Can You Drive a Car from England to France? — Adventurism.tv (2023)

Nora Nijkamp

Routes

Nora Nijkamp

Routes

Fancy a weekend getaway to Paris by car? That is perfectly possible by driving your own car to take the train or ferry and cross the channel into the world of art, croissants and wine. As an experienced traveler, let me share my secrets for a wonderful trip.

Can You Drive a Car from England to France?

You can’t drive your car all the way from England to France because there is no road connecting the two. It is easy to take your car to France by boarding a ferry or put your car on the Eurostar train and ride through the Tunnel. Tickets are sold per car and booking in advance is advised.

In this article we look at the differences between taking the ferry and the tunnel. What documents you should not forget to pack and end with a few tips to enjoy your time in France.

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Can you get from England to France by car?

Yes, it is easy to get from England to France by car by taking a ferry or taking the train through the Eurotunnel. From London to Calais takes around 3,5 hours including boarding and off boarding the train. The train is the fastest way to cross the channel by car. The ferry is cheaper but slower.

However there are more ferry connections then tunnels. So depending on where you are coming from in the UK it might be faster for you to take a different route. Take a look at the map below showing the most common ferry routes between the UK and France. The longer the distance the more expensive the ferry ticket. As well as the fact that ferries are notoriously slow.

The advantages of the train are simple, it is faster than any ferry crossing and you cannot get seasick because you are traveling under the water, not over. It is also the best way tot travel with a pet, because they stay with you in the car at all times. On the ferry you are not allowed to stay with your vehicle and sometimes have to leave your pet behind.

Do you stay in your car on the Channel Tunnel?

Yes, on the train that goes through the Channel Tunnel you stay in your own vehicle. There are toilets on the carriages but due to COVID they are closed. The ride takes 35min but the whole endeavour takes up to 1,5 hours with loading and unloading so make sure to bring plenty of entertainment for the journey.

Before departure you will be told to open all doors, windows, air vents and skylights. This is to ensure you can hear all announcements and so that the automatic fire extinguishing system will be effective in case of fire on board your coach.

Can You Drive a Car from England to France? — Adventurism.tv (1)

Can You Drive a Car from England to France? — Adventurism.tv (2)

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Can you take a motorbike on Eurotunnel?

When you travel by motorcycle on the Eurostar from the UK to France you have to stay within 2 meters of your bike while on the train. There are no seats so it’s not a bad idea to bring a camping chair of some sorts. I recommend a Helinox One chair as they are lightweight and comfortable.

Book your ticket on www.eurotunnel.com

  • Valid Photocard Drivers Licence
  • Log book (V5C) Car Papers
  • Green Card Vehicle Insurance
  • Reflective Warning Triangle
  • Reflective Safety Vest (at least 1)
  • A GB sticker if your number plate has the Euro symbol with no flag or identifier.

When you continue traveling through Europe make sure to double check what else is mandatory to carry in your car. Use the overview below as an indication but always double check with the AA what the specific rules are.

Other regulations you have to take into account

  • Using a mobile phone without a hands-free set while driving is forbidden in most EU countries;
  • In some countries, the use of daytime running lights and/or winter tyres is mandatory;
  • The maximum permitted blood alcohol level varies: some countries do not allow any alcohol in the blood while driving

Except in Paris, driving in France is quite easy. The roads are well maintained and people drive very disciplined. Signage is usually straight forward and clear. Toll roads are great for long distance driving but can be expensive, stay on the regional roads to avoid them.

Is it hard driving on the right side of the road?

Switching sides can be quite intimidating but most people adjust very quickly by following the other traffic. Pay attention when there are no other people around because that is when people tend to forget on which side to drive.

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1. Don’t be rude

Don’t forget that more and more people are speaking English and especially other tourist. Thinking that you are not understood and gossip about the lady at the next table is incredibly rude.

2. Learn some French

Bonjour, Merci, Au revoir. A few French words can go a long way. Try to learn a few sentences and you’ll find that it generates a smile on most peoples faces.

3. Take is slow

The pace in the French countryside is different from your fast lifestyle in London. Let it go, leave it be. Enjoy the show. Don’t be in a hurry because there is no point.

1. Etretat Cliffs, Etretat - Normandy

Most people drive straight past Normandy on their way to the southern beaches, but this place is not to be missed. The Cliffs of Etretat are some of the most enchanting places of France and a lot less crowded that some other spots in France.

2. ”Ille-sur-Têt Organs”, Languedoc Roussillon

In the South of France, close to Perpigan you can walk around this fantastic showcase of wind erosion. The geological sight of Ille-sur-Têt Organs is a feast for the eyes and a great place for a day hike.

3. Sea of Ice, Chamonix

Spectacular is an understatement for the ice cave experience in Chamonix. Take the train up the mountain and walk through the ice feeling the cold radiate from around you. Walk down (part of) the mountain for an active day activity.

