Numerous ferry runs are offered by a half-dozen ferry lines from the UK to the Normandy coast and south to the Brittany coast. Let’s sort through these destinations in France.
|Dover to Calais||23 per day||1.5 hours||P&O|
|Dover to Calais||10 per day||1.5 hours||DFDS|
|Dover to Calais||8 per day||1.5 hours||MyFerryLink|
|Dover to Dunkirk||12 per day||2 hours||DFDS|
|Poole to St Malo||2 per day||7.5 hours||Condor|
|Portsmouth to Caen||4 per day||3.5 hours||Brittany|
|Poole to Cherbourg||7 per week||2.5 hours||Brittany|
|Portsmouth to Cherbourg||2 per day||3 hours||Brittany|
|Portsmouth to Cherbourg||only occasionally||5.5 hours||Condor|
|Portsmouth to St Malo||7 per week||11 hours||Brittany|
|Portsmouth to Le Havre||7 per week||8 hours||LD Lines|
|Plymouth to Roscoff||2 per day||6 hours||Brittany|
|Plymouth to St Malo||2 per day||9.5 hours||Brittany|
Le Havre is a French seaside resort at the mouth of the River Seine, only a two hour drive from Paris. LD Lines has a daily ferry run from Portsmouth that leaves at midnight, arrives 7-8 AM in La Havre, and departs from there 5 PM. From late May to early September, LD also has a 3.25 hour fast-run leaving Portsmouth 8:30 AM and departing Le Havre 2:15 PM. Special rates have been as low as £61.
Dieppe is another resort town in upper Normandy with easy access to Paris. Transmanche Ferries has a four-hour ferry run from Newhaven, the port closest to London, to Dieppe, one departing 9:30 AM and another 10:30 PM. Return ferries from Dieppe depart 5 AM and 6 PM. Fares start at £19.
In Caen, visit the Peace Memorial on the Normandy beaches that commemorates WWII D-Day. Cherbourg is an old French fishing port. From both villages, you travel a short way to view the 11th century Bayeux Tapestry. Also nearby is the famed Mont St Michel island. Brittany Ferries has several crossings to the region:
- Portsmouth and Caen: four crossings per day, either seven-hour conventional run, or a 3.75 hour high-speed run; fares start at £93 pounds for car plus two people
- Poole and Cherbourg: two weekday and three weekend 4.5 hour crossings each week year round — from April to October, add in a high-speed 2.5 hour run; fares start at £87 pounds for car plus two people
- Portsmouth and Cherbourg: from mid-March to the end of October, one or two three-hour runs per day; fares start at £85 pounds for car plus two people
Condor Ferries provides five-hour service to Cherbourg on Sundays in the summer — it leaves Portsmouth 9 AM and returns 4:15 PM. Fare for car and two adults is £80 each way with a seven-day stay.
Dunkirk is well known to WWII historians for the desperate civilian evacuation aboard a multifarious fleet. DFDS Seaways runs a two-hour ferry between Dunkirk and Dover every two hours on weekdays day and night, and similarly days and evenings only on Saturday and Sunday — normal fare for car and two people is £96 roundtrip.
Calais is well-known throughout centuries of English and French history as a gateway between the two countries. Sea France has a dozen departures all day every day from both Calais and Dover — the fast voyage takes a half-hour and fares start at 29 €. P&O Ferries also runs ferries between Dover and Calais, with up to forty-six ninety-minute crossings per day. The fare starts at £29 for foot passengers, who are not allowed on night-time runs. Fares for two adults with car start at £100-110.
Moving south along the French coast into Brittany, we find Roscoff, a small Breton fishing village, and St Malo, which sits on a granite island dominated by a massive ancient citadel, the Cathédrale St Vincent.
Brittany Ferries provides non-stop runs to Brittany:
- Portsmouth and St Malo: a daily ten-hour run except for Saturdays November through March; fares start at £106 pounds for two adults and car
- Plymouth and Roscoff: one eight-hour overnight run and one six-hour daylight run, daily in the months March through October; fares start at £93 for two adults and car
Condor Ferries also provides ferry service to Brittany, with fares from £80 to £110:
- Poole and St Malo: fast three-hour ferry service, several times a week in summer only
- Weymouth and St Malo: six hour voyage, several times a week in summer only, with a possible ship change at Channel Islands