When you travel to France by ferry, you’ll realise exactly why France is still the world’s top tourist destination. The country offers a breadth of experiences, landscapes and attractions that are unrivalled anywhere in the world and it’s all easily accessible by ferry! Whether you’re heading to the Alps for your ultimate skiing holiday, the stunning Bordeaux vineyards to sample the best wines the region has to offer or visiting the moving Normandy beaches and war memorials, you can start your journey by sailing into one of eight ferry ports from the UK. When you decide to travel to France by ferry, you’ll find that the French ports provide a range of access points so that you can hit the open road and explore this beautiful country. France is the perfect destination for family holidays, relaxing road trips, cycling holidays or short breaks. From Roscoff and St Malo in the west to Calais and Dunkirk in the east, your adventure continues as you disembark!
How to have a great cycling holiday in France via ferry
A cycling holiday is a great way to explore France at your leisure. Uncover the sleepy, unspoilt villages of the French countryside on bike or take your adventure into the urban streets of cities both modern and medieval. Sailing to seven destinations in France, Discover Ferries’ members serve Roscoff, Caen, Saint Malo, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Dunkirk and Calais with easy access to the rest of the country, meaning there are plenty of options to entertain families, professionals and novices alike.
Take the ferry to Calais and jump straight into the Loire à Vélo, a popular route through northern France passing winding rivers, elegant vineyards and glittering châteaux, with segments suited to riders of all ages and experience in the beautiful Loire Valley. Alternatively, travel 170km from the Breton capital, Rennes, to St Malo as you follow the green way along the canal. Stop off at iconic sites such as Hédé’s 11 locks, medieval Dinan and the seaside resort of Dinard. To find out more, visit www.brittanyferries.co.uk/guides/cycling/st-malo-cycle-tour-route
Whilst travelling, watch out for the Accueil Vélo (Cyclists Welcome) signs dotted around the nation. National marks of quality, these signs guarantee a warm welcome for cyclists and promise accommodation, rental and repairs, and advice on finding the best routes. For more information, and extensive guides on the best cycling routes in France, visit en.francevelotourisme.com/
Routes to France are available from Brittany Ferries, DFDS Seaways, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries and Stena Line. Visit their websites for more information, or call 0330 159 7000 for Brittany Ferries, 0871 574 7235 for DFDS Seaways, +353 818 300 400 for Irish Ferries, +44 (0) 1304 44 88 88 for P&O Ferries, or 0844 770 7070 for Stena Line.
Travelling with a bike attached to a vehicle
The majority of passengers taking ferry holidays with bikes simply strap them onto their cars, caravans, or motorhomes in racks or boxes. That means they can drive to any destination and cycle wherever they go on their holiday. The pricing of taking bikes on a vehicle is simple – passengers just need to include the additional height and length of the vehicle when making the ferry booking.
It’s worth remembering that rear mounted cycle racks can obscure rear lights and number plates so car owners may need a lighting board with number plate and electrical supply to ensure their car and bike racks are legally roadworthy.
How to take a bike on board a ferry as a foot passenger
It’s easy to take a bike on a ferry as a foot passenger and cycle off into the sunset from the port. Passengers travelling with bicycles generally check in at the same time as other foot passengers. They dismount from their bikes for safety reasons and push their bicycle up the same vehicle ramp as that used by cars. Stewards will be on board to instruct cyclists. Once onboard travellers will be shown where to park and secure their bicycle on the deck for the crossing. It may be attached to the floor, wall or a railing for the crossing.
Ferry company policies and charges
Brittany Ferries accepts bicycles for foot passengers for no additional charge on routes from Portsmouth to Caen, Saint Malo, Cherbourg and Le Harve, from Poole to Cherbourg and from Plymouth to Roscoff. They also have a useful video showing you the experience of putting a bike on board. Visit www.brittany-ferries.co.uk or call 0330 159 7000.
DFDS accepts bicycles as part of a car booking for no additional charge on its routes from Dover Calais and Dunkirk. Its website is packed with useful cycling tips and cycling route advice. Visit www.dfdsseaways.co.uk for more information.
P&O Ferries accepts bicycles as part of a car booking for no additional charge on its routes between Dover and Calais. A clever interactive adventure planner on its website gives ideas for cycling adventures and gives tips about travelling to watch professional cycling overseas. Visit www.poferries.com or call 01304 44 88 88
Irish Ferries accept bikes on board their Rosslare to Cherbourg/Roscoff routes. The price of travelling with a bicycle is £20/ €20 return. Visit www.irishferries.com or call 08717 300 400.
In addition to checking out the cycling sections of each ferry members’ website there is some great advice for cycling routes from cycling organisations such as Eurovelo – a European cycling network http://www.eurovelo.com/en, or www.Sustrans.org.uk for UK, Northern Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland.
Cycling rules of the road
We advise checking out the rules of the road in any international country before you set off. Each ferry member has lots of advice, but tips for cycling in France include the fact that a bike must be equipped with a bell, cyclists can ride two abreast in daylight but it’s mandatory to ride single file at night. Cyclists travelling after dark in rural areas must also wear a high visibility waistcoat.Tourist Information