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Memories - your best memories of BF.


colin
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2 weeks to go, so let us send BFE out in style. Photos, stories, memories of who, when, how we got to know BF, ate something special, were helped by someone who went the extra kilometre (haha) or whatever, but no gripes, grumbles or sadness!

RSrnYC at Dinard May 200268.JPG

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I first travelled with Brittany Ferries in July 1978. My dad put a roof rack onto the Austin Allegro and covered the cases on it with a groundsheet. As we drove down the A74, we could hear a ripping noise from above us as the groundsheet split in two; fortunately it was a dry day.  The roofrack was never used again after that holiday.

Driving from Glasgow to Portsmouth in the 1970s, there weren't the motorways that now exist and I remember driving through little villages with pretty names such as Birdlip. On the other side of the channel we were on country roads too, with none of the Aires that we are now familiar with. My parents had a water heater to boil water to make tea which plugged into the car's cigarette lighter and I remember it fusing the electrics in the second Allegro (number 2 only lasted 2 years before it was traded in for a third rather than the engine being replaced - the original pistons from the second one sat in the garage of my childhood home for a long time).

Coming home one year we were on Penn-Ar-Bed and ended up with the car down the bottom of the ship in one of the compartments down there. The driver of the car in front of us managed to hit the side of his brand new Renault 14 off the entrance to the compartment. Shortly after our return from France in 1981 my parents separated and my next trip with BF was in 2001 with my eldest who was then 9 months old. In 2003 we defected to Superfast's Rosyth-Zeebrugge crossing and didn't use BF again until 2008.

My favourite return trips from France have coincided with the end of Le Mans Classic when we have shared the ship with lots of classic cars.

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I became a member in 2008 after a couple of crossings on Bretange. I had however previously sailed on Dutchess Anne, Reine Mathilde (To Jersey under BF livery) & Val De Loire and since on Normandie & Pont Aven. 

It's incredible over time the number of posts on this forum where we have discussed the retirement of both the Bretagne & Barfleur ferries and their potential replacements. The latter even left the fleet for a stint at Dover and still returned. They both still have their passionate supporters and rightly so. Although currently laid up, they are both timetabled back for service next summer and we are non the wiser for their end of life with BF. Ironically it appears they will outlive BFE.

Edited by Abbotsman
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BEST MEMORIES OF BF: 

The whole 93-06 golden era, best logos, best liveries, mixture of old and new fleet, The Val, BF in the national news for various incidents including groundings and even terrorist attempts. Then the a new logo, characterless new vessels (Amorique), a mire corporate branding, removing of character from vessels and loss of duc, Quib, VDL signaled the end of that golden era.

 

BEST MEMORIES OF BFE:

(1) Rumours and subsequent sale of VDL and the threads that went with it that I still revisit. A seismic event for the forum given the shock of it and how popular she was.

(2) The info Jono gave me which helped plan my Baltic ferry trip - a rare time I have personally contacted somebody and the advice I was given was very personal and helpful and had a positive impact on my trip. One time I felt I was part of the community.

 

 

....Damn I’m going to miss this place 😔

 

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28 minutes ago, Le Quiberon said:

BEST MEMORIES OF BF: 

The whole 93-06 golden era, best logos, best liveries, mixture of old and new fleet, The Val, BF in the national news for various incidents including groundings and even terrorist attempts. Then the a new logo, characterless new vessels (Amorique), a mire corporate branding, removing of character from vessels and loss of duc, Quib, VDL signaled the end of that golden era.

 

BEST MEMORIES OF BFE:

(1) Rumours and subsequent sale of VDL and the threads that went with it that I still revisit. A seismic event for the forum given the shock of it and how popular she was.

(2) The info Jono gave me which helped plan my Baltic ferry trip - a rare time I have personally contacted somebody and the advice I was given was very personal and helpful and had a positive impact on my trip. One time I felt I was part of the community.

 

 

....Damn I’m going to miss this place 😔

 

Thanks Quiby, your words are much appreciated.

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I travelled a lot as a kid aboard the Sealink ferries to Guernsey plus there was a trip to Portugal which I don't remember much about apart from orange walls in the cabin and being very sea sick!

