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Hi, We're spending a week near Quimper in August, it's a Tuesday to Tuesday booking. We will be travelling from Yorkshire with our first baby. I'm looking at the different options of getting there, trying to workout the unknowns of whether an overnight crossing is worth it or not, especially with a baby in tow. If anyone has any suggestions/experience on the best way to get there I'd appreciate it, if that's by taking early morning crossings from Poole or Portsmouth then if anyone knows any reasonably cheap places to stay then again that would be good to know!

 

The return leg seems more straightforward, either drive to Roscoff and do more miles in the Uk or drive to Ouistreham and have a quicker journey on the English side. St Malo is also an option I guess.

 

All suggestions gratefully received in advance.

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People will have different ideas but outbound a good option would be to drive down to Portsmouth on Monday to catch the 20:15 overnight sailing to St Malo. This gets in soon after 8am French time depending on the tidal conditions and you then have an easy 141 miles across to Quimper (See AA route planner) which is less than three hour's driving time. You will then be able to get into your accommodation at the earliest possible time and crash out for a few hours to recover from the trip.

 

Coming back, my inclination would be to drive to Ouistreham after breakfast which is 245 miles and a bit under 4 hours driving time on good roads to catch the afternoon departure which will get you into Portsmouth at around 21:15. You could then overnight at a local Travelodge before driving back to Yorkshire next morning via the A3, M25 and M1 or whatever route you prefer. (Unless of course you have two drivers and are willing to drive back North overnight!)

 

These suggestions mean that you would be travelling at civilised hours with plenty of slack in hand in case of holdups etc. Less stress on Baby too!

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Blimey, how fast do you drive in France cva? We once drove Ouistreham to Quimper and it took most of the day. Having done that drive once, I would not even consider Caen as the landing point in France for a trip to Quimper when St Malo and Roscoff are available. Even St Malo will take the best part of 4 hours from Quimper (we did it once from Quimperie, which is a bit closer, at 4am with clear roads, and it took 3. Roscoff is probably a 2-3 hour drive from Quimper. I'd be very surprised if you could do the drive between Caen and Quimper in anything under 6 hours and even that would be a push.

 

The thing is, whilst the dual carriageway network in Brittany is not bad (and rarely clogged up even with only 2 lanes), you cannot blast down them at 80mpg like you can in the UK. They have speed limits that vary between 110kmh (68mph) and 90kmh (56mph), take quite windy routes, and the transit past Rennes can take quite a while.

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The driving times are off the AA Route Planner and pretty consistent with our experience. We have often driven from the Vannes/Carnac area to Ouistreham to catch the afternoon sailing without any speeding and there has been time for a quick lunch en route and even doing the last bit along the coast which is very slow due to the speed limits. You can see the ship coming in as you drive along!

 

The first time we visited France, in around 1989 when the roads were not so good and our girls were very young we disembarked at St Malo around 8am and were in Benodet by early afternoon despite an hour in Josselin for lunch.

 

Not much point driving to St Malo on the French side unless you overnight in France as the ship sails at around 10am. Then you have 9 hours on board instead of 6 and get to Portsmouth early evening. A long rather drawn out trip.

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Blimey, how fast do you drive in France cva? We once drove Ouistreham to Quimper and it took most of the day. Having done that drive once, I would not even consider Caen as the landing point in France for a trip to Quimper when St Malo and Roscoff are available. Even St Malo will take the best part of 4 hours from Quimper (we did it once from Quimperie, which is a bit closer, at 4am with clear roads, and it took 3. Roscoff is probably a 2-3 hour drive from Quimper. I'd be very surprised if you could do the drive between Caen and Quimper in anything under 6 hours and even that would be a push.

 

The thing is, whilst the dual carriageway network in Brittany is not bad (and rarely clogged up even with only 2 lanes), you cannot blast down them at 80mpg like you can in the UK. They have speed limits that vary between 110kmh (68mph) and 90kmh (56mph), take quite windy routes, and the transit past Rennes can take quite a while.

 

You must be a slow driver. I've criss crossed Brittany for many years and still do it for work. Quimper - Roscoff takes less than 2 hours. Quimper - St Malo should take 3 hours and ouistreham 5 hours.

 

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No, I'm quite a fast driver but in France we try to stick rigidly to the speed limits. I agree the St Malo run should take 3, but it is the bit round Rennes that slows you down. It can't be done on motorways all the way, and I've found that in France the "should be able to" and "what it takes in practice" tend to be somewhat different. But we agreed on one thing anyway - Quimper to Ouistreham takes a good deal more than 4 hours.

