Every year approximately 17 Million people visit France from Britain and Ireland and a good chunk of these poeple opt to travel by Ferry, and for good reason.
Ferry travel is simple and relaxing when compared to flying and the hassle of airports.
Ferry travel allows you to take your own vehicle on your French holiday and with as much stuff as you can get in it or on it.
Plus, it can be a lot more cost effective then flying and opens up the whole of continental Europe to the adventurous motorist and cyclist.
But how do you find the best Ferry to France? Simple, you follow our guide.
To help you with your search for the best Ferry to France take a look at our quick comparison guide then continue on down to find out more about each Ferry route, the operates, your options to consider and more.
|Route||Ferry Operator||Sailing Time||Check Price|
|Portsmouth to Caen (Ouistream)||Brittany Ferries||6 hours|
|Portsmouth to Le Havre||Brittany Ferries||5.5 hours|
|Portsmouth to St Malo||Brittany Ferries||10 hours|
|Portsmouth to Cherbourg||Brittany Ferries||3 hours|
|Poole to Cherbourg||Brittany Ferries||3 hours|
|Plymouth to Roscoff||Brittany Ferries||6 hours|
|Dover to Calais||P&O Ferries||90 minutes|
|Dover to Calais||DFDS Seaways||90 minutes|
|Newhaven to Dieppe||DFDS Seaways||4 hours|
|Dover to Dunkirk||DFDS Seaways||2 hours|
|Dublin to Cherbourg||Irish Ferries||18 hours|
|Cork to Roscoff||Brittany Ferries||14 hours|
|Rosslare to Cherbourg||Stena Line||17 hours|
Here is what you need to consider when looking to choose the best Ferry for your trip.
Unless your trip is under three hours then we would always recommend taking a cabin.
They often don't cost very much and provide you a nice space to take a nap, leave some of your belongings safely, and just take some time out from the crowds. Additionally, Brittany Ferries now have pet friendly cabins for your four legged travel companions.
Having a place to nap is especially good if you have taken sea sick tablets or feel sea sick at any time with the added bonus of a private bathroom.
For the shortest driving time to Paris in France then you want to take either the Portsmouth to La Havre or Newhaven to Dieppe routes as they both have a driving time of approximately 2hrs 15 minutes from the ferry port to Paris.
This depends on where you are staying in Normandy.
For central Normandy, Bayeux, and the D-Day beaches take the Portsmouth to Caen route. For Honfleur and Rouen then take the Portsmouth to Le Havre route.
The fastest ferry to Normandy is the Portsmouth to Cherbourg ferry. This is the express service (Normandy Express) and takes just three hours. This is a small but fast boat and as a result you may "feel" the sea more.
If the famous Mont Saint-Michel is high on your site seeing list for Normandy then the best Ferry to take is the Portsmouth to St Malo ferry. While St Malo is actually in Brittany it is only a 55 minute drive to Mont Saint-Michel.
More on what to do in Normandy.
The best Ferries to Brittany are the Plymouth to Rosscoff route to reach the west coast and Portsmouth to St Malo for the North region and border with Normandy.
An overnight crossing is a great way to cross the sea to France as it allows you to feel refreshed after a potential long drive to get to the Ferry port, it also allows you to maximise your time in France by getting you their nice and early in the morning, potentially ahead of the local traffic.
Currently overnight Ferries to France are available on the following routes but check the time tables as some only offer overnight services during the Summer season (May to September).
|Route||Ferry Operator||Check price|
|Portsmouth to Caen (Ouistream)||Brittany Ferries|
|Portsmouth to St Malo||Brittany Ferries|
|Plymouth to Roscoff||Brittany Ferries|
|Portsmouth to Cherbourg||Brittany Ferries|
|Dublin to Cherbourg||Irish Ferries|
|Cork to Roscoff||Brittany Ferries|
|Rosslare to Cherbourg||Stena Line|
Originally starting as a business to transport produce from Brittany to the UK this Ferry Operator has grown in to the largest ferry company operating across the English Channel and Irish Sea. See the Brittany Ferries website for more details.
P&O Ferries operate exclusively on the Dover to Calais route with 23 sailings a day and market themselves as having the best onboard experience. See the P&O website for more details
Founded in 1866 is it fair to say DFDS have a lot of experience in running Ferry Services and our the only operator to have two routes to France running out of Dover. Go to the DFDS wesbite.
Recently Irish Ferries have invested over €450 million in the fleet and terminals and they now claim to have the most modern fleet in Europe so you should expect quality and a large range of facilities. View those facilities on their website.
Founded in 1962 Swedish company Stena Line is now one of the largest ferry service operators around the globe transporting nearly 8 million people a year and operate a service between Ireland and France. See more on their website.
Currently there are no Ferry routes operating between Southampton and France. The nearest ports to Southampton are Portsmouth and Poole with daily services to France.
While Prices vary across all providers and across the year the two routes that typically are the cheapest are the Brittany Ferries Economie Service from Portsmouth to Le Havre and the Newhaven to Diepppe route operated by DFDS Seaways.
However, always check all providers to find the best price. It won't take long and could provide a good saving.