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Mumsnet users share their holiday experiences in France with Brittany Ferries

(303 Posts)
EllieMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 29-Jan-18 15:24:29

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Travelling by ferry can be a much more hassle free way to go on holiday with the let’s be honest a 20kg per person limit on luggage is almost impossible when you have little ones. Brittany Ferries allows you to both travel by ferry and holiday in France and they would love you to share your top holiday experiences of travelling to France.

Here is what Brittany Ferries have to say “If having young children has put you off taking a holiday abroad, then think again, think family-friendly France. Sailing from Portsmouth, Poole or Plymouth we offer more choice of sailings than anyone else and our on-board service is designed with little ones in mind. What’s more, we can also arrange your holiday accommodation too. Our choice of sail & stay holidays are perfect for young families with a chalet camping holiday offering fun for all with lots to see and do both on and off site. And, as all our holidays include return sailings with your car, booking that all important family holiday is simple too.”

Where did you go in France? What did you enjoy most about your holiday there? How was your family’s experience on the ferry? What are your top tips for packing for a family holiday?

Share your dream destinations and holiday by ferry experiences on the thread below to be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £300 voucher of their choice (from a list).

Thanks and good luck!

Standard Insight T&Cs apply

Theimpossiblegirl Mon 29-Jan-18 18:28:00

For longer crossings, my top tip is to book a cabin and sail overnight. We boarded, ate supper, went to bed then got up in the morning ready to dock and travel the short distance to our destination.

My other tip is to take little cans of G&T so when the kids are asleep in the cabin and you are trapped you can have a drink.

MrsFrTedCrilly Mon 29-Jan-18 18:49:44

Ah yes the joy of overnight sailing all tucked up in a cabin could not agree more with pp.
Our favourite destination in France is Paris lots to see and eat.

Jenijena Mon 29-Jan-18 18:52:48

I love the Portsmouth - St Malo ferry. Board at a reasonable time even for young children, see the ship out of the glorious historical Portsmouth docks, a good night’s sleep in a comfy cabin, and breakfast in the beautiful city of St Malo.

A two hour drive to southern Brittany follows, and the most magical, easy child centred holiday (I took a 10 week old and a 4 year old last time).

I’d just like there to be more cabins at high season!

MinnieMousse Mon 29-Jan-18 18:54:00

Favourite thing is sitting outside a gite at night, preferably with a glass of wine, and not hearing a sound other than the chirping of the crickets. Blissful.

vickyors Mon 29-Jan-18 18:58:35

The last place we went in France was eurocamping in Brittany. We stayed in an amazing campsite with two pools, and walking distance to the sea. It was hot, and lovely. We met really nice families, and cooked and ate out beside the tent in the evenings. We'd hired a tent which worked really well. We'd go again in a heartbeat!

ilovekitkats Mon 29-Jan-18 19:12:02

I have sailed from Plymouth to Roscoff and we had a cabin as it was an overnight sailing. We went to Britanny, it was October and it was absolutely freezing. The scenery was very similar to here, so it didn't seem like much of a holiday, until we drove around visiting little villages etc and then we felt like we were really in France.

I can't remember where we went though, but the highlight of the trip was catching a ferry from St Malo to Jersey. That was lovely and inspired a holiday to Jersey a couple of years later.

Top tips for packing are pack as light as possible!

JellySlice Mon 29-Jan-18 19:20:42

We used to love taking the BF to St Malo. Outbound overnight in an outside cabin. The dc loved the panto in the evening, and sitting in the cabin window watching our entry into St Malo in the early morning. Never had to get them up! Then for the daytime homeward trip we'd get the cheapest, smallest, inside cabin as a place to dump our gear, and as a guaranteed picnic spot, and for the littlest to nap in, but spend most of our time exploring the ship. The dc loved the Captain's tour and the other children's activities.

I appreciated being seasick in peace, not having to soldier on entertaining my harum-scarum lot.

And all credit to the staff, who coped heroically with my total inability to aim, and never let me feel embarrassed.

