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Which ferry route to Brittany?

(19 Posts)
whethertheweather Wed 10-Jan-18 11:30:01

We always holiday in the UK but this year fancy a change and to go abroad. This is a big thing for us!

We've found a cottage in Brittany that says it is a 20 minute drive from St Malo or 2 hours from Caen, Cherbourg or Roscoff and slightly longer from Le Havre.

I can't decide if it's better to have an overnight 7 hour ferry crossing to St Malo and a short drive or shorter 3 hour crossing to one of the other ports but a longer drive to the cottage. If we go overnight that seems to mean the four of us (me , DH and 2 older teenage DC) sharing a cabin. Whilst the ferry website says the cabins are comfy, they don't look very big on the website and my DH is claustrophobic. Its also considerably more expensive.

Does anyone have any experience of ferry cabins to say whether my fears of size are grounded or could say whether the additional cost is worth the reduced driving? Part of me thinks it would be an adventure but I don't want it to be a disaster that will get the whole holiday off on the wrong foot.

OP’s posts: |
jenpetronus Wed 10-Jan-18 13:14:46

I've lived in Brittany for 15 years and have had a gite here for ten, so have quite a bit of experience coming and going on he various different routes.

If you don't mind driving, I would go with a crossing to Caen or Cherbourg - the roads are good and there are no tolls, it's not difficult to navigate either.

If you had small children or didn't like driving I would recommend the overnight - the cabins are small, but you only sleep in them after all. If you do decide to do the overnight I would try and get a Commodore or deluxe cabin - they are ££££ but it's worth the extra. The ferries (particularly the Pont Aven) are quite well equipped (cinema, restaurants, shops etc) so there will be plenty for your children to do.

I'm happy to help if you have any specific questions, I also have a code for ferry discount you can use if the place you are staying doesn't have one.

whethertheweather Wed 10-Jan-18 18:52:07

Thank you jen. You have made up my mind to go the shorter crossing.

The gite owner has given us his ferry discount code so hopefully that will help with costs - thanks so much for the offer.

We are staying in a village called Langrolay Sur Rance which looks pretty on the web so fingers crossed! If you have any advice about must sees for older teens that would be most helpful.

OP’s posts: |
jenpetronus Wed 10-Jan-18 19:42:11

Great you've got it all sorted smile

I'm sorry, we're down on the South Coast close to Vannes and I don't really know that area, but I'm sure it's lovely. Have a brilliant time!

Shiviefletcher Sun 14-Jan-18 15:15:24

Hi there, another first timer here doing the Brittany ferries route to France in August 2018. Sorry to slightly hijack this thread but i was wondering if any of you could advise.

We can't decide on which route yet. We are travelling from the Midlands and reckon a departure from Portsmouth or Plymouth would be best to get us to Vendee. (We can't do Calais due to the excess driving) I think our port options are Roscoff, St Malo, Cherbourg, Caen and Le Harve. Apart from the drive to Vendee we havnt got a clue which route to go for. Are any of the French ports better than others to get in and out of? Bit nervous of driving through big cities with a right hand drive! We will be fine really but the less hassle the better. Is there a better toll free road to the Vendee?
Also if anyone knows how to get a discount code for Brittany Ferries I could use to try and keep costs down please I would love to hear from you? Thanks

dreamingofsun Sun 14-Jan-18 16:05:51

shivie - we travelled in august to the vendee once and its not something i would do again (in fact i think we may have done it back end of july so was before the real rush started). traffic was awful and queues at all the tolls. check when most of the french go on their hols and avoid travelling on those dates.

have you considered southern brittany? not so far to drive, pretty similar weather to north vendee and much nicer

ChoudeBruxelles Sun 14-Jan-18 16:06:56

I’d go overnight. You get on the boat, sleep and are then basically there

jenpetronus Sun 14-Jan-18 16:06:59

Having sailed into all the above ports, there isn't much in it apart from journey times to your destination. I'm not sure about tolls once you leave Brittany without knowing your where you are going, but the Breton farmers negotiated some years ago that there would never be tolls in Brittany so they could easily and cheaply transport their fruit and veg around grin

Don't worry about the driving, it's always easier than you think it will be, the roads are usually quiet and easy to navigate.

I've messaged you with our discount code too.

jenpetronus Sun 14-Jan-18 16:08:56

dreamingofsun I love it that you always say how much you like Southern Brittany, I have to insist you call in and say hello if you are near Vannes this year grin wine

dreamingofsun Sun 14-Jan-18 16:13:00

jenpentronus......would love to take u up on the offer. Alas now our kids have left home we are exploring other places in the world. I'm looking forward to having grandkids and hoping i get invited along to hols in brittany again....especially around the vannes area. We did the mobile homes holidays for about 10 years or so and that was my favourite area....so many happy memories. And I live in an area of outstanding beauty in the UK so i'm very fussy about beaches and countryside.

jenpetronus Sun 14-Jan-18 16:16:40

We like it wink

The offer is open whenever!

