Getting to France by Ferry

Ferry to FranceFerries have always been the traditional way to get to France although now there is new competition coming from the Channel Tunnel and of course budget airlines.

But the ferry still makes a great way to cross the English Channel. Onboard most ferries there are great opportunities to shop, relax or have a meal to avoid having to stop in France.

Our personal favourite is to take an overnight Ferry from Portsmouth to the north coast of Brittany…it’s almost like combing a mini-cruise with your main holiday.

The only drawback is that it’s not cheap. Below we list the main ferry routes and give advice on which ferry option to consider depending on what you are looking for. As well as links to all the main ferry companies.

Lowest Cost Ferries:
– Dover to Calais P+O Ferries
– Dover to Dunkirk Norfolk Line.

Fastest Ferry to France:
Eurotunnel is fastest at 35 mins.

Ferry convenient for West of Brittany:
– Plymouth to Roscoe –  Brittany Ferries

Best for Vendee, Dordogne, Brittany:

– Portsmouth to St Malo Brittany Ferries
– Poole to St Malo Condor Ferries

24 hr ferry crossings, for S West:
– Portsmouth to Bilbao P+O Ferries.
– Plymouth to Santander Brittany Ferries

Hot Tips for a great crossing:

The best crossing we ever had was travelling home from Cherbourg to Portsmouth with
Brittany Ferries  
. We booked an overnight crossing with a 4 berth cabin for the family – this was in the days when there were only five of us – there was just about enough room for a baby’s cot in the corner.

There wasn’t a great deal of entertainment on board, but this didn’t matter as the departure time wasn’t until 9PM so the children were nearly ready for bed once we were on board. It was fantastic the next morning eating breakfast in the restaurant as we slid past the naval ships into Portsmouth harbour.

Condor Ferries offer a great scenic start and end to your holiday – we’ve never been on this crossing, but we have seen these fantastic hydrofoils manoeuvring out of Poole harbour and speeding off across the channel. The arrival into St. Malo is an equally breathtaking setting. These ferries are fast, reducing your travelling time to France, and for holidays in the western side of France they reduce your driving time significantly.

Hot Tips for comfort!

If you have problems with getting seasick then the best channel crossing by far is the Channel tunnel. It really isn’t as bad as you might imagine – you don’t have any sensation of being in a tunnel. Even friends who don’t like enclosed spaces have been OK on this route.

Another option is to take the fast Hoverspeed hydrofoil crossings. There is still some sense of being at sea on these craft but it is well damped and different from a conventional ferry.

Hot Tips for saving money on your ferry crossing:

Remember that in October the ferry companies usually release special offers for the following summer. It is worth booking ahead if you already have the cash to get the most attractive deals.

If you’re booking your gite through a travel company like Chez Nous, it is worth checking out their prices for channel hopping as they often have better deals than you can secure as an individual, due to their bulk purchasing power.

Read more travel in France: