Driving to Calais

  • Driving guides
  • France
  • 6 min read
Driving to Calais

LeShuttle is one of the fastest ways to travel to France. Making the journey in 35 minutes, it beats the 90-minute ferry crossing from Dover to Calais.

The best place to begin a French road trip adventure is from Calais, but the port-city is much more than just a gateway to France, it has a variety of attractions and sights worth seeing. So, whether you plan to use it as a launchpad, or soak up what Calais has to offer, one thing is for sure - LeShuttle gets you across the Channel faster than a ferry from Dover to Calais!

Did you know?

  • There are up to four departures every hour, 365 days a year
  • LeShuttle takes just 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais
  • There are no baggage restrictions, so you can pack as much as you like

Thinking of travelling from Dover to Calais by ferry?

For some people, the first travel option that might spring to mind when considering a trip to France is the Dover to Calais ferry. But in fact, the most flexible, cost efficient and speedy option for holidaymakers looking to cross the channel is to book with LeShuttle.

How long does the ferry take from Dover to Calais?

The time it takes a ferry to sail to Calais from Dover can vary, with the shortest duration being 90 minutes - rather lengthy when compared to LeShuttle’s 35-minute transit. The benefit of a faster transit is the time saved, which allows you to better explore not just Calais, but the entirety of France. You’ll have more time to visit the cities, each brimming with their own unique culture, or head off the beaten track to experience the beautiful, rural landscape. 

Birds eye view of Eurotunnel terminal check in in Calais

Check in is easily reached from the M20

Driving to Calais from major UK cities

If you’re planning to drive from London to Calais, or from anywhere else in the UK, LeShuttle is also your easiest and fastest option. The swift journey beneath the channel permits even a day trip to Calais from London!

LeShuttle is much easier to reach when compared to the ferries from Dover to Calais, to find us simply make your way to the M20 and take exit 11A.

Take a look at our handy table to see the distances to our Calais terminal from these British cities: Please note: These distance and driving times to our Calais terminal are approximate and given as guidance only. Includes crossing times.

Cities in the UK DistanceDriving Time
London107 miles/172km3h 25m
Portsmouth166 miles/267km3h 36m
Bristol231 miles/372km4h 35m
Birmingham232 miles/373km4h 48m
Exeter272 miles/438km5h 43m
Leeds300 miles/483km5h 55m
Manchester315 miles/507km6h 32m
Newcastle381 miles/613km7h 17m
Glasgow504 miles/811km9h 13m
Edinburgh502 miles/808km9h 40m
Please note: These distance and driving times to Calais from major UK cities are approximate and given as guidance only.


What to see in Calais

As mentioned above, Calais is often regarded as the starting point when setting off on a French adventure and LeShuttle partners with a great selection of hotels right next to our terminal. But what could you experience if you chose to linger for a while? One popular sight on your list should be the Calais Lighthouse, erected in 1848 to replace the lantern in the lookout tower. The top of the lighthouse offers a magnificent panoramic view over the quay – after a climb of 271 steps! On a clear day you might even see as far as the White Cliffs of Dover. 

If you’d like to soak up some culture, the historic Town Hall, Le Beffroi de Calais (pictured top), is an architectural gem certainly worth a visit. Built in 1885, this landmark provides impressive views of Calais, which you can take advantage of during a guided tour that takes groups to the top of the tower.

If you want to feel the wind in your hair then drive to the stunning Côte d'Opale, which is a short drive west of Calais. Once there you can stroll along the Sentier des Balcons d'Escalles, a beautiful 8km coastal path that grants views of the chalk cliffs and stunning French countryside, as well as the chance to hunt for fossils.

Some other sandy spots worth visiting are Blériot-Plage and Plage de Calais. The latter features a long pier that stretches out to sea and is the closest beach to our Calais terminal. A stroll along the pier is a great way to work up an appetite, which can be satisfied in any of the local restaurants or cafés.

Lastly, the Musée Mémoire is a must see for visitors interested in Calais’ significant role in the Second World War. The museum sits within the gorgeous, Parc-Saint-Pierre and boasts an impressive collection of exhibits, spread across its 22 exhibition halls.

Tax-free shopping in Calais

Did you know that UK residents are now eligible to shop tax free in the EU? You can save money on VAT on a wide range of purchases, including cosmetics, technology and food and drink. Calais is the closest and most convenient destination for tax-free shopping, and there are no shortage of places to shop. Here are two to look out for:

Carrefour Cité Europe

The round glass entrance to a large hypermarket called ‘Cité Europe

You can’t miss Carrefour Cité Europe on your way out of the LeShuttle terminal.

Carrefour Cité Europe is one of the largest hypermarkets in the region and the perfect place to shop for wine, food or local delicacies. An essential tourist stop for those crossing the Channel, Cité Europe has over 120 shops and an incomparable “Gourmet City” with great restaurants.

L’Usine Channel Outlet Store

While you’re at Carrefour Cité Europe it would be rude not to nip into the L’Usine Channel Outlet Store! It’s just a little further along the road.

At the Channel Outlet Store you’ll find big discounts on major clothing, cosmetics and homeware brands, as well as great places to grab a snack. It’s a pleasant shopping experience, with large accessible aisles and a play area for the kids.

Travelling to Calais with LeShuttle

The journey to Calais with LeShuttle is quick and easy, but may be a mystery to those who have never travelled with us before. The first thing to do is book by selecting your time and date of travel, then follow these steps as you approach our Folkestone terminal.

  1. Arriving at our Folkestone terminal
    Exit the motorway at Junction 11A and drive straight to our check-in booths. Allow yourself between 30 minutes and two hours before your chosen departure time.
  2. Collecting your Departure Hanger info
    You will need your booking reference number and the credit/debit card used at the time of booking to collect this. Your hanger will print from the self-service machine or will be handed to you by check-in staff, depending on which booth you choose to use. A letter will be displayed on your hanger, which is the letter given to your timed shuttle.
  3. Our Passenger Terminal
    Once you're through check-in, take some time to relax and visit our Passenger Terminal Building for a spot of shopping, or enjoy some refreshments at one of the cafés. You can board approximately 25 minutes before your departure time, customer information screens and service announcements will let you know when LeShuttle is ready, so keep an eye on your shuttle's letter.
  4. Have your passport ready
    When it's time, drive straight through to the British and French border controls where your passport, vehicle and official documentation will be checked. Please have all passports to hand, removed from wallets and open at the photo page until you have cleared all controls.
  5. Drive on
    Follow the signs to France to find your way to the boarding lanes, where you may face a small wait. When your shuttle is ready to board the barrier will open in your lane, please proceed on the marked route towards the platform. Once boarded, you'll be able to stretch your legs and explore the light and air-conditioned LeShuttle carriages or sit back and relax.
  6. Drive off
    Once you’ve reached Calais, simply drive off at the end of the crossing and voilà, your French adventure awaits!

If you want to know more or have any questions, take a look at our contact page for a range of ways to get in touch.

Whether you're going on holiday or travelling with work, making the trip to Calais has never been so easy. Book your next journey with LeShuttle today, for a convenient and affordable travel experience.

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