When traveling between Paris and London on a budget, taking the bus will be your wallet’s saving grace. The trip takes 9-10 hours each way, so going overnight saves you some precious exploring time in each city. I figured it would also save me money, as I could sleep on the bus rather than having to pay for a hostel. Sleeping, that is, in theory.

There are two major companies offering routes from Paris to London, Megabus and Eurolines. I was up for an experiment and used both, Megabus on the way there, Eurolines on the way back. Here I will compare the trips and share some advice on how to win at the losing game of overnight bus rides.

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With Megabus from Paris to London

The bus left Porte Maillot Coach Park at 10:30pm. It was fitted with slightly reclining seats, a toilet you hope you won’t have to use (clean enough, but small and shaky), and free WiFi that worked fine. The first couple hours flew by as I fell asleep right away. How did I do that? Plenty of French wine beforehand… Around 2am the lights came on and the conductor announced that it was time to go through customs.

The French border police just looked at passports, but British customs took a bit longer as they asked each passenger where they were staying, for how long, and for what purpose. After everyone was permitted to enter the UK, we got 20 minutes to use non-wobbling restrooms, hit up the vending machines, smoke, and/or stare off into space.

Buses can take two potential routes between Paris and London – crossing the English Channel either by ferry or underground by train. If they take the ferry, passengers have to get off the bus and walk onto the ferry. The transfer takes about 90 minutes from coast to coast. If your bus takes the train, you can remain seated.

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This particular night, Megabus took the ferry. From what I saw the ferry looked nice, and you could purchase drinks (including beer) and food. I didn’t indulge in any of it, as my most pressing desire was to find a quiet corner and go to my happy place.

By the time we boarded the bus again it was around 5am. With over two hours to go, I tried various positions in the hope of sleep, but had to give up eventually. I scribbled angsty notes about my grievances, centered around being awake and on a bus, and my bitterness toward the more compact, snoring man behind me, into my trail note-book – that helped.

How to survive the night bus from Paris to London

Around 7:30am we arrived at Victoria Coach Station, conveniently close to the Victoria Underground Station and a friendly, warm coffee shop, Cafe Nero, whose cappuccino made the world right again.


From London to Paris with Eurolines

I had heard Eurolines was pricey, but actually it was even a few pounds cheaper than Megabus. After buying my ticket, I visited the Eurolines office (a 5 minute walk from the Victoria Coach Station) to ensure my returning journey would go with the train – I figured it could only be better than the ferry.

After an excellent time in England, I returned to Victoria Coach Station and boarded the Eurolines bus towards Paris. Like on Megabus, seats were not assigned, so when it was time to board a chaotic race of sleepy passengers broke loose. I believe wholeheartedly in queues, so after getting to the station early and standing in line  to make sure I got a good seat, all I could do was yelp, “No! No!” as people rushed towards the front without any consideration. Lesson learnt: be aggressive. Toss your bag into the side of the bus and GO get the seat of your dreams.

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The Eurolines bus looked fancier: above each seat was a console with USB plug-ins, airplane lights, and a vent. However, the WiFi didn’t work – the worst! The best part about the return journey was that I actually never had to get off the bus. The French border police came on at approx. 12.15am, took everyone’s passports for review and then returned them. Also, taking the train was pretty cool – the conductor drove the bus straight into a train car! A bit mind-boggling, especially at 1am. En route in France we stopped at a convenience store for about 15 minutes. With very similar seats to Megabus, sleep remained difficult on Eurolines.

I shaved off an hour on the trip back to Paris due to the train. We finally arrived around 7.30am to Gallieni Coach and Metro Station, after stopping at Charles de Gaulle airport. I definitely got off with a whole new appreciation for my bed.

Survival tips

  1. In addition to your passport and printed ticket (a requirement when going to or from France), make sure you have the address of your accommodation in England written down. The UK order police will want to know it.

  2. Pack a sleeping mask, pillow, ear plugs, and music/videos that don’t require WiFi. I brought books but it was too dark with people trying to sleep – an e-reader would probably work better. If you are particularly nervous about the germs, I also recommend a medical mask that covers your mouth (often free at health clinics) to prevent catching anybody else’s nasty cold.

  3. Have a good dinner beforehand, and bring snacks/drinks for the journey. Salt and sugar make everything better. So does wine (which you are not technically allowed on the bus…)

  4. If you tend to get car sick/seasick, take motion sickness medication, like Dramamine.

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Bottom line: To save money, you can’t beat the bus. If you want to avoid traveling during the days of your trip, and you can survive on little sleep, the overnight bus will work for you.

The big question is of course; which company should you use? Eurolines was a tad fancier with quieter clientele, but I have to go with Megabus due to the working WiFi. 9+ hours on a bus is rough in its own – without Facebook and being able to catch up on emails, it verges on unacceptable.

Have you taken the night bus from Paris to London before? We’d love to hear your stories and advice for a smoothest journey possible in the comments below!


This is a guest post by Kimberly Absher. She is a Seattle-native freelance writer currently living and eating adorable desserts in France. She dishes out stories of her travels and life as a newlywed on her blog.