Practical Caravan

‘Family pets can sometimes be left in your outfit during the ferry crossing, but you must consider their welfare’


The ferry actually docks in Ouistreham, in the heart of D-day country, 25 minutes from Caen and close to road links heading south (follow the Le Mans signs).

The Brittany Ferries crossing will take about four hours, but is on a ‘super ferry’, with restaurant­s, cinemas and cabins.

For Spain To minimise your towing and maximise your relaxation time, for Spanish touring, your best bet will be the Portsmouth-to-santander or the Portsmouth-to-bilbao crossings.

These take from 24 to 36 hours, but the vessels are very luxurious, especially Salamanca – Brittany Ferries’ newest ship – on the Bilbao route (departing from Portsmouth on Thursdays and Sundays) and Cantabria on the Santander route (departing from Portsmouth on Mondays and Fridays). The Plymouth-to-santander crossing runs on Sundays and Wednesdays.

John’s choice We usually head over to western France on the excellent 8.15am Portsmouth-to-caen crossing with Brittany Ferries. We leave Peterborou­gh at about 4am, allowing time for any unexpected traffic/towing shenanigan­s, although of course, the roads are empty for the first half of the drive.

Our ritual is to stop at the St Albans (A405) Starbucks for a coffee break, then we always arrive at the ferry terminal with an hour to spare. It’s all very relaxed and there are facilities available at the port.

Family pets can sometimes be left in your outfit during the crossing, but you must consider their welfare. Before you board the ferry, raise your jockey wheel to its maximum, to prevent it from grounding out.

We have breakfast on the boat, then grab a few hours’ sleep in the (optional) cabin. Later, we might watch a film in the cinema or play table tennis outside on deck. After a leisurely lunch, it’s almost time to dock at Ouistreham (3pm French time).

After exiting the ferry, we usually aim for Le Mans. Sometimes we prefer to travel for an additional hour-and-a-bit to reach Tours, staying at Camping Les Acacias (, where the restaurant does excellent pizzas. Here, we’d recommend pitches 64-68, which are spacious, grassy, on the edge of the campsite, but still close to all of the amenities.

From this site, you’ll be onto the A10 in a matter of five minutes or so, and then western France is your oyster!


We’ve used Eurotunnel when we’ve been heading to Paris or Germany. It’s fast and convenient, but quite expensive.

If you have a tighter schedule, or want to make good headway on the Continent on your first day, it may make sense to pay the extra – let the train take the strain.

Most of the time, this is a pretty slick service, too. You peel off the M20 when signposted, and thanks to the automated numberplat­e recognitio­n, you’re soon in line, ready to drive onto the train for your speedy 35-minute crossing.

It should be noted that Eurotunnel does not operate a red Customs channel, so any declaratio­ns must be made in advance.

To find out more about what you’re allowed to bring into the UK, visit

 ?? ?? Leave yourselves plenty of time to board the ferry
Leave yourselves plenty of time to board the ferry
 ?? ?? Eurotunnel is the time-saving way to cross
Eurotunnel is the time-saving way to cross

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