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Travelling to Brittany

Oxford, UK
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Travelling to Brittany

Hi there we are travelling from the UK to France for the first time this Summer, hoping to stay at Le Ranolien which is at Perros Guirec. We have 2 young children (7 and 3).

So many questions, trying to work out the best way of getting there, and would be grateful for any advice.

Do we fly - Luton to Brest on Ryanair and make our own way from there, or ferry Portsmouth to Cherbourg (about 5 hours?) then drive from there (about 3.5 hours?). Or go Dover to Calais (1.5 hrs) and drive from there (about 7 hours, possibly stopping overnight en route). Each have pros and cons, on the one hand with 2 young kids I'm tempted to fly just to get there quicker, but the drive from Calais is also tempting, break it over a day shouldn't be too bad.

What do people recommend?

Thanks in advance.

Tony

Limerick, Ireland
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for Limerick, Killarney
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1. Re: Travelling to Brittany

Hi Tony,

The roads from Calais to Normandy are pretty good, particularly if you use the Péage (toll roads). I assume they are good the rest of the way down to Brittany.

If you are stopping over, might I suggest you consider Camping La Vallee in Houlgate. Its about 4 hours down, not too far off the motorway and is a nice site.

Given that you're in Oxford, it isn't that far to Dover. The ferries are great, I love to sit in the front window - imagine I'm commanding my own ship. Its wonderful.

The advantage of going via Calais is that you can stop off in Cite Europe, do a bit of retail, take home some wine from Carrefour. There is also a fab home store in the outlet centre next to cite europe.

An alternative to the ferry would be the Eurostar.

The advantage of the car is that you are not limited on luggage - important with young children. You can bring the teddies and the multiple changes of clothes. You can also bring over the foods the kids insist on eating.

UK
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2. Re: Travelling to Brittany

Tony,

We have a holiday home close by and usually travel with Brittany Ferries. We have travelled with our children since they were a few weeks old and over the years our pereferred method has changed.

The following crossings are closest to Perros. Le Ranolien is in a great spot but you will probably need a car to get to Perros and all the other fabulous beaches in the area. Perros is the most developed resort, not our preference but the boys favourite with lots of facilities and lifeguards.

Plymouth - Roscoff approx 1 hour

Porstmouth - St Malo approx 2 hours.

I would strongly recommend a cabin - cheap in the day - you will have your own bathroom and space for all the kids gear. Commodore / Deluxe cabins also have a tv/DCD/ kettle/fruit and a fridge stocked with wine/beer/water/coke at no charge. Pomt Aven even has a swimming and paddling pool to pass the time. Quite expensive but worth it for us with the children.

IIf you want a shorter crossing I would advise using one of the high

speed services - Poole Cherbourg or Portsmouth Caen. Consider Caen crossings as although it may look further away we find the drive quicker.

We tend use the B&B or Novotel chain of hotels when breaking the journey, both have rooms for families.Tthere is much to see in Normandy - D-Day beaches, Bayeux, excellent beaches so you may

Any more questions let me know

Oxford, UK
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3. Re: Travelling to Brittany

Thanks ever so much for your advice. I was thinking of going Portsmouth to Cherbourg but not having done this sort of thing before I couldn't believe the cost of it - Brittany Ferries I think, £336 for the crossing! That's almost as much as the holiday is costing! I know with Keycamp they include a Dover - Calais crossing for £50 so wondered if I did it with them they could do Portsmouth to Cherbourg any cheaper - I certainly hope so, or is this the sort of price we can expect? I guess it also depends on the times of the ferries as to which one we go for, you might run the risk of taking about 2 days off the holiday travelling.

UK
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4. Re: Travelling to Brittany

You could also look at Speedferries, a 50 minute crossing from Dover to Boulogne sur Mer with competitive prices. We usually take the Eurotunnel, but travelled with Speedferries a couple of years ago & found them fine. www.speedferries.com

For routes, distances & costs, check out www.viamichelin.com. As previously stated, the autoroutes in France are good. We find them a pleasure to drive on after the awful UK motorways.

Brittany, France
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5. Re: Travelling to Brittany

Hi Tony

I actually live in La Roche Derrien, about 15 minutes south of Perros, but also used to live in Northampton so not a million miles from you guys - certainly the easiest route is Portsmouth to St Malo - overnight on the way out and day on the return, this reduces the amount of driving substantially and St Malo is 1hr30 mins from us. NOTE I didn't say the cheapest route!!

The main pro with this route is that you actually arrive feeling refreshed, not stressed out, etc, etc and it doesn't take 24 hours to get over the actual trip.

Driving from Calais - takes 6 hours - it's around 400 miles - if you do the ususaul toilet stops, meal breaks etc then allow 8 hours minimum, yes the route is extremely easy, toll roads and motorways all the way through to Guingamp - but it is a huge drive and you need the next day to recover!

Cherbourg and Caen - both around 4 hours drive - the good thing with these routes is that there are more ferries so you can choose the best timings for you, I would say that Caen is the easier drive albeit a bit further on the map.

You may want to consider a new ferry company - L D Lines that has started a route from Portsmouth to Le Havre - they appear to be cheaper - with Le Havre being just over 4 hours drive.

From the childrens point of view I would definitely go with Portsmouth - St Malo if you're looking at driving.

Flying - Again several choices - but Brest is an easy drive - about 1hr 30, as is Dinard similar time away. Obviously you would be looking at Budget airlines, but when looking at costs don't only consider the car hire but also your parking costs at Luton or East Midlands, which can be exhorbitant! I have to admit that in the past it has worked out relative to the ferry costs!

Regardless have a great holiday, it is a beautiful area and there are fantastic beaches, lots for the children to do, loads of great restaurants, etc

Colerne, Nr Bath
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6. Re: Travelling to Brittany

Have you tried checking out LD ferries? we are going over Friday night from Portsmouth to Le Harve (leave at 11pm arrive 7am). We got a ferry for approx £150, which is a car and 4 passengers.

We haven't gone for a cabin, roughing it on the seats, but then we don't have the young 'uns to worry about!

liverpool
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7. Re: Travelling to Brittany

I would NOT recommend the Dover Calais route if you're heading to Brittany!

I worked in Dinan for a year, and as such travelled regularly from the UK to France. Going from Dover to Calais is relatively inexpensive, but it is a LONG drive from Calais once you're there. To give you some idea, if I took a ferry at around 8-9am, I'd arrive in northern Normandie around 5 in the evening. Then, if leaving Normandie at around 10 the next day, it's another 3 hours to Dinan (and as such 4.5 hours to where you're heading to). I don't know about you, but the LAST thing I want to do after a day on the road is spend yet another half day on the road, especially with kids! I made the mistake of doing this journey once: Never again.

The St. Malo route is great for Brittany, but LONG (65 hours at daytime, longer at night?). There is a cinema, and shops, restaurants etc., but it's a little boring for kids and tiring for parents too. The advantage of the ferry though is that you can stuff your car with everything you'll need, and of course stuff it with wine coming back... I too would STRONGLY recommend getting a cabin, especially if any of you get a little motion sickness or if you have young children. There, you have a self-contained space and can play games, make noise and not worry about anyone else. Its a LOT more pricey at night, so travel during the day to save money.

Flying is quick, but on Ryanair the luggage limit is DIRE. I think it's 15kg per person, which if you want to take kids' provisions and clothes soon disappears. Excess is expensive (getting on for 10 euros per kilo). And then there's the hassle of a hire car and getting booster seats etc at the other end.

If it were me, I'd go for the ferry option, it's less hassle and is interesting for kids as they can stretch their legs a bit for a few hours, plus you'll get a nice break from driving. Don't be put off by the cost of ferries though. My experience tells me that at times when the ferry is expensive, Ryanair etc. will be pricey too. I was regulary paying 200 euros for a return flight from Dinard to Stansted during summer holidays, so that may not be much cheaper once you've added in the hire car costs. Don't be put off Brittany though. It's stunning and hot without being boiling. Lots for the kids to explore, wonderful beaches, good food, and 'user friendly'!

Hope this helps!

liverpool
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8. Re: Travelling to Brittany

With reference to my post above, the ferry is about 6.5 hours, not 65. That would be LONG.

Abruzzo
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9. Re: Travelling to Brittany

Tony,

Only you will be able to make this decision - we have done many various routes etc & its always down to cost vis time vis practicalities & to be honest much is increasingly agin Brit Ferries which have become so expensive in these last few years! They now have a very fine fleet of ships - but the cost !

Oxford, UK
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10. Re: Travelling to Brittany

Thanks everyone, we finally opted for Portsmouth -> Cherbourg hi-speed which is 3 hours, then the drive from there which I understand is about 4 hours - not too bad, plus the ferry leaves Portsmouth at 8am so it breaks it up nicely. The icing on the cake was enquiring with Travel Inn Portsmouth which is a stones throw from the terminal about staying over the night before to ensure we get to the ferry for 6.30am, and they had a special offer on, a family room for £22 so can't complain at that. Looking forward to it all in 2 weeks time.