Taking a Ferry to France ~ Pros, Cons, and Travel Tips

Taking a Ferry to France

Taking a ferry to France from the UK and Ireland is a great experience. It’s my favourite way to travel, so in this post I’ll share tips and links to help you along your way.
I’ll make it as informative as possible which means I’ll include some case studies of my own which I used when I planned my road trip, but It really comes down to your priorities.
In addition, Brittany Ferries offer packages including accommodation as well as day trip and frequent traveller bonuses so I will discuss those here too. My daughter would spend the whole holiday on the ferry if she were able to so although it is a bigger expense we go with this option.
I have to say that last year we came back on P&O and mistakenly assumed that the standards would be similar to Brittany Ferries, but the reality is that the boats are older and this is more of a public transport approach to crossing the channel.
Let me put it simply, Lola said “Mummy why is this boat so rusty?” when we were on P&O and yes it’s a short crossing of only an hour and a half, but then you have the M25 to negotiate, not my idea of fun.
The other company, that I haven’t used but plan to, is DFDS Seaways who cross from Newhaven to Dieppe. The plus here is the price and the fact that it’s easily accessible, but the times of the crossings reflect the prices!
So what is your preference? Quality, Cost, Journey Time or Departure Time?
Let’s dissect the options of Brittany Ferries, my goal here is to simplify this because whilst their website is very functional you do find yourselves going to and from checking alternative routes if you don’t go with a plan!

Ferries to France – Plymouth to Roscoff with Brittany Ferries

My go to route.  The thing I like most is the ease of access once you’re off the ferry on the other side. I have to say that the French authorities here are vigilant and each time I’ve returned via Roscoff every car in the queue has been searched before boarding.

My favourite thing about coming into Brittany is that France is really on your doorstep, yes I know that sounds like a rather silly thing to say but within 10 minutes of Roscoff you have St Pol de Leon and another 10 minutes finds you in Carantec.
I have to say that these two towns are on my list of favourites despite having visited a number of regions in France. In all honesty, when I first drove through St Pol de Leon I thought, ” I could live here” and Carantec has the most wonderful Patisserie which also houses a Salon du The and Boulangerie, (heaven me thinks!) House prices in Brittany are affordable too, it’s really just the weather that’s the problem!
But still, this page is not about living in France, it’s about ferries so let’s get back to the right subject.
If you are planning a trip in Brittany and live in the western side of the UK try Plymouth – Roscoff. It brings you right where you need to be with places like Benodet and Pont Aven just 1hr 40 mins away, you also have easy access to the Vendee and Atlantic Coast and it is an option to get you easily down to the Pyrenees or even Spain if that’s your plan!
While we were away at Siblu, Domaine de Kerlann this year we met a family from East Anglia who had driven via the tunnel and then hiked all the way across to Brittany on the motorways. Two things there – very tiring and costly with tolls if you do it that way!
That reminds me, there are no tolls in Brittany! Another good reason to visit.
The ferry to Roscoff runs both overnight and during the day and both have their benefits, if you travel overnight you will need to pay for a cabin but at least you wake up in France ready to face the day. The time of the ferry currently  is a departure from Plymouth at 9pm.
For a parent this is a bonus.  It means I can get Lola on board, let her have a wander and a play and still get her to sleep reasonably early. Of course, because Brittany Ferries offer on board entertainment too, those without children may choose to take in a movie or watch a show or even eat in one of the restaurants. The food is good, I even persuaded Lola to eat olives in my Provencale Beef last time we travelled, no mean feat for a child who has refused them for the past 5 years.

Tips for Taking a Ferry to France

With many crossing s under my belt, I’ve learned to plan ahead. Only take exactly what you need when you leave your car on the parking deck; a change of clothes and documents and passports is about the limit of it. If you’re travelling during the day, perhaps something for the children to do and of course, but if you’re a foot passenger you’ll need to take everything.
One thing that is for sure is that the convenience of driving to France from England is a great benefit for family travel. You can simply pack without the concern of weight restrictions on a plane, jump in the car and go!
For now I must leave you – this post is an evolving one, so I will be back soon to talk more about other routes as well as to share the way I calculate my best case scenario. I will also include links to the websites of the operators for your ease of reference.
Your patience is very much appreciated while I build this page, I hope I will be able to assist you in the future when you are considering taking a ferry to France.
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