Getting to France from the UK by ferry
If you want to take the ferry to France from the UK, then you have at least 10 routes from England to France. In some cases, several ferry companies operate on this route, so there are plenty of choices.
Depending on where you leave and want to go, there are of course suitable crossings on the route. You can conveniently use our handy ferry map for this. But also look further! Some boats sail much faster and other ferries are cheaper. Or maybe you like to make a night crossing on which you can sleep? That saves another hotel.
FYI: we also have a page about ferries to France from Ireland.
Other ferry guides you might enjoy
Timetable, availability, and compare prices
Booking ferry tickets from the UK to France is easy with our online booking module. You can find and book your desired ferry crossing in just a few clicks by entering your travel dates and destination. The system will show you all available options and good alternative routes with sharp prices!
The Strait of Dover Ferries
The most popular routes to France are those that sail over the narrowest part of The Channel. Dover handled almost 12 million people a year pre-corona & pre-Brexit Passengers transported to/from main ports – United Kingdom – quarterly data, Eurostat. Despite the fact that the ferries sails to France, the travelers on board do not always go to France.
The ferries from Dover are also often chosen by travelers to Belgium, Germany. Another great option to travel to Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are the ferries from Portsmouth to Le Havre.
For travelers to France, the ferry from Dover to Calais is a more logical choice than the ferry from Dover to Dunkirk. The latter moors more to the north (almost in Belgium).
The biggest advantage of the ferries that run from Dover to Calais is that they have a crossing time of just 1.5 hours. They are also quite affordable if you compare them with other crossings to France. The possible waiting time at the border checks is however the largest disadvantage.
If you choose the ferry from Dover to Calais, you can choose from 3 companies. These are DFDS, P&O, and Irish ferries. The first two companies, in particular, have a lot of departures per day and are quite cheap.
Ferries from UK to Normandy, Brittany, southwest of France
The ferries arriving in St Malo, Caen, Le Havre or Cherbourg are very suitable for holidaymakers to Normandy and the southwest coast of France. Le Havre is a good connection but we prefer the ferry to Caen because of the better road connections (A84 and N158).
Travelers to Brittany/Bretagne can go for the ferry to Roscoff or St Malo. Also, Cherbourg is still a good option since the ferry only takes 3 hours. You have to drive a bit further though to arrive in Bretagne.
The Condor Liberation has a maximum speed of 39 knots. Although the normal sailing speed is a lot lower than the maximum speed, this ferry will take you to France from the UK in only 3 hours.
A perfect place to stay in France
If you haven't booked a hotel, villa, or camping yet when arriving in France there are several ways to get you a nice place to stay. You can, of course, use a website like booking.com or a website with campings. But there are also websites that are specialized in luxurious villas:
- A website we personally liked was Oliver's Travel and then, especially the French villas. If you try this website make sure to select “Brittany, The Atlantic Coast & Northern France” when you seek villas close to the ferry ports where you arrive in France. Oliver's Travel provides the top 2% of holiday homes, meaning you have a ‘smaller' but high-quality selection with possible villas.
- Another website for villa rental we liked was Evancy, on Evancy we would advise selecting ‘Northern France holidays‘ to find places near the ferry harbors.
UK ⇔ Normandy and Brittany
Ferries from London to Paris
Newhaven Dieppe is a great connection for those who want to travel from London to Paris. You travel with this ferry in a fairly straight line in the direction of the French capital. So you make fewer miles/kilometers and don't have to drive that far on this route.
This route is a very popular alternative to the ferries operating in the Strait of Dover. A great alternative is the ferry to Le Havre from Portsmouth.
Ferries from the UK to the south of France
There are no direct ferries to the South of France, but you can choose a ferry that to France that brings you in the right direction.
If you're traveling to the south of France and want to avoid the traffic around Paris, the boats from Portsmouth to Le Havre or Caen are a good choice.
Traveling through France
Traveling in France is very pleasant. In combination with the ferry, most people will go by their transport. You will then have to get used to driving on the right, but that will go well after a while.
The good roads are unfortunately not always free. In France, you travel a lot on toll roads. These do not cost much, but the amount can add up considerably over a long drive to the South.
In google maps, a function allows you to avoid toll roads. Maybe that's useful.
If you don't go by car, you can choose to travel through France by train. The country is known for its good connections with the TGV. The stations are easily accessible from some ports of arrival, but you could also consider traveling through the Channel Tunnel with the Eurostar. In Paris, you can then change or get off.
Frequently Asked Questions
The cheapest crossing is the ferry from Dover to Calais. Depending on how busy it is, DFDS or P&O is the cheapest option.
The shortest crossing is between Dover and Calais. This ferry sails a distance of approximately 41km to France. The boats then take 1.5 hours. Because of this short distance, it is one of the busiest routes in the world.
The fastest ship that sails across the channel is the Condor Voyager. It achieves maximum speeds of 42 knots or 78 kph. It used to sail to Normandy but nowadays this ferry is leased by Brittany Ferries to Condor Ferries and sails towards the Channel Islands. As a result, the Condor Liberation is now the fastest boat sailing from England to France. It has a maximum speed of 39 knots and sails from Portsmouth to Cherbourg in 3 hours.
Use our ferry guides and maps
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