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20 years ago, on the 6th May 1994, Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand jointly inaugurated the Channel Tunnel, the world’s longest sub-sea crossing.


One of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World

Eurotunnel is a substantial technical achievement of the 1990s and arguably one of the 20th century most important construction projects. Dug 75 metres below sea level, it has a length of 50.5 km (31 miles) and is formed of twin railway tunnels and a parallel service tunnel. The gigantic work needed the help of a Franco-British army of 13,000 engineers, technicians and workers, as well as 11 boring machines of 1,100 tonnes each used in the excavation. It took more than five years to complete.

Eurostar Paris Gare du Nord © Daniel Sparing - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Eurostar Paris Gare du Nord © Daniel Sparing – licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

A service of shuttle trains transports cars and trucks between Calais, France and Folkestone, England. One in two vehicles that crosses the Channel uses Eurotunnel.

Eurotunnel leases the used of its undersea link to Eurostar, the French high-speed train company. The high-speed railway service links Paris and Brussels to London. With trains departing London St. Pancras, Eurostar reaches Paris-Gare du Nord in 2hrs15min, running at up to 300 kph in Kent and Picardy.

Inauguration Channel Tunnel 6 May 1994
French President Mitterand and Queen Elizabeth II cut the ribbon to officially open the Channel tunnel in 1994.

At the inauguration of the tunnel 20 years ago, the Queen described the event as a “French élan and British pragmatism” while President Mitterrand referred to the D-Day landings and took the opportunity to thank Britain for its role in liberating France from the German occupation.

Today 6th May 2014, a reception and an exhibition on the history of the tunnel will be held at Eurotunnel’s terminal in Calais.

Read more about the Channel Tunnel on our French blog:

– Le tunnel sous la Manche, belle prouesse européenne, fête ses 20 ans !

– On vous dit (presque) tout sur le tunnel sous la Manche


English-French Vocabulary

Channel Tunnel entrance © Billy69150- licence [CC BY-SA 4
Channel Tunnel entrance in France © Billy69150- licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • Channel = Manche (f)
  • Channel Tunnel = Tunnel sous la Manche (m)
  • company = entreprise, société (f)
  • to dig = creuser (v)
  • France = France (f)
  • High Speed Train = Train à Grande Vitesse [TGV] (m)
  • to link = relier (v)
  • London = Londres
  • sea = mer (f)
  • Strait of Dover = Pas-de-Calais (m)
  • shuttle = navette (f)
  • train = train (m)
  • tunnel = tunnel (m)
  • United Kingdom = Royaume-Uni (m)
  • vehicle = véhicule (m)

Featured image: Channel Tunnel entrance © Billy69150- licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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