Is there a bridge from France to England?

No, there is no bridge connecting France and the UK. The distance is too far and it would be unpractical with the large ships passing through the Channel. Instead, engineers designed and built a tunnel that bridges the gap between the island and the mainland.

Is there a bridge from UK to Europe?

No, there is no bridge connecting France and the UK. The distance is too far and it would be unpractical with the large ships passing through the Channel. Instead, engineers designed and built a tunnel that bridges the gap between the island and the mainland.

Can you drive a car through the English Channel tunnel?

No, you cannot drive your car through the tunnel because there are only train tracks. Due to safety concerns of accidents happening in the middle of the tunnel the project was designed as a train tunnel where safety could be guaranteed. You can drive your car on the train and get to the other side within 35 min.

Can you drive between France and England?

You can’t drive your car all the way from France to England because there is no road connecting the two. It is easy to take your car to France by boarding a ferry or put your car on the Eurostar train and ride through the Tunnel. Tickets are sold per car and booking in advance is advised.

FAQs

Can you drive a car through the English Channel Tunnel? ›

Can I drive my car through the Channel Tunnel? It is not possible to drive a car or motorcycle through the Channel Tunnel. Instead, motorists must drive onto the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle train, which boards at the Channel Tunnel terminals in Folkestone and Calais.

Do I need a Breathalyzer to drive in France 2022? ›

5. Breathalyser kit. You may be aware that up until recently, all drivers and motorcyclists had to carry a personal breathalyser kit with at least two disposable testing units. However, in 2020 the rule changed to no longer make it a legal requirement.

Do I need a GB sticker to drive in France? ›

From 28 September 2021, you must identify that your vehicle is from the UK when driving abroad. If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack), you do not need a UK sticker to drive in France.

What documents do I need to take my car to France? ›

To drive in France, you will also need proof of insurance, proof of ownership of your car (V5C) and your passport.

Why do you have to open windows on Eurotunnel? ›

A member of staff will place chocks against the wheels to aid immobilisation. Open all doors, windows, air vents and skylights. This will allow all announcements to be heard and the automatic fire extinguishing system will be effective in case of fire on board your coach.

Can you use the toilet on the Eurotunnel? ›

Are there toilets onboard the shuttle? Unfortunately, we are unable to guarantee access to toilet facilities on the shuttles. We provide award-winning toilet facilities – including disabled toilet facilities – in our passenger terminal buildings which we recommend all passengers take advantage of before travelling.

How much alcohol can I drink and drive in France? ›

Drink driving limit

France has very strict drink driving laws. The French drink-driving limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. Sanctions and Penalties : Drivers found with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol in your blood can be fined € 135 (£ 112).

What do I need to drive to France from UK? ›

To drive in France you must be 18 years old and have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. You do not need to carry an additional International Driving Permit (IDP).

What is the Breathalyzer for France? ›

AlcoSense NF Breathalysers for France are one of only two alcohol testers in the world officially NF Certified and approved for use in France.

What sticker do I need on my car to drive in France? ›

French 'clean air' stickers (Crit'Air vignettes)

You now need a clean air sticker - called a Crit'Air vignette – displayed on your car when travelling to certain cities.

Do I need a GB sticker in France after Brexit? ›

From 28 September 2021, you'll need a UK sticker instead of a GB sticker on your vehicle to drive abroad. You do not need to carry a green card to drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, or Switzerland.

What stickers do I need for France? ›

Do I need a permit to drive in Paris? Yes, you will need a Crit'Air sticker to drive in Paris. Central Paris is covered with a permanent low-emissions zone (ZCR) that means all vehicles need to display a Crit'Air vignette to be allowed entry during certain times.

Do I need a GB or UK sticker to drive in France? ›

A full, valid UK driving licence is required. Due to new updates from the DVLA the paper counterpart is no longer required and this includes when travelling on the Continent. You must be 18 or over to drive in France. A UK sticker to display in the rear windscreen and your motor insurance certificate(1).

How much does it cost to drive to France from UK? ›

The total cost of driving from London, United Kingdom to Paris, France (one-way) is $106.41 at current gas prices. The round trip cost would be $212.82 to go from London, United Kingdom to Paris, France and back to London, United Kingdom again. Regular fuel costs are around $9.43 per gallon for your trip.

Can you drive from England to France? ›

You can't drive your car all the way from England to France because there is no road connecting the two. It is easy to take your car to France by boarding a ferry or put your car on the Eurostar train and ride through the Tunnel. Tickets are sold per car and booking in advance is advised.

Can I get out of my car on Eurotunnel? ›

Can you get out of the car once you have been checked in? Yes, you have two opportunities in which you can leave your car. Once you are booked in, and your car is lined up at the terminal ready to board the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you are free to browse the terminal shops before embarkation begins.

