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The Future of Le Havre as a Ferry Port


Gareth
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58 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Too simplistic.  I am sure that there may have been factors such as cheap flying, expanded services to Spain, price of oil, harbour fees, choice of ships, which all could have contributed.  And others I’ve not thought of.  All factors that impinge on other routes too, but the specific way in which they interplayed at Le Havre will have been complex.  It might even be a case that P&O gave up for whatever their own reasons were, and nobody else bothered to come in and give it a serious go.  It may always have been a viable proposition given the right operator and choice of ship, but that they just never emerged.

Whatever it was, I do not believe it was as simplisitic as any one thing (or even two).

Who would have been a suitable operator though? You would have needed one/two suitable vessels and a company with big enough pockets to manage the cost of setting up the route again, bringing back customers and going up against BF, other than Stena, would there have been any likely candidates to take the challenge (other than "mix, match and shuffle" ferries)

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6 minutes ago, David Williams said:

Le Havre is not as appealing to UK visitors as the other 'Holiday' ports that BF serve - there is something magical about all of the other BF French ports (I don't know what Cherbourg is like !)

That is undoubtedly true.  Le Havre is the least BF-like port that they serve (it has no “magic” and is not somewhere you would go out of your way to visit in its own right. Cherbourg is marginally more attractive but not much.  Even Ouistreham is not that spectacular or attractive, but Ouistreham’s appeal lies partly in its place on the D-Day coast.  BF’s Normandy ports are definitely more functional than magical.

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1 minute ago, Gareth said:

Even Ouistreham is not that spectacular or attractive

Oh it is, as you sail in you get the attractive views of the coast and as you get closer the beach. As you sail out you see loads of Cormorants on the channel markers. Granted it is not as magnificent as St Malo and Roscoff, however it does have it's beauty.

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1 minute ago, David Williams said:

Remember that back in 2004 there was a proposal for BF to take over the 2 P&O ships and crew in 2005, the UK Competition authorities started investigating it and in the end Brittany Ferries withdrew.

Yes, it’s never been clear whether they withdrew directly because of anticipating the outcome of the investigation or because the investigation gave them time to redo the maths.  Don’t forget it was around about that time that BF disposed of one of the Olau twins’ near sisters after finding that she was too expensive to run.

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2 minutes ago, David Williams said:

Oh it is, as you sail in you get the attractive views of the coast and as you get closer the beach. As you sail out you see loads of Cormorants on the channel markers. Granted it is not as magnificent as St Malo and Roscoff, however it does have it's beauty.

Agreed.  That’s what I meant really - doesn’t have the postcard magnificence of St Malo and Roscoff.  I agree it has beauty in other ways (to which the history contributes).

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The P&O Olaus would have been worthy recipients of the names that they were earmarked to have (Etretat and Honfleur).  Such a shame that probably the two most iconic tourist attractions in Normandy have had their names wasted on subsequent fiascos.

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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

The Caen explanation has never been the full story for me.  Le Havre and Ouistreham coexisted for half of the 40 years Le Havre thrived as a car ferry port (from the birth of Thoresen to the withdrawal of P&O) with Le Havre still going strong.  For me, there has to be more to it than that.  (And I’m sure the reasons are complex and not just to do with one factor).

Maybe the development of the excellent French motorway network led to the decline as a number of the destinations are just as close to the Tunnel / Calais in driving time.

ps and for me Le Havre has got worse since they removed the 3 car underpasses on the road out !

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14 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Yes, it’s never been clear whether they withdrew directly because of anticipating the outcome of the investigation or because the investigation gave them time to redo the maths.  Don’t forget it was around about that time that BF disposed of one of the Olau twins’ near sisters after finding that she was too expensive to run.

I recall this as a period of some confused thinking at BF. In 2004 you had the ludicrous spectacle of a ferry wasting a whole day at St M - I can remember sunbathing by the Digue and watching it go out to a mooring past Chausee where the crew appeared to do the same - while at the Portsmouth end another spent the day taking nobody to and from Cherbourg. We did a day trip to Cherbourg on Bretagne with about four other footpax and about ten cars that summer. (It was however a pleasure to be able to go both ways to StM in daylight.) Then they sold the Val and chartered le Funnel having disposed of the Duc. Thinking back it seemed to me that the notion of taking over from P&O and then not was the same sort of muddled thinking.

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48 minutes ago, David Williams said:

I don't actually agree, the overnight crossing from the UK is often the most popular on any route and Le Havre offered that and a bed is a bed (especially if you are allowed to stay in it for an extra hour). The return time was a perfectly normal time. Tourists will fit their plans around timetables, however the area around Le Havre is not as appealing to UK visitors as the other 'Holiday' ports that BF serve - there is something magical about all of the other BF French ports (I don't know what Cherbourg is like !), Le Havre just offers some containers made into an Arch !

PS St Malo is an important passenger line with low Frequencies !

I think that the quality of the Ship has a 50% influence on the choice of line. The next 50% are related to frequencies. Your remark that there is nothing attractive around Le Havre is false. Already the city is a tourist destination in its own right, classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. In addition in the immediate vicinity you have all the major tourist sites of Normandy (Deauville, Honfleur, Etretat ...). 

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1 hour ago, LHCity said:

The departments don't mean anything. Seine Maritime is one of the largest departments in France in length.

Le Havre <> Dieppe = 114 km (1h30).

Le Havre <> Ouistreham = 105 km (1h20).

Ouistreham <> Cherbourg = 136 km (1h40).

By comparison,

Newhaven <> Portsmouth = 95 km (1h20).

Portsmouth <> Poole = 90 km (1h14).

Newhaven <> Dover = 83 km (2h00)

You've spent the last three months saying how important the role of the department (and it's councils etc) will be in determining the future of the port and now you say it means nothing. Nonsense! Two Ports in close proximity can't survive if there is insufficient traffic to sustain them. Le Havre is an intermediate stop between Dieppe and Ouistreham and therefore offers nothing exceptional unless your immediate destination is within 30 km of the linkspan. Ed. 

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44 minutes ago, Gareth said:

That is undoubtedly true.  Le Havre is the least BF-like port that they serve (it has no “magic” and is not somewhere you would go out of your way to visit in its own right. Cherbourg is marginally more attractive but not much.  Even Ouistreham is not that spectacular or attractive, but Ouistreham’s appeal lies partly in its place on the D-Day coast.  BF’s Normandy ports are definitely more functional than magical.

 

It's pure appreciation on your part. I like to arrive directly in the cities and not in the countryside. I like the arrival in Portsmouth (which is nevertheless a military port) as I like the arrival of Le Havre with the parade in front of Cap de la Hève, the beach, the city ... while crossing container ships and liners.

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1 minute ago, LHCity said:

 

It's pure appreciation on your part. I like to arrive directly in the cities and not in the countryside. I like the arrival in Portsmouth (which is nevertheless a military port) as I like the arrival of Le Havre with the parade in front of Cap de la Hève, the beach, the city ... while crossing container ships and liners.

Agreed, I like it too.  It’s just not the same postcard magic as the picturesque Brittany ports.  That was all David’s point was.  (And the magic is what has traditionally been associated with the BF holiday experience). 

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29 minutes ago, David Williams said:

 

ps and for me Le Havre has got worse since they removed the 3 car underpasses on the road out !

On the contrary, it circulates better because the underground passages generate traffic jams with in particular the English who got involved with their camper van !!! Access by the port is also possible by leaving the Pont de Normandie directly.

On the other hand a huge construction site will soon arrive with the construction of the 3rd tramway line directly at the exit of the termina (in 2023-26)

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11 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

You've spent the last three months saying how important the role of the department (and it's councils etc) will be in determining the future of the port and now you say it means nothing. Nonsense! Two Ports in close proximity can't survive if there is insufficient traffic to sustain them. Le Havre is an intermediate stop between Dieppe and Ouistreham and therefore offers nothing exceptional unless your immediate destination is within 30 km of the linkspan. Ed. 

I was responding to Gareth's remark, which said that only the Seine Maritime still had two cross-Channel links. Theories are confronted with geographic realities. Finally you show that the most logical solution is to concentrate everything between Ouistreham and Dieppe => Le Havre !

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1 minute ago, David Williams said:

You missed out the best attraction - the Benedictine factory in Fecamp

Visited there in 2004.  Bought a bottle of the stuff.  Still got it (and it’s virtually full)!

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6 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Agreed, I like it too.  It’s just not the same postcard magic as the picturesque Brittany ports.  That was all David’s point was.  (And the magic is what has traditionally been associated with the BF holiday experience). 

 

The strength of other companies is to offer a variety of destinations. Brittany Ferries has every interest in doing so, quite a departure from the habits of its early days.

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5 minutes ago, David Williams said:

It got classified as it was flattened and rebuilt to a central design !

You missed out the best attraction - the Benedictine factory in Fecamp

 

Because it is representative of 20th century French town planning, an artistic movement and an urban quality recognized worldwide. Not just because it was bombed and rebuilt, otherwise there are a lot of English and European cities that could justify a UNESCO classification. 😉

 

Yes, Fecamp, Yport, Lisieux ... you can see all of this here: https://www.estuairedelaseine.fr/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/pmes-cartetouristique2019-def-pdf-classique.pdf

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8 minutes ago, David Williams said:

That's in Calvados and costs €5.50 to get over the bridge (I used to get a discount with my badge - not sure if I still do)

yes and in the Metropolis of the Estuary of the Seine, which straddles the Seine Maritime, Eure and Calvados, whose central city is Le Havre. In France we love the administrative mille-feuille! In the long term, I think that the departments will be deleted in favor of the regions. Normally the concession of the Pont de Normandie expires in 2025. One day we can hope for free access like the Pont de St Nazaire

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