Driving from London to Paris

Driving from London to Paris
There are several ways to travel between two of Europe’s greatest cities, but one of the most exhilarating is by car. Don’t set off before you’ve digested our essential guide to driving from London to Paris.

What should I consider before setting off?

Driving to France is an adventure to savour but, as with any road trip, there are certain preparations you’ll need to make before setting off to make your journey as stress-free as possible.

First things first – make sure your car insurance covers you for driving abroad.

Most UK policies provide the minimum legal cover for driving within the EU, although this usually means third party only. So you may want to increase it to fully comprehensive, which would cover damage to your own car as well as other vehicles if you were involved in an accident. Check out RAC’s car insurance options and find out how our policies can work for you when you’re driving in Europe.

You should also arrange European breakdown cover, which will give you peace of mind should the unexpected happen during your drive from London to Paris. This cover can help you if you're planning on driving to Europe all year round or are just travelling for a short trip. Read more about our specific breakdown cover options for driving in France now.

London to Paris: Choose your route

It’s around 290 miles from London to Paris if you take the most direct route, but you might want to stop off to see the sights on the way. We look at some of your options.

London to Paris Channel Tunnel

The Channel Tunnel route (London – Folkestone – Calais – Paris)

For the quickest journey to Paris, head south from London on to the M20 towards Folkestone through the Kent Downs. Exit at Junction 11a and follow the signs for the Channel Tunnel check-in booths.

You should check in at least 30 minutes before departure but no earlier than two hours before. While waiting to board, you can stock up on drinks and snacks at the terminal.

Once you’ve gone through passport control, you’ll be directed to your allocated space aboard Eurotunnel Le Shuttle train. The journey takes just 35 minutes – you can either stay in your car or stretch your legs on the train.

Upon arrival, continue your journey towards Paris on the A26 and A1 roads.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered when driving in Europe from just £7. Plus, get a full refund if Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel.†

The ferry route (London – Dover – Calais – Paris)

Alternatively, you can take your car on board the ferry to France. From London, head south on to the M20 towards Folkestone. As the motorway merges into the A20, continue along to Dover where the boat ports are located.

After passing through passport control, you can drive on to the ferry, which takes around 90 minutes to get to Calais. There are lounges and restaurants on board, as well as duty-free shopping.

Upon arrival in Calais, join the A26. At the junction with the A1, you could stop off for a bite to eat in the beautiful medieval town of Arras, known for its 14th-century bell tower and exquisite gabled townhouses.

From here, it’s a straight drive along the A1 to the bright lights of the French capital.

The Scenic Route (London – Newhaven – Dieppe – Alabaster Coast – Rouen – Paris)

London to Paris Dieppe

 

If you want to make the most of the beautiful scenery between London and Paris, consider taking the less well-travelled ferry route.

Drive down the A23 from London through the chalk hills of the South Downs and continue along the winding coastal road at Brighton to the port of Newhaven. Catch the ferry across the Channel to the French town of Dieppe.

READ MORE: Crit’Air clean air stickers – need to know for driving in France

From there, you could take a detour along the breath-taking Alabaster Coast of Normandy, where white chalk cliffs tower over the sea. Then take the back roads to the historic city of Rouen, where you can stop off to admire the famous cathedral and explore the medieval old town.

From Rouen, head down the A13 into Paris. You could even stop off at the Palace of Versailles on the way, although it’s probably best to get there early if you want to avoid the crowds.

Driving in France Kit from £24.99

Did you know you could be fined up to €530 for not carrying the right kit with you in France?

What to bring with you

When embarking on any road trip, it pays to be well-equipped. While you’ll be able to pick up most essentials on the way if you’ve forgotten anything important, there are a few necessities you need to carry with you for driving in France. These include a GB sticker, reflective jackets, warning triangles and spare bulbs.

You’re also required to carry a breathalyser, although you won’t be fined if you’re unable to present one during a police road check. RAC’s top tips for driving in France has all the information you’ll need about French requirements, while you can buy a handy RAC Driving in France kit which will save you time and money, and help you keep on the right side of the French law.

As for other things to remember to pack, don’t forget your full driving licence, some foreign currency and a travel plug to keep your mobile charged in case of emergencies.

If you’re travelling with children, bring plenty of music and games with you. Check out our Top 10 car games for inspiration.

READ MORE: How to pack the car for a European road trip

Laws of the land

As you can imagine, France has different laws and regulations to the UK, so it’s essential that you get to grips with them before you set off to keep your passengers safe and avoid being stopped by the police.

Aside from the fact that they drive on the right-hand side of the road in France, the most important thing to be aware of is that the speed limit on many A and B roads has changed to 80km/h (50mph).

READ MORE: Speed limits in France – what have they changed to?

Paris has also introduced a Low Emission Zone which means that petrol and diesel cars registered before 1997 are banned from the hours of 8am to 8pm on weekdays.

By 2020, only vehicles made in or after 2011 will be allowed.

Do you have any tips on how to drive to France? Add your ideas to the comment section below.

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover