Travel Departures: Channel challenge

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The Independent Travel
CORRESPONDENCE continues on the fastest sea crossing to France. Lambert Hughes of Knotty Ash, Liverpool, says shortest is always best. 'One covers 70 miles on the autoroute per hour and much less by sea. So Dover-Calais is best if you do not happen to live on top of another departure port.'

Mr Hughes says the really good news for British motorists driving in France is the completion of the A26 autoroute, which makes it possible to drive from the Channel to Provence without touching the Paris ring road.

'From Liverpool we can do Reims (500 miles) on day one and be in Provence by 5pm on day two without strain on vehicle or passengers. Time is money and one overnight stop from Liverpool to Provence is amazing.' The one problem is crossing Lyons on the autoroute, where jams are common in August: 'It can be slow and frustrating, but aim for 1.30pm as lunch hour is quieter.'

Simon Calder (Independent Traveller, 5 June) asked if anyone could beat the time for the quickest scheduled trip by public transport between London and Paris, just three minutes under six hours at present.

The winner is Steve Leven of Harrow, Middlesex, who chose the date of a British Rail strike to break the record. Because most travellers took BR's advice to delay their journeys, only a handful of cross-Channel passengers took the train from the Gare du Nord to connect with the SeaCat at Boulogne.

On reaching Folkestone, there was, predictably, no train in sight. 'Luckily, Hoverspeed laid on a coach for the 15 London-bound passengers,' writes Mr Leven. The roads were very quiet, presumably because motorists feared jams as a result from the strike, and the bus arrived at Victoria ahead of the train schedule - five hours and 49 minutes after leaving Paris.

Mr Leven wins a bottle of vin de pays imported from Paris.