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France-UK Christmas travel - what are my options?

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France-UK Christmas travel - what are my options?
A cross-Channel ferry. Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP

A last-minute strike on the Channel Tunnel caused chaos on cross-Channel services, while a storm severely disrupting UK services. Here are the options if you had a trip booked.


French unions have announced that the Channel Tunnel strike is now over - find all the latest here.



The strike by staff on Channel Tunnel operator Getlink has completely halted all services using the Channel Tunnel - Eurostar, Le Shuttle car and van services and freight services.

At present it is not clear when services will restart, they are cancelled until at least Thursday evening, but Eurostar is telling passengers that it has "no information about services tomorrow [Friday]".

LATEST: When will the Channel Tunnel reopen?

Thousands of passengers are stranded at Gare du Nord and St Pancras stations, while Eurostar services between London and Brussels and Amsterdam are also affected.


As thousands of people prepare to travel over the weekend - many to spend Christmas with family - what can you do? 


Eurostar says "we strongly advise you not to travel and recommend that you postpone or cancel your journey".

Strike-related cancellations will gain you a refund or vouchers on your booked ticket.

But a cancelled Christmas trip, especially if you are travelling to spend the festive season with family or friends, is about more than just money.

So what are the other options?


Irish Ferries, Brittany Ferries, DFDS and P&O all offer Dover-Calais crossings. These are a good alternative for people who had planned to drive and use the Channel Tunnel Le Shuttle services as the ferry terminals are 15km away from the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

There is, however, traffic congestion on the M20 because of the disruption at Dover. 

At the time of writing, all had availability on services over the weekend, but it's likely that they may book out fast as people scramble for an alternative. 

Passengers who were planning to travel between Paris and London on the Eurostar may find this option difficult - most ferry services do accept foot passengers, but you will need to arrange alternative train travel between London and Folkestone and from Calais to Paris. 

French rail operator SNCF runs some direct Paris-Calais services, but other journeys involve changing in Lille. Prices are between €40 and €80 per person. 

In the UK, direct services between London St Pancras and Folkestone are around £40. 

The other option is to hire a car - both Gare du Nord and St Pancras stations have several budget hire car companies nearby, prices start at around €140 a day for car rental. 


For passengers already in Paris or London, flying would normally be the simpler option. 

However, Easyjet is currently showing all Paris-London flights for the next few days as sold out, Ryanair does not list a London-Paris service while Air France appears to be charging in the region of €700 for Paris-London flights on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. 


The flight search service SkyScanner listed available flights from Swiss Air and Austrian airlines, both in the region of €400 per person.


Unfortunately, coach services like FlixBus also use the Channel Tunnel, so are subject to the same delays as drivers and the Eurostar.

Storm Pia

To add to the misery, the UK is currently being battered by Storm Pia - most of the weather warnings affect northern England and Scotland, but train services out of London's Euston and Kinds Cross services are severely disrupted.


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