Crossing the Channel
Let the train take the strain
How to get there
Firstly, if you want to go the scenic route to the Alps it always takes
longer than you think, and wastes valuable time. Do that trip some other time.
Not many of us like the everlasting long blast down the motorway, even at 140
mph plus. This however may be the necessary evil.
If you are coming from G.B like myself, there is an alternative to the
Dover Calais/blast through France.
This is the Harwich to Hamburg overnight ferry, run by
Scandinavian Seaways. The
time I did it, this was worth it for the overnight party on board alone. You
arrive refreshed in Hamburg at around 10 am.
The advantage of this route is that it places you at the centre of the
Alps, instead of the better known French Alps. The German autobahns are often
speed-limit free, and I personally feel more comfortable doing a high speed
Getting across the channel
|Stena P&O Ferrryport Online Ticket Sales,
Timetables and Information||
P&O Stena main booking site with links to all of their websites. Routes include:|
Ferry information, timetables, reservations and ticket sales for travel
between the UK and all European destinations. Additional links to hotel,
car hire, train and cheap flight booking sites.
- Hull to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge (overnight)
- Harwich to Hook of Holland
- Portsmouth to Le Havre & Cherbourg
- Dover to Calais
||Harwich to Hamburg (overnight)
Newcastle to Amsterdam (overnight)
||a bit far too the left on the map, but worth considering
[link broken @ 2nd Nov 2000]
|| Folkestone to Calais (about 60 quid each way)
Put the bike on the train
A possibly more attractive alternative than the blast down the autobahn
may be to let the train take the strain. This may be especially true if you or
your bike or license isn't up to the previously mentioned 140 mph blast.
We haven't had a chance to update this page for a while. In the meantime Martin Theodor Ludwig, a German chap has kindly sent us a link to his site:
Autoreisezug which is regularly updated and has comprehensive information on all European cartrains.
The link above connects to the address/contacts page of all providers, the homepage is here.
I'm afraid it's only available in German, but if you have trouble please contact either us or the author of that site. His English is good.
He has a map here with all stations and clicking on each station brings up a list of routes and timetables.
The French railway company SNCFin French (French Railways Ltd, 179 Piccadilly, London W1V OBA.
Tel 0870-5848848 for general SNCF enquiries or 0870-2415415 for motorrail)
offer to put your bike on the train from Paris Bercy to Lyon. This cuts out the main motorway blast.
Unfortunately this train used to run up to the buffers at a certain montain
called Mont Blanc, but no longer. I haven't used the train for nearly 10 years so I can't really recommend it.
If anyone does try this route, I'd like to hear from you.
The future could be motorail running from London or Ashford to Southern France, but I don't think
that's here yet. (Unless you know different)
Strangely enough none of the main motorail operators really want to give
away any information on routes, unless you phone them up.
motorail Notes on Motorail quoted from SNCF:
Information on the Motorail services of principal interest to
passengers travelling from the UK and Ireland, including the relevant fares, is
published by French Railways Ltd (London) in a brochure entitled "French
Railways 1995 - The expressway into Europe".
Advance bookings, which are strongly recommended, should be made through
your travel agent or motoring organization, or through
French Railways Ltd,
London W1V OBA,
Information on the Motorail services is contained in the "auto/train"
brochure. This brochure is aimed primarily at the French market and contains
fares which apply exclusively to bookings made through a railway station or
travel agent in France.
When booking in France, together with your travel document you will be
issued with a leaflet entitled "guide du voyage" containing practical
information on your motorail journey. Advance bookings, which are strongly
recommended, should be made through your travel agent or through French
Railways in Germany (Französichen Eisenbahnen in Frankfurt am Main, tel.:
0049-69/97 50 46 31).
Calais to Nice
Dortmund/Düsseldorf/Cologne to Munich
Hamburg/Hannover to Munich
Cologne to Salzburg/Villach
Denderleeuw to Biaritz/Salzburg/Villach/Milan/Venice
Vienna/Linz to Feldkirch/Villach
SNCF France motorail
Deutsche Bahn Motorail site
DB in the UK.
or try Railsavers: a central booking agency.