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Where is the cheapest place to buy Eurostar/French train tickets in advance

The train ticket industry in Europe is baffling. Where is the cheapest site to buy the following:

1) Eurostar: London - Paris return dates Aug 1 - 30
2) Trains in France - Paris - South - Return
3) Trains Paris - Florence

How far ahead can I buy these type of tickets? Every rail site has a different date. I want to buy the cheapest tickets possible...

Thank you SO much for any advice.

Posted by
8700 posts

I'll add some details to Michael's comments.

  1. Book at If you sign in as a resident of the UK and book as far in advance as possible (120 days), you can get a return fare as low as £59. If you've already visited the site, clear the cookies in your Web browser and sign in again.

  2. Book at To keep the site in English and to avoid being bumped to the Rail Europe site, choose Great Britain as both your country of residence and the country in which you will retrieve your tickets. If you get a Prem's fare, you print the tickets yourself. For any other fare you can pick up your tickets at any SNCF station or boutique in France--even though you originally chose Great Britain. You can book up to three full months in advance.

  3. Same as #2.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you both SO much. I am still wondering about buying the tickets in advance. Can I buy a return fare 120 days from my departure or do I have to wait until 120 days from my return?

i.e. Can I buy a return ticket 120 days from August 1 (my outbound London to Paris)


Do I have to wait until 120 days from August 30 (my return trip from Paris to London)


Do I have to buy my tickets one way at a time and if so, can I get as good a price?

One more thing:

Am I required to buy a ticket for my four year old or is it at my discretion? She will have only turned 4 a week prior to the journey and will be sitting on my lap anyways. I'm wondering what the policy is when the travellers are that young?

ANY help is very much appreciated.

Posted by
8700 posts

You're welcome, Sarah.

If you wish to book a return ticket, you will have to wait until 120 days before 30 August. The alternative would be to book a single ticket for London-Paris 120 days before 1 August and a single ticket for Paris-London 120 days before 30 August. The cheapest single ticket costs £51 ($73 US at today's exchange rate). Because you're traveling both directions on weekends, you're not likely to be able to get the very cheapest fares, either single or return.

The home page on the Eurostar site says that children under four may travel free if they sit on an adult's lap. Children four and up are supposed to have a ticket.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks Tim.

I thought that a return ticket could be as low as 59 Pounds Sterling if bought early.

Do they not honour half that rate for a one way ticket? 51 vs. 59 seems a bit squewed.

I'm tempted to rent a car and take a ferry...

What do you think is the cheapest way to go London - Paris return for five people (2a/3c)?

Posted by
8700 posts

On the Eurostar any return fare, whether it's the absolutely lowest (£59) or a bit more because of how the seat allotment/fare quota plays out, will be quite a bit less than two single fares. This is a special deal. So no, you cannot book a single fare that is half the price of a return fare.

Your absolutely cheapest way would be to take a Eurolines coach (highway bus) overnight and save yourselves the cost of a night in a hotel. The next cheapest way would be to travel all day on a Eurolines coach.