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Travel to Basse Normandie

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does anyone have any suggestions for cheap and convenient travel from Cambridge to Bayeux/Caen/Cherbourg?

I have tried everything - flying from London to Paris, ferry Dover-Calais, ferry Portsmouth-Caen, Portsmouth-Cherbourg...all expensive and takes ALL DAY (or night) to get there!! Normandy is so close, yet so hard and expensive to reach.

I had a glimmer of hope when Ryanair started flying to Deauville...only to cancel the route before the first flight...



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Yes its a pig of a journey and not cheap when you consider the distance between Portsmouth and Caen.   You could do it in a rowing boat.....William the Conquerer did.  Well.maybe not then!

I was told by our French neighbours that the low-cost airlines are strictly unwelcome in Normandy to protect the maritime crossing industry, being as such a lot of the area's income is derived from sea journeys.  Its Hobson's Choice really for us because we loved the Orne despite the travelling, so we do 1 hour to Portsmouth, the overnighter, then  wake up in France for 1  1/2 hours drive to our home there.  (Admittedly by the time we have actually boarded the ship I doubt we actually sleep at all).   Anyway, our nearest "airport", (that is a landing strip of grass!),  would be Alencon and then we would still have over half an hours drive to the house.  As they say "Its as broad as its long...."!!  

Its highly unlikely that the French authorities are going to amend their thinking to suit mere mortals when it comed to protecting their maritime heritage, hence why the flights to Deauville were a non-starter, so I reckon it has to be taking the TGV from Paris to Caen then onwards.   A pain, but c'est la vie!


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I know how you feel.  I posted on the NW forum a few weeks ago about the problems we now have getting to Cherbourg. 

I travelled with Brittany Ferries yesterday as a foot passenger from Portsmouth to Caen - cost 42 GBP return. Stayed at Travelodge by ferry port in Portsmouth.  Left Portsmouth at 7 am, had a great journey over and got to Ouistrehem at 11h15 local time.  Bought a ticket from lady at tourist desk for 3.52 euro for bus that left at 12h00 outside ferry port entrance, which went to train station. Took about 30 mins.  Caught train to Carentan (10 euros) and was home by 14h00 local time.  Was really nervous about doing it as a foot passenger as I usually catch Portsmouth to Cherbourg ferry, but it was great and would do it again.  Worked out the cheapest and quickest route but appreciate it wont be easy for you to get from Cambridge to Portsmouth.

Also, have you looked at National Express coach service, as they also do a route to France from UK.  Details on their website.

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Ultimately your choice is going to depend on whether you prefer to do the bulk of your driving in the UK or France - and perhaps on your degree of fear of sea sickness.

But there's certainly not a cheap route.

Until Ryanair bought out Buzz we used to get direct flights from Stansted to Caen which would have been ideal for you - but Mr O'Leary didn't think it had the potential - or the local authority wouldn't pay what amounted to a subsidy or something and it disappeared.

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You should try the drive starting from near Manchester and travelling through Birmingham!!!

Set off at 9am and arrive in our house by midnight!!!

Flybe  have just started flights Manchester/Rennes. We've not

tried it yet, but guess we should manage the whole trip ( with car

hire) in less than 6 hours.

They also fly from Southampton and Exeter if that's any use to you???

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Living in Kent & travel to our little holiday home in The Vendee, I know this trip well. It is all about timing. The way I would go is as follows.

4.50am - Leave Cambridge

7.00am - Arrive Channel Tunnel

7.35am - Train

8.15am (9.15am) - Depart train

12.15pm - Lunch in Caen


This will be a door to door trip of 6:40 hrs. Remember that if you drive to Portsmouth you will be going with the traffic & you would need to arrive early for the ferry, I think it is far easier & enjoyable to do the mileage on the French side if you live in the South East / East. At an airpot you will need to park & check in etc which once again takes time. With the Channel Tunnel the only potential hold up will be the Dartford bridge but you should beat the traffic anyway, weekends will be straight forward. Like all trips, only you know the speed you will travel, the number of stops for a T or P & how reliable you car is. 


Hope this helps



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[quote user="marc62"]

At an airpot you will need to park & check in etc which once again takes time. [/quote]

Not at Shoreham - you park virtually right outside the terminal building (for free) and check in is 15-30 minutes before departure. The tunnel can't beat that, though I do agree it is convenient for those in the eastern part of England. Driving on the French side of the channel is OK as long as you avoid the peak times, i.e. summer holiday weekends, when there are often long queues at all the peages on the motorway to/from Caen, and at rush hours near places like Rouen and Caen.

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Hi Marina


I agree, as I said it is all about timing & the last time I drove down the A14 Cambridge was still in the Eastern part of England (lol).

I have never travelled on the dreaded black day's due to the reasons which you have given but I have travveled on a Bank Holiday many of a time. Before the A28 I never had a problem with Caen & the only problems I have with Rouen is when I catch it during rush hour, it can take 40 mins to get from the tunnel to the A28. We also enjoy waving at the queues at the peages now for those who pay in cash & use the CB, it is one of the best reasons for having a French bank account!.

If it is any interest to anyone, we have just booked up for my Son & his Girlfriend to fly from Gatwick to Nantes on a Saturday in June with British Airways - £10 each plus the dreaded tax.



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