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elaine80

Breakfast on Bretagne

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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?

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Driving down from just south of Edinburgh for years I understand your concerns about parking , the St Malo sailing certainly has far better timings than the Ouistreham sailings I wouldn’t even consider the overnight sailing to Ouistreham.

Breakfast from my recollection starts about 6 or 630am onboard Bretagne  , I would go to the restaurant onboard Les Abers if you have kids it’s far easier than queuing up with grumpy bairns at the self service cafe  , I would book a club cabin too so they have a tv to keep them occupied whilst you get a shower.

Tebay services is certainly a step above all the other stops on that route , the same company have recently opened another service station near Gloucester which is equally as good.

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I, like Neil, think the restaurant opens at 6am (ship's time) so 7 French time (for the moment, but may change in the next couple of years under EU law) before she docks at 8.15. I've always found it quite a rush to eat and get back to the cabin to brush my teeth and get everything out before the 30 minute deadline as I refuse to carry my bags into the restaurant with me. 

As for children, Neil I suspect Elaine's 18-year-old baby now prefers to sit on the beach in Ibiza with their friends rather than cycle around the Vendee with the parents. 😀There may of course be siblings still travelling with her and, if so, the formal restaurant is much better. 

I haven't been to Tebay-west for about 15 years but hope it's still as good as I remember. And as for car break-ins, the only time it happened to me was at the cinema car park in Port Solent about 25 years ago! Ed. 

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A 450 mile drive followed by an Ouistreham  crossing is enough to turn anyone into a Zombie and not a good start to a holiday. Bretagne to St Malo wins hands down.

On our more recent trips we have settled for a coffee and croissant in the cafe one deck above the self service and then stopped for something else en route ashore once we are feeling more civilised.

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Elaine, Wake up music on the overnight sailing to Ouistreham at 5 am UK time is a big no, no for me, so your suggestion of the St Malo crossing sounds an altogether better plan and  I am sure you will get some breakfast . Do you have far to go when you land in France? 

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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.

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The buffet breakfast in the Les Aber on the Bretagne is well recommended..This year, the non cooked, was just slightly cheaper than the Premier Inn but much better quality. The beauty with that crossing is, after a  long drive, you can have a couple of drinks watch the entertainment, have a nights sleep, generally no arrival hassle or delays at St Malo and off you go south..Sure a bit more money but you get what you pay for.  

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Have you tried both Premier Inn hotels at Port Solent, the one in Southsea or the other in the city centre?

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1 hour ago, elaine80 said:

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.

We done that down to Brem sur Mer in June we were last of Bretagne and still at the campsite by 11ish.

We’re doing the only civilised overnight sailing from France to the UK next year , StMalo on Tuesday get on 6 ish and off at 8ish although the Mrs has made me book a commodore cabin.

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Agree with everything that’s been said in advocation of taking Bretagne to St Malo. In terms of a relaxing start to a holiday, absolutely no contest with Ouistreham.

All these descriptions from the likes of Elaine, Neil and Jonno, of the drive down to the south coast from northern parts have made me start to wonder.  (I get exhausted just thinking about the prospect of those long drives).  That old “motorail” service that used to run from Boulogne down to the south of France....I wonder how much merit there would be in a motorail type service from Scotland / Northern England down to the English south coast?  Would it have enough custom to make it viable, and if it existed would it have any appeal to those faced with doing these long drives?  Just a thought.  (Footnote - we did the French motorail once, when I was in my early teens....and it was a horrendous experience!  But my grandparents used it every year for over a decade and swore by it).

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10 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Agree with everything that’s been said in advocation of taking Bretagne to St Malo. In terms of a relaxing start to a holiday, absolutely no contest with Ouistreham.

All these descriptions from the likes of Elaine, Neil and Jonno, of the drive down to the south coast from northern parts have made me start to wonder.  (I get exhausted just thinking about the prospect of those long drives).  That old “motorail” service that used to run from Boulogne down to the south of France....I wonder how much merit there would be in a motorail type service from Scotland / Northern England down to the English south coast?  Would it have enough custom to make it viable, and if it existed would it have any appeal to those faced with doing these long drives?  Just a thought.  (Footnote - we did the French motorail once, when I was in my early teens....and it was a horrendous experience!  But my grandparents used it every year for over a decade and swore by it).

There used to be Motorail from the north to various places on the south coast.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorail_(British_Rail)

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Gareth, Long drives like that are a thing of the past for many people. Despite Ms Greta Thunberg's strictures the easy way from Scotland to the Vendee is a quick flight from Edinburgh to Nantes with a well known cheap airline, and a hire car on arrival .

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It’s really not to bad a drive down to Portsmouth now that we have a decent car with climate control, adaptive cruise control, lane departure etc it’s boring but ok, plus we like to take our bikes so the plane is a pain as you have to rebuild your bikes and in the case of ebikes you can’t take them at all.

The motorrail is an interesting concept but personally I think it’s had it’s day what would be better is more pay roads like the Birmingham one.

