France is steeped in history and culture and offers some of the finest cuisines in the world and is home to the most incredible wine-producing regions making it a foodie and wine lovers paradise. A visit to its capital, Paris, and the world-famous Eiffel Tower should be on anyone's bucket list.
You can drive to Folkestone in England and take the Eurotunnel to Calais in northern France via the English Channel. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from several ports located on the southern English coastline heading for northern France.
With its stunning chateaux, beautiful countryside, and stunning golden beaches on its southern coast, there is so much to explore as you travel around France. Read on to discover the best ways to get there and some of the amazing places and attractions that will make your trip truly memorable.
Can you drive to France from the UK?
Yes, you can drive to France from the UK, by taking the Eurotunnel. Whilst the journey under the English Channel, through the Channel Tunnel, is taken onboard a train, you stay with your vehicle for the relatively short travel time you are aboard Le Shuttle.
The 38-mile journey onboard Le shuttle takes you from Folkestone on the South Coast of England to Calais in Northern France in 35 minutes and is the most convenient and quickest way to make the journey.
How to get to France from the UK
|Mode||Route||Provider||Adult Fare||Car Fare|
|Eurotunnel||Folkestone to Calais||Le Shuttle||N/A||£140|
|Ferry||Dover to Calais||P&O Ferries||£30||£63|
|Ferry||Portsmouth to Cherbourg||Brittany Ferries||£39-£64||£89-£114|
|Ferry||Portsmouth to St Malo||Brittany Ferries||£39-£64||£164-£189|
|Ferry||Portsmouth to Caen||Brittany Ferries||£45-£70||£160-£185|
|Ferry||Poole to Cherbourg||Brittany Ferries||£45-£70||£160-£185|
|Ferry||Newhaven to Dieppe||DFDS||£33||£67.50|
|Ferry||Plymouth to Roscoff||Brittany Ferries||£55-£80||£160-£185|
The route consists mainly of motorways in England and autoroutes in France, which are a series of motorways and toll roads. The route heads through some glorious scenery and amazing towns and cities and is an enjoyable way to journey between two of the most popular capital cities in the world.
Leaving London, the route heads southeast on the A2 towards Rochester and then south to join the M20, leading you through the heart of the Kent countryside and the Kent Downs AONB.
Continue onwards past Ashford, and head to Dover to see the famous white cliffs before arriving at the Channel Tunnel departure terminal at Folkestone.
Once aboard the train, you are allowed out of the car to stretch your legs and use the onboard facilities but it is only a short matter of time before you arrive in France at the Calais Terminal.
Take the A16 in Calais for a short distance before joining the A26 and continuing for around 70 miles through the Caps et Marais d'Opale nature reserve and skirting around Arras before taking the A1 heading towards Paris.
A stop off at Chantilly to see the incredible Chateau, one of the finest examples in France's cultural heritage, before continuing for around an hour into the heart of Paris.
There are a number of ferry options available to travel from the UK to France, with the travel times varying from 1 hour 30 minutes up to 12 hours. The ferry journey can be slightly cheaper, than travelling by Eurotunnel, although this is route dependent, and the quickest and most flexible option is to travel by Le Shuttle.
It is also possible to fly to France from the UK and hire a car on arrival but the costs involved are significantly higher than those of driving and taking the Eurotunnel.
How long does it take to drive to France from the UK?
France sits directly across the English Channel from the south coast of England and at its closest point, there are only 20 miles separating the two countries, from South Foreland just north of Dover, to Cap Gris Nez, near the French port of Calais.
The 110-mile drive from London to Calais, including the journey through the Eurotunnel, will take 2 hours and 55 minutes, and making the 305-mile journey from London to Paris will take a little over 6 hours depending on the traffic conditions.
|Origin City||Total Distance||Total Time|
|London||110 miles||2 hours 55 minutes|
|Birmingham||235 miles||4 hours 35 minutes|
|Manchester||315 miles||6 hours 30 minutes|
|Newcastle||385 miles||7 hours 10 minutes|
|Cardiff||255 miles||5 hours|
|Glasgow||505 miles||9 hours|
|Edinburgh||500 miles||9 hours 10 minutes|
Which port should you arrive at in France?
If you are travelling via Eurotunnel, then you won't have to plan your arrival point as Le Shuttle takes you directly to the Eurotunnel Terminal in Calais.
However, if you are planning on taking the Ferry, there are a number of available ports from which to depart/arrive as highlighted in the table above and your itinerary will determine the best departure and arrival points for your trip.
Things you need to know about driving to France from the UK
Driving to France from the UK is relatively straightforward along major roads with plenty to see and do along the way.
Here are our top tips when it comes to preparing for a drive to France from the UK:
Make sure you book your ferry tickets in advance - prices get a lot more expensive closer to travel time, and it will save time at the departure point and guarantee your place on the selected train/ferry. Travelling on weekdays and avoiding peak times will also often result in cheaper fares
You do need a passport to travel to France, and this includes any pets that are travelling with you. It is advisable when taking Eurotunnel to have your passport ready as you will be driving straight to the border control point where your documentation will be checked and it will make it a speedier process for both yourselves and other drivers.
Also remember that on ferries, you won't be able to stay in the car or access the car while the ferry is on the way, so pack a bag with whatever you need onboard in advance
Things to see once you reach France
France has so much to offer that you really are spoilt for choice when deciding where to go and what to see. With incredible historical and cultural attractions, scenery, wine, food and home to the fashion capital of the world, it is full of incredible opportunities.
Here are a few of our recommendations to help you plan for an amazing trip:
- Bayeux Tapestry - Visit the Bayeux Museum in Normandy and discover all about the Norman conquest of England in the 11th Century displayed in this incredible 70-metre-long embroidery.
- Omaha Beach - One of the five landing areas used by Allied forces in the WWII D-Day invasion. The beach still bears the remains of the German bunkers and Les Braves sculpture commemorates the American soldiers. Learn more about the invasion at the nearby Overlord Museum.
- Lille - City in Northern France, established in the Middle Ages, famous for its architecture and culture. Explore the beautiful Old Town and the illustrious Fine Arts Museum, Palais des Beaux-Arts.
- Quimper - Explore the oldest city in Brittany, and one of the most attractive in France. Feel like you've stepped back in time with a walk around the medieval quarter with its half-timber houses, and enjoy the wonderful scenery and magnificent views over the city with a walk up Mont Frugy.
- Arras - Famous for its two main squares, Grand'Place and Place des Heros and its elegant Baroque architecture. Visit its vibrant Arts Quarter where you'll find chic boutiques and artist's workshops. Visit Les Boves and discover the incredible underground tunnel network, dug over 1000 years ago with the intention of linking the city's cellars. They were used by the locals in WWII to escape the artillery bombardments that descended on the town.
- Honfleur - This beautiful Normandy town sits on the Seine estuary where it meets the English Channel and is steeped in history. It is renowned for its picture-perfect old harbour, medieval architecture, and its cobbled alleys and was home to many artists of the Impressionist Movement, such as Monet and Boudin.
- Amiens - Known as the Venice of the North, due to its impressive canal network, with its idyllic floating gardens, which can be explored on a flat-bottomed "barque" tour. Visit the magnificent Amiens Cathedral with its amazing architecture and tallest nave in France, with an impressive collection of gothic and renaissance art.
- Paris - Regarded as the fashion capital of the world, and one of the most beautiful cities, Paris has so much to offer. Take a walk down the Champs Elysees, visit the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa, enjoy a relaxing walk along the banks of the Seine and take a trip up the Eiffel Tower, the most popular tourist attraction in France. With such an illustrious gastronomic reputation, you can take your pick when choosing where to eat, from the many world-class restaurants to the little hidden gems, offering the best that French cuisine has to offer.
- Le Havre - A bustling UNESCO-listed city at the mouth of the River Seine, with a lively entertainment and popular arts scene, highlighted by Le Volcan, the totally unique and simply stunning arts centre. Following the Impressionist Trail is a great way to enjoy the city and the beach whilst discovering many famous works from the Impressionist artists that made Le Havre the birthplace of the movement back in the 19th century. It was indeed Monet's home town!
- Normandy - Voted the most desirable region in Europe, take a scenic walk or cycle along the Alabaster coastline, and visit the delightful spa town of Bagnoles-de-l'Orne, renowned for its beautiful countryside and the perfect place to relax after a day sightseeing. Normandy is home to many excellent food festivals in the autumn months and magical Christmas markets in the festive season.
- Burgundy - World renowned for its wines, canals and amazing castles. Burgundy is one of France's major wine-producing regions and is blessed with beautiful hills, forests and lakes and beef bourguignon.
- Disneyland Paris - Situated in Chessy, a short distance from Paris, enjoy the magic of Disney as it prepares to celebrate its 30th Anniversary in Paris in 2023. Packed full of incredible rides, spectacular shows and offering a magical Christmas experience, there is so much on offer for all the family but be sure to book in advance as the tickets are always in high demand.
- Loire Valley - Home to many spectacular centuries-old Chateaux, with towering turrets and beautiful gardens. The Loire Valley is also renowned for its world-class wines with vineyards dotted all along the valley, with many offering tours and tastings.
- Champagne - The Champagne wine region is famous the world over and the most popular reason people visit is to sample the famous bubbly. The province of Champagne is blessed with spectacular scenery, and its stunning hillsides and the most famous champagne houses and cellars have allowed it to take its place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Epernay - A beautiful French town, known as the "Capital of Champagne" and an excellent place to stay and visit the Avenue de Champagne is a must as this beautiful street is home to many of the leading Champagne producers.
- Provence - With its endless coastlines, incredible scenery, and stunning purple fields of Lavender, enjoy the delicious local delicacies as you explore its medieval hilltop towns and visit the original Arc de Triomphe in the beautiful town of Orange.
- Cote D'Azur - Also known as the French Riviera, situated in Southeastern France on the Mediterranean Coast, famous for the glitz and glamour of Cannes and the Film Festival and the beaches of St Tropez. Menton and Antibes
- Monaco - Whilst not technically in France, the Principality of Monaco sits on the French Riviera with France on its north, east and western borders. Discover its rich history with a trip to the Palais du Prince, home to the world's oldest monarchy. Take a stroll around the Port de la Condamine and marvel at the luxury yachts of the rich and famous whilst relaxing at a waterside cafe. Larvotto Beach is a perfect place to relax with its golden sand and crystal clear waters, ideal for a dip in the ocean to cool off after a day exploring this unique independent State.
The journey to France from the UK is straightforward and simple and with so much on offer when you arrive on French shores, with its culture, food, amazing wine, and incredible architecture, a trip to be France should be top of your list when planning a trip from the UK.