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Ferry to St Malo or Caen?

(17 Posts)
hillbilly Fri 09-Jan-15 11:41:49

Thinking to do the overnight ferry instead on Eurotunnel this year on our way to Dordogne this summer. Torn between Portsmouth - St Malo (longer sailing time = more relaxing and more sleep) or Portsmouth - Caen (cheaper).

Also possibly the route from Caen may not be as busy? Both drives on French side are around 6.5/7 hrs

Anyway if anyone has any advice please fire away!

AnnaMS Sat 10-Jan-15 12:47:22

We have always chosen St Malo in previous years and the DC do enjoy the overnight crossing. The day time crossing on the way home does feel like a long time though despite entertainment like cinema and shows. This year we are crossing to Caen despite a slightly longer drive as it's quite a bit cheaper and we can travel during the day....

Dowser Sat 10-Jan-15 12:53:59

We began to use Caen as it was cheaper although st Malo was nearer to our place in Brittany.

It may have been twisted logic though by the time we factored in extra petrol.

profpoopsnagle Sat 10-Jan-15 19:02:30

We used the overnight to Caen last year (no experience of SM route). We've used other overnight ferries before.

Good points-
*Gets into Caen early, so you can be off and get a few miles under your belt before brekkie. From experience our run from Caen to Poitiers was the least busy.
*The road down from Caen to motorways is easy to navigate, which is helpful when you are first driving in forrin and getting used to everything.
*The cabins are clean and comfortable, though a little smaller than other overnight ferries we've done.
*The boat is nice to walk around and has quite a few chill out areas.
*The times mean you don't really want to eat on board- saving quite a bit of money.

Bad points-
*You are on late, and when you're waiting in the car dockside and see the SM jet off at 8:30pm you wish you were on that and supping a pina colada. It's almost so late that TBH you just want to crash.
*You are up and off early.
*It almost feels like you've not had chance to 'experience' the boat at all, but paid quite a bit of money for that privilege.

If you know someone who has joined the voyager club you can ask them for a code which gives you 10% off.

We're also using it again this year and I did think about the SM route as we'd like to visit SM, but the return times are not as convenient.

Are you camping in Dordogne?

Jenijena Sat 10-Jan-15 19:04:41

We have twiced overnight to st malo, and got the late afternoon ferry back from Caen - gets into Portsmouth about 9 but that suits us as et

Jenijena Sat 10-Jan-15 19:05:24

..as we're not far. Have also overnight we on Caen, you don't get enough time for decent sleep ahead of a long drive IMHO.

Britbird Sat 10-Jan-15 19:08:36

I'd go with the one where the times suit your driving plans best. I've done both routes, I like to get in early in the morning because I prefer driving during the day. The overnight route is the most relaxed way to do it.

hillbilly Sun 11-Jan-15 08:04:09

Thanks everyone. Yes Prof we are camping once again at Les Valades. I'm tempted to do St Mali on the way over so we have longer on the boat and then Caen on the return. My concern is the traffic as at the moment we are thinking to go the first weekend of August and return around 21st which looks like it coincides exactly with French holidays. Might have to rethink that hmm

tumbletumble Sun 11-Jan-15 08:08:45

We've done the overnight ferry to Bilbao a couple of times - the DC loved sleeping on the ferry. In fact I think it was their favourite part of the holiday! hmm

hillbilly Sun 11-Jan-15 08:13:27

Tumble I would love to do that but when I checked last year it was £££££££ shock but then I guess it is a long journey.

Christelle2207 Sun 11-Jan-15 08:18:16

Ferry to Saint Malo is a lovely journey and you don't get into port "too early". We have often sailed to s-m but then gone to Caen on the return because an all day sailing back from s-m isn't convenient.

slalomsuki Sun 11-Jan-15 08:23:25

We always do St Malo on the way to France and Caen on the way back.

I approach the ferry crossing as the start of the holiday and relax despite the drive at the other side. The St Malo ferry is smaller than the Caen one is overall although the cabins are just about the same size. Food is good and the entertainment in the bar area is passable. It gets in 0815ish and St Malo is very easy to navigate through and the customs checks are quicker than Caen. About 1 mile out of the ferry port it's dual carriage way or motorway all the way south.

mrsmalarkey Sun 11-Jan-15 08:25:12

If you do go on the day ferry you can pay for a day cabin, we tend to get one on the longer day ferries and I don't recall it being expensive. We usually take our own food on board and the cabin gives you somewhere to dump your stuff and relax.

Tzibeleh Sun 11-Jan-15 08:41:13

We've done the St Malo crossing several times, and it has always been a fun part of the holiday (rather than a slog of a journey to have to get I er and done with IYSWIM).

Outbound, we get a 4-berth outside cabin for the night. The dc thoroughly enjoy the evening show and often have a tour of the ship which includes meeting the Captain in the bridge. We are 5, so I end up sharing a bunk with a dc. Dh does the driving, so I want him to get as good a night as possible, but I still sleep well enough, as the bunks are not stingily narrow.

Homebound, we get the cheapest, inside 2-berth cabin, simply to have somewhere to leave our daybags and have the freedom to move around the boat knowing there's somewhere where we can all meet up and eat together. Or have a nap (when dc were that little).

We generally buy supper and breakfast on the ship outbound, prices are not excessive, but homebound we are always laden with delicious French picnic food.

The shorter routes either waste a daytime of our holiday or arrive at inconvenient times/locations. We never feel that way about the longer St Malo route. Some of the shorter routes mean we would have to leave very early on the last day of the holiday, but not with the St Malo route, so that's much more comfortable, too.

HTH.

profpoopsnagle Sun 11-Jan-15 10:41:39

HB we are also Valading again this year for 2 weeks.

I hadn't realised it was easy to do different journeys- when you book BF it automatically changes your booking but you can 'manually input' different ones. So on the back of the advice of this thread, I've changed for SM going over and C coming back- I think being on the boat earlier and having the chance to have a relaxed get up brekkie will help. We stopping in Poitiers and can't book in until 4pm so we may spend the morning in SM and head down later.

It will be nice to see somewhere different!

hillbilly Sun 11-Jan-15 20:37:24

What dates are you At Valades prof?

profpoopsnagle Sun 11-Jan-15 21:10:14

9 - 23 rd August. Travelling down a bit before and also heading to Puy de Fou for a few days on the return.

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