A Comparison of Ferries from Portsmouth to France

by Allie d'Almo  |  Updated February 14, 2023

Just a sliver of the English Channel separates Portsmouth from the glittering coast of France, making the ferry the easiest and often the most affordable way to travel. 

Portsmouth to Caen is a popular route (Photo: Brittany Ferries)

Set on England’s south coast, Portsmouth is just 100 kilometres from London, making it the closest port to the capital city. Brittany Ferries offers a range of ferry services and sailing times between Portsmouth and France. Currently, passengers can travel to Caen, Le Havre, Cherbourg and St. Malo. If you’re considering making the trip by ferry but haven’t settled on a route, we’ve compared four options between Portsmouth and France below.

Portsmouth to Caen 

The town of Caen is located in France’s Normandy region on the River Orne. While the town is a pleasnat stop for a coffee and croissant, it’s also a great base for exploring the history of the Normandy landings and visiting the region’s most famous World War II heritage sites. The ferry terminal is approximately 15 km from Caen and there is a daytime shuttle bus service for foot passengers. There are ferry sailings up to 21 times per week, ranging from 4 hours to 7 hours 45 minutes. Brittany Ferries operate ferry sailings, offering comfortable facilities, French-influenced restaurants, cinemas, shops, games rooms and sun decks. Passengers can choose from two or four-berth cabins. From £31 per person. 

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Portsmouth to Le Havre  

Brittany Ferries operate a range of sailings between Portsmouth and France (Photo: Brittany Ferries)

Brittany Ferries offers a no-frills ferry service from Portsmouth to Le Havre. Overnight sailings on their economy service are available until November. The routes are offered up to 7 times per week and the crossing takes around 8 hours. You’ll arrive in Le Havre, a 16th-century port city that was recently recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Le Havre is also the closest crossing to Paris, just a two-hour drive away from the capital with easy access to eastern France, the Alps, and Normandy. The route is shared with économie ferries, the Etretat and the Baie de Seine, and is designed for people who want cheap ferry tickets from Portsmouth to Le Havre. On board, the vessels offer high-quality French catering, a movie lounge, free Wi-Fi and a small shop for alcohol, perfume, and confectionery purchases. This route books up far in advance so it’s worth booking your ferry as soon as you have confirmed your trip. From £49 per person. 

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Portsmouth to Cherbourg 

Cherbourg is located in La Manche, on the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. The town is closely linked to France’s naval and maritime history, and its position makes it one of the most important among the country’s Channel ports. Brittany Ferries offers one crossing per day on the Normandie Express, a high-speed catamaran that travels at a speed of up to 78 km/h carrying up to 850 passengers and 235 cars. The Portsmouth to Cherbourg crossings only take 3 hours, but you’ll still have time to enjoy the comfortable lounge and panoramic views, French wine at the bar, and light meals or snacks from the onboard cafe. From £42 per person.

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Portsmouth to St. Malo 

Portsmouth is a popular departure point for ferries to France (Photo: Brittany Ferries)

St. Malo is a historic city lined with cobblestone stone streets and surrounded by old ramparts. While the city itself is beloved for the Chateau St. Malo and its lovely sandy beaches, St. Malo is typically used as a starting point for exploring Mont Saint Michel and the surrounding area. Brittany Ferries offers convenient overnight ferries most days with a sailing duration of up to 11 hours. You’ll travel aboard the Bretagne or Pont-Aven vessels, which offer two or four-berth cabins and car decks so you can drive on board and enjoy a restful night’s sleep before arriving in France in time for breakfast. During the crossing, you’ll get to enjoy an evening cabaret with live music, access to children’s entertainment, the latest films in two cinemas, and free Wi-Fi. Board in time to sample delicious French food at various restaurants or sip wine at the bar. If you’re travelling aboard the Pont-Aven, you’ll have the opportunity to swim and relax in the pool and leisure area. From £47 per person. 

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