Wandastartup Mon 29-Jan-18 20:53:02

We had a fantastic trip sailing on a lake, gite in a super village children could walk and buy bread then an on tome ferry home!

sharond101 Mon 29-Jan-18 20:56:28

I've never been to France or been on a Ferry. I'd love to see some of the small countryside villages with orchards and vineyards. To sample some of the lovely foods and to drive the coast.

millimat Mon 29-Jan-18 21:07:20

Going by ferry is so much less stressful than by plane! We take our caravan and have ventured far and wide in France, Germany and Spain. Our children love the freedom of the campsites. They've seen so much more culture than staying in a package holiday hotel.
On the ferry, we go for some food as soon as we board. That way we have great views of leaving the port. A cabin is so exciting for children making the first part of our holiday a great adventure.

del2929 Mon 29-Jan-18 21:08:01

well its my dream to go on a ferry, however have always put it off with having little ones.

millimat Mon 29-Jan-18 21:16:44

You shouldn't put it off del.
So easy on the ferry - even waiting at the port is fun because there's other ferries to watch. On board there's space for the children to run round and entertainment for them too.

YesItsADebate Mon 29-Jan-18 21:18:26

My parents used to take me and DB camping there when we were little. My main memory is the smell of the forests in the south by the Pyrenees: pine and hot, dusty ground. It was great and I’m really looking forward to taking the DC this summer.

On the ferry, I remember spending most of the time on the outside deck, trying to watch the boat cutting through the waves while my mum clung onto the back of my jumper!

Packing for a family holiday: take an outfit for each child per day, plus swimming things, sun cream, a hat, a story book and some toys and you’re good to go. You don’t need loads of paraphernalia. Every country has children in it, so unless you’re going into the wilderness you can always buy anything you desperately need.

mummymummums Mon 29-Jan-18 21:52:45

We've been to Western France twice with the children. First time to Etables sur Mer, then Cancale.
Booking bunks for the night on the overnight crossing is essential with children - we all loved the ferry crossing and sleeping on the boat. It was part of the holiday. Luggage wasn't limited at all - we just filled the car.
The beaches were amazing and very quiet and unspoiled. Lots of rock pools.
The only thing we were taken aback by was it was difficult to find somewhere to eat breakfast when we were off the ferry - best to take something with you.

SusanWalker Mon 29-Jan-18 21:54:03

We've done Plymouth to Roscoff twice. We usually sail overnight both ways so you get a bit of extra holiday. The first time we went DS woke up in the night and said mum i feel like I'm on a boat in the middle of the sea. That has been a family joke ever since. grin

The best thing is having your car. You can take as much as you want and drive wherever you like.

We stayed near roscoff the first time and did some lovely drives up and down the coast as well as a trip to brest where we went round the castle. A trip to Morlaix and St Pol de Leon were also good.

The second time we went to dol de bretagne. We did a trip to dinan on market day and a trip to st malo.

The kids loved it in France. DS still talks about the steak baguette and chips he had in dinan market.

If I could save up enough money I'd go back in a heartbeat.

youngerself Mon 29-Jan-18 21:56:27

Birdwatching around the Somme and staying in local towns
Beautiful food and good variety of towns - really lovely

BlossomRussoAndSixLemeure Mon 29-Jan-18 22:03:23

What did I enjoy in on my holiday?

I went to Finistère, France. I loved the food, the old buildings (the churches especially), the beach, the weather, the little villages, the supermarches, local markets, the gite we stayed in was peaceful - we had quality family time, I also loved the little local shops and secondhand shops - oh and the secondhand sales in schools or other buildings.
So pretty much everything really grin
If travelling on the ferry by night just sleep through it all and wake up there in France.
During the day just keep busy on the ferry - food, walking around. There’s a magician and usually a colouring competition. I pack a bag with some treats and books in and ask the kids to pack a small bag of stuff like lego or my little ponies to open when they get bored.
My packing tip is to pack all your stuff as you would normally and then have a extra bag ready to grab when needed - baby wipes, spare change of clothes, plug adapter, loose change etc.