How deep under the sea bed is the Eurotunnel? ›

How deep is the Channel Tunnel? At its deepest, the tunnel is 75 metres (246 feet) below the sea level. That's the same as 107 baguettes balancing on top of each other.

Can you walk around on Eurotunnel? ›

If you time your arrival just right and have booked in advance you can drive straight onto the train. Once on you can stay in your car or get out and wander around.

Do your ears pop on the Eurotunnel? ›

The actual tunnel crossing is a 20-minute, black, silent, 100-mile-per-hour nonevent. Your ears won't even pop.

Are bathrooms free in France? ›

Many restrooms are pay-only and sometimes manned by an attendant who will charge you to enter. Make sure to keep small change on you and have a variety of coins. Sometimes there is an attendant, but other times there will be a machine that requires exact change.

Do they have toilet seats in France? ›

I've been to France many times, starting when I was 14, & in my experience most of their toilets (& all those in private homes & hotels) do have seats. As in some other countries, public toilets may not always have seats for ease of cleaning, & perhaps vandalism.

Is alcoholism high in France? ›

More than one in ten men (11 percent) in France die every year from alcohol-related causes which is more than twice as much as women (4 percent).

Can you drink beer on the beach in France? ›

Drinking on the beach in daytime is perfectly normal and acceptable. The little snack bars along the beaches in Antibes and Juan les Pins sell beer and wine.

Can you drink in bars in France? ›

Champagne, cocktails, and other spirits are also popular and easy to find. So if you're 18 or older, you'll be able to enjoy your drink of choice the next time you're in France.

Do UK drivers need a green card to drive in France? ›

You do not need to carry a green card when you drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland. You still need valid vehicle insurance. You may need to carry a green card to drive in other countries, including: Albania.

What documents do I need to drive in France after Brexit? ›

If you will be driving in France after Brexit, you can do so using your British driving licence, however, if your licence was not issued by a mainland UK authority, for example in Gibraltar, Jersey or the Isle of Man, it must be accompanied by an International Driving Permit which you can get from the post office.

Does France require a negative test? ›

Travellers are no longer required to present a sworn statement of non-contamination and an undertaking to undergo an antigen test or screening upon arrival in the country.

How many warning triangles do I need to drive in France? ›

Warning Triangles - You will need to carry 2 x warning triangles when driving in France warning triangle must be placed 50 & 150 metres behind your vehicle to warn approaching traffic if your vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident.

Do you need an alcohol test kit to drive France? ›

We continue to recommend that you still carry breathalysers and we will inform passengers as soon as we know of a date for the re-introduction of the fines. At the present time they are not required in either France or Spain.

Do I need a crit air sticker for Calais? ›

Do I need a Crit Air Sticker? In short, if you are travelling in France, even if you don't plan on entering the clean air zones, it's best to have one just in case. It's not law or required at all times outside of zones, but we'd advise for simplicity to ensure you have one regardless.

Why do you need a UK sticker in France? ›

Do I need GB or UK sticker or numberplate to drive my car in abroad? Since September 2021, "you must display the UK identifier when driving a UK-registered vehicle abroad," states the Department for Transport.

What sticker do I need on my car to drive in Europe? ›

To travel in the EU, you either need a number plate with a UK flag on it or a UK sticker that's clearly displayed on the rear of your car*. Contact your local store to find out how to order a UK number plate or buy a UK sticker online. *Please note: From September 28th 2021, 'UK' stickers will replace 'GB' stickers.

Can I drive in France on holiday with a UK license? ›

If your UK driving licence was first issued before 1 January 2021. Your licence is recognised in France for as long as it is valid.

Do I need extra insurance to drive in France? ›

Check your car insurance policy

Your policy should automatically provide the minimum cover required by law for the country you are travelling through within most of Europe.

Is it worth getting a toll tag for France? ›

Many French toll roads have a special lane for cars with toll tags which allows them to drive through without stopping. If you're in a hurry to get to your destination, this saves considerable time.

How do I get a French emissions sticker? ›

Non-French motorists can already order the Crit'Air sticker at www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/demande (External link) (page available in both English and French). It should arrive within ten working days and must be displayed inside the vehicle windscreen.

What is the cheapest way to get to France from UK? ›

Bus: Long but super cheap

The bus is usually the least expensive way to travel between Paris and London. It also takes much longer than a flight or the train. Eurolines and BlaBlaCar Bus are two major bus lines traveling between the two capitals. The Eurolines journey takes between 7.5 to 8.5 hours.

