Touring noob question about Calais

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  • Afternoon all. About to dip my toe into the world of touring and am wondering what it's like trying to get out of Calais by bike. Would rather avoid going on the massive N216 road out of the port, but from the look of Google maps, there doesn't seem any other way out of the fenced-off area. Is there a foot passenger exit? Or am I going to have to mix it with the trucks for considerably longer than I'd like?

  • Google Maps says you can leave this way. I think I took that same roundabout in 2018, coming into the port. Not that scary.

  • Ah great. Thanks. Looks fine and avoids the N road. Brilliant.

  • What's the plan for the tour? :)

  • Nothing too strenuous. Calais to St Omer along the Calais-St Omer Canal for the first day. Then St Omer to Cassel via the Thiriez brewery in Esquelbecq. Third day heading in to Belgium (via St Bernardus Brewery and Westvleteren Brewery) before staying overnight in Ypres. Then back to France for a night in Bergues before heading to Dunkirque and back to Dover.

    This is a 'see if I like it' precursor to a much longer trip along Eurovelo 19. Already miffed most hotels don't let you take your bike to your room (one is making me leave it in the garden) and French laws saying you need lights/a bell/reflectors on your bike. That aside, I'm looking forward to it, the brewery bits particularly.

  • hotels

    In practice I found hotels/b+b can usually be sweet talked in person. Show the bike is clean and is important to you (your only transport) and they will find a secure indoor space, if not your room. Otherwise I would look for another hotel as point of principle unless you were out of options. Imagine asking a guest to leave their suitcase in the garden.

  • Sounds good! Have fun.

    Lights, reflectors, and bells may be required, but you won't get stopped for it. Although I would always recommend a bell, and lights are handy (and safe) when you go out for a drink or something after dark.

  • I'd also make a point of carrying the bike through the reception rather than wheeling it along. I don't know if it's been the deciding factor but I've never been stopped from having the bike in room with me.

  • In fairness, it's only one hotel that's insisting on that. And typically, it's the one that I paid for up front rather than opting for the 'Free cancellation' rate, so that's a lesson learned. I reckon if they knew I had the option of cancelling, they'd have found somewhere indoors. We'll see. They may relent when I get there, but it's a small place that's mainly a restaurant with a few rooms, so the garden might be the best I can hope for.

  • I exited Calais a couple months ago. The mapmyride route I'd made wanted to take me on that N216 road so I backtracked a bit when I realised what it was. There is NO signage. I got escourted out of the port complex, but straight onto fairly hostile roads. Fine after a km or so though.
    Interesting fact, you can't use the ferry as a footpassenger. The only other cyclist I met was on the way back and he'd borrowed his neighbour's mountain bike to get on as he had some complicated car rental problems and this was the cheapest way to get over.


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  • Apparently, they're going to start allowing foot passengers again this year. Or so the website says. I think the main issue is the total lack of infrastructure for foot passengers any more. Used to be easy to, for example, get off the ferry and straight on to a train, but now thanks to Eurostar, people no longer get the 'boat train' from London to Paris via Dover-Calais, so it looks like they've removed it all.

  • If you can, take the Dover to Dunkirk ferry instead. Small port, less busy, smaller roads, much better cycling access on the other side.

    Smaller ports in general are better for cycling, partially why Newhaven is so popular for cycling to the continent.

  • as above, I've been a number of times but only via Dunkirk or Dieppe which are easier to get out of. Calais is a bit of a monster and as you say, drops you straight onto the N216 without some detailed noodling around.

    Seems like you are heading east anyway so Dunkirk probably preferable.

    Top tip for the ferry to Dunkirk is to upgrade to the Premier lounge. It was about €14 last time I did it but you get a nice comfy seat, a bit of peace and quiet, a chance to snooze for 4 hours and/or drink as much tea/coffee/juice as you like and fill your face with pastries.

    Otherwise you have to mix with the unwashed masses and take your chance in the public bars and restaurants.

  • Already booked my ticket for this time and it had to be Calais as I wanted to head along the Calais-St Omer canal. Much prefer smaller ports too and have done the Newhaven-Dieppe trip on a bike before, which was particularly hassle-free. Thankfully heading back from Dunkerque, which I'm hoping will be an easier experience.

    Loving the €14 for as much coffee/juice/pastries as you can eat/stash, though. Great tip.

  • Loving the €14 for as much coffee/juice/pastries as you can eat/stash, though. Great tip.

    I did this once and they ran out of pastries :-(

    On a side note, the food on Brittany ferries was actually quite nice in the self serve.

  • I've only been refused once to keep my bike in my room and that was because they had a "secure" storage...that anyone with legs and arms could climb into and open from the inside. Luckily reception closed at 10pm and I took the bike upstairs.

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Touring noob question about Calais

Posted by Avatar for ketsbaia @ketsbaia

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