Tag Archives: french

All Aboard the Chunnel!

photo credit Mike Knell, creative commons

photo credit Mike Knell, creative commons

On May 6, 1994, Eurostar’s channel tunnel, or “Chunnel” as it is colloquially known, officially opened from England to France. It is a modern marvel of engineering—it took eleven drilling machines and 13,000 people six years and 4.65 GBP billion to install it. At 31.34 miles long, it is the second longest undersea tunnel in the world. Its lowest depth is 250 feet underwater!

Since it’s opening in 1994, millions of people have enjoyed the convenience and comfort of this fast zip from London to Paris. If it’s not on your travel bucket list, it should be!

Tickets for the Chunnel are released about 6 months prior to travel date, and it can start as low as $65 if you grab yours early! They also have senior fares available. A regular one-way ticket may cost around $120-180. There are 3 classes on board: standard, comfort and business. Standard class is family-friendly, with access to a buffet car with snacks. Or if you’re traveling in comfort class, your journey will include a light snack and first class seats. Want to travel in style? Business class comes with a 3-course meal and your choice of fine spirit on board, plus access to the exclusive Eurostar lounges at St. Pancras or Gare du Nord stations.

Did You Know?

–         A contest was held to determine where to place the Chunnel.

–         Both the British and French started digging from each side at the same time, but they didn’t quite meet in the middle—the English side tunneled the greater distance.

–         French engineer Albert Mathieu was the first engineer to propose the tunnel in the 19th century, and his plans included an artificial island half-way across for changing horses.

–         Much of the chalk marl bored on the English side was deposited at Lower Shakespeare Cliff in Kent, now home to the Samphire Hoe Country Park.

–         One of the eleven boring machines remains buried under the Channel. Another was sold on eBay for £39,999 in 2004.

–         Up to 400 trains pass through the tunnel each day, carrying an average of 50,000 passengers, 6,000 cars, 180 coaches and 54,000 tonnes of freight.

–         The lining of the tunnel is designed to last for 120 years.

–         Shuttle trains are 775 metres long – the same as eight football pitches.

–         The Queen and President Mitterrand were the honored guests on the inaugural ride. The royal party travelled from Waterloo to Calais at a sedate 80mph. The presidential party sped to the coast from Paris at 186mph.


Willamette Intl Travel designs and books train itineraries all over the world. Our rail expects can explain the nuances of train travel and book Eurail tickets, rail passes and city passes. In a hurry? We can issue your tickets in-house with just a day’s notice! Make an appointment today, call 503-224-0180.

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Filed under England, Europe, France, Travel by Rail, Where in the World is the WIT Client?

Easter in France — Joyeuses Pâques!


France is due to be extremely popular for travelers in 2014, in part for all the festivities and rememberances this year! June 6, 2014 will mark the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, and towns all over the Normandy coast are already booked up for the season!

Fortunate to be in France for Easter Holidays? The Lenten season is a terrific time to be in the country, as celebrations typically run for several weeks. Known as “Pâques,” it’s a time of rebirth and festivity, with traditions revolving around chocolate, fish and church bells. Florescent tulips burst from the soil and absurdly delicious candies abound. The holiday kicks off with the grand Nice carnavale, a tradition dating back to at least 1294, where over 1000 dancers, actors and performers head to the streets to showcase their talents along the Promenade des Anglais.


Tulips along Bercy Village

Easter of course originates as a Christian holiday, and churches play an important roll. Tradition calls for silencing of all church bells from Thursday to Saturday, a somber observance of Jesus’ passing. To break the tension of quiet churches, parents tell their children that the bells have flown off to Rome to visit the Pope. Their ringing return on Sunday morning parallels the jubilant arrival of gifts of chocolate and eggs for children. And perhaps no French village takes the egg celebration to a greater extreme than in Bessieres near Toulouse. On Easter Monday the village celebrates with a giant omelette festival, during which Chiefs create a giant omelet of 10,000 eggs in a massive 12-foot pan.

Happy Easter to all Travelers in 2014, or as they say en France:

~~ Joyeuses Pâques! ~~

Heading to France this year? Hotels are already booking up for summer and fall! Call Willamette Intl Travel to speak with our experts in European travel. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.


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Filed under Europe, Family Travel, France

En France: Restaurant Recommendations

Bonjour from France! Our fellow vendors, friends, and agents have recommended some fine restaurants this past year. Here’s some of the best you should check out when next in France!  Have some of your favorite restaurants in Paris and beyond? Share with us your recommendations and we’ll post them on our blog!

3 le pre verre

Le Pré Verre. This restaurant is located in the heart of the Latin Quarter near the Sorbonne. With a vivacious atmosphere, jazzy red and black décor, eclectic menu and wine list, this bistro has it all! Start off with some delicate grilled pork pate, followed with boiled duck or poached filet of hake—all at an affordable price. Turn your meal into an animated event serenaded by excellent jazz tunes.

Le Pré Verre
8 Rue Thénard, Paris
Tel: 01 43-54-59 47

Website: www.lepreverre.com
Open Tuesday through Saturday noon until 10:30 p.m. (closed Sunday and Monday)

1 pre verre

Café Constant. This bistro-style restaurant is owned by well-known local restauranteurs who also own the Violon d’Ingres. Stop by for a coffee or take a dive into the extensive menu of oysters served in champagne sauce, foie gras, roast capon, veal sweetbread, white sausage truffé and succulent patisserie desserts.

Café Constant
139 Rue Saint-Dominique, Paris
Tel: 01-47-53-73-34

Website: www.cafeconstant.com

Open 8h – 10.30pm

2 azabu

Azabu. Petite and intimate Japanese restaurant. Commendable service and Japanese décor, well-presented and delicious dishes. From grilled fois gras in honey sauce to salmon hand rolls to sautéed mushrooms. You can order by dish or by set menu. There are even suggestions from the Chef. Recommended by a Frenchman used to eating in Japan!


3 rue Andre Mazet, Paris

Tel: 01-46-33-72-05

Website: http://azabu.fr/

3 fenocchio

Fenocchio. If you should find yourself in Nice these next summer months, try out this ice cream parlor. Located in the beautiful old town, it’s the best crème glacée on the Riviera. With 94 flavors to choose from—Orange blossom, caramel salted butter, zabaglione, avocado, hazelnut, jasmine, ginger and more!—if you can dream it, they have it.

Fenocchio (two locations)

2 Place Rossetti, Nice

Tel 33-04-93-80-72-52

Open 9am to midnight

OR 6 rue de la Poissonerie, Nice

Tel: 33-04-93-62-88-80

Open 9am to midnight, except Tuesday

Website: http://www.fenocchio.fr/

For more insider info on France, give us a call! Our agents have spent decades traveling through the country and working with clients in organizing their dream vacations in the lovely land of baguettes and Bordeaux. Call us up at 503.224.0180 or shoot us an email at info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Europe, France, Travel by Taste