Ferry to France
If you are looking to book a ferry to France, you may be overwhelmed by the choices that are available to you. Needless to say, you will probably want to find a cheap ferry to France.
However, with different providers to choose from, as well as an assortment of routes, it can be hard to know which option is actually going to be the cheapest and most convenient.
Luckily, this is something that you do not need to worry about because we have all of the information that you need on this page to make the right decision. We have also compiled the best ferry deals from reliable and leading providers so that you can easily source the best option for you based on your needs and requirements.
As an independent website that has been set up purely to inform users of the best ways to ferry across the globe, you can be certain that the information that we provide is completely honest and transparent, with the sole aim of helping you to make the best decision. If you have any questions or you are struggling to choose a ferry route, please do not hesitate to send us an email and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.
The Dover to Dunkirk route is the better choice if your route is through northern France.
Travelling to France
There are many different reasons why you may be considering a trip to France. Of course, you may be visiting for business purposes. However, there is no harm in mixing a little bit of business with pleasure.
After all, France is a country that has so much to offer and this is why it is such a popular destination with holidaymakers. From amazing food and wine to changing landscapes, rich history, and fantastic shopping options, France is a place that has something for everyone. It is the country that has brought us some of the world’s most finest artists, more than 365 types of cheese, and champagne. What more could you want?
France is the biggest country in Europe. It has around 1,800 miles of coastline for visitors to enjoy. It also has a broad assortment of scenery, which will take your breath away. You have everything from the flat countryside on the Atlantic coast and in Normandy, to the attractive river valleys of the Dordogne, Rhone, and Loire. And, of course, you also have the majestic mountain ranges of the Alps and Pyrenees.
Weather in France
You can expect fairly frequent rain and a mild climate for most of the year. However, the weather can get very sunny and hot during the summer months. If you want to enjoy a warm Mediterranean climate, then you should visit the South of France. Or, if you are looking to enjoy some of the world’s best skiing, then the Alps is the obvious choice.
How much is a ferry to France?
If you take a look at different ticket options that are available, one thing you will quickly realise is that prices differ from company to company, and route to route. There are a number of different things that you can do to lower the price of your ticket, and you should also be aware of the different factors that have an influence on your ticket price so that you can make the best decision. Here are some tips that we recommend:
- Book as far ahead as you can. A lot of people believe that leaving their ticket until the last minute is the best way to secure a good deal because companies will be lowering their prices to try and tempt people. Not only is this a risky strategy, but it rarely works today. Prices tend to simply rise and rise closer to your sailing date, so the sooner that you can book, the better. This is because the ferry companies allocate space according to demand and if you are needing to sail, you will probably pay a higher price.
- Choose an off-peak sailing time. This may mean travelling at a slightly inconvenient time but you should be able to save a considerable amount of money by doing this. Typically, sailing times that are not peak include early in the morning or late at night. Of course, if you have chosen a route whereby there are only a few ferries sailing per day, then this will not really apply to you. However, if you choose one of the popular routes, for example, from Dover to Calais, then you should be able to make considerable savings by travelling during the hours that are slightly less popular.
- Compare different providers. Another tip is to make sure that you shop around when you are looking to book a ferry to France. There are many different providers offering this service today. Some of the most well-known ones include DFDS ferries and P&O. We will provide information on these companies later in the guide, as well as giving you an insight into the tickets that they have available. Just as the case would be if you were booking an airline ticket or paying for any other product or service, different companies charge different prices, and so it is certainly worth shopping around and comparing the different tickets that are available before you go ahead and book your ferry to France.
How long will it take to get to France?
The length of time of the journey will depend on the route you have taken. The shortest journey is the popular one from Calais to Dover and vice versa. This route only takes 90 minutes and is currently offered by two of the leading ferry companies, which are DFDS and P&O.
Dover is the most popular ferry port for travellers from the United Kingdom. You can conveniently access the port via the M20. The two main routes that go from this port include Dover to Dunkirk and Calais. Both of these posts are well-placed if you are planning to take a trip to Paris and northern Europe.
