If I may just throw in my personal opinion about all of this (especially coming from someone who flies overseas often). It is in my interest (and mental ease) to try and fly with 1-2 stops rather than fly to X then take a bus to Y so that I can catch another flight to Z to save ~$50. I don't know your budget or how many corners you like to cut, but to get to France once, I took a bus to Chicago, a flight to Washington, a flight to London, a flight to Paris, and a 6 hour layover for another flight to Strasbourg. It was a terrible day and I think I saved about $60 over taking a flight from Champaign to Chicago, Chicago to Paris, and a train to my specific city.
Sorry for the long post, but if $400-$500 isn't out of your range, I would go for it rather than trying to get a flight to X city and then catch easyjet, ryanair, or the other cheaper European lines.