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Going to France by car via ferry / migrant camps

(29 Posts)
SansaClegane Mon 25-Jan-16 10:31:20


Just looking to get a few opinions.
We had planned to go to France this year in the summer holidays, rent a cottage and drive there.
Now that I've started trying to find a suitable house, DH told me he doesn't want to do it anymore as he thinks it would be too dangerous around the ferry ports, we'd get attacked by migrants or the ferry might be delayed / port closed due to migrants being on board, do I really want to expose the DC etc etc.

Tbh I hadn't really taken that into consideration so far and I'm not sure if he has a point or not? Yes you do see lots of articles about this after a quick google; but surely if it was really bad there would be government advice not to go? Has anyone been through Calais or Dunkirk recently, or is planning to?

jenpetronus Mon 25-Jan-16 11:56:12

Which region were you thinking of? Unless you are looking at the East of France, or live very near Dover I wouldn't use Calais anyway.

I know there are a lot of desperate people living in the camps, and I know the tunnel is closed from time to time as migrants storm the tunnel trying to get through. I think it's unlikely you would be attacked, and I think it almost impossible there would be governement advice not to go - too much money at stake.

I live in Brittany and see the French press too (who are generally very negative) and am also involved with groups locally who provide aid where possible to the refugees.

As above, we have lived in Brittany for over twelve years and have crossed the channel (as have our gite guests) in every possible combination - I would not travel through Calais ever again, refugee camps or not!

Let me know if I can help with any more info.

magimedi Mon 25-Jan-16 12:01:14

If you need to go from Dover take the tunnel.

You come out straight on to the motorway & are away from Calais in 10 mins or so.

I went to France, via the tunnel, 6 times last year (have family there) & apart from one hold up (due to a train breakdown) of about 40 mins every journey was fine.

I stopped doing the Dover to Calais ferry some years ago as Dover is a nightmare for traffic & it can take you up to 2 hours from docking to be off the ferry & clear of Dover (a distance of about 5 miles).

slebmum1 Mon 25-Jan-16 12:02:27

We take the tunnel at least once a year Dover to Calais.

Operation stack is a pain in the backside and adds journey time.

When we got to the terminal at Calais in the summer you couldn't stop and go to the shops before you go through to the queuing bit. We were all whizzed straight through and they were loading cars into the next available not the allocated service. Security way very visible.

We are doing it again this year.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Mon 25-Jan-16 12:03:12

They're looking for vehicles they can stow away in. So lorries, motor homes. I wouldn't worry if you just have a car.

magimedi Mon 25-Jan-16 12:20:51

slebmum - You didn't miss anything by not seeing the shops! Overpriced tat.

When you have gone through security & border control & are lined up to wait to board the tunnel, the loos (on the side of the car park) are some of the cleanest public loos I've ever used. That applies to both the French & UK side.

slebmum1 Mon 25-Jan-16 12:32:49

Agree Magi - but we powered through the drive as the kids were asleep - hoping to grab a sandwich or something for their lunch.

They ended up with chocolate and crisps from the vending machine and thought it was greatgrin

mummymeister Mon 25-Jan-16 12:33:15

DH did this trip a couple of times last year and I did it once. tbh I didn't see anything happening but did feel a bit uncomfortable as we are in a van. there were a lot of people just hanging about which added to a not too pleasant atmosphere. we are doing the tunnel again 3 times this year with the van and I have to say I am really, really not looking forward to it.

foxessocks Mon 25-Jan-16 12:37:00

We are doing this this year but not sure if we're going via ferry or tunnel yet. I am a little apprehensive but I don't want it to stop us having a nice holiday in France. I guess we'll keep an eye on the news and hope that security around the ports is good.

Tuiles Mon 25-Jan-16 12:43:12

There are other ferry services to France that don't have such a big migrant problem - Poole, Portsmouth to Caen, Cherbourg etc. Yes the crossings are more expensive, but depending on your destination in France you may make fuel savings anyway? And peace of mind ...

jenpetronus Mon 25-Jan-16 12:52:33

Yes, as I said above, depending on where you are heading, I wouldn't use Calais anyway. As an example, for us, it adds €50.00 in tolls, an extra tank full of fuel, lunch on the way or sometimes an overnight stop depending what time it is. Fares to Caen or Cherbourg are not bad (I have a discount code you can use too) unless you are heading to the East of France I can't see the point!

sparechange Mon 25-Jan-16 13:00:23

We have just done this via the tunnel and it was fine.
On the way back, they divert everyone around the car parks a few times, presumably to stop traffic queuing on the roads, but we didn't see anyone, and they've closed a few of the petrol stations on the lead up, presumably to minimise the risks there.