I've been a ferry nut ever since we visited Sweden in grammar school as a 15 year old back in 1983 and had a trip aboard SF Line's Rosella and then the days working on the linkspan for Barfleur living in a static caravan behind the Queen Mary Inn just up the road. My last civils job before Uni which I finally decided was the way to go. The first BF ship I sailed on was one of Armorique's last I think. Barfleur next in her grey & yellow... lovely ship, as cross channel ferries went both she and Normandie were different class back then. Quiberon, then Bretagne.

First proper trip with my then new girlfriend was a February mini cruise aboard Bretagne from Portsmouth to Santander... remember when you had to park in cages under the flats across the dual carriageway? We spent the night in the cabin moored up next to the terminal. Spent the beginning of our honeymoon on her, our first taste of a commodore cabin. Our first stay in the Hotel Real too. Will really miss her when she goes. She feels like part of the family.

I've been on all of them since 1992 but mostly travelled aboard Bretagne, VDL and the Cap followed by MSM & Normandie.

Been lucky enough to sail on most of Europe's ferry routes past and present. We part own property in Stockholm so until you know what came along we always managed to squeeze a Baltic trip in.

It'll be a sad day when the forum goes. I first discovered it lying in a hospital bed back in early 2010 and have been a member for 10 years now.

Come on Andy, there's life left in the old girl yet!

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Remember my first crossing on Barfleur - I first travelled to Cherbourg as a small child on the Maid of Kent from Weymouth, so this was my first time as an adult.  I remember feeling very anxious and flapped for England, but all was forgotten very quickly and have enjoyed my crossings and all being well they will continue.  Also remember first time on NEX, first time on an HSC, and the fun of trying out other ferries.  But as people are well aware here, Barf will always be the first and favourite, I am not looking forward to her departure from the fleet, but I would find that easier as it would be due to her age, not the reason she went to Dover.  I remember going there glowering down from the clifftops at her!!!  Sailed on a non lander Spirit of France, and stayed at the Best Western Hotel with a seafront room.  I nearly missed her coming back from Cherbourg as I was too busy ogling Harmony of the Seas and didn’t hear the boarding announcement up in the upstairs bit in the Cherbourg terminal. That first nervous trip was the start of some great days out!!  

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I first sailed on BF in I think 1986/7 as a little boy. The Duc was the first ship we sailed on, and have fond memories of her. Since then I've sailed on Duchesse Anne, Gotland, Tregastel, Barfleur, Normandie, MSM, Armorique, Pont Aven and of course, Bretagne. She holds a special place in my heart as we were staying with friend just across the Loire from where she was being built and I remember seeing the BF logo on her funnel despite the rest of her not being painted, being clearly visible from the Pont de St Nazaire as we went to and fro. 

Thanks to all for your work on this site. Very sad to hear it's going. Have met some great people on here, and have appreciated the insight that comes from those more in the know, and those based in France too. I'm looking forward to visiting a certain wine shop next summer too...

Last sailed on PA on a St Malo minicruise in Decmember 2019, and a short trip on Caledonian Isles to Arran and back aside, that's the last time I've been on a ferry. Looking to do the same trip to France on the same boat in Feb '22. 

 

Thanks all, go well.

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My first enounter with BF would have been in about 1985 Tregastel cattle truck out  Ply Ros for the interceltique in Lorient

Gosh that was momentous - I spent an hour with some Irish musician chap called Shane McGowan, wonder what happened to him?

The trip back was a nightmare with a Scottish pipe band in full animal mode on the still awful Tregastel

Rhys

 

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August 1979, Plymouth - Roscoff - think it was the Cornouailles, on the night of the Fastnet disaster. Boy was it rough. Half way across the Captain came on and said he was very sorry about the conditions and had he known how bad the storm was going to become they would not have sailed, but as we were half way across, we might as well carry on. In those days the cost of a cabin was out of my reach, but we had at least booked reclining seats. The curtains at the bow window spent the whole time sliding from side to side. The state of the toilets was indescribable, not that all the seasick passengers made it to the toilets! 
We eventually made Roscoff and drove to our gite in Southern Brittany, when we saw in the papers fifteen yachtsmen had sadly lost their lives.
 