HarryStylesismycrack Mon 29-Jan-18 22:34:21

Love traveling by ferry to france, it’s part of the holiday! We holiday in the Vendee with its glorious beaches and family friendly campsites, I love everything about it, nothing can beat warm croissants delivered to your tent!

Tonkatol Mon 29-Jan-18 22:40:35

We have travelled to France on holiday a few times with our children – driving your own car and taking the ferry is so much less restrictive than flying! We have visited the Center Parcs in Normandy and the Loire Valley and have stayed on campsites near Paris and, more recently, in the Vendee and lastly in Bayeux. We have, to date, only made the short ferry crossings, either Dover-Calais or Newhaven-Dieppe but would love to travel further, perhaps to Bordeaux or even to Nice. The ferry is certainly part of the holiday – it brings a natural break to any journey and gives everyone a chance to move about and explore.
We first stayed on campsites in France when our eldest children were 6, 4 and 2. We loved the French campsites – always plenty to do on-site and so many places to visit. Most sites have Kids Clubs – our children would often go to the morning session, whilst my husband and I would tidy up and enjoy a coffee and some quiet time at the tent/mobile home. The rest of the day was our own, to explore the local area or to stay on-site and take advantage of all the different activities on offer.
When packing for a family holiday, it is so much easier to pack when loading the car. We would usually take a couple of suitcases full of clothes and then each child would have a backpack filled with books, toys and cuddly animals as desired. We tended to take some food with us – particularly for a meal on the first evening. One thing we learnt was that most French mobile homes/tents do not provide an oven – the first time we took pizzas and had to microwave them! Travelling by car meant we could take everything we wanted/needed, which really helped when the children were small.

ShangriLaLaLa Mon 29-Jan-18 23:19:23

I sailed Plymouth - Roscoff in the very early seventies on the first Brittany Ferry. It was a very different experience then! We holidayed every summer in Brittany and I have the fondest memories. It was so uncommercialised.

In more recent years we travel the Portsmouth - Caen route and love staying in Deauville or Le Touquet. Some of the thalassotherapy centres are a treat, just no guarantees of good weather, One of the joys of Brittany Ferries is the proper food on board. Your holiday really does start the minute you board.

ItWentInMyEye Mon 29-Jan-18 23:33:24

We've just booked a holiday (3 kids age 4, 7 & 10) in Pornic this June and are looking to book the Portsmouth-Caen crossing next! The last time I went on a ferry it was a hovercraft, which I'm told are no longer in use... showing my age shock can't wait to see what they're like now.

S0dabread Mon 29-Jan-18 23:35:17

We have done several ferry trips overnight with our son. We love them and always pack a picnic for one meal and the enjoy the restaurant for another. My top tips are bring your travel kettle so you dont have to get out of bed for your coffee fix. Don't bring 100 bags on borard for crossings - try to get everything in one case so your hands are free to hold on to the children. Use packing cubes to pack clothes for your first 2 days so you don't have the faff of unpacking everything if you either have another nights stop over before your destination, get to your hotel too early / late for check in or parking is far away from where you are staying. Onezies for kids so they are warm comfortable and can sleep easily. Arrive at your boat as early as you can so you have longer to relax. And dont forget to bring some lovely wine or cheese home.

ErinSophia Tue 30-Jan-18 00:35:00

Where did you go in France?


What did you enjoy most about your holiday there?

The food it was amazing.

How was your family’s experience on the ferry?

We had a great experience, the staff were fab and the seats were very comfortable.

What are your top tips for packing for a family holiday?

Pack your suitcases in advance so you're not rushing about at the last minute doing it and pack light clothes so you don't go over the baggage allowance.

whiteroseredrose Tue 30-Jan-18 06:09:20

We usually sail to Santander or Bilbao with Brittany Ferries because it means that our dog can come on holiday with us too. We love the dog-friendly cabins.

We like the overnight ferry because it is much more relaxing than driving through France and the food in the restaurant is great.

My top tip for packing is to pack a separate, shared case for everything you need for the journey as cases can take up lots of space in the cabin. And don't forget swimsuits so DC can enjoy the pool!

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