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Buying alcohol in faraway lands.


Duty free for travel within the EU has now ended. There are still quite a few arguments going on as to what exactly will happen to ferry prices, goods sold on ferries, etc, so check back here soon and I'll try to explain it all. A bit like Clarissa.

One of the few good reasons to go to France is that alcohol in general is much cheaper there than here in Britain. Woohoo I hear you say! How do we get over there? Read on....

My favourite way of getting to France is by car ferry. This has several advantages:

1) You can have a rest and a couple of beers on the way out.
2) You can have a rest and a couple of beers on the way back.

Yes, there are other things too - up untill 1999 you can buy Duty Free on the boat - and also it is CHEAP. Pretty important bit that - the seasoned booze cruiser realises that the least amount spent on travelling (without reducing the actual carrying capacity) means comparitively cheaper beer!

Of course, there are other ways of travelling, but the only other method I'm going to mention is the new Eurostar. Fast and snazzy, but bloody expensive compared to the boats.

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Sea France. This lot are my usual, as they are cheaper than others such as P&O. As far as I know, they only sail the Dover to Calais stretch, which takes them 90 minutes. Cheapest day trip, with car and four people, is about 15 quid if you go on weekdays. The facilities, ie bar and duty free shop, are pretty average but sufficient for most needs.

P&O Stena Line. Sea France's only rival on the Dover - Calais route is a bit more classy than Sea France, but is a little more expensive. However, if you are not too bothered about the cost, they are a better boat. The crossing is quicker, and the last one I went on had TWO duty free shops! Also, the bars sell English beer (sadly lacking on Sea France) and at a pretty good price of about 1.50 a pint.

HoverSpeed. I've never tried these, and they can be quite noisy and bumpy apparently. The main benefit is if you want to get to France quickly, although I prefer a little more leisurely crossing. Two types of these exist - Hovercraft and Seacat from Dover to Calais, and Seacat from Folkestone to Boulogne.

P&O European Ferries. A separate site for ferries between Portsmouth and the continent. Obviously not as quick as Dover - Calais, but may be more convinient if you don't live closer to Dover.

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Eurostar. I haven't been on Eurostar yet, and until the price of 80 quid a ticket comes down, I won't be! Fine for holidays, but perhaps a bit steep for a booze trip.