On our last few big trips to France, we’ve taken the ferry. Although there are other ways to get across the Channel – flying, for instance – the ferry suited us best for those longer trips.
The main reasons we chose the ferry included having the freedom of our own car, avoiding the stresses of the airport with its queues, excess baggage charges and lengthy check-ins (it’s 45 minutes check-in for ferry, rather than several hours at the airport). We’ve found ferries to be a relatively hassle-free way to travel, with plenty on board to keep the kids happy.
Slow but Steady?
Admittedly, a ferry doesn’t fly over the Channel at quite the same speed as a plane. What’s an hour’s trip by plane might be any number of hours by ferry. But if you work out how much time you spend at the airport, checking in and waiting for your luggage at the other side, the travel time mounts up.
Fun and Games
With kids, the novelty of flying can quickly wear off, especially if you happen to be travelling at a non-ideal time of night, or early in the morning. There’s usually more to do on a ferry – like shopping, eating in restaurants, watching a movie, or hanging out in the kids’ play area. It’s even better if you’ve got your own cabin to relax in. A bit like a floating hotel!
You can even make a day trip out of the trip to the port. Check out this post by Karen from Mini Travellers on Eight Things to Do in Plymouth Before you Catch the Ferry to France.
When we costed out our family trips to France, including baggage charges, ferry travel turned out to be to be cheaper than flying. It also meant we could pack all the gear we needed for a three-week trip into the car – toys, games, and enough clothes to weather the transition from Summer to early Autumn. It would’ve been impossible to take the same amount on a plane.
The places we’ve recently visited in France – rural Brittany, Normandy, the Loire Valley, and the Vendée – are so easy to get to from the nearest ferry ports, it made more sense to go by ferry than to fly. For Brittany and Normandy, in particular, you can just drive out of the port and be in your destination in no time.
This all means we don’t have to shell out for car rental, or hiring car seats for the kids. With the poor £GBP – Euro exchange rate at the moment, car hire on the continent is more expensive than it used to be. Having the family car there is, quite frankly, brilliant for all of us.
I’m sure that one of our trips will see us jetting off to France, but so far the ferry’s always been the better option. The kids love it, the prices are cheap and we can pack as much as we want. I can see the lack of appeal for anyone based 600 miles from the nearest ferry port, but for anyone else I’d highly recommend at least considering it, especially if you’ve got kids.
Brittany Ferries sent us the following graphic, which compares ferry vs plane to France for a family of four. A lot of what I’ve spoken about in this post is included.
Image source: Brittany Ferries – Ferry VS Plane to France
This is a collaborative piece with Brittany Ferries, but our thoughts and opinions are entirely our own.