In May 2014 Eurotunnel will celebrate its 20th birthday – and the fact that it is carrying record numbers of cars and freight between the UK and France.
The Channel Tunnel is great for saving time on your journey, but it can be expensive and many passengers prefer to take a boat. With on-board facilities like shops, bars, restaurants and things for children to do, lots of people prefer the relaxed way of travel and a chance to take a break before continuing their journey whether it’s coming or going. There are deals to be had on all the major ferry routes, with some ferry operators cutting fares to win business. We take a look at ferry operators UK to France, the routes and the journey time.
Ferries to Calais and Dunkirk, Nord-Pas de Calais
The ferry route from Dover to Calais is generally one of the quickest and cheapest ways to get to France for most British travellers and that includes foot passengers. P&O Ferries are the only operator on the English Channel to accept foot passengers, transporting passengers from the terminal to the boat by bus.
There are excellent motorway network connections from both Calais and Dunkirk, accessible directly from the ports. There are three ferry companies operating and competition is fierce which means you can generally get a great fare deal.
DFDS (formerly Norfolk Line)
Calais to Paris takes approximately 3 hours by car
Calais to St Malo takes approximately 5 hours
Calais to Lille takes approximately 1.5 hours
However, there is far more to Nord-Pas de Calais than easy access to the south. It is one of the friendliest regions of France, full of culture, sleepy little villages and is quite undiscovered in places. A break here offers the perfect opportunity of authentic France on the doorstep of the UK and with 3 ferry services to Calais and one to Dunkirk and more than 50 crossings a day, it can make for a very economical French break. It’s also the perfect opportunity for a day trip or weekend with plenty to do and see and a taster of real France, real close.
For ideas of what to see and do in Nord-Pas de Calais click here
Ferries to Normandy
Normandy is one of the most popular destinations in France for British holiday makers and second home owners thanks to being a little bit further south than Nord-Pas de Calais, generally meaning a little more sun, and the excellent ferry routes available with several entry points by boat. Several routes offer overnight crossing options with cabins onboard so you wake feeling refreshed for the morning.
Brittany ferries offer a foot passenger service on several services and the quickest ferry crossing to Normandy from the UK is on the Brittany Ferries Normandie Express catamaran service from Portsmouth to Cherbourg taking just 3 hours travelling at a top speed of 42 knots (about 78km per hour).
Brittany Ferries is the biggest operator in this area, and their routes cover:
Portsmouth-Caen (5 hour 45 minute crossing)
Portsmouth–Cherbourg 3 hour crossing
Poole–Cherbourg (4 hour 15 minute crossing)
Portsmouth – St Malo (10 hour 45 minute crossing)
Plymouth to St Malo (10 hour 15 minute crossing)
DFDS also operate ferries to Normandy:
Newhaven-Dieppe (4 hour crossing)
Portsmouth- Le Havre (5 hours 30 minutes crossing)
Condor Ferries to Normandy
Poole – St Malo (5 hour 30 minute crossing)
Weymouth – St Malo (6 hour 10 minute crossing)
Portsmouth – Cherbourg (5 hour 30 minute crossing)
There is plenty to see in the region from the Bayeux tapestry, the D-Day Landing beaches, Mont St Michel and numerous museums.
Read more about what’s on in Normandy here.
Ferries to Brittany
There are several ferry routes to Brittany from the UK and it’s a very popular place for family holidays. Just that bit further south than Normandy makes a difference with the weather and the area is much loved for its beautiful sandy beaches, glorious landscape and picturesque villages.
Brittany Ferries routes to Brittany:
Portsmouth-St Malo (10 hours 15 minutes crossing)
Plymouth-Roscoff (5 hours 30 minutes crossing)
Brittany Ferries Website