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  1. We have ended up travelling to France on Normandie in the last few years because we knew which sailing we wanted and Normandie happened to be the ship on that journey. To be honest, it was a bed for the night (we parked up, went to our cabin and went to bed after a 450 mile drive) and we weren't interested in any facilities on board. We previously did day crossings before Premier Inn priced themselves out and we have once been on MSM but mainly on Normandie; travelling with small children Normandie was preferable. Next summer I intend to be on Bretagne to get a full night's sleep, a crossing we had previously avoided due to the distance we are travelling to reach Portsmouth but we could have been on Bretagne last year (MSM is scheduled for the Ouistreham crossing that night so even if Honfleur is in service by then we wouldn't be on her). We have come home on NEX in recent years so have avoided the school parties but we had a particularly horrific day crossing a few years ago where UK school groups had taped off seating on board but the kids then roamed the ship and sat where they wanted so the rest of us couldn't find seats.
  2. I drive a Vauxhall Zafira B which is based on the Astra floorplan but has van-like tendencies in some of its dimensions (the boot lid is huge). We learned many years ago to travel light in what we remove from the car on board a ship (I hit the rear spoiler of my Ford Escort off the bulkhead of one of the Superfast ships on Rosyth-Zeebrugge in 2004 trying to remove a buggy). We always have bikes on the back so the boot is closed in Glasgow and doesn't get opened until we reach The Vendee. The Zafira was bought for its boot capacity rather than the passenger capacity (it avoids the need for a roof box).
  3. On our last few trips to France we have sailed overnight to Ouistreham and always seem to end up on Normandie. They definitely pack the cars in tightly. On one crossing we returned to the car in the morning to find that the car behind me was parked almost against my back bumper which meant my highmount bike carrier was actually over their bonnet.
  4. We go to a campsite near St Gilles Croix de Vie and have only every paid tolls the year we went via Disneyland and experienced the Tunnel because we couldn't make a BF crossing work for us going out (my daughter described the Tunnel as being like a very poor simulation ride). I have contemplated crossing to Le Havre but the tolls and extra fuel more than cancel out the cheaper crossing and the longer sleep.
  5. I definitely agree that Rennes is much easier that Nantes. We have regularly come off the ferry at Ouistreham at 3pm on a Friday, heading for The Vendee and hit both at rush-hour; Rennes is slow but moving while Nantes is at a standstill. At Rennes the satnav always takes us the same way round the peripherique but at Nantes it varies which way it takes us and despite being the quicker option have been the worst bit of the 700 mile drive.
  6. There used to be Motorail from the north to various places on the south coast. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorail_(British_Rail)
  7. Thanks for your replies. The longer crossing is certainly looking very appealing and getting breakfast on board means we could still be in The Vendee for lunch.
  8. Sorry if this is the wrong forum to ask this.I have just about persuaded hubby to allow me to book next summer's holiday and I want to have all my facts straight before we get to the booking stage (we book our crossings via the holiday company rather than directly with BF). In 2001 we had the journey from hell from Glasgow to Portsmouth with a baby. We were holidaying with the in-laws and their drive to Port Solent took 5 hours less than ours did (a coffee stop in the Lake District to let baby out of the car seat cost us that time). Since then we have been reluctant to drive 450 miles to catch an overnight ferry but Premier Inn's unavailability at Port Solent/Cosham on our dates has forced us onto the overnight ferry to Ouistreham (having had the car broken into and ransacked on our way home in 2013 we won't stay overnight anywhere that parking might be an issue). Last year we drove down on the Saturday after school stopped and I was so concerned about the traffic that we left home at 7am, stopping for breakfast at Tebay services (yum!!). In fact the traffic was fine and we were at Gunwharf Quay before 5pm for an evening meal (I had bikes on a high mount carrier on the back of my Vauxhall Zafira so the car park was touch and go - the same bike carrier had me reverse off NEX the previous summer) so we could have been on Bretagne that night. We are looking at a midweek crossing for next summer due to the start of school holidays and our work flexibility. The early arrival at Ouistreham means that we have always had breakfast either close to the port or at an Aire once we have cleared Caen but I am seriously considering booking the St Malo crossing next year to give us a decent night's sleep. How early can we get breakfast on Bretagne?
  9. A friend was on Bretagne last night and it was an interesting night's sleep.
  10. We have travelled through PIP 12 of the last 18 summers and we have never set foot in the terminal building. Travelling from the Glasgow area we have either done an overnight at one of the Premier Inns at Cosham/Port Solent and have been heading for the 8.15 sailing to Caen so have filled a travel mug with coffee as we left the hotel with the intention of having breakfast on the boat, or alternatively we have been on the 22.45 to Caen so we have arrived at the port after an evening meal at either Port Solent or Gunwharf Quay. I do however remember being in the terminal building as a child in the late 70s/early 80s.
  11. An earlier departure would mean that less of France is within convenient reach of Cherbourg. NEX is very popular with people who holiday at the campsite we go to in The Vendee. It's a 5 hour drive and we need to be offsite by 10am so allowing for a lunchstop the timing works. We used to come back via Ouistreham but one year that crossing was 14.30 instead of 16.30 the day we were coming home and we didn't fancy having to be up at 5.30 to pack all the bedding etc into the car so we changed over to NEX and have stuck with it. We are just outside Glasgow so arriving in PIP at 19.00 on NEX instead of 21.00 from Ouistreham means we can get a couple of hours driving on this side before we stop and makes the journey back more bearable. The 19.00 arrival in the UK means that we are travelling after the rushhour.
  12. As a child, I was taken on the Portsmouth-St Malo route each summer from 1978 to 1981 and we travelled overnight. The departure time was similar to what it is now. The ferry out to France overnight on the Saturday was the Prince of Brittany and we came home overnight two weeks later on the Saturday on the Penn-Ar-Bed. I vividly remember on one occasion we were down in the bowels of Penn-Ar-Bed and it was made up of small compartments that several cars were put into at strange angles (none of the tight packing that you get now on the ferries). I recall the driver of one of the cars in the compartment we were in thumped the side of his brand new car off the entrance to the compartment. We holidayed with a company called Carefree Camping which was similar to Eurocamp and my mum had kept the 1982 brochure because we were in it. Unfortunately the ferry timetable was on the separate price list and it isn't in the brochure but I have taken a photo of the ferry page from the brochure. (As an aside: We travelled from Glasgow to Portsmouth and we weren't on motorway until around Carlisle and then in the south we drove down country roads through pretty towns and villages. Nowadays doing the drive we come down the M6 - M42 - M40 but back then we came down further west, through the Cotswolds. It didn't take us any longer then than it does now because the roads were quieter.
  13. We have been pulled over at Portsmouth a couple of times over the years. The first time we had 2 children in car seats in the back, the boot was jam packed, there was packing around the children in the back, we had a fully packed roofbox and we couldn't actually open the boot as we had a bike carrier on the back. I was asked a few questions but they didn't look at anything (they were probably frightened as to how we would manage to repack the car again). I had changed my car by the time I was pulled over again and the roofbox is now not needed, although we had the bikes on the back again.This time I was asked questions, they looked under the bonnet, I was asked whether I could get into the boot (only from the back seat) and they looked under the car with a mirror. I agree with the earlier comment about the shambles of entering the UK at Portsmouth. We had the misfortune of arriving on NEX just after Normandie had docked so both ships were unloading at the same time. Friends of our were on Normandie and they were half way to London while we were still sitting waiting to get through border control.
  14. I live near Glasgow and we used Superfast's Rosyth-Zeebrugge a number of times. It was great with small children because we were less than an hour between home and the UK port but I'm not convinced that the convenience v cost balance would persuade us not to drive to Portsmouth.
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