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Things to do in Portsmouth

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If you are planning on taking a ferry to France from Portsmouth you may find you have a few hours before your ferry to spend in the city and there is plenty of things for you to do before you head off to France, and with ferries taking around 6 hours from Portsmouth it’s always good to explore the area before heading off on the trip.

Spinnaker Tower

One of the newest tourist attractions to arrive in Portsmouth is Spinnaker Tower which is a 170 metre tall structure which is located on Portsmouth Harbour. A combination of cafes, bars an

d things to do with the all important viewing platforms make up Spinnaker Tower. The viewing platforms are on several decks with panoramic views of the city and of course the surrounding seaside for 23 miles, on a clear day you may be able to spot your ferry in the docks! You will need a ticket to get entry on to the viewing decks and you can check the latest Spinnaker Tower prices and print off a voucher at

Mary Rose Story

As a waterfront city it should come as no surprise that Portsmouth tourist attractions and the industry were centred around the sea, the Navy, fishing and of course the ferry crossings to France, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. As a result of this many of the museums focus on this and are ideal for those who want to find more about the history. If you head over to the historic dockyard of Portsmouth you will find the Mary Rose Story which is opening in Spring 2013. The collection of historic naval objects, costumed staff and the museum being located in the actual ship which has been conserved will take you back hundreds of years!

D Day Museum

With Porstmouth playing an important part in the history of the Second World War and D Day there is of course a museum dedicated to this, The D Day Museum. The museum focuses on just the day of 6th June 1944 when the monumental D Day took place! There is lots of memorabilia and preserved artefacts from the day as well as the story which led up to the event and a film to give a more interactive view on the day.

In addition to the museums Portsmouth is home to miles of coastline and beaches which are worth checking out if you only have a short amount of time to spare.

Ferry Routes from Portsmouth

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Although the majority of ferries to France take place across The Channel from Dover to destinations such as Calais there are multiple further ferry to France routes which set sail from other important ferry ports in the UK such as Portsmouth.

Portsmouth to St Malo
St Malo is located in Brittany and is one of the more western ports available for a ferry to France from the United Kingdom and therefore ideal for anyone planning a trip to any of the popular western France destinations such as Bordeaux. The Portsmouth to St Malo ferry route is operated by Brittany Ferries everyday on an overnight basis and the comfortable cabins means you can sleep through the majority of the 11 hour crossing making it feel like you are not wasting any time on the travel part of your holiday. When you return from St Malo to Portsmouth the sailings are once again on a daily basis but instead, these take place during the day.

Portsmouth to Caen
Caen, the capital of the Basse Normandie region of north France located 2 hours away from Paris is perfectly located to be a major port for ferries to France from the United Kingdom. This is the most frequent ferry to France from Portsmouth as there are three sailings every day, a significant increase on the daily or less frequent sailings on the other routes. More frequent sailings means a greater level of flexibility with a variety of crossing times to choose from depending on your schedule and preferences in regards to sailing during the day or overnight. The Portsmouth to Caen route takes between 6 and 7 hours depending on the time of crossing and you will be completely comfortable in the luxury cabins in the ship.

Portsmouth to Cherbourg Ferry to France
Cherbourg-Octeville is located in Normany, North West France. There are currently two different operators running ferries to France between Cherbourg and Portsmouth and these are Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries. The Portsmouth to Cherbourg ferry to France from Brittany Ferries sails 11 times every week and takes just three hours which is significantly shorter than the ferry to Cherbourg which is operated Condor Ferries. Condor Ferries run one sailing between Portsmouth and Cherbourg each week which takes 5 hours and 30 minutes.
Portsmouth to Le Havre

Le Havre is located on France’s north west coast and just 2 hours away from Paris therefore one of the most convenient ports available if you are looking to head towards Paris and other attractions of France. The Portsmouth to Le Havre ferry is operated by LD Lines on a daily basis setting sail at 11pm on the Norman Voyager ship, arriving in France at 8am.

French Food

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When visiting a country whether it’s for business or a personal holiday you should take all of the opportunities you can to explore the local culture of the country. Food forms a significant part of the French culture and has an important part of the French history and with different cuisines in the regions around France it is worth sampling the best that the country has to offer in the country itself! Wherever you are travelling in France you should be able to sample at least some of these following foods:

Frogs Legs

This, along with snails are two of the most stereotypical French dishes out there and usually not thought off with a high opinion but as bad as they sound frogs legs are actually quite tasty. There are different ways you can serve the frogs legs, mainly deep fried and breaded and this is usually with garnish such as garlic. People consider the moist tender meat which just slips off the bone to be a middle ground between chicken and fish.


Once again, to the traveller to France this may not sound like the tastiest dish on the menu! They are known as Escargot and tend to be on the starters or appetiser menu. The snail is typically cooked in garlic butter and served in the shell. Escargot is a remarkably healthy dish with a 15% protein content.


In France regional cheese factories are in abundance and the cheese produced therefore forms a strong part of the diet of the residents in the area as well as attracting tourists looking for traditional cheese tastings! The cheese that is produced in a particular reason tends to be named after that area, an example of which would be Bleu d’Auvergne cheese from Auvergne in central France. Some other famous French cheeses you may have heard of are Brie de Melun, Camembert de Normandie and Langres.


Although now enjoyed as a breakfast product across the world they are a French staple and you can’t go to France without enjoying at least one breakfast from a French patisserie. Some of the most common French pastries include croissants, pain aux chocolat and pain aux raisins.

France has some popular dishes when it comes to lunch and dinner which are popular in many of the French regions and here are some of the most popular French dishes which will be on the menu.


A traditional dish which was created in Nice and is simply stewed vegetables, served as a side, as a main meal with pasta, bread or rice or even as the filling for a crepe. The vegetables in ratatouille are predominantly tomatoes with flavoursome accompaniments such as onion, eggplant, peppers and herbs.

Coq au Vin

This is a popular French meal that varies throughout the different regions depending on the wine tha is used. This is simply a dish of chicken, the local wine, mushrooms and seasonings such as garlic, herbs, salt and pepper braised together in a single pot.

Price Increase?

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2015 will see the convention of marine pollution come into effect which is likely to result in drastic changes to the ferry industry across the Channel, Baltic and North Sea.

The regulations have been created in order to reduce the amount of pollution caused by the shipping industry. Currently most ships across the world use untreated fuel which contains 2-3% sulphur dioxide in the emissions which causes acid rain, currently The Channel, North and Baltic seas have a smaller limit of just 1% however the new regulations mean this limit will be a tiny 0.1% only possible by changing the fuel.

The Marpol Annexe VI will therefore be achieving its aim of cutting pollution caused by ships in the seas surrounding Europe to a significant degree but this will have several knock on effects that will be felt, not only be ferry users but the general population due to increase food and products which are imported.

The regulations will result in several longer distance ferry routes being cut and ships changing to a low emission fuel which already costs 50% more than marine fuel currently used. In addition the increased demand almost certainly result in the fuel further increasing in price and even shortages if oil companies cannot keep up with the new levels of demand.

Such huge increases in cost will be difficult for the shipping companies to absorb so when it comes to the ferry fares to France and other European destinations prices will ultimately increase. The several longer routes which are expected to be cut will also result in passengers having to take a ferry to the main ports then drive further to their ultimate destination using fuel of their own, once again increasing the overall cost of the holiday.
Both P&O and DFDS Seaways have released statements on the changes warning passengers about the soaring cost of ferries when the regulations come into place in 2015. DFDS predicting fuel costs will be subject to a 80% rise.