travel offers for
France : tips and warnings
Or not so cheap? Don't
be taken in !!
reveal "cheap ferry" scam
"Cheap ferries?" Don't be fooled by Internet
sites offering "cheap" ferries; they may not be as cheap as
they seem, they may well not reflect all the special offers
the ferry companies have on their own websites, and they may even
between cheap ferry sites?
Unlikely ! While there are
some independent Ferry price comparison sites, at least four of the
most visible cheap ferry sites on the Internet are part of the same
nebulous web of interconnected websites and companies - comprising at
least one company based in a well-known Pacific ocean tax haven.
And don't bother checking out so-called customer reviews of
on Internet. Writing fake reviews has become a full-blown industry,
used by many companies . For more on this, check out this
from the Guardian newspaper.
checked the cost of a number of cross-Channel standard return
trips, getting quotes for identical journeys offered on the ferry
company sites and on eight
prominent internet sites
supposedly offering cheap ferries. None
of these Internet sites offered any
of the journeys we checked for a price lower than the actual ferry
company itself; in other words, none
were offering discounted ferry tickets. On the contrary two
the eight sites supposedly offering "cheap" crossings actually charged more
than the ferry companies themselves. One of these supposedly "cheap
ferry" sites was indeed more expensive than any of the other sites
tested for five out of six of the journeys for which quotes were
obtained. Moral of the story: you're certainly no worse off,
may well get better bargains, by booking directly on Ferry company websites
"same price" ? Not necessarily true – not at all.
Many "cheap" ferry ticketing websites do offer
many tickets at the same price as the ferry companies themselves.
That's fine if everything goes according to plan, and you
don't have to change a booking or cancel one or modify a
ticket..... Beware of the small print
you've booked directly with the ferry company, changing a ticket should
be a simple process, and under certain circumstances - may even be
free. As long as you have not bought a super-saver no-change
no-cancellation ticket, you will either be able to change your ticket
for a small fee (£10 to £20), or else free of
But if you've booked through a third-party site,
then the costs
may be significantly higher. One well-known ferry booking site
states on its website, changing a ticket will incur " a minimum
£25/40 euros per booking " on
"any charges by the ferry operator. "
indicate the maximum fee....
Several other "price comparison sites" for ferry
quote a charge of £25
or 40 €
to extra costs levied by the ferry company
Thus on an off-peak short crossing such as Dover-Calais, with offers starting at less than £50, changing a ticket
more than actually buying a new one once you've paid a fee to the ferry
company and another one to the price comparison site you bought your
for six different standard
cross-Channel return journeys operated by three different ferry
companies were obtained from eight prominent online booking sites and
from the operators themselves.
are hundreds of sites out on the Internet, claiming to
offer you the "cheapest
the "best deals", the "lowest costs", and the best special offers. But
don't be taken in! Agencies and resellers will offer you special deals,
maybe, but since they are only offering what the airlines and the ferry
companies are offering in the first place, there's a fair chance that
you may end up paying more than necessary for your trip. A lot of
"cheapest deals" are certainly
not what they claim to be, and "low cost" airline tickets and ferry
tickets can be considerably more expensive than necessary, when booked
through a third-party site than when booked
Don't be fooled by offers on airline ticket price comparison
sites. To start with they are only offering what the airlines are
offering in the first place; secondly they may offer some pretty dodgy
routes, such as a trip from point A to point B via point C which is 500
miles in the wrong direction and gives a journey time of 20 hours....
which people in a hurry may not notice until it is too late! And
they won't necessarily include all the options available, since they
may not list journeys from operators who do not pay them a commission.
There are plenty of "cheap
travel" or "travel bargains" sites that only
propose flights, ferries, packages and hotel rooms from operators who
pay them a commission. They simply fail to mention services provided by
other operators, that may be cheaper, but on which they do not get a
And if you're wanting to book a flight last minute,
take note! Seats with so called "low cost" carriers may well turn out
to be more expensive than with established airlines. Whether you're
booking seats to France, Spain, Italy or wherever, the same is true.
In many cases, particularly
for ferries and hotels, but sometimes for flights too, you'll find that
best prices can be had by booking directly with
the operator (see below for direct
to operators websites), and by doing so as early as possible.
if you book directly, then there's no chance of losing your booking
when some internet booking agency goes bust, as happened last year with
more than one....
Don't be fooled by the "50% discount"
scam ! What does 50%
off actually mean?.... 50% off what?
You can find plenty of "cheap hotel" sites on Internet offering such
apparent bargains as "up to 50% off".... or even more. But read the
small print; it's "up to
50%" ! not "50%"! That could mean just 5%.... or nothing at all.
Sometimes hotel reseller sites will offer you "50% off full room
rates"..... forgetting to mention that in fact the "full room rate" (or
rack rate) only applies at the busiest time of the year, and then only
to people who turn up at the door for a last-minute booking. Otherwise,
no one pays it !
Of course it does happen that sometimes you may
get a special deal from an Internet booking site, better than you can
get anywhere else. Internet portals use "loss leaders" to attract
customers in the same way as supermarkets do; but the chances are that
this will not be the case.
direct and cut out the middleman
Bying direct from the operator (ferry, hotel, etc) means cutting out
the middleman, and is often the best
solution, in terms of price and reliability. There's no risk of being
left stranded by some travel website that goes bust between the time
they take your money, and the time they issue your ticket.
In the list below, you will find direct links to
ferry and transport sites, and to the sites of some of the main hotel
chains in France. Click the links, and you'll get taken directly to the
operator's own website, where you can check out their special offers
directly, at their prices.
directly with the operators....
companies and Channel tunnel service operators
- British Airways
Flights to main French destinations, and worldwide.
many destinations in France and Europe
International, flights to Geneva and Basel-Mulhouse, on the
Flights to many destinations in France & Europe
Flights to many
destinations in France & Europe
hotels - the main French chain, with hotels from luxury to budget
(Including the Sofitel, Ibis, Novotel, and Formule 1 brands)
- book holiday cottages directly from the owners, many of them English
convenient means of travelling by train from London to
Provincial France is to
take the Eurostar from
London, Ebbsfleet or Ashford, to Lille, and connect at Lille
to a French TGV high speed train.
Check out train times and tickets at Trainline.com - train tickets
throughout Europe with no surcharge. Book tickets at standard
train-company rates, with all the discount options.
There are direct TGV connections from Lille
to a large
number of French towns and cities, including Bordeaux,
Avignon, Aix en Provence, Lyon,
Montpellier, Perpignan or Nice.
By changing at Lille,
travellers do not
need to change stations and haul their luggage across Paris. At Lille
Europe station, Eurostar trains from London and Brussels use the same
platforms as French TGVs going all over France.
booking form on the left allows you to book your European rail journey
from London, Paris or other major European locations. If the departure
city or destination you are looking for does not come up in the
roll-down menus of the booking form, click on the link below for
further options and offers. Rail Europe is the international
ticketing service of SNCF, the French national train operator.
contact About-France.com, use the form
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