December 2020, in which the UK and the EU will negotiate the terms of their future relationship. This article has been updated to 31. January updated. For the latest information on details of the crossing, visit the UK government's website.

One of the fastest and cheapest ways to cross the English Channel is the Eurotunnel. Whether you're crossing the Eurotunnel for a short trip or traveling as part of a European tour vacation, you simply hop aboard Le Shuttle and 35 minutes later you're in another country.

Let's get a few things straight first

– You are not actually driving through the Channel Tunnel. You sit comfortably in your own car (or as a cyclist in a minibus) while you are transported through the tunnel by a special train, the Autotransport.
– No one really calls the tunnel the "channel" anymore. It's called the Channel Tunnel or Le Shuttle for car travel or Eurostar for high-speed passenger-only service.

What is a trip through the Eurotunnel like?

First of all, if you are not the biggest traveler when it comes to long tunnels, you don't have to worry about it. Crossing the canal with the car transporter must be the easiest, fastest and most comfortable way to do it.

Getting in is a breeze. We showed up early for our train. Have actually got an earlier departure. Riding Le Shuttle, the Eurotunnel car transporter, was a bit like driving into a garage. The interior was painted in sunny yellow. Lights remained brightly illuminated throughout the trip. So bright, in fact, that as we chatted happily, the dog snoring unsuspectingly in the back seat, we sped through the French countryside for at least five minutes before noticing that the carriage windows were turning from tunnel black to sky blue, and we had indeed gone all the way through.

Le Shuttle is also suitable for cyclists

Each Eurotunnel shuttle can carry six cyclists. Bicycles are transported on a specially adapted trailer. The cyclists travel in a minibus. To book a bike ride, call sales support, weekdays from 9 a.M. To 5:30 p.M. On 44 (0)1303 282201. Bike crossings must be booked 48 hours in advance. If traveling with a larger group, call the sales support department at the same number to discuss arrangements.

Taking your dog with you

The tunnel is the most comfortable and humane way to travel across the English Channel with a pet. Your pet stays with you all the time. However, if you're traveling in and out of the UK with a dog or cat, the animal must be verifiably rabies-free, microchipped and registered for the UK Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), which requires some advance planning.

Check in

Arrive at least half an hour before your departure (and no more than two hours) to allow time to check in, get into the boarding lanes, and pass through British and French security and border controls. In addition to passports and visas (if required) for all passengers, you will also need registration papers and proof of insurance for your car. If you're traveling with a pet, you'll need to bring the required PETS paperwork and allow a little extra time to check your pet's passport and microchip.

Do you need to book in advance?

You may be able to board the next available shuttle and pay in pounds, euros or by credit card. But it is more expensive than booking in advance. You are not guaranteed a seat. At busy times or at the start of European school vacations, you may have to wait a long time to board a shuttle.

But you can still be almost spontaneous. Shuttles through the Eurotunnel can usually be booked a day in advance.

Can you accidentally end up on the wrong side of the road?

No chance. Yes, they drive on the right in France and on the left in the UK, but those clever engineers who designed and built this wonder of the world thought of everything – including how stupid some of us drivers might be.

The roads are designed to keep you in the right lane both entering and exiting the Eurotunnel. By the time you have cleared British and French passport control and customs and are ready to leave the private roads at the Eurotunnel sites, you will have aligned yourself with the correct side of the road for the country you are in.

Cheap enough for day trips

The Eurotunnel is priced to attract day-trippers and short-stay visitors – and it only takes 35 minutes to complete. If you rent a self-catering cottage in Kent, you can stock up on cheap wine and beer, cheaper cigarettes if you smoke, and delicious French cheeses and food for your cupboards. Touring the South of England? Cross the channel for lunch, a visit to northern France and a change of scenery. The Pas de Calais region, near the tunnel exit at Coquelles, offers beautiful seaside resorts, Flemish-influenced villages and good beer. There are also some wonderful restaurants. Try the Grand Bleu near the ferry terminal in Calais or the restaurants in the pretty town of Montreuil-sur-Mer. And if you are coming from France, there is plenty to do near the Folkestone tunnel terminus.

Meals on the road

35 minutes is a pretty short ride, but if you arrive early, have to wait in line to get on, or take a long ride through the tunnel, you might get hungry.

I find shopping and dining in the Eurotunnel facilities to be on par with duty-free at the airport – pretty conventional, overpriced, and not very nice. And once you enter the Eurotunnel site, you can't really leave without repeating all the border checks.

So plan some time to visit Calais first. See Rodin's original bronze of the citizens of Calais and learn their heroic story, shop for wine and bargains at Calais supermarkets, then get one last French picnic and head to the tunnel at Coquelles.

Important information:

– Where:The tunnel connects Folkestone in Kent with Coquelles outside Calais. It has its own highway exits leading directly to the check-in at both ends.
– from France take exit 42 of the freeway A16
– from the UK take exit 11A from the M20.
– Booking: online on the Eurotunnel website or by phone:
– from Great Britain – 08443 35 35
– from outside Europe – +44 08443 35 35
– from France – +33 (0) 810 63 03 04
– Timetable: Up to four departures per hour (from both directions) in bookable 2-hour windows, around the clock.
– Fares: One-way trips start at 85. But you book a round trip. Day trips and overnight stays start at 30 each way and short stays up to five days start at 66 each way. The fare is per car (prices from 2019). Motorcycle prices start at 15. Bicycles cost 20 each way.

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