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If you have 6 hours available after breakfast it's not really a problem but I don't think I would go via Rennes but up to St Brieuc, not so likely to be held up.

 

Indeed, but then you've got the problem of having to get down from the north coast and that's cross-country all the way. It's a bit of a Hobson's choice - need to deal with Rennes if you want to use the dual carriageways and if you want to by-pass Rennes you've got to go cross-country. Don't get me wrong, travelling through France on those little country roads that pass through every town on the way is delightful. It just takes forever to cover any distance!

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Indeed, but then you've got the problem of having to get down from the north coast and that's cross-country all the way. It's a bit of a Hobson's choice - need to deal with Rennes if you want to use the dual carriageways and if you want to by-pass Rennes you've got to go cross-country. Don't get me wrong, travelling through France on those little country roads that pass through every town on the way is delightful. It just takes forever to cover any distance!

 

Same for Quimper - St-Malo, no need to drive around Rennes. The quickest route is via Rostrenen, Saint-Brieuc and Dinan. A slightly shorter route is via Lamballe and Plancoet but this need to be carefully timed around the Rance Barrage lock opening times.

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I'd definitely go overnight via St Malo on the way out and then the drive to Quimper should be under 3 hours if you head along the top of Brittany past St Brieuc before turning south across country. The traffic on a Tuesday in August won't be that bad. For the trip back I'd take your time packing and cleaning then drive up to Roscoff for the afternoon crossing to Plymouth. You might have time for a coastal walk or a nice lunch before setting sail and then if you get a day -cabin can all get some sleep and do three hour driving stints on the UK side. Plymouth to York should only be 6 hours so you might not need to stop at a hotel if you take it in turns driving and your baby will sleep the entire way. Ed.

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One of our regular sites is Camping des Dunes to the south of Quimper and Pont L'Abbe. The sat nav takes us via Lorient & Dinan from St Malo missing out Rennes completely. Travel time is usually between 3.5 to 4 hours in the van. At 3.5t we don't suffer speed restrictions either which means 130kmh on the toll roads when available.

 

I'd opt for Portsmouth-St Malo outbound It'll allow most of the Tuesday for travelling south, the little 'un will be ensconced in the car seat, mum may be able to enjoy a nap in the passenger seat and you'd have a mostly pressure free drive. It also offers a decent rest period.

 

It would be interesting to know where in Yorkshire, from Harrogate we no longer bother with the M1 until we're south of Sheffield opting for the A1 & M18 which joins the M1 just as all of the restrictions end then it's 4 lanes all the way to the A/M42. The M40 is mostly 4 lanes aswell until the A34 then the M3.

 

Heading back, if it's an overnight sailing you prefer then the only option would be Ouistreham but I'd opt for cva's choice of sailing arriving in Portsmouth at 2115.

 

There's a Premier Inn on the front in Southsea, you pass it on the ferry heading in or out of the harbour, another at Port Solent around the back of the Mariott, an Ibis in the centre of Portsmouth although parking costs extra.

 

Two Travelodges, one is literally on the other side of the roundabout from the port entrance the other is in Hilsea.

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When we come home from France we always come back to Portsmouth arriving around 21:15 and we have found the two Premier Inn hotels at Port Solent, just past the big Marriott to be pretty convenient for an over night stop before the long slog back to Scotland. It's really easy to get there from the ferry just stay in the inside lane after leaving the ferry port and take the slip road round the big corner onto the M275 and then turn left behind the Marriott, it takes just over 5 minutes to get there.

 

In the morning there is a large Tesco for provisions for the road home and cheap UK fuel.if you need it, and then it is a couple of minutes to get back onto the M27 and off homeward.

 

I know Premier Inn is not everyone's choice but they are easy to find and can be cheap if booked in advance, plus there is a Beefeater for breakfast at one of them.

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I can't see the point of paying for a hotel in either the UK or France on such a short trip. It may not realistically be possible to get home on the Tuesday so the arrival will have to be some time on the Wednesday. Therefore either drive up the UK during the night as I suggested above and recover in familiar surroundings on the Wednesday or spend an extra day in France and catch an overnight sailing back to the UK and that way you won't have to keep the baby occupied during the crossing. Alternatively (and this would be my choice) you could take your time driving up to Cherbourg on the Tuesday (around 4 hours) catch the NEX in the afternoon and be back in Portsmouth at dinner time. If you clear immigration without any delays you might even be back home before midnight. Ed.

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Personally I would do the StMalo journey out and Roscoff return with a cheap ibis or premier inn in Plymouth on the Tuesday night ,I have never really noticed much time difference between doing Portsmouth or Plymouth driving up to Scotland 20 mins odd, and I always like getting a good nights sleep before a long journey. (Were paying £65 for the Plymouth ibis which is apparently in the middle of a renovation)

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It may not realistically be possible to get home on the Tuesday

 

Quimper to Yorkshire - no, I wouldn't thinks so. Nor would I want to do the trip effectively in one go, arriving home for breakfast. I prefer my travelling to be a bit more civilised than that!

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Quimper to Yorkshire - no, I wouldn't thinks so. Nor would I want to do the trip effectively in one go, arriving home for breakfast. I prefer my travelling to be a bit more civilised than that!

We are doing Carantec to Scotland in one go this year it's not too bad 915am to about 11pm at the latest hopefully but that's due to needing to be back for work if I had the choice I would probably stop enroute about Haydock or Birmingham.
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It would not be advisable to leave a baby in a car seat for 6 hours non-stop. Not good for him/her. The journey should really be broken on the English side in both directions.

 

Very good advice there's certainly enough choice just off the motorways that won't break the bank.

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Crechbleizh's timings are correct, and neilcvx's itinerary the best I think.

​The drive from St Malo allows various options. I drive from home here to South Brittany every few weeks (from the Loire estuary in the east to the end of the world in the west), and for Quimper, I would go St Malo, Dinan, Caulnes, Ploermel, then down to Lorient and keep going west.

Coming back, depending on time, there are some worthwhile detours and stops on the way to Roscoff.

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Don't take these motel type establishments for granted. Travellers are well aware of them and they do get fully booked up earlier than you might wish especially near to a ferry port.

 

Yes had mine booked since November for the middle of August.

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Quimper to Yorkshire - no, I wouldn't thinks so. Nor would I want to do the trip effectively in one go, arriving home for breakfast. I prefer my travelling to be a bit more civilised than that!

 

The NEX gets in at 7pm. And Portsmouth to Yorkshire could be as little as 4.5 hours so it might just be feasible. And we have always found that is better to drive later with a baby than stopping and taking a room as it takes a long time to get the child back to sleep once they have been woken and then taken into unfamiliar surroundings. We did Toulouse to near Angers (5.5 hours) leaving after dinner at around 8.30pm and getting in just after 2 in the morning including a fuel stop in the summer a few years ago when the day temperature was up around 40 Celsius and it was much more comfortable and our daughter slept the entire way and there was virtually no traffic. I doubt the temperature will be quite that high in Portsmouth, and Yorkshire might be considerably cooler still, but you never know and at least you get to sleep in your own bed. Ed.

Edited by Cabin-boy
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I went through all these possibilities with my daughter who was bringing a three year old from London to meet us near Quimper last summer. She decided that going out was easy but the timings coming back weren't

 

What did she do? Drove down to Southampton airport and flew out cheaply and quickly with Flybe to Brest and picked up a hire car there. The timings both ways were so convenient.

Edited by wortley
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Thanks for all the replies. We are in York so Portsmouth I've done in 4 hrs. Plymouth maybe 5.5hrs..I did look at flights but flybe prices are just as expensive as the ferry, and that's without hiring a car.

I think we shall opt for St Malo out, which the majority here seem to concur with.

We do have friends in Dinant so it may be best to just stay with them on the return and go back the same way. Although I'm a big Bretagne fan, it would be nice to mix it up a bit by going somewhere else.

Thanks again for your input. Really helpful.

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If you are not in any rush to get back then yes that makes more sense. Taking the Bretagne back from St Malo on a Wednesday will get you to Portsmouth around 6.30 giving you time to get home with a dinner stop on the way to take the baby out of its seat and break the 4-hour journey. If you want to be sure of getting some sleep on board don't book a Commodore cabin. I did at Christmas and they are great for short naps and keeping kids occupied on the long trip with plenty of space and TV/dvd etc. But the curtains don't block out enough light (our trip was in dense fog so it was not too bad) and in mid-summer I imagine the light inside would be too bright. Unless of course those curtains were replaced during her recent refit but perhaps the next person to travel on her can tell us. Ed

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