ON THE ROAD | 12-hour Bus Ride from Milan to Paris


In the world of travel, adaptability is a prized skill. My journey from Milan to Paris in January 2020 is a testament to that, as I found myself on an unexpected 12-hour bus ride through the heart of winter due to a railway strike on the French side. What made this journey less stressful was that the train company had already arranged alternative transportation for us.

The uncertainties began with an email notification that sent shockwaves through my meticulously planned itinerary. Just two days before my scheduled train journey, news of the impending French rail strike reached my inbox. I was disheartened by the prospect of missing out on the sleeper train experience, but I soon discovered that the train company had taken proactive measures to ensure our safe passage to Paris.

milan to paris
Train from Venice to Milan, a prelude to my 12-hour bus ride from Milan to Paris.

As I arrived at the Milan train station, I was greeted by the train company representatives who efficiently directed us to the awaiting buses. It was a well-organized response to the disruption, and I was grateful that my journey would continue as planned, albeit on different wheels. Time to end the Italy leg on our first Europe trip and now time to move on to the next country, France.

Boarding the comfortable bus in the deep of the night, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief and gratitude for the train company’s foresight and preparedness. From the train station, the Italian side handed us refreshments, and a new set was given the moment we boarded the bus, courtesy of the French side of the company. The prospect of a 12-hour bus ride was less daunting, knowing that the company had our best interests in mind.

The bus departed Milan, and as we left the city behind, I settled into my seat, peering out into the darkness of winter. Unfortunately, the timing of the journey meant that I wouldn’t be able to witness the picturesque landscapes. It was a literal journey through the midnight hour.


Somewhere in the middle of the trip, the bus came to a halt. Passengers stirred, curious about our unexpected stop in the dead of night. When I checked my phone’s GPS, I was surprised to discover that we were somewhere in Switzerland. It was an unforeseen detour on our journey to Paris, and it added an element of intrigue to the adventure.

The camaraderie among fellow passengers was a bright spot on this unexpected journey. The entire row at the back of my seat was occupied by an American couple with their two kids. We shared few stories during bus stops and it was great to know that their kids were still in high-spirits despite what happened. It was a reminder that even when plans go awry, the bonds formed on the road can be some of the most meaningful.

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Gare de Lyon.

Finally, the sun started to rise and the sideroad is now a moving scene. Few minutes later, we arrived at a parking lot near the Gare de Lyon station. In retrospect, this journey from Milan to Paris during a strike had become a defining moment in my travel experiences. It reinforced the idea that adaptability is key for any traveler and that sometimes, the most extraordinary adventures are born out of the most unexpected circumstances.

So, if you ever find yourself confronted with unforeseen disruptions during your travels, always remember that adaptability and preparedness turn an obstacle into an unforgettable adventure. Embrace the unexpected, savor the moments, and let the journey lead you where it may, even if it’s through the depths of winter darkness.



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