Local Heart, Global Soul

February 1, 2017

Always Speak nicely To An Officer With A Gun…

Filed under: Calais,FRANCE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Heading towards Calais, Himself and I needed to cross the channel via the Channel Tunnel in order to attend the funeral of a good friend.

We got close to where we need to board the  train, but first we have to clear French and United Kingdom Douanes (Customs).

As citizens of the European Union, travel between member states is usually just a formality, but the UK does have it’s own additional checks.

The French “Douane” (pronounced “do- arn- nuh“) officers wave drug detecting wands into the car, use mirrors look under the car and we drive past barriers that house goodness what kind of machines for detecting smuggled goods or people.

One thing is for sure, they are not giving away their secrets. Our passports are checked rigorously, casual questions asked. Both Himself and I reply in French, happy to oblige. On this occasion we are through quickly, but the previous Summer when Himself travelled alone to the UK to attend a meeting and fundraise for the charity we support, he was delayed by French customs for more than fifteen minutes. He was questioned at length about the duration of his stay, why he was travelling alone and a myriad of other things.

He had no idea if he was the “lucky winner” of a random check or if a man travelling alone in a large car,  carrying boxes of things to be sold for the fundraiser was taken as being suspicious, either way they were very interested in his movements and intentions. On this occasion we just answered the questions, had our passports checked and were directed to the United Kingdom’s own customs stop under the next set of canopies further along.

We don’t mind the checks,  believing that it’s better to check too much, than too little these days, especially when we are about to travel at high speed on a train through a tunnel under the sea for thirty-five minutes.  Ditto aircraft: better safe than sorry. As some of the border agents left, others arrived. Because of the possible queues here our travel advice is fairly simple, have all of your necessary documents up to date and ready to present to the douane officials when requested. They have a difficult enough job without waiting for you to unpack your car so that you can get your passport out of your suitcase. Also, they carry guns. never joke or mess with an officer with a gun.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


  1. Good advice!! Like you, I don’t mind the checks. It actually gives you more peace of mind if they are rigorous.

    Comment by sarsm — February 8, 2017 @ 11:26 am | Reply

    • Sarsm,
      I never mind at all… I never understand people who don’t understand the concept of: “better safe, than sorry”. These officers are all doing their job, and trying to keep people safe from harm.

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 8, 2017 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

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