The Euro 2016 football tournament kicks off on June 10 at Paris’s Stade de France, and it’s a great chance to experience the thrill of live football in one of Europe’s finest stadiums.
If you’re going to watch any of the matches in person, and will be driving to Paris from the UK, then you’re no doubt already planning the trip and deciding how you’re going to get there.
Driving in France is about more than remembering to drive on the right. Remember that you have to keep the following items in your car:
- Reflective safety jackets
- Warning triangle
- Beam deflectors
It is also recommended that you carry:
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Spare bulbs and fuses
If you want more detail on things to watch out for when driving in France you can check out our handy guide.
Once you’re up to speed on how to drive in France, you need to think about how to get to the Stade de France. Driving to Paris from the UK is fairly straightforward. You can plan your journey with the Green Flag route planner and then just decide if you’re going to take the ferry or Eurotunnel.
Ferry or Euro Tunnel?
The cross-Channel ferry is the classic way to get to France in a car. For lots of us it’s part of childhood memories of family holidays or school trips, and though it can take a couple of hours to make the trip, it remains very popular.
If you opt to take the ferry you have a choice of various ports to head out from, but in terms of getting to Paris by crossing from Dover to Calais is probably your best bet. Once you arrive at Calais it’s a straightforward motorway cruise to Paris.
On the flipside is The Eurotunnel. It’s faster, you’re across the English Channel and on French soil in about 35 minutes once you enter the tunnel, but unlike the ferry you can’t just turn up and grab a ticket, everything needs booking. And then there’s the fact that some people just don’t like the idea of being in a tunnel 250 feet beneath the sea.
Let’s weigh up the differences between the ferry and the Eurotunnel and see which comes out on top.
Ferry to France: Tickets and booking requirements
Travelling to France by ferry is a leisurely way to get there. You can relax, enjoy a meal, savour the view, and while away the time in the lounges.
There are a lot of operators, especially out of Dover, and there can be more than 30 crossings a day. There’s not much difference between the various services and they all take the same amount of time to make the journey, so make your choice based on price and which suits your trip.
The joy of the ferry is that you can buy your ticket on the day, though you’ll usually get a better price by buying in advance. In general you’ll find the ferry to be cheaper than the Eurotunnel, and there are price comparison sites to help you find the best deals.
On arrival at the ferry port:
- Follow signs to your service’s embarkation points, make sure you have your passport and tickets or booking reference on hand.
- Once you pass through passport control and have your boarding card, proceed into the car lane.
- You will pass through security checks and then on to departure. At this point you cannot leave your vehicle until you have boarded.
- Your vehicle will then be directed onto the ferry. Loading the ferry has to be done very specifically to ensure it maintains balance, so be prepared for a wait.
- Once you are parked, be sure to disable your car alarm as it can be set off during the crossing. You are then free to enter the ferry.
- Once the crossing is complete you’ll hear an announcement instructing you to return to your car. Don’t start your engine until instructed to, and follow all directions by staff.
- Have your passport ready for inspection at border control.
Once you’re clear of the ferry port, driving to Paris along the A26 and A1 motorways is a simple journey.
Eurotunnel to France: Tickets and booking requirements
If you’re not a big fan of long journeys then you’ll want to go for the quickest possible route from the UK to Paris, and in that case the Eurotunnel is your best bet.
When you travel on the Eurotunnel to France your ticket price covers your car and up to nine passengers, so it’s great for keeping costs down if you’re taking some mates along to the match. And with up to four departures an hour and no luggage or fuel supplements, it’s a pretty simple way to travel.
It will usually be a bit more expensive than the ferry, but it’s worth checking prices, and of course the extra you’re paying can be worth it for the speed and convenience of the crossing.
Things to do in Paris
Don’t neglect to spend some time in Paris before or after the game. It’s a truly beautiful city, rich in culture and history, and it’s worth taking the time to explore some of its well-known tourist spots.
Here’s a list of the most popular attractions:
- The Eiffel Tower. The most iconic landmark in Paris never fails to amaze. The view from the tower is incredible and lets you see Paris in all its glory.
- Notre Dame de Paris. One of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world, this cathedral found wider fame thanks to its use in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- Arc de Triomphe. This towering monument to those who lost their lives in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars is situated at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. Once you’ve seen the arch you’re in a prime spot to enjoy France’s best cafes, restaurants and shops.
- Montmartre. Once the haunt of famous artists, Montmartre is a bustling district and home to some of Paris’ best bars and nightclubs. A climb to the top of the Sacré-Couer gives the best view of Paris.
Whether you cross the channel by Eurotunnel or ferry, driving to Paris is one of the more straightforward continental drives, so don’t stress yourself out. Follow our tips and advice and you’ll be there in good time to enjoy kick-off.
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