The First Timer’s Guide to the Eurotunnel

chunnel entrance
eurotunnel travel tips

There’s something inherently exciting about the prospect of traveling between two countries in a matter of minutes, and the Eurotunnel offers just that— a seamless, fascinating journey underneath the English Channel. If you’re a first-timer, buckle up because we’re about to glide through everything you need to know about this marvelous feat of engineering with these Eurotunnel travel tips. Sit back and let NOVA TRAVEL take you on a journey from the UK to France, or vice versa, like a true pro!

 What is the Eurotunnel?

chunnelap

The Eurotunnel, also known as the Channel Tunnel or “Chunnel,” is one of he longest underwater tunnels in the world, stretching a whopping 50 kilometers (about 31 miles). 38 of those kilometers (24 miles) areunder water.It connects Folkestone in the UK to Calais in France, making Europe accessible in just 35 minutes. It is made up of 3 distinct tunnels: one for train travel towards the UK, one for travel towards France , and another for safety and security management acting as an emergency escape route.

The Eurotunnel is actually a ferry on rails. This means that you drive a car onto the Chunnel ferry platform and then park your car for the duration of the 35 minute journey. Once you arrive in Calais or Folkstone, you simply drive off the ferry and carry on your journey.

 Eurotunnel Travel Tips

Getting Started: Booking Your Trip

Booking a Eurotunnel trip is a cinch. You can easily reserve your spot online through the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle website or any travel reservation platform. Nova Travel would also be happy to book your trip through the Chunnel. Look for deals and consider peak vs. off-peak travel times to get the best rates.

Before you head off on your journey,if you are a tourist driving a rented car, consider investing in a European Driving Kits. One of these kits will make sure you have everything you need to stay road legal and safe.

 What to Expect at the Terminal

  • Arriving Early
    • Plan to arrive at least an hour before departure. Folkestone Terminal in the UK and Calais Terminal in France are both well-equipped with amenities including restaurants, duty-free shopping, and lounges.
  • Check-In Process
    • The check-in process is straightforward. Have your booking reference number and identification (passport, or national ID for EU residents) ready. You’ll need to inspect and confirm your vehicle details.

 Boarding the Shuttle

When it’s time to board, you’ll drive your vehicle onto Le Shuttle—a specially designed train for cars, buses, and trucks. Don’t worry; there are plenty of signs and helpful staff to guide you.

  • Remain in Your Lane: Follow the signals and drive into the designated lanes for your vehicle type.
  • Safety Procedures: In case of an emergency, onboard staff will explain safety procedures before departure.

 Enjoying the Journey

Once onboard, feel free to relax inside your car or stretch your legs within the designated comfort areas. The entire journey lasts about 35 minutes, so you won’t be inside the tunnel for too long.

 Arriving and Exploring

chunnel entrance
(Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

– Smooth Exit: Upon arrival in either Folkestone or Calais, disembarking is quick and easy. Just follow the instructions and drive off the train.

– Customs and Border Control: Be prepared to go through border checks which are usually quick but ensure you have your documents ready.

 Tips and Tricks for a Smooth Experience

  • Pack Smart: Keep essential items easily accessible as you’ll need to stay inside your vehicle for most of the journey.
  • Off-Peak Travel: Consider traveling during off-peak hours or days to avoid crowds and get better deals.
  • Stay Informed: Check for real-time updates on the Eurotunnel app or website, especially during adverse weather conditions.

 Why Choose the Eurotunnel?

  • Time-Efficient: It’s the fastest way to go from the UK to France by vehicle.
  • Convenience: No hassle of parking and waiting, drive right on and off.
  • Eco-Friendly: It’s one of the greenest ways to travel between the two countries, emitting less CO2 compared to flights.

Introducing the Eurostar: A Passenger’s Dream

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What if you don’t have a vehicle but still want to experience the Chunnel? Enter the Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train that zips between London, Paris, and Brussels, making stops at other picturesque locations.

Eurostar Perks and Pleasures

  • Supersonic Speeds: Glide through the Channel Tunnel at up to 300 km/h (186 mph), completing the London to Paris journey in approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Comfort and Class: Whether you’re traveling Standard, Standard Premier, or Business Premier, Eurostar offers diverse seating options to suit your needs, complete with cozy seats, ample legroom, and power outlets.
  • In-Train Services: Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, a variety of dining options, and even a bar for those who fancy something stronger. Don’t forget to look out the window for beautiful countryside views pre and post-tunnel.

