Thought I’d share my story on taking the ferry to France (Dover/Calais route) on my bike as it may help others that are considering doing the same thing.
Going into the Port of Dover, there is a red line painted on the ground and this starts to the left of the main route into the port facility. You need to follow this line and it will eventually take you to French immigration where you need to present your passport. Just beyond this, there is the UK border point where you will also need to show your passport. Once through, continue to follow the red line until you get to another checkpoint where your booking will be checked and you will be directed to a ticket office. At the ticket office, show your booking details again and you will be given a boarding pass to hang off your handlebars. This will state the lane you need to be in and you should aim to get to the front of the lane. Once ready, you should be invited to board first and will hopefully be told to cycle the length of the cargo deck to the front of the ferry. Time to leave your bike and go to the passenger decks for coffee and a croissant.
On arrival at Calais, you may get invited to disembark first and as you do, you will be met by a white van which should escort you off the port (be prepared to cycle fairly quickly). This is where it went wrong for me as I got waved off at a roundabout and the van disappeared. Not knowing where to go, I followed signage to exit the port and kept in the car lane. This led me out of the port where you can follow signs (or your satnav) to where you need to go.
Coming home was a little different…
Arriving at the Port of Calais, proceeded in a car lane to a booth where your passport will be stamped for leaving France and you will be given another boarding pass to hang off your handlebars. You must keep this (I’ll explain why later). Follow the road (no red lines here) and pass through UK border control. You can then find the lane you have been assigned to – get to the front of it. On boarding first, I was made to leave my bike at the stern of the ferry so, when we docked in Dover, I wheeled my bike to the front. Again, I was invited to disembark first and had to follow the red line to exit the port. Eventually, you will get to a secure metal gate with a button next to it to call for assistance. Once through, I was asked to show the boarding pass I was given in Calais – this is why you should not throw it away. Once done, you are clear to go and free to follow the red line to leave the port.
Note, I went over and back with DFDS so it may be a little different with other companies.