Getting from Sheffield to Paris by train is surprisingly an easy journey and once you get your head round how easy it is it really opens up romantic weekends, summer city breaks and the rest of the continent to you!
It’s easy to assume that flying is much easier but actually, when you factor in getting to airports and getting out of airports it’s much more than just the flying time. The train can be a much more convenient option, even when travelling from the north of England like we were.
Ever since the Eurostar route opened up way back in 1994 (I was 15!) I always wanted to just hop on a train and go to Paris (and the rest of Europe – let’s not forget!).
For some reason I’d never managed to do this trip even when I did my InterRailing as a teen or at any point with our kids. In fact I’d failed to even make it to Paris. Which is quite a feat when it is so near to us!
One Christmas I decided historic Paris was going to be our home for the week so I set about making sure we did the train trip. We live in Yorkshire in England so it was to be Sheffield to Paris by train via London!
This post was originally written in 2017 about a late 2016 trip. I’ve updated it fully in February 2022
Why travel from Sheffield to Paris by train?
One of the biggest reasons I wanted to do the Eurostar trip is because I feel strongly about the environment and the damage that airplanes to do it.
I’m far from giving up flying completely but for short trips like London to Paris it really makes sense. When you take in to account that it also drops you directly in the centre of Paris from the centre of London with no trying to get public transport or taxis it’s also a really convenient way to travel.
I’m all about an easy journey as well. I’d heard that train travel was a much more pleasant journey so I was really hoping that it was going to be a good alternative to flying to Paris.
Booking the trip – Sheffield to Paris by train
I recommend using The Trainline for booking any train travel in the UK and it’s what I always use. You can also use it to book your Eurostar portion as well
We were travelling all the way from Sheffield in Yorkshire to Paris. Sheffield is about 2-3 hours by train away from London and we changed there for the Eurostar.
You used to be able book the whole trip in one go by just putting in your home departure point and Paris as the destination – this was a great idea because you could make sure that if your connection doesn’t happen you can get compensation or help to get on the next train. 2022 update – this doesn’t seem to be possible any more. You’ll need to book your Sheffield – London portion and London – Paris section separately.
For us, booking it all together didn’t make sense. The booking window for Eurostar and domestic trains in the UK is different. You can normally book the Eurostar up to 330 days in advance while the UK train tickets open up 12 weeks in advance.
We wanted to go at Christmas time and we were fixed in that we had one day only that we could go, if we left it to book when the UK tickets opened it was likely that the day we needed would be either full or the price would have gone up to be out of our price range.
The other problem we had was that there wasn’t an exact date that booking for the Xmas trains opened – I knew the rough date of when it would open and just had to keep checking the site to see if tickets were out. 2022 update – in 2016 we booked in July for the end of December which was just short of 5 months in advance, nowadays you can book up to 330 days in advance
We also wanted to book a return so then had to wait till the return dates were out too! A little annoying, a little stressful, but I really wanted the best price tickets. If you weren’t so bothered about the price going up you could be a little more relaxed about booking.
Once the Eurostar tickets were bought it was a case of waiting until booking opened on the Sheffield to London leg. If you book as far in advance as possible you can get much cheaper tickets.
If you’re looking to book a similar journey here’s some tips:
- check out the train times that are available for each leg you need to do. Make sure that you can get to St Pancras for the Eurostar in plenty of time.
- I normally do some dummy bookings with a date 12 weeks away to see what prices and times look like. (Getting in to London early from the rest of the UK might cost a lot more than getting in late.) Remember if you have a railcard it will bring the price down (see below)
- we were lucky in that our train arrived in Kings Cross which is just next to St Pancras – a 5 min walk. If you arrive at another station in London you may need to take the tube or a taxi to get to St Pancras. Factor it in.
- Work out when your Eurostar booking will open – it’s normally 330 days in advance. Place it in your calendar and set a reminder.
- Work out when your domestic train booking will open – 12 weeks in advance. Place it in your calendar.
- Use The Trainline to book your tickets – they have a really easy to use system, can book both parts, domestic and Eurostar. It’s a company I always use.
What was the cost like? Was it expensive?
Getting the train in the UK can be *really* expensive. Mind blowingly expensive sometimes. So expensive I realise why we don’t often use the train.
