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Shefford

Bretagne 24/6/18 & MSM 29/6/18

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Just returned from a trip to Carnac in southern Brittany, so thought it was time for a voyage report.

We headed down to Portsmouth on Sunday 24th for the 20.15 crossing to St Malo. Decided not to rush down there and arrive early as we didn't want to be stuck in the car lanes for ages in the heat. We arrived at 19.20, drove straight to a check-in booth and straight through the first car lanes and past the security shed. Spent about five minutes in the second pre-boarding lanes and then drove on to Deck 4. Result! Avoiding Bretagne's Deck 5 was an excellent start to the holiday.

On boarding, there were several BF crew directing people to their cabins - have not seen this before. Anyway, we knew where our cabin was as we usually end up in the same area on Deck 6, near the central atrium. Dumped our bags then headed up to the self-service for a light meal - salad, cheese etc. The ship was fairly busy and sailed 15 minutes early at 20.00.

After our meal, we had a wander around the ship, including out on deck, then found some seats on Deck 7 where we read for a while. Back in the cabin, we had a good night's sleep and were awakened by the dreaded Breton folk music. At least on Pont Aven you can turn it off - no such luck on Bretagne. Back to the self-service for breakfast - croissants and coffee - then we docked on time at 8.15.

Deck 4 drivers were called straight away, so we were off the ship and through a very cursory passport check by 8.35.

Enjoyed a few very hot days in Carnac and drove around to a few other nearby towns. Saw several signs about the speed limit changes due from 1st July. IMO, the French would do better to have an anti-tailgating campaign - I have never seen or experienced so much tailgating ever. I wonder what the French equivalent of the Highway Code says about keeping a safe distance from the car in front - not much, I imagine. Anyway, that's my euros-worth on possibly why the French traffic accident rate is so high.

On Friday, we drove back to Ouistreham for the 16.30 Mont St Michel crossing to Portsmouth. The last time we did this from Carnac, the route we used took us around Rennes which was not much fun, so this time we avoided it by heading NE from Ploermel up towards Dinan. Much better! Arrived in Ouistreham around 14.15 and decided to go for "late" boarding on the ferry again.

As we drove into Ouistreham, we saw several groups of young African men hanging around, about 20-30 altogether, but they did not appear to be bothering anyone. At the Place de Gaulle, there were some seriously tooled-up gendarmes patrolling the area. We headed into the town and parked at the Place de Marche, then walked along the shopping area in Rue de la Mer. As we got to the beach, we could see it was very windy and there appeared to be a sandstorm, so it looked like we were in for an interesting crossing. There were no migrants or gendarmes in this area - only on the main road near the port entrance.

We drove into the port around 15.30 and queued for a while to check-in. There were 6 more heavily-armed gendarmes standing around, keeping a close eye on everything. After check-in, there was no further passport check and no-one was checking car boots etc. We boarded on Deck 5 rather than Deck 6, so again arriving later at the port paid off.

We headed to our cabin on Deck 9, then down to the self-service for a cup of tea. The ship was busy, with several school parties. Back in the cabin, there was a lot of running around outside and banging on cabin doors going on. The ship was rolling around quite a bit as we had expected. We ignored all that and had a rest and a shower before heading to the restaurant for the 18.15 opening time. There was a queue already, but the staff were very well-organised and quickly took people off to various tables. We had the two buffets option which was excellent, although I did miss the langoustines!

While in the restaurant there was an announcement about the behaviour of school parties on board, requesting the leaders to keep them under control, so I guess there had been some complaints.

We docked on time at 21.15, drove off not long afterwards and didn't have long to wait at passport control - on the road by 21.40.

A very enjoyable trip, helped by early departures from both ferries. Regarding costs in France, I don't really expect it to be considerably cheaper than over here re coffees and ice creams, but the quality of the restaurant meals is so much better than for the equivalent cost here.

Looking forward to our next BF trip in October - Plymouth to Roscoff on Armorique, a first for us.

 

 

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Sounds a good trip , worth booking a club plus on Armorique in my opinion, having sampled all the cabins easily the best value.

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Lovely shots of leaving Portsmouth there - whilst it's always a nice thought to be leaving the UK and on your holidays, I've always enjoyed watching the Portsmouth departure especially given the sights in the area. 

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Thanks for the tip Neil - we have booked inside cabins this time as both our Armorique crossings are overnight. However, will bear the club plus cabins in mind for a future trip.

A couple of things I forgot to mention - my John Lewis credit card was declined on Bretagne, and an initial attempt to use it on MSM was not successful either. I was told that BF have problems with processing both John Lewis and M&S credit cards on board. So if anyone is planning to use either of these cards on a future trip, they might want to have another card or cash as a back-up.

Last but not least, we got our holiday chocolate stash from Super U home safely, despite the heat. We wrapped it all up in a large towel, together with a bottle of chilled water, and it survived the day in the middle of a suitcase without melting. It would have been a shame to ruin all that lovely French chocolate 😀

 

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My John Lewis credit card worked both ways on recent Barfleur trips. However, the cashier did warn me it may not work, so there must be a problem somewhere. Both JL and M&S cards are run by HSBC, so maybe there is a problem with them too?

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