PART 1: THE JOURNEY
WHY NORMANDY? HOW TO GET THERE AND CABIN TOUR VIDEO.
This Easter we decided to take a family trip to Normandy. We had several reasons for choosing this location and timing:-
- We were interested in taking our sons to experience the Normandy landings beaches and museums as recommended by friends with children of similar ages.
- We anticipated that the weather at Easter time in northern France, would be conducive to sightseeing with children in tow.
- We were working with Eurocamp and we found a five-star park in Houlgate, Normandy which appealed to all the family.
CHOOSING THE CROSSING
This was a review trip for us, which included Eurocamp accommodation and the Dover Calais ferry crossing. As our chosen holiday parc was just a few kilometres from the port at Caen, we upgraded to the Portsmouth Caen crossing: This would be a more costly option but would shave off several hours of driving time and save on petrol and meals. We chose the overnight ferry because the timings worked for us, giving us almost an extra day on holiday, which is especially precious with school age children. It also meant the boys could enjoy the experience of going to bed in England and waking up in France!
PORTSMOUTH TO CAEN ‘NORMANDIE’ CRUISE FERRY – BRITTANY FERRIES
As our ferry didn’t depart until 22.45, we timed a picnic tea to coincide with queuing. Waiting for the previous passengers to disembark can take quite a while and you’re asked to remain in the car at this point so a few crumbs in the freshly vacuumed car seemed a small price to pay to curb the boys’ boredom!
CABIN TOUR VIDEO
Once we’d boarded, the boys had a quick look around the ferry and then it was time for bed. We needed two cabins for our family of five as the maximum occupancy is four. You can see my video tour of one of our cabins by clicking on the image. Enjoy the video and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
After a short night’s sleep, our iPhone alarms woke us, followed by the ferry’s own gentle trademark guitar music which builds in volume with each repeat. As there was no kettle for Mummy to have a cuppa, I woke myself up with the surprisingly powerful shower which seems to be standard in Brittany Ferries’ cabins. It happened to be Easter day when we arrived in France and fortunately the Easter Bunny managed to track the boys down to their cabins. As it was so early (and it was the one day of the ear when chocolate for breakfast is compulsory), we waited until we were in the car to eat the croissants I’d brought with me.
We disembarked promptly in Caen which meant the boys were playing football on a long golden sandy beach in Cabourg, a few miles from the port before 7.30 and we had the whole day ahead of us. Our Normandy adventure had begun!
In my next article I’ll show you the Eurocamp parc we stayed at, but in the meantime here are a five handy tips about booking and enjoying the ferry experience.
FAMILY TRIP TO NORMANDY – FERRY TIPS
- Consider opting for a more convenient ferry route. The initial layout may be more but you’ll probably save on driving time, petrol money, meals and perhaps most importantly, irritable children.
- Time a snack or a game as a distraction to coincide with queuing for the ferry as this can take quite a while and once in that queue, passengers are asked to stay in their vehicles which can be pretty challenging for little ones.
- Consider an overnight crossing. Although you have to pay more for a cabin, it can mean gaining more time to enjoy your holiday destination: We ended up with eight nights instead of seven. Our late departure and early arrival time in France meant we didn’t spend any money buying meals on the overnight ferry crossing so it’s possible to recoup costs that way.
- I’ve had very good experiences of Brittany Ferries’ restaurants, however if you’re going for the overnight option, it might be worth packing your own breakfast to save time and money. After a late night, we were back in our cars ready to drive off the ferry by 06.45 (5.45 in English time!) so factoring in a family breakfast before that really doesn’t bear thinking about!
- If you opt for a cabin, keep european adapters handy for charging phones etc. Some cabins have USB ports but others only have European sockets.
WHAT’S NEXT ON OUR FAMILY TRIP TO NORMANDY?
Because this was such a good holiday for our family, I’m putting together an itinerary which will include the Eurocamp parc we stayed at, recommendations for cultural and fun family attractions in Normandy and our Caen to Portsmouth return journey with Brittany Ferries’, “Mont St Michel”. In the next post I’ll be covering the fabulous campsite we stayed at in Houlgate, Normandy. I hope to see you there!
PIN FOR LATER!
DISCLOSURE: OUR FERRY CROSSING WAS FUNDED BY BRITTANY FERRIES. ALL OPINIONS ARE OUR OWN. MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS.