In Depth

Dover traffic chaos: How to avoid the delays

Alternative routes, whether by plane, train or ferry, could save you from the jams and the mayhem

There were chaotic scenes on the roads leading to the port of Dover at the weekend, with some motorists waiting 15 hours after traffic came to a standstill.

Port authorities have blamed the mammoth waiting times on a staff shortage on the French side of the Channel and increased security checks in the light of recent terrorist incidents on the continent, the London Evening Standard reports.

Authorities say the traffic is now under control and waiting times are down to as little as 30 minutes this morning, but next weekend's influx of holidaymakers is likely to lead to similar scenes of chaos.

If your heart is set on a getaway to France this summer and you haven't yet booked your journey, Dover is far from the only option available. Here are a few other routes you might want to consider:

Alternative ports

Although Dover-Calais is the most popular way for travellers to sail to France, with up to 30 crossings every day, the advantage of living on an island is there are plenty of alternative ports offering a Channel crossing.

Portsmouth is the best option for flexibility, offering routes to Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo and Le Havre.

Ferries depart from Newhaven for Dieppe three times per day, while Plymouth is the starting point for routes to Roscoff (ten crossings per week) and St Malo (two crossings per week). Passengers can also travel from Poole to Cherbourg seven times per week.

Flying

British holidaymakers might want to consider flying to their destination. Although it is not necessarily a cheaper option, there are usually some good deals available for the dedicated bargain-hunter. Comparison sites such as Skyscanner can help get the best prices on offer.

Eurostar

Eurostar offers an alternative mode of transport to France, with trains running from London St Pancras International to Paris in 2hr 16min.

There's now a special extended service from London direct to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille running on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and weekends until 4 September, after which they will run Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays until 29 October.

Journey times are 4h 41min to Lyon, 5hr 49min to Avignon and 6hr 27min to Marseille – not the fastest method of transport, but the relative simplicity of check-in and the central location of terminals means the door-to-door journey time is often shorter than flying.

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