We'll be in Eastbourne, Sussex on January 5th and have decided to go to Calais for the day since we'll be so close. What's the best way to get there? Ferry? Chunnel? We are renting a car at Gatwick but I would feel more comfortable leaving the car in England. I've checked out the eurotunnel website and it looks inexpensive, but again would rather leave the car (also haven't checked on whether we can take a rental to another country) I would really appreciate any advise or pros/cons. Thanks!
It's been many years since I've done this but as I recall, there is a boat that goes between Folkstone and France. Years before, it was used to ferry the train back and forth from France. They actually would roll the train onto the boat. It's takes about 3 hours to go across. From Dover to Calais, there used to be a large hydrofoil that is much faster. Don't know if all of this is still there.
I think that, for passengers only, you have to go to Dover theses days...I believe the Folkestone ferries only take vehicles and their passengers. In any event, there are several places you can book a crossing, from about 25 pounds round trip....directferries.co.uk, ferries.co.uk, aferry.to among others. The crossing takes about 90 minutes. All end up using the same booking engine. Or you can book directly at P & O Ferries or Sea France, the two companies that make this run. P & O probably has 35-40 crossings/day. Eurotunnel is only a car train, so you can't go just as a passenger. And I don't think you want to drive a right-hand car in left-hand France!
Thanks to both of you for your advice. It looks like it'll be Dover and I hadn't even considered the problem of driving a British car on French roads (something to tell my husband about).
Don't leave Dover without it:
We have made several day trips to France and Belgium, especially when staying a few miles outside Folkestone and using the Shuttle (Eurotunnel). Some of the places we have visited are Brugge, Gant, Ieper, and Le Touquet. I think all would be more interesting to visit than Calais.
The Shuttle is quicker than going by ferry, the shuttles are more frequent, and there is better flexibility if you arrive early or late for your booked crossing. You would have to take a car if you used the Shuttle, while ferries do take foot passengers.
Many drivers take their British cars to France. Driving on the right in a right-hand drive car would be an additional challenge, and you would need to check your insurance and use headlight beam deflectors if travelling at night.
An alternative would be to take the Eurostar from Ashford to Lille. There is plenty to see in Lille.
The route from Eastbourne to Dover is just over 70 miles, and slow going. Via Michelin estimates 1 hr 47 minutes.