The only thing I would recommend is the Flexi ticket for the tunnel on the way back, because everyone with those could skip the queuing, while us pleb tickets had an hour sat in a car park

sayatidaknama Mon 25-Jan-16 13:01:23

We use the tunnel a lot. The only problem we ever have which causes delays is engineering problems to do with trains. This is happening more frequently due to them being older now imo. I have only ever seen one migrant in the last 3 years and that was coming back after Xmas this year. He was standing by the road hitching a lift.

New haven/Dieppe is a good, cheaper ferry alternative. Although smaller boats and sick sickness can be horrendous in rough weather if that's an issue.

eternalopt Mon 25-Jan-16 13:09:12

Jenpetronus - could I ask you to send me the discount code please or share it. I'm doing a Cherbourg crossing later in the year and haven't booked it yet.

Re Calais, my sister used the tunnel last summer, when the crisis was in the press everyday, and didn't see any. Some delay at the tunnel for Ezra security, but not much

jenpetronus Mon 25-Jan-16 13:22:16

I have pm'd you eternalopt I don't think I'm supposed to post it on public forums

eternalopt Mon 25-Jan-16 13:32:28

Thanks Jen. Very kind.

Anomite Mon 25-Jan-16 13:37:53

I use the tunnel about once a month or so.. I really wouldn't let this put you off..
Like people say these poor people are more likely to be looking for lorry a that they can safely stow away in, than bothering with your car.. (Assume it's a car) they are just desperate- I wouldn't class them as dangerous (personal opinion)
The only pain is operation stack but if your lucky you will avoid that.

I have seen a few migrants walking along the motorway but they are by no means any threat nor have I felt threatened.

SansaClegane Mon 25-Jan-16 13:47:03

Thanks all.
I hadn't even thought to look at other crossings - we usually take the ferry but then we usually go on to other countries further east ( Netherlands, Germany). This time I was looking at a place in the Vendee - jenpetronus, which port would you recommend for that? And could you pm me the offer code just in case?
I'm not that keen on the tunnel as the ferry option allows us (and the DC!) to stretch our legs and it breaks up the long car journey.
We have an MPV so no van or lorry wink so do you guys think it should be ok then?

I'm really torn, I so wanted to go to France, but DH quite adamant now he does not and suggests Cornwall instead confused

jenpetronus Mon 25-Jan-16 14:08:40

Sansa it depends where in the Vendee - if you look at viamichelin route planner, it's really good and pretty accurate, but I would think sailing into Caen or Cherbourg (both are cheaper than St Malo) would take maybe 5 or 6 hours off your journey? (less the tolls, fuel etc) We live near Vannes, Caen is 3 hours drive, Cherbourg is 3 and a half, St Malo an hour and a half, and Calais about 7 and a half hours. The Vendee is further south of course, but that gives you an idea...hth

foxessocks Mon 25-Jan-16 16:00:34

I live an hours drive from calais so I'm guessing for me it really is the best option? Sorry to jump in on your thread op!

poocatcherchampion Mon 25-Jan-16 16:51:06

We went last summer with our caravan. We were asked at the port when we last stopped (3 hours back, we had prepared) ans whether the van was locked. Nobody could have got anywhere near us as we didn't even slow down and went straight onto the train.

I was pregnant and we had the two toddlers with us and it was fine

JackandDiane Mon 25-Jan-16 16:52:35

DH is being a cock

Manopaws Tue 26-Jan-16 22:03:06

I always go to Dunkirk The crossing is 30 mins longer from Dover but normally cheaper, ou don't see anyone hanging around on the way into the port and you are 30 mins closer to getting out of France! Win Win Win in my opinion

JackandDiane Tue 26-Jan-16 22:15:20

30 mins too long ime

jenpetronus Wed 27-Jan-16 07:46:56

Sadly there is a now a large (and growing every day) refugee camp at Dunkirk too.

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