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Going to France or Spain? Which Ferry Crossing should I use?

Ferry Choices

There are several routes to France from the UK. If you are located in the Midlands or South then the obvious choice is to sail from Dover, Calais, Portsmouth or Plymouth. The shortest route is from Dover/Folkstone on the ferry boat via EuroTunnel. Shortest does not mean quickest or cheapest however. Consider the following:-

Cheapest and quickest is not always best.

Unless you are travelling to destinations in Northeast France, Germany, Belgium or Netherlands, then it pays to calculate where your time and money will be consumed.

If you are travelling to or from Southern France, the Alps, Pyrenees or Spain then you will benefit by using ferry ports other than Calais. To calculate why, this is what you must pay:-

  • at 34 miles per gallon and petrol at 1.05 Euro per litre - 100 miles cost you £ 9.80
  • at 6000 miles from a front tyre and 4000 miles from the rear - 100 miles costs you £ 5.20
  • each 100 miles you do costs you £ 15.00 (21 Euro)
    (car drivers should neglect this item - sports riders should multiply by "2")

Now study your map. Do you want to pass via Le Mans or Orleans? Do you wish to avoid Motorways, Paris, boring roads, and a day of your precious holidays? Notice how further north Calais is?

  1. if you use the ferry port of Caen instead of Calais then the saving in cost of petrol and tyres is 366 miles £ 55
    (don't believe it? Go to the Maps section and use the calculator and double mileage for the return trip)

  2. likewise thats a whole extra day in the saddle which will incur a stopover somewhere along the line.
    You either get an extra day's fun, or you save roughly £ 50 for a stopover.

  3. and avoiding the Autoroute tolls saves another 9.90 Euros x 2 = £ 15.00
    (use 2 x 41 Euro for a car)
What have you spent or saved? Roughy £ 120 (170 Euro).

But - that £ 120 is not all in your pocket !

Sailings to Caen are from Portsmouth. Good you say.... thats nearer my home and I miss the M25 car park !
(can there be more savings you ask?)

Yes.... but Brittany Ferries charge more than the cheaper crossing to Calais! But you need to spend a bit of it to save overall on petrol, tyres and hotels.

Here is what you gain by sailing from Portsmouth....

  • you have a choice of early, midday and late night departure. If you are far from Portsmouth, then you avoid having to use B&B in the UK. Get to Portsmouth by 10:00 pm and enjoy a good night sleep on the ferry.

  • the overnight cabin cost is only £ 42, or the recliner seat £ 5.00, and there is a bar music, disco, casino, etc, to start off your holiday.

  • The crossing takes 6 hours, time to unwind. The night crossing arrives in Caen at 7:00 am and you are on-the-road in France before 7:30 am - you are miles ahead on anyone taking the Calais router.

Sailing direct to / from Spain

The same arguments apply ! Save more money and rubber ! Spend some of it and enjoy !