Please help a first timer with a million questions.
Thinking about driving to France. Would like to book hotel in Dover and catch an earlyish train to beat the rush. Is this a good idea or does everyone do this and I'd be better staying in hotel say an hour from Dover and catching a mid morning train?
Do you have to check in for the train and wait around like you would if at an airport or do you just drive straight on or What?
I can't actually work out what hotels are nearby as they all seem to call themselves the X Hotel Dover and turns out they are in bloody folkstone.
Basically how the heck does it all work? I am still amazed we can drive to another country without getting wet or going in the sky.
Tunnel - you drive into the terminal straight off the m20 motorway, so I'd book one of the chain hotels near Ashford (Travelodge Eureka or Premiere Inn French Connection) are both seconds from the motorway and it's about a 12-14 min drive to the Tunnel junction.
Mind you, the ferry terminal is only about 10 mins further down the m20 from the Tunnel junction.
There are hotels near junctions 9 and 10, which are the Ashford junctions. In the morning, you would get back on the motorway and drive down a little further, can't remember if it's Junction 12 or 13 where you get into the lane for the Tunnel (Shuttle), which takes you up to check in etc. The Travelodge Eureka is just off Junction 9 on a leisure complex, so lots of restaurants etc, and you can cross the bridge to a large Sainsburys. The Premiere Inn is off Junction 10 and has a Table Table and MacDonalds nearby but not much else. Both will put you back on the motorway in the morning within 60 seconds. If travelling as a foot passenger by train (Eurostar) then Ashford is the last station for getting on.
It is nice to get to France, so we've driven down to the tunnel - aiming for the time of our booking but as long as you don't go into another price slot, they will let you go on an earlier or later train (unless you are going on the first day of the school holidays when that might prove tricky). Then we get a gorgeous French B&B 40-60 mins south of Calais. We had a few years of Premier Inn, Dover, but our new plan is nicer!
We stayed in a Holiday Inn in Folkestone, it was near a Tesco and about 5 minutes from the terminal. We booked an early train and there was a slight delay, around 20 minutes I think but it wasn’t really an issue. Coming back was worse - the train was at about 2pm and there was about a 2 hour delay so next time I would do the same coming back as going there and book a hotel and then early train from Calais. I found the tunnel much easier than the ferry because all the checks are done before you leave the UK so there’s no queuing the other side.
The Channel Tunnel terminal is in Folkestone. Ferries only at Dover.
Very easy to see the m20 exit, clearly signposted.
Cool things about the tunnel are that they checks passports on the UK side, so you can drive straight off and into France when you arrive (on the way back, they check in France, so you drive straight out of the train onto the m20).
The journey is really bloody fast and only about 20/25 minutes of it are in the tunnel itself. You can get out of your car for a wee, but there isn't anything to do/see. Read a newspaper or book, argue with your spouse, grab 40 winks...