 

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Are there restrictions on the vehicle carrying Eurotunnel trains operating further afield from the terminal in Folkestone .

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13 hours ago, neilcvx said:

Driving down from just south of Edinburgh for years I understand your concerns about parking , the St Malo sailing certainly has far better timings than the Ouistreham sailings I wouldn’t even consider the overnight sailing to Ouistreham.

Breakfast from my recollection starts about 6 or 630am onboard Bretagne  , I would go to the restaurant onboard Les Abers if you have kids it’s far easier than queuing up with grumpy bairns at the self service cafe  , I would book a club cabin too so they have a tv to keep them occupied whilst you get a shower.

Tebay services is certainly a step above all the other stops on that route , the same company have recently opened another service station near Gloucester which is equally as good.

Booking a club cabin would also mean you have the option of in cabin breakfast which is included in the price. I find it enough for me

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The "one" disadvantage of using the Bretagne is that most cars are loaded on deck 5, and on a busy summer crossing, you will wait +/- 45 minutes to drive off. Sneakily, this does mean a more relaxed breakfast, so long as you have vacated your cabin.

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29 minutes ago, chris990 said:

Booking a club cabin would also mean you have the option of in cabin breakfast which is included in the price. I find it enough for me

It’s commodore cabins on Bretagne that come with in cabin breakfast .

Edited by neilcvx

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Not sure about the in cabin breakfast any longer. Don`t they put some items out in the Commodore Lounge now and first come first served.....according to reports I`ve read, although I think you can still opt for the Les Abers. Might be wrong though

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2 hours ago, Chef said:

Are there restrictions on the vehicle carrying Eurotunnel trains operating further afield from the terminal in Folkestone .

Yes - the carriages are way too wide for operation on standard gauge/track separation. I stand to be corrected but I think the pantograph/overhead line may be higher than found elsewhere too. There's also the question of passenger comfort on units designed for a 35 minute trip.

Back on the subject at hand - whilst the early arrival at Ouistreham does give a head-start on any drive south, the St Malo crossing is a far more relaxed experience.

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4 hours ago, Gareth said:

.  That old “motorail” service that used to run from Boulogne down to the south of France....I wonder how much merit there would be in a motorail type service from Scotland / Northern England down to the English south coast?  Would it have enough custom to make it viable, and if it existed would it have any appeal to those faced with doing these long drives?  Just a thought.

 

Long answer:

No chance; from an operational perspective finding available locomotives wouldn't be too bad, although there are no 3rd rail locomotives that can run on the overhead liones of the West & East Coast Main Lines and the 3rd rail you find south of London Waterloo & London Victoria.

Realistically said train would be 100 or 110 max which would be a nightmare trying to path on the WCML and ECML when most other services are at 125. 

Infrastructure-wise you'd have a hard job trying to shoe horn in car loading spaces into stations, and it would be a time consuming process so you can only really have one main loading point and one main unloading point; is there enough demand for that?

It would require brand new coaching stock (the Mark 3 loco-hauled coach, which will be available shortly in substantial numbers, isn't compliant for PRM-TSI 2020) which adds to the bill. 

Limited customer demand, and the cost to operate to get the fares to anywhere near an attractive level for consumers would require significant government subsidy. 

 

short answer:

No. 😂

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44 minutes ago, Paully said:

Not sure about the in cabin breakfast any longer. Don`t they put some items out in the Commodore Lounge now and first come first served.....according to reports I`ve read, although I think you can still opt for the Les Abers. Might be wrong though

They certainly offer it on Armorique and Pont Aven.

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Back on the subject at hand - whilst the early arrival at Ouistreham does give a head-start on any drive south, the St Malo crossing is a far more relaxed experience.

Ouistreham to the southern Atlantic coast doesn't give a uesful head start, for example

St Malo to La Rochelle 199 miles

Ouistreham to La Rochelle 275 miles

Mileage does even out if you are heading due south to somewhere like the Dordogne though. But St Malo gets you off to a good refreshed start and that counts for a lot if you are on holiday.

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Tolls? We have rarely driven on toll roads except for short unavoidable stretches. I prefer to enjoy my driving in France and arrive relaxed having enjoyed the scenery en route. Many toll roads have the old N roads parallel and close to them and if you think you are falling behind schedule (which should always be civilised) you can alway nip across to a toll road temporarily for a bit of catch up. They are usually well signposted from the N roads.

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From St Malo as far as Nantes it's free but limited to 110km/h and then you hit the tolls. Unless you are heading west from Caen (and if you are you might as well as go via St Malo) then you are immediately on the toll roads and so get south more quickly except if it's raining. To get here (near Angers) it's 2.5 hours from St Malo or 3 hours from Ouistreham. The former is toll-free and means I can start start work at midday while the latter costs around 25€ and I can be at work by 10.30. Given the choice I'd always opt for the former simply for the more relaxing crossing and practical timings. Ed. 

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