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10th June 2024

Using the Channel Tunnel: A guide to travelling to France and Europe by car

In this blog, we take a look at how to navigate your way through the Channel Tunnel with ease.

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With so much culture and great food in France, one of our closest neighbours, it’s no surprise that many of us Brits aspire to travel to certain parts of it – or all of it for that matter. And because it’s right next door to us, it is incredibly easy to make your way over. 

A simple way to get yourself to France in your car, ideal for continuing your journey on the other side, is through the Channel Tunnel.

In this blog, we take a look at how to navigate your way through it with ease, plus how you can do that without breaking the bank.

What is the Channel Tunnel?

Also known as the Eurotunnel or the Chunnel, the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994 and is classified as an undersea railway line, underneath the English Channel. It was created to make travelling a lot simpler, perfect for planning your next holiday.
With the honour of being the only fixed link between our two countries, it connects Folkestone in Kent with Calais in northern France (or London and Paris if you’re travelling on the Eurostar).

How long does it take to travel through the Channel Tunnel?

At around 50.46km in length, it only takes around 35 minutes to travel through the Channel Tunnel in your vehicle. Obviously, there will be waiting times on either side, but the actual journey is fairly straightforward.

What vehicles can travel through the Channel Tunnel?

The Channel Tunnel facilitates foot passengers via the Eurostar and a plethora of vehicles, including cars, motorcycles and vans via the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. 
Driving around Europe is a more budget-friendly option for many Brits going on their holidays, so the Le Shuttle is a very popular travelling option.

What documents do I need to use the Channel Tunnel?

Travelling through the Chunnel is designed to be easy and you don’t actually have to navigate your journey while inside the tunnel thanks to Le Shuttle. You simply have to drive yourself in and out with your ticket and essential travel documents.

You, your passengers (which can include authorised pets), and your luggage can stay in your car the entire time – but you’re also allowed to get out and stretch your legs if you want. 

When entering the Eurotunnel, you check in and there are signs and lanes that you follow. Depending on the height of your vehicle, you’ll enter a shuttle that will then take you to the other side, where you then check out. Larger vehicles are typically put into a separate shuttle from regular cars.

Can you drive through the Channel Tunnel?

As mentioned above, there are services in place to make travelling across the Channel Tunnel efficient and essentially stress-free. This means that you can’t drive through the tunnel yourself. 

How much does it cost to travel through the Channel Tunnel?

Travelling in your car through the Eurotunnel can be seen as a sustainable and cost-effective choice compared to flying. The prices depend on the time of year and how far ahead you book but, you only need one ticket to cover the travel of up to nine people in your vehicle.
To book your tickets and see what price point you’ll be paying, you can go directly to the Le Shuttle website.

Are there any restrictions on what you can bring on Le Shuttle?

Like any travel method, there are a few restrictions in regards to what you can bring with you in your vehicle. Here are those restrictions:

  • You can’t bring fireworks in your vehicle 
  • You can’t take a vehicle powered by LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) through
  • You can’t transport firearms unless they’re declared with a valid Firearms Certificate
  • You can’t bring certain items with you that are prohibited by the French authorities

Will I need car insurance once I get to the French side of the  Channel Tunnel? 

Yes. For the issues that may arise whilst you drive around the continent, Sterling’s European Car Insurance will give you peace of mind so you can focus on what holidays are all about, relaxing and enjoying yourself. 
You can also call our advisors on 0344 381 9990, or book a free call back at a time that’s convenient for you.

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