I heard a rumour that there are regular coaches that leave from the Elephant for France and Belgium for duty free shopping as often as weekly, on a Wednesday, I think. Does anyone know anything about contact details?
It was great. I was the only one at the Elephant pickup and only 15 of us on the coach altogether. I've done a deal: If you can travel on a Wednesday before the end of May, quote SE1Direct and the fare is £20 (instead of £25). Any problems, contact the manager and usual driver, Jim, on 07712 454491. He and his assistant, Tina, are pretty flexible about where they go depending on what shopping passengers are looking to do. We went straight to Belgium, to Saint Flora chateau http://www.saintflora.com/ for cigarettes and a free drink, then to āTobacco Roadā in Adinkerke for petrol and some visited the English pub there. Then back to France to a beer warehouse with a limited selection of wine. Then back to the ferry and we were back home shortly after 8pm. They dropped me off in Kennington, so it's worth checking about other pickup points, e.g. Lewisham, en route. Some folk apparently like to go shopping at Cite Europe http://en.citeeurope.com/ so they can get dropped off there and collected later after the coach has been to Belgium, but Tina reckons that prices are cheaper at Auchan and they go to the one at Dunkerque http://www.auchan.fr/contact/contactus/1/frontiere_anglaise.asp. If you want, Tina will get your cigarettes for you in Belgium if you want to stay in France for shopping. In summer they apparently go to the seaside at De Panne, near Adinkerke, for lunch. Oh, I was looking for a blue coach but yesterday's was white, so pay attention!
Another option if you dont want to go by coach or want to travel on another day apart from Wed or Sat is to get a combined train+ferry ticket. You can leave from London Bridge at about 8 and then arrive at Dover station at 9:30ish, get a bus from the station to the port and then get the next P&O ferry (but there are about 25 ferries a day so very flexible). Coming back the last ferry to get back to London in a day leaves at about 8:30pm which gives you a 9:30- 10pm train back to London Bridge. the advantage of this is that you can use any of the scheduled trains or ferries and come and go when you want. The cost is reasonable too - I think £24 day return from london plus cost of bus in Dover+Calais (about £1each) and whats more you can get 33% off with gold card/yp railcard etc etc
No unfortunately there doesnt seem to be much information available on this package - apart from acknowledgements that the combined ticket exists on various websites such as nationalrail the best I could come up with is http://www.seat61.com/France.htm#Rail/sea
When I went last year at the end of November it cost us £24 day return each - probably gone up since then though. the best thing was that it didnt require booking - just turn up at Charing Cross/ London Bridge/ Victoria and ask for the ticket either on the day or in advance, the people behind the desk seemed to know what it was. There are no restrictions on the timing of tickets which is handy so you can get the train leaving London Bridge or wherever at any time