There are numerous options depending on where you are starting from, where you are going, time, costs, sailing vs driving etc:

brittany_ferryBrittany Ferries
Personally I prefer Brittany Ferries on the western Channel. These are longer and less frequent crossings than those from Dover, and can look more expensive. But if you are travelling from the West, North or Midlands they can offer advantages, especially if heading to Normandy, Brittany, the Loire Valley and the south and southwest of France – you can avoid the M25, long journeys across northern France and possibly an overnight hotel room en route.

However there are other options –
Dover – Calais/Dunkerque (Dunkirk)P&O Cross-Channel Ferry

the shortest sea crossing at 90 minutes or less – (slightly longer to Dunkerque) – frequent daily crossings – motorway access on both sides of the Channel:

  • P & O Ferries
  • DFDS


a slightly longer crossing (4 hours). Dieppe is an ideal gateway into Normandy and central France. Dieppe is the closest French port to Paris and the Alabaster Coast is famous for its beauty (see our article on Dieppe)

Western Channel – Portsmouth/Plymouth

longer (6-7 hours) (and more expensive) crossings but more facilities onboard and good for western France and Brittany and avoid the need to drive around London. It also feels more like your holiday has begun already and the ports of arrival feel more “French”

Brittany Ferries
(Portsmouth/Poole/Plymouth to Le Havre/Caen/Cherbourg/St Malo/Roscoff

Western Channel – via Spain (for southwest France)

crossing takes 24 hours or more – with easy access to the Basque country and across the Pyrenees into S W France, Aquitaine, Biarritz etc, saving the long drive down through France and the need for overnight accommodation en route! (e.g. Calais to Biarritz is over 1000km!)

Brittany Ferries
for UK to France Portsmouth/Plymouth to Santander/Bilbao in NW Spain

For eastern or central France

especially from the North and East of the UK:

  • Hull – Zeebrugge with P&O Ferries – although Zeebrugge is in Belgium,with fast motorway links it is still only about 3.5 hours to Paris (306km), whereas Calais – Paris is 288km! and you avoid the M25 around London!

Channel Tunnel

Frequent departures and no weather problems or delays – just 25 minutes in your own vehicle with no luggage restrictions, but can be more expensive than the ferry.

  • Eurotunnel (this is the tunnel train for vehicles) -Folkestone – Calais
  • for passenger trains from London and Ashford to Paris/Brussels and beyond use Eurostar

other articles about cross-channel ferries: