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French Connection

It’s the world’s number-one tourist destination, and it’s right there, on our doorstep. There’s really no need to plough deep into the heart of France to find the ‘real thing’. By taking the ferry to France, within a few miles of the Channel ports, you’ll find everything the country is good at: excellent food and wine, historic towns, activities and attractions, theme parks, voluptuous rural scenery and, of course, seasides. There’s a choice of French ports, each a gateway to a region as different from its neighbours as Cumbria from Cornwall. Depending on your final destination, you’ll need to decide whether to cross the Channel by one of the shorter routes in the east or the longer, cruise-like ferry experiences on the longer western Channel.

Brittany-france-beach

Brittany

Families with young children will love Brittany, with its perfect sandy beaches, granite headlands and low-tide rockpools boasting thriving communities of marine life. You could even stay put in port and enjoy a rewarding family holiday. Bundled behind its fearsome
ramparts guarding the mouth of the river Rance, St-Malo is the most dramatic of all the French ports, but also comes packaged with excellent beaches.

How to get there

Brittany Ferries 

  • Portsmouth-St-Malo from £594, including an en-suite cabin on the outward overnight crossing
  • Plymouth-Roscoff: From £503, including an en-suite cabin on the outward overnight crossing.

Condor Ferries

  • Poole-St-Malo from £395.04
Normany-harbour

Normandy

Fire up the kids with the very idea of a Norman invasion: getting our own back for 1066 and all that. From an educational perspective, there’s Bayeux, with its 80-yard tapestry depicting the horrible history of Harold getting an arrow in his eye, while in Rouen, Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake aged just 19.

How to get there

Brittany Ferries

  • Portsmouth-Le Havre from £387
  • Portsmouth-Caen from £338
  • Portsmouth-Cherbourg from £430
  • Poole-Cherbourg from £338

Condor Ferries

  • Poole-Cherbourg from £395.04

DFDS

  • Newhaven-Dieppe from £170
pays-de-loire-france-chateux

Pays de la Loire

The Pays de la Loire, the westernmost stretch of France’s ‘Royal River’, has long been a favourite British destination. There are medieval towns and cities, the countryside is green and unspoiled, the beaches golden and sandy, the vineyards endless and the chateaux very, very grand.

How to get there

Brittany Ferries

  • Portsmouth-Le Havre: No-frills ‘économie’ service from £387 (including an en-suite cabin on the outward overnight crossing)
  • Portsmouth-Caen: Cruise-ferry service from £338

Short crossings to France

DFDS

  • Dover-Calais: From £76
  • Dover-Dunkirk: From £76
  • Family facilities: All ships have special play areas for children and special meals are available.

P&O Ferries

  • Dover-Calais: From £90
  • Family facilities: There’s a Junior Kids’ Club for 5- to 11-year-olds.

Intrepid families won't want to miss the magical experience of camping in northern France. Are you bold enough?