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June 23, 2013

England and France: Dover Ferry

Leaving Dover

Leaving Dover

It has been said that the White Cliffs of Dover are “a clear symbol of Britain in the way the Statue of Liberty defines America for many”.  Yet to a foreigner who hasn’t visited, the importance of this place to the British is hard to fathom.  True, the 300-foot high chalk-white cliffs on the southeast coastline of England are visually striking; they make for good pictures.  But the significance to the Brits extends much deeper than the scenery.  Dover is a place of arrival and departure from the island mainland of Great Britain.  Departing by a Dover ferry, the white cliffs are the last piece of the England that can be seen.  And for a Brit returning by ferry from abroad, the White Cliffs of Dover are the first sight of their homeland.  Common points of arrival and departure from home develop as fabled places.

A pier marks the entrance to Calais' harbor

A pier marks the entrance to Calais’ harbor

Today there are many options for transiting the English Channel.  Ferries link numerous ports on the British Isles to the Continent.  By train and car, a passenger can cross beneath the Strait of Dover using the Channel Tunnel.  The proliferation of discount air carriers makes crossing to Europe fast and cheap.  Nonetheless the Dover ferries are still busy today bringing freight trucks and cars back and forth across the Channel.

On our last journey across the Channel, we drove our car into a train and crossed between England and France well beneath the waves in the “Chunnel”.  This time, curious about the ferry, we joined the line of trucks and cars at Dover’s ferryboat terminal.  Soon our car was parked below the ferry’s deck; we were on our way to France.

The fabled White Cliffs of Dover

The fabled White Cliffs of Dover

Up top on the deck the cliffs of Dover disappeared behind the horizon for us as they have for so many others in the past.  In about an hour the flat wide beaches of France’s Pas de Calais appeared over the bow lapping up the frothy blue-green waters of the Channel.  Soon the port of Calais with its long wooden pier was off the bow.  Once the ferry was moored at Calais’ dock, we moved in sequence with the other cars out of the bowels of the boat.  We were now in France and blazing off to the next destination on a modern French autoroute.  The ferry crossing, historic and romantic, still serves its most basic transportation purpose.

A ferry sits at the dock in Calais

A ferry sits at the dock in Calais



  1. Gorgeous photos. I think this may have been my first glimpse at those famous white cliffs. 🙂

    Comment by Lori Lipsky — June 23, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

  2. The White Cliffs of Dover [] are always a fantastic sight, aren’t they. These cliffs are one of the reasons why I prefer the ferries over the Chunnel.
    Best regards from southern Texas,

    Comment by Pit — June 24, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  3. […] England and France: Dover Ferry […]

    Pingback by Ferry, Flight Or Train? The Best Options For Getting To France From The UK - Travel Trailer Blog — July 8, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

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