Ferries To France and Ireland
Irish Ferries has overnight services from Rosslare to either Cherbourg (18½ hours) or Roscoff (16 hours) every other day (three times a week from mid-September to October, with a possible break in service from November to February). A foot passenger/car and driver costs from €56/99; bicycles can be taken onboard for free. The €15 booking fee is waived if you book online.
From April to October, Brittany Ferries runs a car ferry every Saturday from Cork (Ringaskiddy) to Roscoff (13 hours), and every Friday in the other direction. Foot passengers pay between €146 and €180 for a bunk in an inside, two-person cabin with shower and toilet.
Ferries To France and Italy
From late April to mid-October, the Société Nationale Maritime Corse-Méditerranée has five or six car ferries per week from Marseille or Toulon to Porto Torres on the Italian island of Sardinia (Sardaigne in French). The crossing takes about 11 hours. The one-way adult pedestrian fare is around €118, plus €22 for a bunk in a shared cabin with shower and toilet.
Several ferry companies ply the waters between Corsica and Italy.
Ferries To France and North Africa
SNCM and Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation link Marseille with the Tunisian capital, Tunis (about 24 hours, three or four a week). The standard adult fare is €276 one way for a seat, plus an additional €12 to €43 for a cabin. There are discounts for seniors and those under 25. In France, ticketing is handled by SNCM, which also links Marseille with Algiers (Alger in French; Algeria).
Two Moroccan companies, Comanav and Comarit link Sète, 26km (20 minutes by train) southwest of Montpellier, with the Moroccan port of Tangier (Tanger; 36 hours, once or twice weekly). Fares start from €250 one way. Discounts are available if you’re aged under 26 or in a group of four or more. In France ticketing is handled by SNCM.
Ferries To France and Spain
If you’re travelling between England and southwestern France, a couple of ferry services to/from nearby northern Spain are worth considering.
P&O Ferries links Portsmouth with Bilbao (Santurtzi port, 35 hours including two nights to Bilbao, 29 hours including one night from Bilbao), about 150km west of Biarritz, twice a week (once a week from late October to late March; no services from early January to early February). A one-way pedestrian ticket including a mandatory sleeping berth costs around €185.
From mid-March to mid-November, Brittany Ferries runs twice-weekly car-ferry services from Plymouth to Santander (24 hours), which is around 240km west of Biarritz. Foot passengers pay around €90 one way including a mandatory reclining seat.
Ferries To France and Enlgand
Fares vary widely according to seasonal demand (July and August are especially busy and the time of day (a Friday night ferry can cost much more than a Sunday morning journey; the most expensive tickets can cost almost three times as much as the cheapest ones. Three- or five-day excursion (return) fares generally cost about the same as regular one-way tickets; special promotional return fares, often requiring advance booking, are sometimes cheaper than a standard one-way fare.
Eurail passes are not valid for ferry travel between the UK and France. Transporting bicycles is often (but not always) free.
Ferries To Brittany
From mid-March to mid-November, Plymouth is linked to Roscoff (six hours for day crossings, one to three per day) by Brittany Ferries. The one-way fare for foot passengers ranges from UK£23 to UK£73.
Brittany Ferries also links Portsmouth with St-Malo (8¾ hours for a day crossing, one per day). Pedestrians pay from UK£48 one way; a reclining seat (UK£5) or cabin is mandatory for overnight sailings.
From April to September, Condor Ferries has at least one daily ferry linking Weymouth with St-Malo (UK£41, seven to 10 hours).
Ferries To Far Northern France
The Dover–Calais crossing is handled by SeaFrance (70min-1½hr; 15 daily). Foot-passenger fares start at UK£6 to UK£12 return. Fares for a car and up to nine passengers cost from UK£24 to UK£45 one way. P&O Ferries also operates a Dover–Calais service starting from UK£25 including a small car.
Ferries run by Norfolk Line link Loon Plage, about 25km west of Dunkirk (Dunkerque), with Dover from UK£19 one way for a vehicle and up to nine passengers, while Speed Ferries offers an ultramodern, ultrafast catamaran service between Boulogne and Dover from UK£19 one way for a vehicle and up to five passengers (50 minutes, five daily).
Ferries To Normandy
Transmanche Ferries operate the Newhaven–Dieppe route. The crossing (up to three daily) takes four hours. A one-way foot-passenger fare starts at UK£12; the one-way fare for a car and two adults starts from UK£33.
There’s a 4¼-hour crossing (two or three per day) from Poole to Cherbourg with Brittany Ferries. Foot passengers pay from UK£48 one way.
On the Portsmouth–Cherbourg route, Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries have two or three car ferries a day (five hours by day, eight hours overnight) and, from April to September, two faster catamarans a day. Foot passengers pay from UK£38 one way.
Brittany Ferries also has car-ferry services from Portsmouth to Caen (Ouistreham; six hours, three per day). Tickets cost the same as for Poole–Cherbourg.
LD Lines offers an afternoon service from Le Havre to Portsmouth (7½ hours, from UK£9.90), and an overnight crossing in the opposite direction.