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Driving From Calais To St Malo


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#1 moylcgb

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 12:29 PM

Hi all

I have found a camp site very close to St Malo that I would like to visit in August 2009, when looking at the porstmouth to St Malo ferry prices I dont see it as viable ( I'm being quoted £800 for car & 8 metre van plus 2adults & 2 kids ). I'm just wondering if anybody has driven while towing the van from Calais to St Malo and how long it will take, my kids are 5 and 10 and dont want to spend the whole holiday in the car. a

Maybe somebody can suggest another ferry route that might cut the mileage down but still offer reasonable prices!!

We live in the North of England so we will be starting the holiday with a 350 mile journey just to get to the southern ports so the less time spent on the road in France the better.

Thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully reply

Edited by moylcgb, 14 November 2008 - 12:30 PM.


#2 MalH

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 12:47 PM

My advice is don't even contemplate that sort of drive with a young family if you can avoid it! I did something similar when our kids where in their early teens and regretted it. You'll almost certainly need to break the journey down.

Have a look at Brittany Ferries Portsmouth-Caen or Poole-Cherbourg crossings, and ideally book through the CC and get their discount (if you are a member). The later in August you can go the cheaper the fare.

By the time you add fuel costs for an extra 50 miles to get to Dover compared with Portsmouth and then 343km from Calais to Caen and add on autoroute tolls, my guess is that you will be at or about breakeven by paying for a slightly longer crossing. When you factor in the reduced wear and tear and temper factors you are quids in!

The discount fared afternoon boats from Portsmouth and Poole land at 10pm-ish and there are sites close to both Cherbourg and Caen ferry ports that cater for late arrivals, especially the latter where you've less than 1m to do.

#3 southcoastsounds

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 01:07 PM

In summer, LD Lines run from Newhaven to Le Havre - and have two very fine, new ships with loads of space on them. Cabins too if you want them. We use this line frequently and are surprised its so little publicised.

Tom

#4 Clubman

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 01:30 PM

Hi all

I have found a camp site very close to St Malo that I would like to visit in August 2009, when looking at the porstmouth to St Malo ferry prices I dont see it as viable ( I'm being quoted £800 for car & 8 metre van plus 2adults & 2 kids ). I'm just wondering if anybody has driven while towing the van from Calais to St Malo and how long it will take, my kids are 5 and 10 and dont want to spend the whole holiday in the car. a

Maybe somebody can suggest another ferry route that might cut the mileage down but still offer reasonable prices!!

We live in the North of England so we will be starting the holiday with a 350 mile journey just to get to the southern ports so the less time spent on the road in France the better.

Thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully reply


I can't answer your question on driving from Calais to St Malo as I have never driven or would drive this route. However as to a possible alternative route can I suggest the Poole/Cherbourg crossing. Teeside to Poole will be approx equidistant to Teeside/Dover. The Poole/Cherbourg crossing is the shortest cossing on the Western Channel routes, approx 4 and 3/4 hours saling time. Routes down the Cherbourg penisula are very good connecting you to the autoroutes to the west of France. From Teeside you will be looking at a good day's drive to Poole, I usually take 7 hours from Hampshire to the northern Lakes. There are some good sites convenient to the Poole ferry port and you can even stay overnight on the port for a £5. Similarly there are plenty of good sites on the Cherbourg peninsula for an overnight stop, sailing early morning it would be possible to drive, to but it will be a long day, St Malo on the same day. My advice would be to take a day to drive to Poole cross over in the morning and stay overnight on the peninsula nd then have an easy drive into St Malo the following day. Get back to me if I can be any further help.

#5 oldboy

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 02:21 PM

I done this route avoiding most of the toll road in July, it took me about 7 hours with 30mins stoppage every 2hrs. the distance I went was 308 miles.

#6 Geoff-C

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 02:51 PM

The best thing to do is shop around the ferry prices join the CC and see what the offers are you might have to move your dates and travel times after a 350ml journey down and with the stops going down for you and the family you might as well get a over night ferry so the next day you are all refreshed (that’s worth every penny )
We have done it and it`s a nice steady drive down ,on to the ferry ,cupper, bed ,
Mal Harrison’s comments are spot on

#7 jan69c

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 03:08 PM

We drove from Calais to Pierrefitte just south of Orleans 302 miles. It is a long drive with a car full of kids. It took me nealy 8 hours including stops for the loo etc. Personally I wouldn't try that sort of trip again. Next year we are going to The Vendee, but we are taking the Portsmouth - St Malo route. It may be pricey but it will save me 2 full tanks of diesel and two days driving.

#8 chapmag

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 05:21 PM

Have a look at LD Lines Portsmouth -> Le Havre route.

I haven't used it personally but I am told they are quite a bit cheaper than Brittany Ferries.

#9 franklin

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 02:01 PM

hi we are going portsmouth to le harve out end may back end of june ,with l d ferries for £260 this was £200 cheaper than going with cc or c cc and booking direct with other ferries give them a try. good luck franklin

#10 chapmag

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 04:36 PM

However, Poole is not an easy place to get to so it could well be worth checking the Portsmouth Caen route.


Hi Pauline,

I hope you don't mind me asking but what makes you say Poole is not easy to get to?

Even though we live close by Portsmouth we've been using the Poole -> Cherbourg ferry ever since P&O pulled out of the western channel.

Initially for cost reasons as Brittany out of Portsmouth were expensive and more recently because we like the early afternoon ferry and the shorter crossing.

I now we are much closer than the people in the north but the M3 then M27 and A31 are good roads that lead almost to the ferry port itself.

#11 Paulines7

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 05:34 PM

Hi Pauline,

I hope you don't mind me asking but what makes you say Poole is not easy to get to?

Even though we live close by Portsmouth we've been using the Poole -> Cherbourg ferry ever since P&O pulled out of the western channel.

Initially for cost reasons as Brittany out of Portsmouth were expensive and more recently because we like the early afternoon ferry and the shorter crossing.

I now we are much closer than the people in the north but the M3 then M27 and A31 are good roads that lead almost to the ferry port itself.


We live nearer to Poole than you do Chapmag but do find getting through Poole an absolute nightmare. It took us over 3½ hours to get from Salisbury to the ferry terminal in August, in fact we did not arrive until a quarter of an hour before the sailing. Traffic was awful.

We rang Brittany Ferries booking office to tell them we were stuck in traffic and would not make the check-in times and they said that we would have to go the next day. However, they gave us the number of the ferry port at Poole who, when we rang, asked where we were and said not to worry even though we would be past the check in time. We thought we had left it a bit late but when on board we watched as a car and caravan came on board a minute before the due sailing time. The Dorset Steam Fair and road works were the cause of the chaos.

I notice that the timetable has changed for next year and the 12.30pm sailing is no longer available. Pity about that as it used to get into Cherbourg at 6pm, allowing plenty of time to get to a site for the night.

#12 MalH

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 05:49 PM

I endorse what Pauline says about Poole. We've gone that way once and thought it less than ideal when towing a caravan.

You will find the BF afternoon outward/morning return ferries cheaper than other options as caravans are discounted. Personally, I would choose Portsmouth-Caen as it's (very) slightly nearer to St Malo and the road motorway standard most of the way. If your kids are ok staying up to 10.30-11 pm you can be off the ferry and parked up at Camping Municipal Les Peupliers in a matter of minutes after landing.

If you go for Cherbourg, head for Valognes and use the Camping Municipal in the town cente (just behind Lidl) as the 'nearer' option (Village Vert) involves going halfway to Valognes and returning on the northern carriageway. From Valognes, head for St Sauveur-le-Vicompte and then La Haye de Puys to pick up the west coast road down to Granville and Avranches, from where it's a stone's throw to St Malo.

Both these sites stay open late for ferry arrivals (at Valognes you pay in the morning).

#13 ivan leslie

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 08:01 PM

Have a look at LD Lines Portsmouth -> Le Havre route.

I haven't used it personally but I am told they are quite a bit cheaper than Brittany Ferries.

used it several times - take the overnight ferry, leaves a bit late (22/2300 hours?), but cabins fine and you arrive about 0800 in Le Havre refreshed and ready to go!! Much much cheaper than Brittany.

#14 chapmag

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 09:10 PM

We live nearer to Poole than you do Chapmag but do find getting through Poole an absolute nightmare. It took us over 3½ hours to get from Salisbury to the ferry terminal in August, in fact we did not arrive until a quarter of an hour before the sailing. Traffic was awful.

We rang Brittany Ferries booking office to tell them we were stuck in traffic and would not make the check-in times and they said that we would have to go the next day. However, they gave us the number of the ferry port at Poole who, when we rang, asked where we were and said not to worry even though we would be past the check in time. We thought we had left it a bit late but when on board we watched as a car and caravan came on board a minute before the due sailing time. The Dorset Steam Fair and road works were the cause of the chaos.

I notice that the timetable has changed for next year and the 12.30pm sailing is no longer available. Pity about that as it used to get into Cherbourg at 6pm, allowing plenty of time to get to a site for the night.


Hi Pauline,

Thanks for the response.. and the info. about the 12:30pm sailing.. that's the one we would normally use.. I hadn't spotted it had been moved.

This year we are going to France for 9 weeks starting 5th May and as the Eurocamp Independent booking was almost the same price for the Portsmouth -> St Malo sailing as the Poole -> Cherbourg (without the fuel and site fees to Swanage/Poole) we plumped for that route this year.

I have to say that we do play it safe when using Poole and travel to the CC site at Swanage the afternoon before and then drive the 16 miles to Poole mid-morning on the day of departure.

Never had a trafiic problem in the last 5 or 6 years but we did go outbound early (ie late May early June).

Back to the OP's journey (if using Poole) I'd recommend they come down the night before and stay on the dockside for the early ferry.

That way any problem with traffic is negated and they get a good run to St Malo (maybe 3 hours) in the afternoon/evening.

Regards G.

#15 Paulines7

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 09:54 PM

Back to the OP's journey (if using Poole) I'd recommend they come down the night before and stay on the dockside for the early ferry.

That way any problem with traffic is negated and they get a good run to St Malo (maybe 3 hours) in the afternoon/evening.

Regards G.


I thought that too. Now that the sailings have changed we too may stay on the quayside in future.

#16 moylcgb

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 03:28 PM

Hi again and thanks for the many replies

I will now try to go either from Portsmouth to Caen or Poole to Cherbourg depending on what deal I can get.

My kids can handle a 7 or 8 hour day in the car to get to their holiday destination but a second day of that would drive them mad so once again many thanks for the great replies.




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