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When you can travel by train from London to the south of France at lower costs than a flight

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Travelling by train takes longer than by plane but it also offers greater satisfactions to those who want to enjoy the wonderful landscapes along the road. Usually train tickets can be more expensive than the cost of a flight, however there are ways to pay less for a journey by train.

A family of four travelling at the peak of this summer’s school holiday can buy train tickets from London to Bordeaux and back for £428 all-in, including taxes and baggage allowance, less than easyJet tickets once you take into account baggage fees. Also, taking a direct train from London to Avignon or Marseille in the south of France would come in at £476 return. Costs could be even lower considering the travel dates, The Guardian reports.

For Barcelona a family of four would pay £242 for return Eurostar tickets from London to Paris, from where they can pick up a train to Spain’s second-largest city, with fares starting at €59 (£50) per person each way for the 667-mile journey.

Low-cost air operators can’t be beaten on price out of season, but for those who are restricted to the school holidays and want to visit a particular European destination, once they add to the cost of the flights taxes, baggage fees, getting to the airport etc, they can pay £600-£1,000 for four persons to fly to the destination.

The test based on two adults and two kids, aged 10 and eight, departing on 3 August and returning on 17 August, shows that for return tickets to Bordeaux, Eurostar would charge £428 (the adult fares were £55 each way, and the child fares £52). The train leaves London St Pancras International at 8.04 am and arrives at 3.52 pm, while the return leaves at 12.08 pm and arrives at 7.03 pm.

For the same family on the same dates, opting for the cheapest Gatwick-Bordeaux flights, easyJet would charge £455, which includes £70 for two hold bags weighing 20kg each, but no other extras. Still, Ryanair (London Stansted) is cheaper: £307, which includes £78 for the bags.

As for direct trains from London to Avignon, which takes five hours and 50 minutes, Eurostar would charge £476, made up of four £70 adult single fares and four £49 child fares (or £462 with a change in Lille or Paris). Marseille, which takes six-and-a-half hours, also came in at £476. For flights to Marseille, easyJet (Gatwick) would charge £474, while Ryanair (Stansted) would want £317. Both these prices include £78 for the bags.

Children under four travel for free on Eurostar provided they sit on a grown-up’s lap, and each adult can take two pieces of luggage, as well as a small piece of hand luggage, with no weight limits. Pushchairs and prams are free.

Deutsche Bahn is offering fares from London to Germany from €59. After travelling from London to Brussels on Eurostar, you continue on an ICE high-speed train.

John Michaelle