Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Driving to France, Eurotunnel

Have you ever driven to France? Last week, my parents visited from America and for the first time we drove to Northern Europe. Instead of the ferry option, we drove our car onto a train. It whizzed through a tunnel under the English Channel and arrived in Calais, France in just 30 minutes.

It was our first time using the Eurotunnel, and it might be my favourite method of traveling now. The service was so easy and there's something nice about avoiding the stress of an airport. Here are more details about our "driving to France" experience:

The Eurotunnel departs from Folkestone, which took about 90 minutes to get to from NW London.  We had to be there at least 30 minutes early for check-in. When we first pulled up to the Eurotunnel barriers, a computer automatically recognised our car registration and printed us off a sign to hang off of our front mirror. We continued on to customs, where an officer briefly checked our passports while we waited in the car. Then we followed the signs to boarding. Surprisingly, boarding hundreds of cars was really quick! A few minutes later and we were somewhere in the depths of the English Channel.

The ride passed quickly. There are toliets on the train, but that's it. If you think you might be hungry, pack some food or stop at the Duty-Free shops before boarding the train. Once onboard, they pack the cars in pretty tight.  We sat in our car for most of the ride, but also stood outside the car for a little air too. 

Once we popped out at Calais, we drove off the tunnel and traveled for about an hour before arriving in Brugge. We calculated our actual miles of driving and we had only driven 200 miles from London to Brugge! Later in the week, we visited France's Normandy region, and then backtracked the 3.5 hours to get the Eurotunnel train back home. Our ride home went even better as we managed to get on an earlier train.

When we got home, I checked out google maps and saw that Amsterdam is only 3.5 hours north of Calais. Maybe that will be our next European road trip! Any other places in Northern Europe that are worth the drive? 
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