Le Shuttle is easy to explain to a toddler, but they will look at you like you’re completely mental. The concept of being in the car, on a train, in a tunnel, under the ocean sounds exciting but Weasel was convinced we were completely bullshitting her.
Timings – At 35 minutes, it’s much faster than most ferries to France and you’re allowed on within 2 hours either way of your booking. Very useful when trying to get a toddler out of the house (we managed to miss ours both ways – resulting in an hour’s wait on the way over and a 20 minute wait on the way back).
Last Chance to Buy Crap: Need a travel pillow shaped like a duck and some stale pick n mix? You got a service station on both sides of the tunnel where you can wait until your train is called. Traveling on a busy day Folkestone to Calais, we had a ‘chance’ to eat lunch at the Victor Hugo Terminal (i.e. service station). A kind lady gave Weasel a little travel pack with passport, colouring pencils, stickers and some random bits of paper to shred. Hot kids meals are free if you have adult mains, £2.99 if not. And you get the joy of playing ‘hunt the sausage’ in the sausage pasta (we never did find one) served at close to the temperature of the surface of the sun (5,778 K if you’re interested). Not that it matters, Weasel had stickers, so no need for sustenance. And since we didn’t manage to get a photo of this amazing pasta, here’s a good substitution:
Loos: There are! My pregnant self struggled around a 4×4 to get to one on the train (they’re every 3 carriages), but I did manage to fit in. That is honestly one of the most claustrophobic places I have ever been though – about 2 feet across, in a tunnel, under the ocean. Change your kid in the car if necessary, there is no way they could accommodate a table. Cleaner than anything in France though.
Drawbacks? On a ferry your kid could run around a bit, something to break the journey up. We let Weasel loose in the car, and Husband let her out to look out the window before we descended underground, but there is limited entertainment available.
Verdict: Definitely the way forward to travel to France – very little hassle and lots of flexibility. Make sure you sort your sat nav out before you head over instead of plugging it in as you get off the train to avoid your insane car trying to take you to Paris via Brussels.