Bob.
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We bought a maison secondaire in Manche 30 years (!) ago, and originally we were P&O people using the shareholders discount. We trundled back and forth on the old Super wotsits Portsmouth to Cherbourg. A bit later on of course the big P&O boats (ex Olau) came on the Le Havre route. I'd used these previously on the Sheerness - Vlissingen run for work purposes and quite liked them. But P&O finally gave up on the Western Channel, and it was Portsmouth - Caen thereafter, with occasional Cherbourg runs on NEX and the CF. Rather liked the CF as she felt much more of a "ship" than some of the others. So in latter years it's been mostly MSM and N, but everything is now a bit utilitarian post-Covid. So it goes.

Edited by veryoldbear
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22 hours ago, Penlan said:

My first enounter with BF would have been in about 1985 Tregastel cattle truck out  Ply Ros for the interceltique in Lorient

Gosh that was momentous - I spent an hour with some Irish musician chap called Shane McGowan, wonder what happened to him?

The trip back was a nightmare with a Scottish pipe band in full animal mode on the still awful Tregastel

Rhys

 

Looking back on this it was actually 1983 and what I did not include was a mention that Mr McGowan dealt with a whole bottle of whisky in the first 15 minutes of the conversation.

85 / 86, it was a Welsh language rock band staying as guests in a run down old place near Quimperle which in turn lead to me getting summer jobs in a restauraunt there and the begining of friendships in Brittany that have lasted to this day. 

Looking at how things are developing I am worried that we will not be able to go out to see our friends next March, for one of them it will probably be too late as he is in late stage Cancer.

Rhys

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Like many on here, my fondest memories of BF was when I used to go to France with my parents on our Summer holidays. I remember feeling that the minute you got onboard was the start of your holiday. Each vessel had its own character and style - the boutiques, restaurants and art onboard. It was a pleasure to do a bit of shopping and have a nice meal before a relaxing sleep. We predominantly travelled on the Quiberon growing up in the 90's and I can recollect many a time when a rough crossing was a bit too much - we can laugh about it now. Also, who remembers getting a glass bottle of Orangina as you drove off ?

One year after my Grandad passed away, we took our Nan with us on our Summer holiday and booked a Commodore suite when the PA launched and being impressed with the size and quality of the boat. Since then we have travelled on the MSM, Normandie (& Express), Bretagne, Barfleur (My favourite) and Armorique. I hope I can replicate these treasured memories with my kids in future. 

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On 15/11/2021 at 20:55, elaine80 said:

 

Driving from Glasgow to Portsmouth in the 1970s, there weren't the motorways that now exist and I remember driving through little villages with pretty names such as Birdlip. 

Elaine, just being probably unnecessarily pedantic about your sweet memories, but I couldn't help thinking that if you went through Birdlip (on the western edge of the Cotswold escarpment, overlooking Gloucester) you would probably have been on your way to Plymouth rather than Portsmouth. Lovely post, thank you.

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1 hour ago, Kerisnel said:

Elaine, just being probably unnecessarily pedantic about your sweet memories, but I couldn't help thinking that if you went through Birdlip (on the western edge of the Cotswold escarpment, overlooking Gloucester) you would probably have been on your way to Plymouth rather than Portsmouth. Lovely post, thank you.

Back then, M6 then M5 and cut across via Cirencester. Our route for years between Southampton and Edinburgh.

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Birdlip Hill route is now much different to the 1970's. It is now the only part of the A417 between the M5 & M4 motorways without dual-carriageway and is dangerous. I count myself a confident driver and it frightens me going up & down it. There are regular accidents & it is a traffic bottleneck. There is a proposed solution in the pipeline to complete the link but has been subject to delays. I believe the Air Balloon pub at the top will be demolished as part of the plans.