The shortest route, i.e. to Calais, is not always the most convenient route overall. For example, if your route is through northern France, then you may find it better to take the Dover to Dunkirk route. At the moment, the only company that operates this ferry service is DFDS. The sailing duration is typically around two hours, and the crossing operates up to 24 times per day.
There are also routes that are much longer than this. For example, the Newhaven to Dieppe route takes around four hours.
Best companies for ferries to France
If you are looking for a cheap ferry to France, one of the main factors that you will need to consider is the company you are going to book your ticket through. Sometimes you will have no choice but to go with one provider because they may be the only provider that is offering the route that you are interested in. Below, we will take a look at some of the main ferry companies so that you can get a better understanding of the quality of the company and the routes that they provide.
There is no denying that this is one of the most popular companies when booking a cheap ferry to France. At the moment, the company offers routes from Dover to Calais and Dunkirk, as well as Newhaven to Dieppe. The Dover to Calais route is the most popular, with 30 crossings to choose from per day. Therefore, you can certainly take advantage of our advice regarding travelling out of peak hours in order to save money. The length of this journey is one hour and 30 minutes. You can also choose from 24 different crossings from Dover to Dunkirk. The least frequent route is the four-hour journey from Newhaven to Dieppe. There are six crossings of this route daily between May and September. For the rest of the year, there are four crossings.
DFDS has a great reputation in the industry. They are recognised as one of the world’s leading ferry operators. Not only do they offer ferries to France, but they operate all around Europe. The company, which is headquartered in Denmark, currently serves 20 different locations. It is the busiest shipping company of its kind in northern Europe.
P&O Ferries also provide the popular Dover to Calais route. They provide this route 23 times per day. Therefore, you will certainly have lots of options available to you when comparing the ticket prices between this company and DFDS. You may recognise P&O from adverts on television for cruise holidays. The company is a British cruise line, which is based in Southampton. It actually has the tag of being the oldest cruise line in the world. Therefore, you can pretty much be certain of a reliable service.
This is another ferry operator with a great reputation. The company is headquartered in Sweden and is now one of the biggest ferry operators across the globe. It serves a large number of countries. In terms of sailing to France, you can sail from Rosslare, in Ireland, to Cherbourg. At the moment, the number of crossings are limited, and therefore, is certainly worth booking in advance to secure the best prices.
Brittany Ferries are a popular choice because they have a number of different routes available, from a variety of bases within the United Kingdom. Therefore, if travelling from Dover would be inconvenient for you, you may want to consider one of the tickets that are available via this company. Some of the routes that they offer include Poole to Cherbourg and Plymouth to Roscoff. They also offer a number of different routes from Portsmouth. This includes ferries to Le Havre, Cherbourg, St Malo, and Caen. Most of these routes are quite long and, therefore, they only operate one time per day or a few times per day at the maximum. Therefore, the best thing to do is to book your ticket as soon as you are able to do so.
Of course, you do not need to book directly through the companies that have been mentioned if you don’t want to. There are other websites whereby tickets are collected from all of the different providers and put in one place so that you can easily find the best ticket for your requirements. The best example of this is Direct Ferries. They provide the broadest selection of ferries to France, as well as Scandinavia, Germany, Holland, Spain, and Ireland, and they have tickets from all of the leading ferry operators, including those that have been mentioned above.
Different ports in France
There are a number of different ports in France. We are going to take a look at them in further detail to give you an understanding of where they are based and, therefore, help you to determine what port would be most convenient for you when travelling.
There is only one place to begin, and this is Calais. You have probably heard of this port before because it is France’s most known port and also the most popular. As mentioned, this is one of the quickest ways to get to France and the journey will take around 90 minutes. The town is also conveniently located for a lot of onward journeys, whether you’re planning on visiting France or venturing further into mainland Europe.
If you are looking for a great alternative to Calais, then you should consider Dunkirk. The crossing time is only 30 minutes longer. This is because it is situated slightly further to the north. This makes it a great location if you are planning a trip to northern France or Holland or Belgium.
Next, we have St Malo, which is conveniently located near to the beautiful beaches of Brittany. There are also good road connections here, which is why it is an excellent choice if you are planning a trip to south or west France.
An idyllic fishing village in Brittany, Roscoff is an excellent choice for both South and West France. The village is a great place to stop no matter whether you are on your way in or out of France, as it has a lovely range of restaurants and gift shops.
The closest airport to Paris is Le Havre. This is also the second biggest port in the whole of France. It has a status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the post-war architecture here. This reason alone makes it a great place to stop while visiting France.
Caen is located centrally on France’s northern coast. Because of this, it is a good route to take if you are planning to visit Brittany, Normandy, Paris, or even the south of France.
On the Cotentin peninsula, you will find Cherbourg, which is connected to both Poole And Portsmouth. It is well connected to Paris and it is also suitable for trips to the south of France. It has roads that run through a number of different national parks.
Finally, we have Dieppe. This is accessible from Newhaven and is situated on the coast of Normandy. You can rest on board when taking this crossing because it is longer. It is also a good place to stop, especially on a Saturday, as there is a busy market that has a number of different stalls
Some of the things you need to check before booking your ticket
There is nothing worse than beginning your journey and arriving at a port and finding out that you have broken one of the restrictions on your ticket. Because of this, it is important to make sure that you are aware of all of the terms and conditions that are associated with your ticket.
The first thing to do is to find out whether there are any baggage restrictions. You also need to determine whether you will be able to travel with your vehicle.
Most ferries are happy for travellers to bring all types of vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, bicycles, motorhomes, and caravans. However, this is not something that you should simply assume is the case.
Make sure you check it first. There are also a number of ferries that allow you to travel with your pet, so this is something else that you may be interested in.
Travelling while you are in France
Of course, one of the main reasons why so many people take a ferry is because it enables them to take their car with them so that they can explore the country via the amazing network of roads.
A lot of people are anxious about driving in France because they drive on the different side of the road to us. However, driving in Europe is much easier than people assume.
Needless to say, you need to remember to drive on the right-hand side. Aside from this, it is worth noting the different codes that are used to describe different roads. For example, the prefix D is used to class minor roads. The prefix N is used to mark national roads.
Most importantly, the prefix A is for motorways and you should bear in mind that some of these will be toll roads.
Rules & Regulations
There are a number of different rules and regulations that are in place when it comes to driving in France and it is important to be aware of these. The drink drive limit in France is currently 50 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood. Of course, the best thing to do is to avoid driving once you have had any alcohol.
However, we are pointing this out because the drink drive limit in France is significantly lower than the limit within the UK, and so a lot of people do end up getting caught out.
The current limit within the United Kingdom is 80 mg per 100 mL of blood, and so you can see that it is 30 mg less in France. Aside from this, it is important to be aware of the fact that all cars are legally required to carry a breathalyser kit.
While this may seem like an inconvenience, it can actually be of great benefit to you. By carrying a few breathalyser kits in your car, you will be able to use one if you have consumed alcohol to make sure that you are not over the limit. You can buy these kits at the port.
A lot of people take their satnav system with them when they are travelling to France. However, if you have a satnav that is able to detect the locations of speed cameras, then you should leave this at home, and instead, ask a friend or family member if you can borrow their satnav.
If you are found to be driving in a vehicle with a satnav that can detect speed camera locations, you will be fined €1500 no matter whether the satnav is turned on or not.
Places to see while visiting France
Now that you are aware of the different rules and regulations that are in place when it comes to driving in France, let’s take a look at some of the best places to visit during your trip. There is no denying that Paris is the most populous city in France. Not only is it the capital, but it is home to the famous Eiffel Tower. A lot of people combine their trips to Paris with a visit to Disneyland.
You will find that Brittany and Normandy are two of the most convenient places to visit when taking a ferry to France. Normandy has become a popular spot because it boasts stunning countryside and also has a lively nightlife. You can party during the evening and then enjoy the tranquil and peaceful pine forests and wooden valleys during the day.
Brittany has an almost mystical feel to it thanks to the vast arrays of glorious beaches, rugged coastline, and the age-old traditional and truly beautiful architecture. This is a good place to visit if you want to marvel at the many different cathedrals here.
If you enter France via Calais, you should certainly explore the market surrounding the area because you will be able to find drinks, food, and cigarettes at really low costs.
Below, we have listed some of the most popular tourist attractions in France that people take once they have booked a cheap ferry to France:
- The Eiffel Tower – Of course, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. At an exhilarating height is 276 m, it was designed by Gustave Eiffel and it is constructed using 8000 metallic parts. Tourists enjoy taking pictures of this landmark and witnessing the views from the top. If you really want to make an occasion of it, you can dine at the Michelin starred restaurant situated on the second floor.
- Alsace Villages – You will find some of the prettiest villages in the world tucked away in the hills of Alsace. These villages feature houses that are made of timber and painted in beautiful pastel shades.
- Mont Blanc – The incredible spectacle of Mont Blanc in the French Alps is a sight that you will never forget. This forms part of France’s border with Italy and is the highest mountain peak in the whole of Europe, soaring up to 4810 m high.
- Provence – Provence is a stunning landscape featuring deep purple lavender fields, sundrenched rolling hills, and olive groves. The vibrant scenery has inspired many famous artists, including Picasso.
- Palace of Versailles – This is more than just a royal residence. Featuring sumptuous Baroque interior, this palace became a symbol of the power that Louis XIV held. It also set the standard for European princely courts. The Palace is known for its French gardens, which feature charming fountains, perfectly trimmed shrubbery, and decorative pools.
- The Louvre Museum – The Louvre is one of the most famous and recognisable museums in the world. It is home to one of the finest collections of art in Europe. Of course, you will find Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa painting here. With more than 30,000 pieces of art, including countless masterpieces, you will certainly need to keep an entire day spare if you want to witness the Louvre in all of its glory.
Organising your travel money
Another thing that you will need to do before you take a trip to France is organise your travel money. You will need euros while in France.
There are a number of different things that you can do to give yourself the best chance of securing the highest exchange rate and not losing out when you change your money over.
As soon as you have booked your trip, it is worth looking online and setting up alerts with a number of different money exchange businesses.
Most companies today enable you to set up an alert whereby you will receive an email notification once the exchange rate hits a level that you are happy with.
By strategically purchasing your euros in this manner, you will be able to get more for your money. You should also consider taking out your money with a company that offers to buy back at the original rate.
This means that if you have any money left over, you will be able to exchange it for English pounds and you will be promised the same rate that you received when you first exchanged your money, meaning you don’t have to worry about the exchange rate dropping by the time you get around to changing your currency back to GBP.
Taking out travel insurance
You will also want to take out travel insurance before your trip to France. There are a number of different policies that are available. You can get policies that simply cover one trip.
Or, you can take out annual insurance cover. If you are not planning on going outside of Europe, you can save a considerable amount of money by opting for a European policy only.
When taking out a travel insurance policy, it is important to take a look at what is covered. From trip cancellation to medical expenses, you will want to ensure that you are fully covered for all of the essentials.
If you are planning on visiting France because you are going on a skiing trip, then you may have to purchase winter sports as an add-on.
A lot of standard travel insurance policies do not include sports and activities, and so this is something you definitely need to look into to make sure that you do not run the risk of being uninsured.
Some of the other benefits that travel insurance policies tend to include our personal liability, gadgets cover, delayed or missed departures, delayed or lost luggage, dental treatment, medical expenses, and cancellation cover.
Contact us if you need further assistance
As mentioned, we are an independent ferry website. We set up our business so that we could inform users about the best ways to travel around the world using ferry services.
Our website has been set up by an ex-ferry industry expert who knows the ins and outs of booking the best ferries to France. What makes our website the best resource when booking a ferry to France is the fact that we are fully independent, which means that we do not have to push a specific service. While we have good relationships with all of the main ferry operators , we are able to provide you with a huge selection of options and an honest and transparent service.
This is the best way to ensure that you end up with the most convenient and cheapest travel to France. If you have any queries or you need help booking your journey, please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can use the link at the bottom of the page to send us an email and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.