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The English Cannel tunnel: what's it like???

We are planning on another month-long trip to England (we went last May). This time, we are considering a week in Paris, as well.

Thinking of using the Chunnel. We'll have a rental car, though not sure (yet) about returning it in another country. If that turns out to be a pain, we might take the train to France.

I HATE tunnels and get seasick very easily (so, no ferry crossing). Haven't checked into the cost of flights London-Paris.

What can you tell me about the Chunnel???

Thanks, in advance!!!

Posted by
521 posts

What can you tell me about the Chunnel???

On the Eurostar, it's very much like being on a train at night. It's fast and booked well in advance it can be very cheap. I can't imagine why anyone would prefer to fly.

On the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle services (where you take your car on a train) it's like sitting in your car in a brightly lit indoor car park (US English: parking lot) at night, except the car park is moving slightly.

About a dozen helpline regulars will be along shortly to advise you against even thinking about returning a rental car in a different country.

Posted by
117 posts

Okay, we'll skip the return-the-car-in-another-country idea!!!

Posted by
1068 posts

What I can tell you about the Chunnel is that it's fabulous. Sooooooooo easy, and you get to look at scenery rather than look at the inside of an airport. It all does go by rather quickly, but that's kind of the point. It's nice and fast and you can relax and enjoy rather than dealing with flights or traffic. I'd completely advise taking the EuroStar.

Posted by
6944 posts

Taking a car from England to France and returning it there? You will pay a fortune in drop off fees. And if you are going to Paris you do not want a car there!! I've never been through the Chunnel, but I have taken the Eurostar from Paris to London. It was a fast and pleasant train ride. Your time in a tunnel under the Channel is only about 20 minutes or so. I will be doing it in reverse later this year. You can buy Eurostar tickets up to 6 months in advance. The earlier you get your tickets the less expensive they will be.

Posted by
7666 posts

The length of time actually in the tunnel is about 20 minutes, maybe less. The effect is like being on a train when it is dark outside. And then ... lo! ... you are out in daylight again. Love it. And then soon, there you are at Gare du Nord.

Posted by
1228 posts

I agree with the others, the Eurostar is wonderful. You could take it at night, then it would be dark the whole trip, although there is an announcement on the train that you're entering the tunnel, or at least there used to be. Really you don't notice anything different in the ride. The train is so much better than flying in my opinion. You only have to check in a half hour or so before departure, the train stations are right in London and Paris so no long rides to and from airports and you walk off the train right into Paris, security is easy, seats are more comfortable, very relaxing.

Posted by
31 posts

The tunnel is dark. The time in the tunnel itself is about 20 minutes.

I just rode Eurostar between London and Paris a few weeks ago. Great trip. Almost the whole trip was dark because of the time of our trains. Really, you couldn't tell the difference. But with a day time train, I suspect you may notice a difference.

Posted by
10938 posts

Leslie.. I have done the Eurostar four times. The first time I was a tad nervous about getting claustrophobia going through the actual tunnel. It was a non event.. its just like going through a dark tunnel or really more like simply being in a train at night.. since it is lit outside with lights so you just see lights whizzing by.

I would not take car from UK to continent. Drop off fees, high parking costs in Paris ( and complete lack of need of car in Paris) and the fact you are taking a left hand drive onto right hand drive roads makes it just not a great idea.

The 2.5 hour hours on the Eurostar are easy and pleasant.. and can be very cheap. No commuting to airports from city centers.. you will leave one city center and 2.5 hours later arrive in other city center. There is no advantage to flying.. it will take longer too once you figure in the time commuting to and from airports and making sure you arrive an hour and a half before flights.

Pack a picnic.. every ( smart, lol ) does. You can bring wine or beer onboard, some take out treats. and relax!

Posted by
203 posts

Leslie, I hate the thought of traveling under the water, and get motion sickness very easily. However, I had no trouble whatsoever with the Eurostar trip from London to Paris and back. I did wear a patch to cover the motion sickness--good thing since our seats had us traveling "backwards" (a VERY bad thing for me). The tunnel itself was not bad for me, perhaps because we'd been using the Tube for a week. I'm not sure why I don't have trouble with that, just glad I don't!

Posted by
29477 posts

Leslie,

I agree with the others. The EuroStar travels on the surface for most of the journey, so you can watch the scenery zip by the window. The under channel part is very much a "non event", about 20 minutes in a tunnel. As I recall, I dozed through that portion on my last trip. The latter part of the trip will be in the open, so you can again enjoy the scenery. It's very easy and nothing to be concerned with.

You can get all the details on booking the EuroStar on the excellent Man In Seat 61 website. Note that you MUST check-in at least 30 minutes prior to departure. Be sure to leave lots of time.

Again as the others have mentioned, renting in one country and dropping in another often comes with HUGE fees. If you're not used to it, driving in France with a right-hand drive vehicle could be challenging. While U.K. residents do it on a regular basis, I'm sure it's something that would require some practice. I'd suggest renting separately in each country.

Happy travels!

Posted by
117 posts

Okay, if we go, we'll do the train!!

I really appreciate all the replies!

We spent a week in Paris in 1996 (rented a car at Orly) & 1997 and, you are correct, we didn't need the car at all. It was in underground parking the entire week in '96, never used it until we left for the south. In '97, we skipped the rental until we were leaving Paris.

Thanks, again!

Posted by
2081 posts

@ LEslie,

I HATE tunnels and get seasick very easily

Horses of different colors here.

I hate alot of things too, but i just grin and bare it.

The last time i took the Eurostar the chunnel part was about 20 minutes. As a matter of fact, i didnt even realize it and by the time i knew it, they were announcing "they were slowing down to enter paris". So unless you cant handle 20 minutes in a tunnel, you may want to look at alternatives.

I get motion sick easily and so far no barfing on any train anyware. Not even on any of my flights either and ive been in some turbulent air too.

when youre on the train just sit back and enjoy the ride.

happy trails.