There was a time when we used to view ferry ports in France as a means to an end. In other words, we were passing through either because we had just arrived in or were just leaving France.
If you are planning a holiday to either France or Spain, the chances are you will pass through a French ferry port.
The exceptions to this would be if you are catching the Plymouth to Santander ferry with Brittany Ferries, or flying.
There are a number of considerations to make when deciding which ferry crossing to take!
The cheapest crossings do not necessarily mean saving that much money when allowing for, in many cases, extra fuel costs and, in France, the motorway tolls plus time spent on the road!
The busiest and shortest of the ferry crossings is Dover to Calais which takes just 90 minutes! For example, P&O Ferries have up to 46 sailings a day, so you can virtually cross when you like providing you book in advance!
When we go to the UK we invariably stay in the South West and nearly always in Cornwall, and so always use Brittany Ferries.
This is particularly convenient for us as we live in the South West of France!
Occasionally we can time it so that we can leave South West France early in the morning.
We can then be in Penzance by late evening by catching the afternoon ferry from Roscoff to Plymouth.
However, this is not always possible in which case an overnight stay is necessary. The overnight bit could take the form of a night crossing on the ferry, which is fine.
What we now try to do is to stay in an hotel in one of the French ferry ports, which need not be expensive, have a meal out, which again does not need to be expensive and anyway it would be necessary to eat on the ferry, and then we catch a morning ferry all refreshed!
Before, we would drive straight to the ferry terminal, which invariably is the least attractive area of the ferry port, and then straight onto the ferry.
We are now discovering what we have missed in the past.
At Caen we occasionally stay on the outskirts, making sure that there is always a restaurant nearby! You may want to stay in an hotel nearer the centre of Caen.
However the Portsmouth to Caen ferry actually leaves for Portsmouth from Ouistreham which is a short drive out of Caen.
Here there are several really good hotels and restaurants, and you are right on the doorstep of the ferry for the following morning! Although we did not actually stay there, we had a lovely meal at Le Normandie Hotel, right by the entrance of the terminal!
We really enjoyed our stay in Cherbourg! From here it is possible to sail to either Portsmouth or Poole.
There is quite a selection of hotels in Cherbourg together with a good choice of restaurants. We actually stayed at the Hotel Beausejour which was ideal for us!
Because we had a late morning sailing we were able to sit in the sun outside a bar on the harbour front and have breakfast!
If you are travelling from Portsmouth to St Malo you can only catch an overnight ferry. This is a really good crossing because you board fairly early in the evening giving you time for a drink and a meal, and breakfast is fairly relaxed before arrival!
Travelling back to Portsmouth, there is only a morning departure which would probably mean an overnight stay. St.Malo is a beautiful city, the heart of it being the old walled town. Lower down is a maze of streets where you will find shops, bars, restaurants and hotels .
Roscoff is lovely! By driving directly to the ferry port you will miss the pretty little harbour and port around the headland. We have stayed in Roscoff many times.
Unfortunately, the hotel we normally stayed at is no longer, but there are other hotels in Roscoff equally as good! There is also a selection of restaurants.
Wherever you decide to stay, we are sure you will have an evening that will enhance your holiday!
Have a great trip to France!