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September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
O N T O U R: Comfortable Cruising Across the Channel
Continuing on our theme of French destinations from last week Wendy Long, ABTN”s long-time secretary from the years when we were a fortnightly tabloid, and now resident in France, recently took the longer Channel crossing from St Malo and at the same time used the opportunity to discover Brittany and Normandy.
”The tunnel may be the fastest means of reaching the French coast, but the ferry offers a welcome, relaxing break ahead of a long drive ” and if you are able to take advantage of the premium services on offer, the journey becomes a really pleasurable part of your holiday, business trip or excellent value autumn break.
Brittany Ferries, with routes Portsmouth to Caen and St Malo, Poole ” Cherbourg, Plymouth ” Roscoff and the longer Plymouth ” Santander, offers Commodore Class from ”61. The number of cabins in this class is limited but ensures a cruise-like crossing in absolute peace and comfort. Passengers are greeted by a hostess with offer of refreshments and a key to a spacious two bedded cabin with bathroom and comfortable light and airy lounge area, offering tea, coffee and chocolate making facilities, a bowl of fruit, mini-bar, TV, radio and a DVD player (films can be rented at ”5 each), as well as a folder on the ship”s services. If appropriate, Continental breakfast is served in the cabin and a wake-up announcement is made an hour before docking.
Whilst not offering any special facility for the business traveller, the tranquillity of a Commodore cabin would be very conducive to preparing for a conference or business meeting on arrival. The latest ship to join the fleet on the Portsmouth ” Caen route, the M/V Mont St Michael, is available on Wednesday mornings whilst in port at Ouistreham (Caen) for conferences and presentations in one of its spacious lounges.
The Mont St Michael, holding 600 cars and 2,140 passengers, is a very spacious ship with wide deck areas and lounges, including 460 reclining seats and ample well-designed sofas and chairs, adequate for a quiet night”s doze if not occupying one of the well-appointed cabins. The d”cor is restful and the walls rich in 20th century French art. The traditional French restaurant ”Les Romantiques” offers table d”h”te and ” la carte menus but the self-service La Galerie and Le Caf” du Festival also have a wide selection. The boutiques are very spacious and well stocked and the two cinemas show the latest films, at a charge of ”4 per adult and ”3 per child. Decks 9 and 10 are for the young at heart with live entertainment, video games and a children”s playroom with suitable entertainment for the under 7s.
The trend towards the cruise-like experience of ferry crossings will be further apparent when the Pont-Aven is introduced on the Plymouth routes in 2004, featuring a domed pool and sun terraces, cabins with balconies and panoramic lifts, and cutting journey time by as much as 25%.
As well as inclusive holidays, Brittany Ferries offer mini-breaks to enable you to explore the countryside around all its destinations. Arriving on the Mont St Michael at Ouistreham (Caen), one cannot but be visibly aware of the commemoration of Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings of June 1944. Almost every little town and village along or near the coast has a museum devoted to some aspect of the campaign. Perhaps M”morial Pegasus at Ranville, is one of the best known, housing not only an interesting museum but also the famous bridge captured by the British 6th Airborne Division, the first Allied victory. Ouistreham itself has two museums following the epic story of the first commandos to land on Sword Beach and a large collection of documents and relics and Douvres La Delivrande is home to the history of radar. The museum at Arromanches is devoted to the incredible technological feat by the British in setting up an artificial harbour, remains of which can still be seen.
Bayeux, the first town to be liberated, has its own museum of relics and also one of the largest of the beautifully kept British Commonwealth Cemeteries; not to be missed, of course, is the famous reminder of another conflict many centuries earlier, the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Norman Conquest. Some 70 metres long and only 50 centimetres wide, the ”tapestry” is in fact an embroidery stitched in woollen yarn on strips of linen and a replica on an upper floor of the museum details all the scenes.
Caen itself links the 11th century buildings of William the Conqueror with 20th century history as depicted in the ever expanding Caen M”morial, with its emphasis on understanding and peace. But this part of Normandy is not all history. Children are not forgotten with Parc Festyland, fine sandy beaches and numerous sporting activities, as well as many local festivals in traditional costume. The area is rich in chateaux, manors and half-timbered houses and is famous for its cider and Calvados liqueur, with many opportunities for tastings”.