flights from London to Paris, but since you'll likely be arriving at Heathrow airport, you may have to change airports (to Luton, Stansted, or Gatwick...say 4-5 hours between arrival and departure to make sure) to take advantage of them. Check whichbudget.com ASAP for some ideas, then check those fares against bigger airlines like British Airways, Air France, and British Midland (BMI) to see if they're offering comparable fares out of Heathrow (competition works wonders some times.) But do it now....the cheaper tickets go fast!
BMI cancelled all LHR-CDG flights 18 months ago - could not compete with the heavily government subsidised Eurostar. I think the others did the same. Now there's nothing but the no-frills carriers flying out of the sticks ( ie Luton and Stanstead ).
Amanda have you considered the coach from Victoria Coach station in London ? A lot of people say it's less hassle than the train - ferry - train option ?
For information on the train-ferry-train route, go here: www.seat61.com/London-Paris-ferry.htm.
For information on the coach service referenced by Al, go here: www.eurolines.com.
Your best budget airline route would be London Luton to Paris CDG on easyJet (www.easyjet.com).
FYI, I have a friend in London who rides the Tube regularly without her claustrophobia acting up, but has always flown to Paris because the thought of being in the channel tunnel for 20 minutes was too much for her. Finally she braved it--and now wouldn't travel to Paris any other way. (Of course, this may not reassure your grandmother one bit.)
Just a note about the Eurolines coach that was mentioned - it goes through the Eurotunnel - which I think is far worse than the 20 minutes you're underground on the chunnel. They load the coach into a carriage, and then it travels through the tunnel on a train-type thing. It's not awful, it just feels like you're sitting in your car in the garage. (With really horrible lighting)
So, if being underground in a tunnel is her primary concern, that wouldn't be any better.
I know that the overnight London-Paris coach (8 hrs) uses Eurotunnel, and I think the 8 AM departure does as well, but the other departures use P&O Ferries to cross. The total trip w/ferry is 9.5-10 hrs. I would double check before booking on which uses Eurotunnel/Ferry crossings though, as I'm only positive on the last departure.
I know how your grandmother feels because I too am claustrophobic (started when I had my first MRI), and was so afraid to try the Chunnel two years ago. But guess what? I managed! I did get a funny feeling at first and felt like I would have a panic attack, but decided to write in my journal and try not to think of the 20 minutes "under." On my return journey it was so much better. This time around I opted for another go on the Eurostar and I'm so excited. She's probably much older than I am, but I hope she can give this a try. I love telling all my friends and family that we were the first ones to try it. Everyone else has flown but we get to brag. In fact, the staff on board the Eurostar gave me a pen as a gift because I made it without panicking :-)
eurolines bus fare was about 35 pounds each.?
If it's just the thought of being in the Chunnel that is disturbing this may not help but . . . My first trip on the Eurostar was at night from Ashford, Kent. It was dark when we left England, dark in the Chunnel and dark when we arrived in Paris. There were no lights anywhere. I barely noticed when we exited the Chunnel.
Thanks to everyone who replied! I'll make some suggestions to Gram & hopefully everything will work out! :)