Boarding the Eurostar

eurostar
  • Check-In Process: Arrive about 45 minutes to an hour before your departure. Similar to an airport, you’ll go through security checks and passport control before boarding.
  • Luggage Protocol: Eurostar has a generous luggage allowance. You’re permitted to bring two suitcases and one carry-on, without additional fees.

 Arrival and Beyond

  • Seamless Transit: Arriving at major city centers, Eurostar stations like London’s St Pancras International and Paris Gare du Nord make onward travel simple and convenient.
  • Explore Europe: With Eurostar’s extensive network, continued rail connections across Europe are a breeze, whether you’re heading to Belgium, the Netherlands, or beyond.

 Tips for a Great Eurostar Experience

  • Book Ahead: Secure the best deals by booking tickets in advance.
  • Travel Light: While there’s no weight limit on luggage, you still want to pack as efficiently as possible for ease and comfort.
  • Check Deals and Discounts: Eurostar often offers discounts and packages, so keep an eye out for promotions.

Incorporating the convenience and comfort of the Eurotunnel with the speed and luxury of the Eurostar, your journey between the UK and the European continent is bound to be spectacular. For all your travel needs and expert advice, trust NOVA TRAVEL INC. to brighten your path. Safe travels!

Our Eurostar Journey

A few years ago my wife and I planned a trip to visit family and take in the sights of London, England. We decided to expand our journey and use the Eurostar service to visit Paris. While we flew into London’s Heathrow Airport, we flew home out of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport.

While in London we were staying at the Apex City of London Hotel. This charming Hotel was conveniently located in The City neighbourhood of London and a short walk from such wonderful must see attractions as the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower Bridge, the Bank of England, and the Monument.

apex hotel

Let’s Get Started

When we checked out of the Apex it was a short Uber ride to the St. Pancras International Railway Station. We purchased our tickets for the Eurostar High Speed Train and with sime time to kill before boarding, we found a lovely spot overlooking the station shopping area where we enjoyed a light breakfast and some much needed coffee.

Once it was time to board we entered the security clearance area with our luggage in tow and then made our way over to passport control. It was all a seamless and efficient process. We ended up in the comfortable Eurostar departure lounge. The lounge was well equipped to ensure our pre-departure needs were well met including a Pret A Manger, the Coffee and Sandwhich franchise that we had patronized many times during our UK stay.

st. pancras
Photo by Javier Martinez on Unsplash

Time to Board

Our train was called and we made our way up the escalator to the train patform and located our train car. And with the “all aboard” call we stepped onto the train and took our seats. We were travelling in Standard Class. Our seats were comfortable with ample space and leg room. The train included free wi-fi service and had food and drinks available for purchase.

With all these amenities at our disposal and already satiated and caffinated from our breakfast in St. Pancras we set off on the two and a half hour journey through the Eurotunnel to Paris.

The Eurostar Experience

Travelling on the Eurostarr’s high speed rail at speeds up to 300 km/h is smooth and quiet. It is very relaxing as all the seats are leather, in rows of just two and each space comes with a spacious drop-down table suitable for dining or laptop use.

eurostar car

The Eurotunnel

It was a nice sunny day so we enjoyed speeding through the English countryside scenery on our way to the Chunnel entrance. Suddenly,we slipped into darkness as we entered the tunnel. Not a single passenger seemed to flinch as we began our journey under the English Channel. However, this was a place I’d always like to be – under the sea.

Then, about a half an hour later and without fanfare, we emerged from the darkness and continued our high speed rail journey. The French countryside was much the same as the British scenery except for sightings of French signage along our way to Paris.

Arrive en Paris

On schedule, we rolled into the Gare du Nord, train station terminal for arrivals from London as well as trains from Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands. This train station is an impressive structure with a classic French architecture and bustling with international and domestic travellers. We stepped out of the station and into the streets of Paris. So ended our Eurostar Journey and began our Paris Adventure. That will be the subject of another blog post sometime down the road.

gare du nord

Click here to read our other helpful blog posts: The Nova Travel Blog Pages

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