On the eve of the start of the half-term getaway for many schools, all ferries on the Dover-Calais route have been halted for at least nine hours.
The Port of Dover announced on Twitter: “Due to national action in France on the 09/02/23, there will be no ship movements in the port of Calais and all sailings will be suspended between 08:00 and 17:00.
“Sailings to Dunkirk have not been affected.”
Dover-Calais is the main link from the UK to Continental Europe, with around 30 ferries departing daily each way, carrying cars, buses and trucks.
The strikes in France are part of a protest against President Macron’s plan to raise the pension age by two years to 64.
DFDSwhich also sails to Dunkirk, is telling passengers: “Customers traveling from Dover, proceed to port as booked to be transferred to Dunkirk.
“Travelling from Calais, please redirect to Dunkirk to be shipped on the first available departure.”
The other two operators, P&O Ferries and Irish Ferriessail only from Dover to Calais.
P&O Ferries tweeted: “Due to a national strike in Calais the Port Of Calais is closed until 1700 CET [4pm GMT]. Because of this all our sailings are suspended until then.”
One passenger, Chris Matthews, complained: “Just driven 2.5 hrs to be told at Dover that our ferry is cancelled.
“Given a telephone number to ring that isn’t open and had no email or message that would have saved us a fortune in waste petrol!
“I see you updated Twitter 3hrs ago. Why not update your customers?”
The ferry line responded: “We sent out communication both via email and text alerting all passengers.”
The closure comes the day before many schools in the UK break up for half term. Families heading for French, Swiss and Italian ski resorts typically take ferries to Calais on Friday evening to arrive in the Alps by Saturday.
Eurotunnel shuttles between Folkestone and Calais are running normally, the company says.
In July 2022, long queues built up at both Dover and Folkestone due to post-Brexit passport checks at the hard EU borders installed in Kent at the UK’s request.