Calais chaos: what to do if you're travelling to France

With school summer holidays now in progress, many of us will be planning to head into Europe via ferry or the Channel Tunnel.

But strike action by ferry workers and attempts by migrants to illegally cross the channel means it can be a daunting situation for British holidaymakers.

What should I do if I’m travelling to Calais?

  • Check with your ferry operator or Eurotunnel before travelling. Most will update their website and social media channels with the latest information on crossings.
  • Turn on the radio. As you get closer to Dover, tune into local radio stations for the latest on the situation.
  • Leave plenty of time. Operation Stack combined with a large amount of holiday traffic means routes to Dover and the port itself can be heavily congested.
  • Sections of the M20 are closed due to Operation Stack. Tourist traffic should find an alternative route – consider the M2 and A2 from the M25.
  • Consider a different crossing. Although Dover-Calais is the shortest crossing, others may prove easier. For example, ferries operate from Portsmouth to Le Havre, Caen and Cherbourg.

What should I do if I’m travelling from Calais?

  • Be prepared for migrant activity. Thousands of migrants are attempting to cross the channel. They’re mainly targeting lorries, but keep your doors locked and try to avoid stopping. Be particularly vigilant if you have a caravan.
  • Consider a different crossing. The Department for Transport has provided this map of routes between France and the UK.
  • Leave plenty of time and contact Eurotunnel or your ferry operator if you’re worried about cancellations.
  • If you require assistance, dial 112 in France for the emergency services or 00 33 (0)1 44 51 31 00 for the British Embassy.

What is the British Government doing about it?

The UK has pledged £7m to improve security at Calais, including new fencing around tunnel and ferry terminals.

Prime minister David Cameron said: “I have every sympathy with holidaymakers who are finding access to Calais difficult because of the disturbances there and we will do everything we can to work with the French to bring these things to a conclusion.

“There’s no point trying to point fingers of blame, it’s about working with the French, putting in place these additional security measures, adding in the investment where that’s needed – Britain will always come forward with that.”

Home secretary Theresa May is holding an emergency Cobra meeting this morning following news that a migrant has died after being struck by a lorry while attempting to enter the channel tunnel.

MORE on MR

  • Operation Stack truckers given free water by council
  • £12 million in fines for truckers carrying stowaways
  • The best travel apps for your summer holidays