Europe Points of Arrival
With cuts in the French national budget, our neighbours have withdrawn customs facilities from many of their smaller airfields, even on the provision of notice. Arriving from England, via the Dover crossing point, now leaves us with a very small choice of French airfields. Because the UK has chosen to remain outside the common customs area, usually called “Schengen”, we can now only legally check into France at an airfield with customs facilities. A list of current border crossing points into France (including customs airfields) is available on the SIA website in AIC A 31/17 and at europa.eu. This Google map of the customs airfields in France is another way of planning your route to the continent, but do double-check the official sources as well as airfield customs facilities can and have changed.
Within easy range of the north French coast there are just two of these, Calais LFAC and Le Touquet LFAT. Customs requirements can change so it is advisable to check the latest requirement on the SIA airfield plates, but most require a small period of prior notice. Abbeville used to be a popular port of arrival/departure with little fornmality, grass runways and a good onsite restaurant, and fuel available, but in October 2016 their customs facilities were withdrawn.
Calais is better suited for travelling north into Belgium, or down into France following the border between France and Belgium. The landing fee there is €9 and there is fuel and food at the airfield.
Le Touquet, to the south west of Cap Gris Nez, is a friendly but very busy airfield with many UK visitors at the weekend as the town is an attractive destination for lunch or an overnight stop. The landing fee, even for ULM/microlights, is however higher, probably €15 these days.
Le Touquet is in class D and could in theory require a transponder, but we have never known the tower to insist on this. It's recommended that you phone the tower before departing to advise them and gain positive acceptance rather than just "turning up" without a transponder.
Albert Bray, 30 miles to the East of Abbeville could provide a good alternative to Abbeville as customs are available there and landing fees are a reasonable €8. Prior notice is however required 12 hours before arrival.
Both Le Touquet has a full ATC (tower frequency) in English and Calais and Albert Bray have part-time English AFIS and French radio calls otherwise. More detailed information on these three destinations can be found following the links above or via the Airfields and Airfield Guides.
All are easily reached from Lashenden/Headcorn EGKH in Kent, which is where we suggest Channel novices should start their cross-channel sector, especially if they are forming a group to do so.
Cherbourg can also be used as an arrival destination but the over water crossing from the Isle of Wight is around 60 miles.
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