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Any opinions on the best way to travel to Southern Brittany?

(22 Posts)
dominiccooperswife Wed 15-Oct-08 19:22:52

Am totally confused by the many ferry crossings available and am wondering what the pro's and con's of the various options are. We live in East Anglia but don't really fancy the long drive from calais with 3 dc's.

dominiccooperswife Wed 15-Oct-08 19:37:49


SqueakyPop Wed 15-Oct-08 19:39:52

Have you tried a journey planner site, eg viamichelin or Google Earth?

dominiccooperswife Wed 15-Oct-08 19:44:47

I've looked at google maps. I was interested in mn's experiences of day vs overnight crossings and long drive vs shorter drive when in France. I think everyone's on other threads!

LilianGish Wed 15-Oct-08 19:48:09

Where are you going? We went to the Morbihan in the summer and did the Poole St Malo crossing on the Condor high speed ferry. It takes about four hours I think including a stop at Jersey. There is also a slow ferry which takes about seven hours - in which case better to go overnight. It took just under two hours easy driving to get to our gite. Much better than long drive from Calais and kids really enjoyed being on the boat. You could also do Plymouth Roscoff (about seven hours) but then you have a very long drive in the UK. These crossings are considerably more expensive than Dover Calais or the Euro-tunnel, but personally I would rather pay a bit extra to avoid spending a day on the road in France getting to the resort.

Lilymaid Wed 15-Oct-08 19:49:12

I would suggest Portsmouth - St Malo. The drive to/from each ferry port would be about equal in time if you are heading due south in Britanny - but if you are going to south west Britanny it would take a little longer.
It is a long way from Calais/Dieppe/Le Havre or Cherbourg. The other possibility is to get ferry to Caen but that is still further than St Malo.

LilianGish Wed 15-Oct-08 19:51:01

Forgot to add my kids are seven and five and I think four hours is about the maximum they could take on a day crossing. Anything longer than that and I'd go for a night boat - haven't actually done it to Brittany but we did Harwich to Hook of Holland last year and the night crossing was the highlight of the trip for both of them!

castille Wed 15-Oct-08 19:52:22

If you want to do it in daytime, Portsmouth-Caen good. The drive Caen-Rennes is 2 hours of motorway and really very easy.

But IMO overnight crossings are the way to go with children. One of mine gets travel sick and has been find overnight. All 3 of them sleep really well. I don't, but that's another mattergrin

dominiccooperswife Wed 15-Oct-08 19:53:10

We're going to the Morbihan too near to Vannes. The high speed ferry sounds good. I'll have to check if there's one from Portsmouth as that's nearer to us than Poole. I think I've talked myself out of travelling Dover to Calais. After years of travelling to Cornwall I'd like a break from a huge drive if poss.

dominiccooperswife Wed 15-Oct-08 19:56:51

Thanks for all your replies. The night boat sounds exciting for the children but doesn't that mean a really long day crossing on the return journey?

castille Wed 15-Oct-08 19:56:59

The fast ferries are good if the weather is calm but be aware that if it's a bit choppy they bounce around a lot <vom> and they are cancelled far more regularly than normal ferries in rough weather.

Mine love night crossings too!

The drive Caen-Vannes would take around 3 hours. St Malo-Vannes about 2.

ShinyPinkShoes Wed 15-Oct-08 19:57:49

I am going there soon but to Brest so am flying direct from the UK

castille Wed 15-Oct-08 19:58:30

Again, day crossings are fine in good weather.

I'd do overnight both ways, personally.

SqueakyPop Wed 15-Oct-08 20:02:50

We have done the FastCat from Poole to Cherbourg (there is also one from Portsmouth to Cherbourg). We live at the top of the M3 so these ports are easy for us. The FastCat is reasonably quick but very basic - not a place for polite kids to run around.

The drive from Cherbourg to the St Malo area is a real chore - you can easily get stuck behind tractors.

Starting off your French journey in St Malo, Caen or Le Havre would be nice, but you have to balance this with longer crossings.

The long crossing aren't necessarily bad - you just plan for them accordingly. I thought Brittany Ferries was fab - would choose them ahead of P&O.

If you are travelling overnight, go for a cabin unless you seriously can't afford it. For daytime crossings, pay seats (eg Club Class) add a sense of serenity to the trip.

I would suggest that you compare the actual road journeys, and then decide whether a longer ferry makes sense. Either way, you have a fair drive to do.

LilianGish Wed 15-Oct-08 20:04:19

You can go back overnight too. Another plus of doing that is is that you have plenty of time to get to the ferry for the departure and you are off bright and early to beat the traffic at the other end.

dominiccooperswife Wed 15-Oct-08 20:07:24

Thanks everyone. It helps to hear what you all think. Isn't mn great?grin

DadInsteadofMum Wed 15-Oct-08 21:50:15

Send DH in the car fully packed via the cheapest route, then you fly Stansted to Nantes, short journey for you, fit much more in the car, and DH gets a peaceful drive without the kids.

We have done this several times on different routes now and everybody arrives much calmer.

ChippyMinton Sat 18-Oct-08 18:28:28

Squeakypop, the route down from Cherbourg is pretty much dual-carriageway all the way now (every year they have built a little bit more).
We usually go out Poole-Cherbourg overnight in a cabin (about £100 extra), then home on the evening crossing, which is about 4 hours. Avoid the Fastcraft if you get seasick - it is not known as the 'vomit comet' for nothing.

danceontherun Sun 26-Oct-08 11:45:34

You could always go Ports- St Malo overnight on the way there and then fast craft back? That might be a cheaper option.When are you going? Fast craft not good in bad weather. Went on one in wind and rain and everyone, and I mean everyone, on board was sick!

Elk Sun 26-Oct-08 11:55:05

We use the Portsmouth - Caen route as the motorway is good, but we only live an hour from Portsmouth. We use the slow boat (Brittany Ferries) on the way out and the fast one back. The slow boat takes about six hours and the girls love the opportunity to run around for a while. In the holidays Brittany Ferries normally do some sort of entertainment for the children. There is a small soft play area/tv/ colouring etc. Last time there was even an entertainer and a disco!

MrsGhoulofGhostbourne Tue 28-Oct-08 16:37:30

We go every year on the ports-Stmalo overnight - good fun sleeping in a cabin, St malo a lovely place to sail grin into in the morning and have breakfast in the old walled town - have just booked next year's today!

MissisBoot Tue 28-Oct-08 16:50:37

We did dover - calais and then drove down to the Vendee in one go (400 miles from Calais)

We got a late crossing and then drove through the night - it took 10 hours door to door.

We're also in east anglia.

However I have suggested Dadinsteadofmum's suggestion to dh - in particular for the journey home!

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