Catch an English Channel Ferry to France

When visiting the U.K., how about an English Channel crossing by ferry to France? One of the shortest sea crossings is from Dover to Calais, at approximately 90 minutes. Take the car, too. Say ta-ta to fish and chips, bonjour to a croque monsieur with frites!


Depart From Dover

The drive from London to Dover is about 75 miles, depending on where you set out from in the capital city. Head southeast on the M20. A map and a fuel calculator give an estimate of £16 or so ($25) on fuel costs, varying with vehicle consumption.

Just Drive Aboard

In Dover, there are lots of signs for the ferries, where lines of cars await check-in before driving up the ramp. You’ll want to be certain you are in the correct line for destination Calais, since various ferry lines depart for different destinations.

“Cheap as Chips”

As the popular English expression goes, cheap as chips means affordable. Fares for Channel crossings with a car and up to four passengers are as low as £41.50 ($64) roundtrip, which the English call “return.”

Frequent Departures

With 33 crossings daily to Calais, go whenever you like. Visit Dover Castle or head out straight away for France. Dover is located on the U.K.’s southeastern tip, making it the closest point to continental Europe. The crew will park your car; best advice is not to look, as they are skilled at closing in the narrowest possible gap between vehicles on the parking deck, carefully anchoring cars into place for the ride.

Across the English Channel

Now, all you need do is enjoy the sailing. Views of the chalk boulder White Cliffs of Dover are a highlight, so look back for that view once you’ve sorted the kids out, got your refreshments, or settled into a comfortable seat. Just 26 miles later, you’re in France.

Bonjour, France!

Channel hoppers delight in cheaper goods for sale in Calais, and the town certainly caters to that. Sterling exchange rates to the Euro are currently favorable and many places accept sterling. Credit cards are another alternative, otherwise check carefully at Bureaux de Change in advance. Calais was bombed flat during World War II, so little predates mid-20th century. However, sightseers and history buffs will enjoy the Flemish-style town hall with its Burghers of Calais sculpture by Rodin, Parc Saint Pierre war museum and tomb to an unknown soldier, the Fine Arts Museum, an open-air market at Place d’Armes. A sandy beach with lighthouse provides a lovely spot for picnics and a stroll, or you can head out of town for further French delights. Amusez-vous bien!