How long is a car ride from England to France? ›

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is the fastest way to cross the Channel. Our service from Folkestone to Calais lasts just 35 minutes, less than any ferry to France.
...
Driving to our Folkestone terminal.
Cities in the UKDistanceDriving Time
Exeter235 miles/378km4h 07m
Leeds259 miles/417km4h 13m
Manchester275 miles/444km4h 32m
8 more rows

Can I drive in France with my UK insurance? ›

If you already have car insurance in the UK, there's no extra cost for driving in Europe. At least 30 days of European third-party cover will already be included in your deal, and you won't have to pay a penny.

Is there a car tunnel from England to France? ›

The Channel Tunnel (often called the 'Chunnel' for short) is an undersea tunnel linking southern England and northern France. It is operated by the company Getlink, who also run a railway shuttle (Le Shuttle) between Folkestone and Calais, carrying passengers in cars, vans and other vehicles.

Do I need a visa to drive from UK to France? ›

You can travel to countries in the Schengen area, which France is part of, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.

How much does it cost to drive through the Channel tunnel? ›

Fares: One way fares start at £85. But you'd be smarter booking a round trip. Day trips and overnight stays start at £30 each way and short stays of up to five days start at £66 each way.

How much does it cost to drive through the Chunnel? ›

Schedule: Up to four departures per hour (from both directions) in bookable 2-hour windows, round the clock. Fares: One way fares start at £85. But you'd be smarter booking a round trip. Day trips and overnight stays start at £30 each way and short stays of up to five days start at £66 each way.

Can you get out of your car in the Channel Tunnel? ›

Can you get out of the car once you have been checked in? Yes, you have two opportunities in which you can leave your car. Once you are booked in, and your car is lined up at the terminal ready to board the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you are free to browse the terminal shops before embarkation begins.

Which vehicle is not allowed in the tunnel? ›

Prohibited Vehicles in Tunnels

All buses and goods vehicles.

How much does the Chunnel cost? ›

It took $21 billion to complete the tunnel. That's 700 times more expensive than the cost to build the Golden Gate Bridge! Many of the tunnel boring machines used on the Chunnel were as long as two football fields and capable of boring 250 feet a day.

Which is cheaper Channel Tunnel or ferry? ›

There are several advantages to the Eurotunnel: Generally cheaper than a ferry. Definitely quicker- takes 35 minutes. You (and your pets) stay in the vehicle together.

How long are you underwater in the Chunnel? ›

The Channel Tunnel is under the English Channel for 37.9 km or 23.5 miles, which is the worlds longest undersea tunnel. When riding the Eurostar you'll be underwater for about 13 minutes.

Do you pay per person on Eurotunnel? ›

All ticket prices include your vehicle and up to 9 passengers. The travel time from Folkestone to Calais is just 35 minutes - faster than the ferry crossing from Dover to Calais.

How can I take my car from UK to France? ›

You can't drive your car all the way from England to France because there is no road connecting the two. It is easy to take your car to France by boarding a ferry or put your car on the Eurostar train and ride through the Tunnel. Tickets are sold per car and booking in advance is advised.

What happens if your car breaks down in a tunnel? ›

If you break down in a tunnel you should:

drive out of the tunnel or, if this isn't possible, try to stop in a right or left lane. turn on your hazard lights and radio and switch off your engine. remain in your vehicle unless there's a fire or you're asked to evacuate by the control room.

Is it illegal to run out of petrol? ›

It isn't actually illegal to run out of fuel on a motorway. However, the inconvenience, potential cost and likely danger mean we certainly don't recommend it.

Can you take your car on the Euro Tunnel? ›

At Eurotunnel we can only allow you to travel in a vehicle – be that your own or as part of a coach trip. You cannot travel as a foot passenger, but you are able to take a bicycle. If you don't need or want to drive your vehicle for your trip, you can travel as a foot passenger on Eurostar.

What other vehicles can travel in the Channel tunnel? ›

  • Unsure which fuel-type your vehicle uses?
  • Caravans, campervans and trailers.
  • Coach cross-Channel journey.
  • Motorcycling on the Continent with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.
  • High vehicles, vans and minibuses.
  • Take your car to the Continent.
  • Cycle to the Continent with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.
  • Electric vehicle charging.

Does the Chunnel leak? ›

Does the Channel Tunnel leak? The answer to this may surprise you. The tunnel does leak, but it is designed to.

How long does it take to cross the Chunnel by car? ›

It carries cars, trucks, campers trailers, coaches motorcycles and bicycles across the Channel Tunnel every day of the year, with four crossings every hour during peak times. Passengers are asked to check in at least 30 minutes ahead of time but no more than two hours before departure. Crossing time is 35 minutes.

Does Eurotunnel run all night? ›

Our service is available 24hrs a day, 365 days per year. With up to 7 departures per hour at peak times, our hourly capacity ensures traffic fluidity and the fastest possible journey via the Channel Tunnel with an average crossing time of only 35 minutes.

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