The so-called booze cruise, whereby British people make a short trip to France to stock up on alcohol, is still very much in operation. Of course, the major factor that affects the number of people doing booze cruises is the relative strength of the Euro compared with the pound. A year to 18 months ago, there was a mini-surge in the booze cruise phenomenon, mostly down to the Eurozone financial crisis. Nowadays, there has been a bit of a drop-off in numbers, but the practice still carries on. You can still save money doing a booze cruise if you are careful about the amount you spend on your channel crossing and the sort of products that you buy.
The Legal Side
Buying your alcohol outside of the UK and bringing it back with you is a perfectly legal practice. Stocking up your car boot with beer, wine, and spirits is allowed under UK law. However, some people have been caught out by customs regulations that state the booze brought back must be for personal use. The European Commission challenged this in 2006 but chose to give up. However, so long as your car is safe to drive and you do not intend to resell the alcohol you can go ahead.
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Keep The Costs Down
When choosing a ferry crossing, avoid one that clashes with tourists as the price will be higher. Booze cruises are best done mid-week outside of the school holidays. Be prepared to set off early to get one of the lower-priced sailings. Don’t take lots of passengers with you as the weight of your car, when loaded, will lead to extra fuel consumption. Another thing to remember is that Eurotunnel offers an alternative to ferries to France. All you have to do is arrive at junction 11a of the M20 half an hour before the train departs.
Buy Wine Wisely
If you buy the same brands of wine that you can get in UK supermarkets it is unlikely that you will get a deal that is so good that it makes the trip worthwhile. There are plenty of supermarkets in the close vicinity of the port of Calais and Boulogne Sur Mer which cater to British booze cruisers. Seek out the French regional wines which, although a bit more expensive offer better value for money.
Just because you do not recognize the label does not mean it is an inferior product. Ask to taste where you can and head inland a little to avoid the herd where bargains are harder to find. French supermarkets will usually offer a good selection of Spanish wines as well as domestic ones, so don’t count them out. Remember that boxes of wine often offer exceptional value for money and are designed to be easily transported. If you are buying bottles of wine, ask for any reduction that can be offered if you buy a case. Usually, this means buying multiples of six.
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Beer And Spirits
Don’t forget to stock up on beer and spirits whilst you are on a booze cruise. Flanders beer, from Northern France, is usually a good quality lager that is tasty and refreshing. Again, it is worth avoiding the international beer brands that you get all over Europe, including the UK. Likewise, it is better not to buy things like scotch whisky. However, there are plenty of locally produced spirits that offer better value for money.
Here is the guideline for Save Money Doing a Booze Cruise to France.