Workerbe Sun 14-Jan-18 16:40:02

Shivie.... We travelled to Vendee from midlands in August last year and are doing so again this year. We went from Portsmouth to St Malo on the overnight ferry, arrived at our destination at lunchtime the following day. The only traffic we encountered was in the UK due to an accident on the motorway. The journey from st Malo was much easier than I anticipated and I think we only went through one toll which cost about €10 (I think - wasn't much anyway)

Coming home, we sailed on the overnight from Caen to Portsmouth. We spent the morning in the pool at the campsite, had lunch, leisurely showers and left the site at 3pm for a 11pm sailing. Again, all easy and no traffic. Maybe we were lucky, I don't know!! Portsmouth were slow doing passports when we arrived back in UK, but that was the only delay...

profpoopsnagle Sun 14-Jan-18 19:47:29

Shivie, I would also back up what Workerbe says. There is not much difference between St Malo and Caen, but the St Malo ferry has slightly better timings- leave earlier, arrive later than the Caen ferry. It is pricier though, so that might be a consideration. If you can, travel on a Sat night ferry for driving on a Sunday, roads are very quiet and that might give you a bit of confidence. Last year, we were on a Vendee site around noon, without any big rush. We've never done the day ferry back, and went back via Le Havre last time (although we were then in Normandy), this one, as Cherbourg is a bit of dog leg in comparison to Caen/St Malo. You can do different ports. Viamichelin is useful for calculating driving times and will also give info on tolls, plus bison fute gives details on days to avoid (generally Saturdays!)

whethertheweather Tue 16-Jan-18 15:13:57

So now I'm having a bit of a panic that I might have bitten off more than I can chew in venturing abroad. The gite owner has sent me a lovely little guide to the cottage and surrounding villages but everything he says that some people would consider quaint is giving me collywobbles; gas oven to lean in and light with a match, only turn the hot water on when you need it, shops open for much shorter hours and shut on a Sunday, mobiles work down the street etc etc

Food is always the downfall in our holidays - even in the UK - and is usually the one thing we row about. DH doesn't like "scratch" meals and the combination of an unfamiliar kitchen, coming in late from day trips and usually very limited fridge space ends up as a recipe for disaster in me not producing decent evening meals. We end up spending a fortune eating out and then feeling crap about it. Before anyone says anything - yes DH moans alot about food but does not cook beyond scrambled eggs and usually we are quite happy that way.

If we arrive on a Saturday afternoon and the owner says the shops shut early and are not open on a Sunday - how am I going to feed the troops? We'll be going down to Portsmouth on the Friday night for an early Saturday crossing, so I cant even cook a lasagne etc and bring it with. Are we destined to just take cans of soup and baked beans?

Help me with ideas it's all feeling too much already!

OP’s posts: |
dreamingofsun Tue 16-Jan-18 15:31:56

brittany is lovely. how can you possibly go wrong with french food? French bread, pate, cheese, fresh fruit, lovely fruit tarts. Lots of good BBQ food, and deli counters that have ready made meals. not all food shops shut on sundays - the bigger supermarkets dont and you can probably google where you are going to check.

you could freeze a meal and take along in the cool box for the first day.

guites can be a bit countryfied in france. look on it as an adventure? you are going near to st malo so good choice as you wont have to drive too far. we've been to that area 2 or 3 times. its nice. think cornwall with better weather and food and less tat and fewer people

FleurWeasley Tue 16-Jan-18 15:41:14

Last time we went to France, my in laws transported loads of frozen food in cool boxes (including one of those polystyrene box ones from food deliveries) and everything stayed frozen through an overnight ferry crossing and a night in a hotel. She got fish pie etc from Cook.

Our favourite way to travel with a toddler has been a long ferry crossing during the day with a cabin - cheaper than a night time cabin, easier with young dc than long drives and the cabin means you can relax, one of you can sleep.

jenpetronus Tue 16-Jan-18 16:50:46

Some gites offer catering too (we have a wood fired pizza oven and offer pizza evenings for example) there will usually also be a barbecue.

The French chain Picard has an excellent standard of frozen meals (though quite pricey) and unless you're miles from anywhere Supermarkets should all be open on a Sunday morning too - and near the coast all day Sunday in high season.

I always offer to do a shop and put it away ready in the gite for incoming guests. Some like it, some prefer to look around the supermarkets on their own.

Really, don't stress about the food, it should be one of the fun bits of your holiday! wine

whethertheweather Tue 16-Jan-18 18:01:20

Thank you for all your kind words of encouragement. I do know I'm making a mountain of a molehill but this will be our first time abroad as a family and I do so want it to go well so we can do it again!

I did wonder if it would be OK to bring something frozen in a cold box. I guess it only has to last from Friday evening when I take it out the freezer before we set off to Saturday afternoon when we arrive. I think our local Deli sells Cook stuff so I'll experiment with those. That and M&S lasagne that I know DH likes would cover me for the first day if needed.

Pre DH and DC I used to travel all over the place for both work and hols without thinking about it at all - but I don't care what I eat or where I sleep so there wasn't the pressure I feel nowadays.

OP’s posts: |
FleurWeasley Tue 16-Jan-18 18:31:21

Oh and take some long matches (or a long lighter) for the stove.

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