There are many places you can come from by ferry to France. It would be an ingrate position to praise France, it would mean to say that it’s not popular enough to speak for itself, and that’s just false. However, from Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Algeria and Spain and to Ireland, Morocco or Tunisia.
Ferry to Calais or Dunkirk from Dover. Both the ports give access to the amazing French motorway network, so the decision should be made according to what you’re going to do once you’re in the land of wine. Otherwise, it’s a tie between the two. The prices don’t differ too much, it regularly costs approximately €44 to Dunkirk and €49 to Calais. From motorcycles to cars or caravans you can enjoy your trip to continental Europe in the comfort of your vehicle for less than €50. The reason why someone would normally narrow it down to one of these two ports is because it eases the trip to other European countries, such as Belgium, Germany or Holland.
The fact that there are 22 daily sailings on both directions makes it not only accessible, but very handy. And no matter which of the ports you sailed out from, you can always opt for the other one when returning home. Plus, these two routes to Normandy are also great if you’re planning on visiting France, since you get to visit Paris via Rouen. The crossing only takes an hour and a half to Calais Ferry and two hours to Dunkirk Ferry.
In case you want to get to Calais from Folkestone, you can take the 35-minute crossing via the Eurotunnel, with the drawback of having to schedule your trip after the two weekly crossings. The longest crossing is from Plymouth to Roscoff Ferry, it takes 10 hours and a half, approximately, and there is only one sailing per week.
Of course, trips from UK to France via Ferries can differ depending on the agency you opt for. The trick is that there’s no general better offer, the situation is quite balanced and it mainly depends on each port. For instance, from Portsmouth to Le Havre, both Brittany Ferries and DFDS Seaways have 7 sailings weekly, but it takes less than for hours with Brittany Ferries and over 8 if you go with DFDS.
If you’re coming from Guernsey, the great news is no crossing passes two hours. The ferries where you can land are either St. Malo, Carteret or Dielette. Dielette is the fastest one (1 hour and 25 minutes crossing), but St. Malo’s got 12 sailings weekly – so if you’re ever under any time pressure, know which one to choose.
From Jersey it either takes an hour and ten minutes or an hour and 20, depending if you’re coming to St. Malo or either Granville or Carteret. There are up to 14 sailings a week from St. Malo, so even though it’s the slowest ride, the fact that it’s only 10 minutes apart from the other two make it top option because of the flexibility it guarantees.
If you’re coming Corsica, know that there are plenty of possibilities in terms of ports, companies and even crossing times. From Ajaccio you can go to Nice (approximately 6 hours and a half),Toulon (approximately 6 hours and a half) or Marseilles (the crossing is up to nine hours). From Bastia the best solution if you’re headed to Nice is the service offered by Corsica Ferries, with 8 weekly sailings and 5 hours crossing. To Toulon or Marseilles it takes from 8 up to 10 hours crossing, and there are approximately 7 weekly crossings. From Calvi or Ille Rousse to Nice the crossing doesn’t take over 5 hours, and even though from the first one there’s only 1 weekly sail, from Ile Rousse there are 6 to 8 sailings every week. The worst deal by far if you come from Corsica would be by Porto Vecchio, because all the possible sailings to any of the three ports take from 1 up to 13 hours and none offers more than 6 crossings weekly.
Spain’s not very rich in options. If you want to travel by ferry it’s either from Barcelona to Sete (8 hours and a half, 1 weekly sailing) or from Gijon to St. Nazaire (15 hours, 3 weekly sailings). Another country that hasn’t very good options is Ireland. Of course, there’s the possibility of coming from Dublin or Rosslare, but they take over 17 hours each, up to 21 hours from Rosslare to St. Nazaire. But the best choice, even though there’s only one weekly crossing, is sailing from Cork to Roscoff Ferry, since it only takes 14 hours.
From Morocco, the situation is even easier. There are only two options: from Nador to Sete Ferry, a 34-hour sailing or from Tangier Med to the same port. The latter option is the better, not only does the sailing take only 32 hours, but there are two weekly crossings. A better chance would be coming to France from Tunisia. From Tunis to Marseilles there’s only one decent possibility in terms of sailings per week (two) and hours (20 and a half) – via SNCM.
We’re not arguing if it’s worth coming all this way to enjoy the French splendid contradictions from the comfort of your own car, but when it comes to ferry traveling to France the most important side tip wouldn’t even concern the trip itself, but the crossing. No matter where you’re coming from or heading to, the scenery is spectacular, so try not to miss anything.