Brittany is Far, Far Away

Brittany is far from Calais falcondalelife

I have made a pretty hypocritical mistake with my holiday planning this year. OK, that is a bit too harsh but I have essentially ballsed up because I didn’t follow my own advice. This year we – ok, I – decided to see a different part of France. We are the original itchy-feet holiday makers, we rarely go anywhere more than twice. For some reason I was taken with the romance of Brittany, the endless sea coves, the quaint villages, the mysterious Celts, the standing stones, the druid’s forest. I completely ignored the Reliable Prophesy of the Map of Google which pointed out – accurately – that it is a seven hour drive from Calais. Eight and a half hours with stops, actually. I further ignored the Eternal Truth of Being Northern which is that it is another 6 hours travel home from Dover.

This would have been fine if I had booked the dratted ferry from Brittany about six months ago, then we could have had a 2 hour drive to St Malo, an overnight crossing and arrived refreshed for a six hour drive up the M5 the next day. We could still do this if my family were capable of the franky inhuman feat of sleeping in a “club class seat” but this is fantasy. They require near silence and horizontal posture to get any sleep, nothing else works. All the cabins are fully booked now so I’m looking for an alternative route home.

The Deceptive Map

When I booked this Breton gite I totally ignored my own advice that it is difficult to drive to Brittany. I did know this, I’ve even blogged about it here! If you start in Calais, you can drive 6 hours to somewhere like the Vendee for sun and sea. It’s far, but it’s easy. But driving to Brittany you kind of run out of motorway and have to wend your way through minor routes for hours, meaning it’s 8 hours travel, some of it very concentrated. Those extra few hours take me over the limit that I can cope with. Brittany looks close to England on a map, but this is some kind of hideous cartographer’s deception (probably those druids’ fault).

We’re doing a bit of a tour of other bits of France before our week in Brittany so the Dover-Calais is fine for the outward leg of the holiday. The mistake I made was doing the week in Brittany at the end, instead of the beginning. Anyway, to get home we need to work out where to spend an overnight and decide how much driving we can cope with before we kill each other or wipe out the relaxing effect of the holiday we’ve just had.

Two Options to Get Home

One: 7 hours driving on the Saturday, stay overnight in a French hotel costing about 70 Euros. On Sunday, an hour more driving to Calais, 90 minutes getting across (is this optimistic for the Tunnel?) at a cost of about £80, plus 6 hours journey home. My heart sinks thinking about all that driving, it’s a bit of a sod.

Two: 5 hours drive to Cherbourg or Caen on Saturday and ferry costing £360 to Portsmouth. Arrive very late in England and stay overnight in a British hotel costing about £130 (why does it have to be so much more expensive than France?). Sunday, drive the 6 hours home. Being from Yorkshire it should come as no surprise that I am baulking at the cost (and my husband even more so).

The only other ideas I have come up with involve an extra night. If anyone has any other ideas, I’d love to hear them!




Just a few weeks before travelling there was a cancellation on the Caen to Portsmouth route with a cabin and we got the crossing we needed! It had been fully booked for 5 months so we were very, very lucky. The moral of the story is to book your ferry crossing no later than January. So now seems the perfect time to link this post with #AllAboutFrance #23.

Lou Messugo


  1. 1st January 2017 / 3:27 pm

    I am lucky living only an hour from Caen ferry port so that is always my preferred route back to the UK. If you choose to go by Brittany Ferries again do get in touch as I have a code that will give you 10% off your crossing! #AllAboutFrance

  2. 8th December 2016 / 9:59 pm

    How lucky to get that cabin! We’re not very good at booking things early because actually we love a good road trip and take off for enormous drives every summer, usually stopping wherever we fancy. We usually book one or 2 places ahead, in the places we most want to visit, otherwise we just wing it. This summer we did about 3800 kms to Portugal and back, last summer it was over 4000 kms to Poland and back and a couple of years before that it was about 4000 to Montenegro and back! We have also driven to Brittany a couple of times from Nice which is also far, you’re absolutely right, Brittany IS far! Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance again.

    • 9th December 2016 / 3:10 pm

      By our standards this was a big road trip, I don’t think we are quite at your level, wow, I’m impressed!

  3. 7th December 2016 / 2:28 pm

    Lucky you got that cabin! The “holiday” otherwise sounds as though it would have been awful!! Happy Christmas break! Enjoy sleeping horizontally on the boat!

  4. 4th December 2016 / 1:25 am

    I agree that it is best to book in advance if possible but hey, what the heck, life is full of unexpected drives and overnight hotel stays! I guess I see things differently as we drive such long distances in Australia we think nothing of it. For example, due to a last minute business meeting whilst on holiday this September we drove from Chichester to Toddington then to St Andrews, Scotland in one day. We enjoyed a late evening overnighter and day at St Andrews before driving from St Andrews to Heathrow in a day to catch flights back to Australia. Our children are very used to travelling also, often travelling a total of 35 hours from our home in Australia to our second home in Brittany. I am so glad your trip worked out for you and yes the moral of booking early is a good one, but Brittany is worth the extra effort I think 🙂

    • 4th December 2016 / 7:34 am

      Wow you have a lot of stamina. The problem with an extra night would have been having to book an extra day of annual leave. When our kids were little they were bad passengers but they’re better now. We’ve learned to drive at unpopular times to avoid traffic jams but France was easier to drive in than the UK. Thanks for commeting!

  5. 3rd December 2016 / 6:41 am

    I’ve never been to Brittany because it was always so far! I am terrible at planning travel in advance. What a lucky break that you got a spot on the right crossing – it sounds like a horrible amount of driving otherwise. I know everyone says Americans like to drive long distances, but I for one do not!

    • 3rd December 2016 / 9:57 am

      I think you need a very comfortable car for a road trip anywhere. We loved our journey but we were very lucky it worked out!

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