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2 hours ago, Kerisnel said:

Elaine, just being probably unnecessarily pedantic about your sweet memories, but I couldn't help thinking that if you went through Birdlip (on the western edge of the Cotswold escarpment, overlooking Gloucester) you would probably have been on your way to Plymouth rather than Portsmouth. Lovely post, thank you.

We definitely travelled from Portsmouth to St Malo and Birdlip was on the route from Glasgow to Portsmouth.

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My interest in Brittany Ferries began in 1992. But before I start my story I want to give it some context.  My great-grandfather served as a second-mate officer with Cunard Line on their Liverpool to New York route. As a result, my grandmother was a lifelong ship enthusiast. She lived in Cork - not a million miles away from the Ringaskiddy terminal and she made frequent trips there with my grandfather. It would make part of one of their many afternoon drives. It gave my grandmother an opportunity to see what ships came in. It and also gave her an opportunity to people watch some of the “fogeners” and their strange ways.  

During the school holidays, we would make many trips from Dublin to Cork to visit the grandparents. During one of these trips to Cork in 1991, I remember my grandmother mention numerous times to my mother about a “beautiful” ship that was now coming into Ringaskiddy. She would say stuff like “you should have seen it…”. I remembered what was said but never really knew what she meant. Because, any time we took part in these excursions to Ringaskiddy, there only ever seemed to be the Celtic Pride (Swansea Cork Ferries) the St Patrick (Irish Ferries) or a car carrier in port.

The M/V Bretagne and Me

Fast forward to the summer of 1992. Instead of a holiday in Galway, Wexford or West Cork, my mother suggested we go to France. My father said he would “make some inquiries” at work.  He came back with two pieces of information. First, there was a company in Galway called Campotel that did mobile home and camping holidays in France. And another colleague told him, about a boat that goes direct from Cork to a place called Roscoff in Northern France. He should have just asked my grandmother!  

Anyway a phone call was made to Campotel. There had just been a cancellation and yes, they could also organise that boat that sailed from Cork. In two week’s times, we would be all off to France.

So, we arrive at Ringaskiddy. And there she was. The M/V Bretagne in all her resplendent glory. Now I knew what my grandmother had been on about. We drive on board and clambered up the steep steps the passenger decks. And all I could think was “wow”. I remember seeing the futuristic neon. The art filled atrium. The new ship smell. It was amazing. Myself and my brother were given the key to our cabin. It was one of the Ving cards – it was the weirdest and coolest looking key I’d ever seen in my entire life. The cabin had a sound system, cool little reading lights and even a telephone. This was amazing. We were picking up the phone asking the poor reception desk staff stupid questions. “What time does the cinema open at?”. “What are they showing?” (It was Medicine Man btw). “What time does the shop open at?” Now I know why some operators don’t put phones in cabins…

"Like something out of a James Bond film"

I never slept a wink that night. The excitement of this spaceship at sea was too much. We arrived at the campsite in Benodet, in southern Brittany. On a campsite you can hear everything. For the next two weeks, all I could hear holidaymakers talk about their holidays. Inevitably the topic of what route was taken would come up. For those who had travelled on the M/V Bretagne, superlatives were used. Comments like “amazing boat”, “more like a cruise ship”. One holidaymaker even said it was like “something out of a James Bond film”. I certainly could not wait to get back on it. The return journey was just as magical. That afternoon after the trip was over. We visited my grandparents’ house. I felt like Buzz Aldrin when he returned to earth. He had experienced something other worldly and was despondent to back to normal life.

For the rest of the summer and well into that Autumn, I even dreamt about the Bretagne. I was totally smitten with the whole BF operation. That ship, those announcements, the food and even that weird soap. Everything was so perfect about it.  

The Val de Loire Years 

In subsequent years we went on the same Cork-Roscoff route this time on the Val de Loire. Back then, the only BF trip reports I could find were in the Sunday Independent. In this paper every July or August, the Irish playwright Hugh Leonard would invariably sing the praises of Brittany Ferries and their Val de Loire ship on his annual trip to France. He knew a good thing when he saw it.

 In my college years, the opportunity arose to study in France for a year under the Erasmus programme arose. I jumped to it. When the year was over, I bought a EuroDomino pass and spent a month backpacking around France. I also decided it would be fitting to end to arrive back by sea. So, one Friday night in the middle of July, I ended up in Roscoff terminal sans billet asking if they had availability for that night’s sailing. “Non” was the firm response. But after a lot of cajoling, I finally, and at the last minute, got a ticket. Val blasted her horn and slipped her berth. It was Bastille night. Fireworks adorned the Roscoff skyline. The fully laden Val headed into the pitch black of the English Channel swinging left towards the Celtic Sea homeward bound. My sojourn in France could not have ended nicer.

Brittany Ferries à Vélo

But this was not be the end of my relationship with Brittany Ferries. One of my passions is cycle touring. I cycled extensively in Europe, but France and Spain remain my favourite destinations. So, from Dublin, I would fly to Nantes or Tours and cycle up to Caen. (Yes, you probably guessed it MSM is one of my favourites) From there it would be a hop over to Portsmouth to meet the PA or CF which take me down to Spain. Sometimes, if I had time to train at home, I would start in my trip in Mediterranean Spain and cycle up to Bilbao or Santander.  

The four or five days spend cycling across the verdant fields of Pays de La Loire and Normandy were always a delight. Not being too hot, the gently rolling hills made it a perfect for a warm-up trip for the more demanding Spanish terrain and weather. One year, I was a little bit behind schedule and did Le Mans to Caen in one day. Except for a quick coffee stop, I did it more or less non-stop. I remember arriving on the outskirts of Caen lying on a grassy patch beside some industrial estate absolutely knackered. But I still had the Ouistreham Canal to cycle. I eventually made it to the terminal with about 20 minutes before check-in closed. Drinking a pint of cold Murphys under the warm funnel of the Mont-St-Michel as we pulled away from French terra firma was probably one of the nicest pints ever! (Followed of course by a few more in the Blue Note bar). The next day in Portsmouth was a scorcher. My aching muscles had a chance to recover chilling on the deck on Pont Aven as she steamed down to Santander where the second leg of the trip would start. 

Over the years, I did many a hybrid Franco-Spanish cycling trip, getting to know northern France and deepest Spain very well in the process. Having friends in Spain and the UK, I would often try to sneak in an Autumn trip on BF.

Conversations in the Grand Pavois

I have great memories of the interesting conversations with fellow travelers in the Grand Pavois bar. Like one lady who was spending a week on the Pont Aven as her main holiday. She would arrive in port, get off, walk around Santander, Plymouth or Portsmouth and then check her herself in again! “People at work think I’m crazy” she said. I told her there was online forum that could help her… Another gentleman I got talking was convinced that Brittany Ferries was partly owned by the Mafia. Nothing would convince him otherwise. Conversations with some more mature couples could also be quite poignant. Some of the them realised that their days of taking foreign holidays were probably numbered. They were just enjoying life while they could.

I remember many historic events also co-inciding with a crossing. The first time I was on the Pont Aven was the same day as the London Bombings. That morning every café-bar in Santander has pictures of partially destroyed red buses on their TV screens. I remember tuning in to RTL2 on the PA in-cabin entertainment system getting the latest updates. 

Au Revoir and Adios to BFEnthusiasts Mk I

Anyway, I could go on about BF all night… I’m pleased to say that I’ve never really had a bad crossing with BF. All them were great! I’m very sad to see this forum disappear into the ether. A couple of years ago I read a comment here where one poster commented how this forum was was “better than a lunch break”. And I could not agree more! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here and hope to see most of you over on one of the new forums. A massive thank you to Andy, all the moderators and of course the members for making BFEnthusiasts into a really unique online community.  Thank you and as they say onboard “we ope to see you on Brittany Ferries again”.

 PS: I never did get to see Medicine Man, it’s really amazing how 29 years can fly by in a heartbeat.

 

only 556 km to Santander.jpg

Are we there yet....jpg

late night arrival santander.jpg

Pont Aven's Wake.jpg

A Summers Night on the Biscay.jpg

Breakfast in St Malo....jpg

Quirky Sign on the Bretagne 2015.jpg

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