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Driving or autotrain from Nice to Calais?

Posted by coco-185132 - Created: 15 years ago
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Does anyone have any experience/advice about either driving or putting the car on the train from Nice to Calais?  Which is best?  How does price compare? 

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10 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 10)

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Posted by coco-185132 - 14 years ago

Result of autotrain trip from Frejus/St Raphael to Lille:

I put my car and myself on the train last Saturday.  Very efficient at St Raphael for boarding the car, night train ok although our carriage was targeted by a have-a-go thief at Marseille.  However, on arrival at Lille 08h15, it went slightly downhill.  We had breakfast and then transferred to the car pickup point (09h30).  We were assured that although it says in the book that cars are available after 11h15 we would have our cars about 1 hour after arrival at Lille.  We all assembled in the pickup area.  We could see our cars.  We could see the Autotrain personnel.  No-one was doing anything.  As 11h15 struck on the clock the personnel started working.  Very slowly.  I got my car at about 12h15 - 4 hours after my arrival in Lille.

That is the only thing which would put me off using this service in the future.

By the way, the shuttle tunnel was extremely expensive.  I was expecting it to be expensive but not that expensive.  So be very careful if you look at the website as it is very misleading.  I wondered why there were only GB cars using it - few people in France are rich enough to use it!


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Posted by coco-185132 - 14 years ago

Low season is to 10 July - Euros 156 for the car Frejus/St Raphael to Lille

High season 11 July to 16 Sept - Euros 245 for the car

Me in a couchette Euros 105 (sorry not 80) (there was a cheaper and more expensive option - I can't remember exactly).  By the way, you do not have to travel with your car - you can take a day train (maybe that was the cheaper option, I can't remember).

Telephone number:  0892 35 35 35 (open 07h00 to 22h00) (this number can also be dialled from abroad).

NB autotrains do not run all year round - look on website www.voyages-sncf.com or pick up an information book from the SNCF

Hope this helps.


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Posted by seagull-188600 - 14 years ago

Hi, do you have the phone number? It is 155 Euro for the car, and 80 per each person?



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Posted by coco-185132 - 14 years ago

Thanks for you replies everyone.

I ended up booking the autotrain Frejus to Lille (45 mins drive to Frejus and 45 mins drive from Calais) - Euros 155 plus me Euros 80.  Unbelievably you cannot book this on the internet you have to ring up.

By the way, I asked Raileurope in the UK and got a very speedy response.  However the cost was huge in comparison:  Nice to Calais approx. Euros 500!

The worst is going to be crossing the Channel as there is a real rip off going on at the moment.  Apparently you have to pay by visa so if you buy the cheapest ticket and don't use the day return they automatically charge you the full price on your visa card - there was an article about this in the Times last week.

Does anyone have any recent experience of this?




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Posted by stgeorge-182529 - 14 years ago

My tallness was never a problem standing up in a hammock !!



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Posted by christineke - 14 years ago

I hope you're not too tall. My partner and I found it OK but we know tall people who found it very unconfortable as the beds are really narrow.

About food, I heard that the Nice-Brussels train had a restaurant, and Brussels is only 2 hours drive from Calais. 

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Posted by stgeorge-182529 - 14 years ago

London - Nice !

Drove to Dover - Took ferry to Calais ! Put car on train and got off mid morning the next day in Nice ! Couchettes ( really comfy ! ) picnic snacks , thermos of tea , and a hip flask ! We stopped at various places - stretch the legs etc.

Add up the ferry ,petrol , peage , stress , snacks on autoroute , possible accident, wear and tear , and taking 2 days to get over the drive once you arrive - its not worth it - put it on the train ! Cheaper in the long run and you'll enjoy the break that much more ! Highly recommended !



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Posted by pembroke-188495 - 14 years ago

Hello. I do not know whether you have sufficient information now; I have only just spotted your entry in the Forum However, we have been driving backwards and forwards to Castellane now for 10 years. If you want to avoid the autoroute (A8 and A7 via Marseille) drive north out of Nice following the signs for Digne. This will take you through the Var valley and eventaully via St Andre les Alpes to Digne. From Digne go to Sisteron and via a short stretch of the A51 to Sisteron Nord and thence to Grenoble on the N85.The roads are good but oppportunites for overtaking those caravans and poids lourds somewhat limited. The scenery, of course, is spectacular. Stop at the Aire de Trieves about 25 kms south of Grenoble. On a good day there is a good view of the Alps.At Grenoble join the autoroute system but do not go via Paris. North of Lyon take the road via Dijon, Beaune, Troyes and Rheims to Calais. The roads are uncrowded (except around Lyon in summer) and some of the scenery is quite reasonable (except the bit between Troys and Rheims - a vast prairie and the most boring bit of road in the world! All the usual rest areas etc on a journey that takes us about 13 hours and I am certainly not a formula one driver! If you want to break the journey Tournus north of Macon is a very pleasant town on the Saone with plenty of hotels.Safe travellingRoy Pembroke

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Posted by lucy2-187661 - 15 years ago


Im new here....noticed request for info re motorail. We have experience of doing both directions(but only one way on any trip!). NICE much better than AVIGNON but more expensive. It is not a cheap option!!

use RAILSAVERS.Once caught in rail chaos and trip Nice-Calais took 24hrs!! very relaxing it was. they stopped for food etc often(free also). Not a trauma. Need to pack coolbag as little food on board normally.

they load the cars and are rough with it! after yrs of experience and now 50ish we drive south and rail north.


SOF fan

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Posted by Nice men - 15 years ago

Hi Coco, we regularly use this service which is expensive and slow, but you do arrive in good shape, and there is no expenditure on hotels, autoroutes or petrol.

The journey takes about 14 hours (including a lengthy stop at around 5am in Avignon where some cars and passengers get off). There is no food at all, so you must pack a good picnic, which there is time to gather after checking in the car and before the train leaves either in Nice or Calais. The service is not actually bookable on the web although there is a website (http://www.raileurope.co.uk/frenchmotorail/)and the people are good at ringing back. The service is highly seasonal and only operates daily through the height of the summer.

There is an alternative year-round which is the daily sncf autotrain/train bleu sleeper (http://www.voyages-sncf.com/autotrain/homepage_autotrain.htm) which, of course, only goes to Paris, but it is considerably cheaper kilometer for kilometer. Agian you have to book in person or ring ligne direct 08 36 35 35 35.

Hope this is helpful - bon voyage.


The Nice males