Cheap Travel Review: Ouibus vs. Flixbus

On my last trip to Strasbourg and Germany, I had the opportunity to indulge in a bit more cheap travel via bus. Here are my thoughts.

Overview

French train operator SNCF owns and operates the Ouibus.

It’s German counterpart, Flixbus, operates independently of local train operator Deutsche Bahn.

Price

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Pick: Ouibus

If going by price alone, Ouibus will almost always be the cheaper option. Ouibus never gets more expensive than about $30. This is because if it were any more expensive, it’d be cheaper and faster to take the train, which is also owned and operated by the same folks. Flixbus jacks up prices to ridiculous numbers closer to departure time. Check out the above price comparison for a trip tonight. About 30 euros for an 8 hour trip on Ouibus compared to 85 euros and 20+ hours for the same trip on Flixbus.

Convenience

Pick: Ouibus

Ouibus offers better convenience than Flixbus, when considering routes and amenities. Wifi was dodgy on Flixbus. While my Flixbus ticket to Germany was about $10 cheaper, it meant waiting at a bus stop for 4 hours from midnight- 4 am. Pretty scary for a female solo traveler that is traveling to Germany for the first time. Flixbus routes sometimes include 3-4 bus changes.

Destinations

Pick: Flixbus

Flixbus goes almost everywhere! It’s in France, Scandinavia and has 80% market share in Germany, so many times it can be quite easy to get around. Ouibus is quite limited in comparison, only operating in France and neighboring countries. The time table for Ouibus stays the same everyday, with sometimes only 1-2 trips a day. Flixbus tends to offer more trips and also more stops in each city. For example, Ouibus has one bus stop in Strasbourg, Flixbus has two.

Punctuality

Tie, Meh

Neither Ouibus nor Flixbus is especially impressive when it comes to time. Ouibus is routinely late, and one time the bus was MIA until minutes before departure. Unfortunately, the attitude at Ouibus is a bit “go with the flow,” when the bus is late, no one knows when it will be there. That said, we always seemed to make up for it on the road.  When my second Flixbus was late, I received a text message letting me know exactly when the bus would arrive and it did arrive at the predicted time. The late arrival did ultimately delay my arrival time to my final destination, but in all fairness, it started snowing that night.

Customer Service

Pick: Ouibus

The drivers on Ouibus are always spectacular and very friendly and helpful. Both times I’ve had questions about my destination, the drivers always try their best to help. At the beginning of each bus ride, they do this cute little introduction. Flixbus drivers were less friendly but helpful. Sometimes. I watched two bus drivers hassle a passenger (why? I couldn’t figure it out). It seemed to be in jest, but at midnight in the middle of a snowstorm is not the time to joke with someone and tell them that they can’t board the bus. The Flixbus driver on my first bus never smiled and hardly said a word, but he did respond to questions when asked.

Overall winner: Ouibus! If I had to pick, I’d choose Ouibus for the convenience and customer service.

Have you tried Flixbus and Ouibus? What’s your pick?

 

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A Day In Strasbourg

I instantly fell in love with the diversity of the people, picturesque views and friendly residents on my first trip to Strasbourg last year. Located on the border of Germany, Strasbourg is a cute little storybook town connected by a tramway. If you’re going to Paris anytime soon, make the time for a day trip to Strasbourg via the Ouibus. Take the 11pm to 6am overnight bus from Paris, spend the day there and take the overnight bus back. Here’s what to do when you get there…

Les Mains Dans La Farine

Grab a pain au chocolat with Krispy Kreme-esque glazed sugar for just 1 euro. There are lots of other breads and pastries to choose from and the bakery serves a steady flow of locals throughout the day, which is always a good sign! They open at 6:30am. It’s located just two tram stops from Etoile Bourse where the Ouibus will leave you, and in the spring and summer months could make a nice morning walk.  16 Rue du Vingt-Deux Novembre, 67000 Strasbourg, France Tramway Stop: Homme de Fer

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

A trip to Strasbourg wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. This gothic cathedral is IMHO much more aluuring than Notre-Dame de Paris.  Light a candle, take in the archcitecture, watch the automaton at noon. The cathedral occasionally offers historical films and presentations that you can read about on their website. Enjoy a sprawling nativity scene and splendid decorations during the holidays.  Place de la Cathédrale, 67000 Strasbourg, France Tramway stop: Grand Rue

Pâtisserie Christian Strasbourg

Pâtisserie Christian is just steps away from the cathedral, on the corner of Rue Mercière. Outside of lunch hours (11:30am to 2:30pm), you’ll be limited to tea and dessert. My favorite tea is Les Temps des Fleur—a delicious, aesthetically pleasing blend of flower petals. If you’re looking for souvenirs, Christian has hot chocolate spoons! They’re basically wooden spoons enclosed in the chocolate of your choice (dark, milk or caramel) that you stir into warm milk and  voila! chocolat chaud. At 1.50 euros a pop, you can’t beat the price. 10 Rue Mercière, 67000 Strasbourg, France Tramway Stop: Grand Rue

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Hot Chocolate Spoon

Kehl, Germany 

Just minutes from Strasbourg, cross the beautiful Passerelle des Deux Rives (no passport necessary) and walk through the park, up the Weisstannenturm Kehl where you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view. Both activities are free! Tramway stop: Jean Jaures (then take bus 21 to Kehl Bahnhof)

View from Weisstannenturm Kehl
View from Weisstannenturm Kehl

As I write this, I’ve just left Strasbourg for the second time.  Fun anecdotes to come on the blog soon!

Have you visited Strasbourg? What did you think about it?