As we were travelling as a family we bought a Friends and Family railcard which cost £30 and lasts for a year. We had plans for a few other trips so figured it would pay for itself. You need at least one child travelling with you for this card (under 16 – so I only had one and it was the last year I could use it).
If you’re not travelling with children there are a few other railcards worth looking at if you’re a youth or a student and if you’re travelling as a couple you could look at the Two Together card which we’ve also used more recently once my kids grew up. You can get them direct at Railcard or also at the Trainline
The railcard makes a huge difference to prices when travelling in the UK by train. I think it’s about 1/3 off prices.
How much it cost us in 2016 (with 2022 updates)
On the way to Paris it cost:
Sheffield – London: £20.80 per adult, £6 per child – £68.40 altogether
London – Paris by Eurostar: £59.50 for each adult and £57 for both children (they were charged the Youth price) – £233 altogether
All in from Sheffield to Paris by train it cost £301.40 for 4 of us. This was for 23rd December so I guess slightly higher due to Christmas and weekend pricing.
Coming back was slightly cheaper
Paris – London by Eurostar: £49.50 per adult and £47 per ‘youth’ fare – £193
London – Sheffield: £8.90 per adult, £2.55 per child – £29.25
So, the total coming back from Paris to Sheffield by train was £222.25 for four people.
All in all, it cost just under £525 for 2 adults and 2 teenagers return from Sheffield to Paris by train.
I did a dummy booking for one adult travelling to Paris from Sheffield by train, about 12 weeks in advance. This was one way:
Sheffield – London: £50
London – Paris: £86
Total from Sheffield to Paris by train was £136 one way.
What was the trip like?
It was an early start for us. I spend lots of time dreaming about train trips to Europe but if you have to factor in the connection from our home in the UK to London it begins to look like a very long day! Our train left Sheffield at just before 8am which meant an even earlier tram ride in to the centre of the city.
The train in to London was great – it was an East Midlands train, was comfortable, on time and they even came round with free festive brownies for us all. A winner! It was just over 2 hours and 15 mins to get in to Kings Cross Station.
It’s just a short walk from Kings Cross to St Pancras station where the Eurostar goes from. Nice and easy with baggage and with kids. It was busy, but that was to be expected the weekend before Christmas!
The check in for the Eurostar was the worst part but when I say that I don’t mean it was bad, just the worst bit of the day which was mostly easy! There was a bit of a queue going out and a much bigger queue going home to get through passport control and security but once you were through it was super easy.
We did the same trip without kids a few months later and it was really empty – a big contrast to Christmas time so I guess the time of year you do it makes a difference
There’s a check in area to wait with a small shop, cafe and toilets. It was quite busy when we were there but it calmed down once the earlier train boarded so if you arrive and see no seats don’t worry too much, you’ll get one soon enough.
The Eurostar was a really nice and comfortable train too – we had brought our own food to have a picnic on the train (always keeping the budget down!) which was easy to do and allowed. It arrived in Gare du Nord where we then went on the metro to our AirBnB for the week!
Overall it was a really pleasant way to travel – much, much nicer than airports and all the security checks there. Not to mention that I don’t really like flying! The fact that we could do it all in one day and without our feet leaving the ground was pretty amazing to me. I loved it.
Should you fly Sheffield to Paris instead?
When I first wrote this article it was solely about encouraging you to travel by train. I do still love the train as a mode of transport but would it be better to get to Paris from Sheffield by flying instead?
Let’s take a look.
The best airport near Sheffield that flies regularly to Paris is Manchester. Luckily you can also get a train direct from Sheffield to Manchester airport so that’s not too bad. It takes just under 2 hours and costs around £10 – £15.
The flight takes 1 hour and 35 mins from Manchester airport to Charles De Gaulle and costs around £130. You’ll also need around 2 hours before flying to go through security and to clear it at the other end too.
You’ll then need an airport transfer to the centre of Paris which can take between 30 mins to an hour depending on traffic.
Overall you’re looking at taking 6 hours, minimum, to get to Paris from Sheffield by air after taking into account transfer times, airport waiting etc. The cost is also going to be similar as well depending on how to get to and from the airports or train stations.
Really, there’s not much in it. A similar cost and similar time – so if you have a preference then go for that one!
One positive about flying is not having to book separate legs of the journey as you have to do by train from Sheffield to Paris. It’s a much more straight forward booking.