Now back to the programme…
The best thing about living in London is that the rest of Europe is so accessible! Whether it’s travelling by air, road, or train, we Londoners really do have it good over here.
One form of transport that I am well adept at is travelling by coach. Coach was our go-to mode of travel when we were kids, and school trips always involved jumping on a coach to visit a museum, a different town, and sometimes even a different country. I went on no less than three school trips to France, so when I found a great price with OUIBUS from London to Paris for a week, it was a no-brainer to book it. OUIBUS is a French coach company, offering multiple travel routes across eight countries.
So let’s get to it! I’m going to break the review down into four important categories.
I’ve got to hand it to OUIBUS, travelling with them is the best for the budget-conscious. Compared to other options, like taking the Eurostar or flying, you will save quite a bit of cash by opting for a coach ride. I bought my ticket for £57,$71/€66 but you can get it for a lot cheaper. The time of year definitely determines the price of your tickets, so as always, shop around before you buy.
OUIBUS also wins in the spontaneous travel department. At the time of writing, I found tickets for a 7-day return trip to Paris, departing the following day, for £46.$57/€53 Catching the Eurostar was £159$57/€53 and the cheapest flight was £112$140/€132. I don’t know about you, but I’m not trying to spend over £100 just to go to Paris. So, if cost is the most important factor, then OUIBUS just may be for you.
The seats recline quite far back and have plenty of legroom. The lights dim at night, so you should be able to get some well-deserved rest. My sleep was actually pretty enjoyable before I woke up in the Eurotunnel.
In case you don’t know, the Eurotunnel is a rail tunnel that connects Kent, UK, with Calais, France. Cars, coaches, and other vehicles enter a shuttle to cross the English Channel. There is little ventilation in the Tunnel. The engine was turned off during the 2-hour tunnel ride, so there was no air conditioning and I woke up in a complete sweat. Everyone had woken up due to this and we were all in a daze at 2 or 3 something AM, just waiting for the journey to be over. It was so bad that I felt faint by the time we finally arrived in France. OUIBUS would have got 4/5 in the comfort area, but they lose a mark for this.
The website boasts that you can “stay connected” with free Wi-Fi access during the course of your journey… yet mine only lasted 10 minutes on my laptop. I was able to pick up a weak connection here and there to send a Whatsapp message, but it really didn’t get much better than that.
A coach journey with OUIBUS may be cheap but it is long. You can expect to be in Paris 8 to 12 hours after you leave London, depending on traffic. This doesn’t make a coach ride the best option for those who want to take a quick day or weekend trip. If you are set on taking a coach, try to book an overnight ticket so you can sleep and overcome this issue, but just know that you still have to wake up and walk across the border.
The pick-up and drop-off points are extremely convenient though. You board at London Victoria coach station and get off in Paris Bercy, which are both in the centre of the respective cities.
Customer service: 0/5
Guys, I can’t even offer a star for this. I would even give minus stars if I could. Let me explain.
I forgot my Kindle (since I couldn’t use the Wi-Fi on my laptop, I had to keep myself occupied somehow) on the coach to Paris. When I called the customer service helpline to provide them with all of the information to help them retrieve it, they told me I must send an email and wait for a response in a few working days. Guys, this incident had happened less than an hour ago. All they had to do was inform the employers at the station and they could have retrieved my Kindle. Instead, I received an email 3 days later, informing me that my Kindle could not be found. Umm…
Now onto the worst part. My coach to London was to leave at 11.30pm, so I arrived at the coach station at 11.05pm. As I asked an employee where I should board my scheduled coach, a coach destined for London drove off. I didn’t think it was much of a biggie, but it turned out OUIBUS had changed the departure time to 11pm and hadn’t informed me. I was livid.
And to top it off, there were no other coaches leaving for London that evening. The employees suggested that I call OUIBUS in the morning, but they couldn’t guarantee that I would get on the next available coach. I had an important meeting the following morning so I had to fork out £90$113/€106 and book an early flight.
When I wrote a complaint, they only responded with a thank you message. I called them and was told that they would look into my issue and call me back… but they never did. When I got a hold of them again, they repeatedly told me it was my fault for missing the coach so there was nothing they could do. They then tried to offer a free coach trip but I refused. Finally, 3 months later, they agreed to refund the cost of the coach I missed but not the flight cost. I wasn’t happy, but I took it.
Can you believe that I didn’t get my refund back for 5 months?! I even had to remind them to process my refund.
I personally will never use OUIBUS again. Their customer service was too much to handle and I realised from their Facebook account that I’m not the only one to go through what I went through. I tried to contact OUIBUS for this post, but they did not respond.
If you do decide to use OUIBUS because it’s cheap, hopefully what happened to me won’t happen to you.
Have you used OUIBUS to travel around Europe? What was your experience with them?