Bretagne and Mont St Michel – ‘The Event Before the Event’

Introduction

On Tuesday 14th July 2015 Paul Cloke and myself departed Kent for Portsmouth for a a short mini cruise with Brittany Ferries travelling out on the Bretagne to the Breton port of St Malo before returning the following day from the Norman port of Caen (Ouistreham) on the Mont St Michel.

Those who follow the site on a regular basis will know that this is a journey we have completed a number of times before and this is mainly down to the fact that we both really like the Bretagne and its relaxed and comfortable level of service. The reason for our crossing this time was to not only follow up on our previous trip on the Bretagne back in March of this year but to have a bit of rest and relaxation before an important event in August.

My good friend Paul Cloke is getting married in August and as his best man I thought I would treat him to a trip to get away from all things wedding related for a couple of days. This trip ended up being known as ‘the event before the event’. There will also be an ‘event after the event’ in October, more information about that will be known in the next month or so….

The reasoning behind picking the Bretagne was simple at the end of the day. The timings were right, it offered nice surroundings, an excellent restaurant and a nice bar with entertainment, plus the added bonus of breakfast in St Malo, a place which I can safely say we have both fallen in love with.

Usually when I go on one of these sort of journeys it has to be said that I do not travel light. I will usually have a massive camera bag with two DSLR’s and a selection of lenses but for this trip I was limiting myself to just one camera.

For the last month or so I have been evaluating a Panasonic Lumix FZ72 bridge camera to see how it compares to my usual kit and all the photographs in this report (apart from the food) were taken with this camera. What I will say is a bridge camera does have many advantages over a DSLR in its portability, zoom reach and simple point and shoot nature but the one thing that I did find was the levels of digital noise in the photographs were occasionally unacceptable and the unit lacked consistency. I could take two photos with exactly the same settings a second or so apart and the pictures would differ wildly and yes this was with a tripod and trigger remote so movement of the camera wasn’t to blame. That said and all things aside I think it will be handy addition to the camera bag.

As with previous voyage reports this is mainly going to be a captioned photo story of the actual journey and I do have to warn you in advance that this post, just like our other Brittany Ferries voyage reports, contains photos of food! (I can see a pattern developing here yet again).

Previous Voyage Reports

> Four Seasons  > Easter With Brittany Ferries > Brittany Ferries Mont St Michel and Bretagne


Portsmouth

14th July 2015

© Ray Goodfellow

The Condor Ferries freight vessel Commodore Goodwill passes Southsea inbound to Portsmouth International Port from the Channel Islands

© Ray Goodfellow  © Ray Goodfellow

A round of the America’s Cup world series is taking in place in the Solent between the 23rd-26th July and here is the British entry seen passing through the entrance to Portsmouth harbour. Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) was launched on June 10th 2014 in the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge. The team was conceived by four times Olympic gold medalist and 34th America’s Cup winner, Sir Ben Ainslie, with the long-term aim of challenging for Britain and bringing the America’s Cup back home to where it all began in 1851. Renamed Land Rover BAR in June 2015, it is a commercial sporting team, with a number of individual private investors alongside corporate partners. The team is made up of some of the best British and international sailors, designers, builders and racing support and is based at a new purpose built facility within Portsmouth harbour.

Further information is available on the Land Rover BAR and the America’s Cup World Series websites.

© Ray Goodfellow

The Wight Ryder 1 and Wight Ryder 2 pass in the ‘Swashway’ at the entrance to Portsmouth harbour. Both craft appeared to be very busy on the Portsmouth Harbour-Ryde route due to the suspension of the rival Hovertravel hovercraft service between Southsea and Ryde due to a technical problem

© Ray Goodfellow

The St Cecilia seen in the gathering gloom crossing the Solent on a routine crossing from Fishbourne to Portsmouth Gunwharf. The Isle of Wight town of Ryde can be seen in the background

© Ray Goodfellow

The Wightlink vessel St Clare is seen heading to Fishbourne as the Wight Ryder 1 approaches Portsmouth from Ryde

© Ray Goodfellow

“Its behind you!” What a difference half an hour can make in the great British Summer. Overcast skies and drizzle welcome the Brittany Ferries vessel Bretagne inbound from St Malo. She is seen here hurrying through the Solent on approach to Portsmouth harbour

© Ray Goodfellow

The Brittany Ferries vessel Bretagne is seen navigating the channel on the approach to Portsmouth harbour

© Ray Goodfellow

The Brittany Ferries vessel Bretagne is seen navigating the channel on the approach to Portsmouth harbour

© Ray Goodfellow

The Brittany Ferries vessel Bretagne is seen here passing Southsea on the approach to Portsmouth harbour

© Ray Goodfellow

The Brittany Ferries vessel Bretagne is seen here passing Southsea on the approach to Portsmouth harbour

© Ray Goodfellow

A close up shot of the bow of the Bretagne as she passes Southsea on the approach to Portsmouth harbour. This vessel has a forward viewing area situated on the fo’c’sle which gives great views entering Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

A close up of the bow of the Bretagne with the Cunard Line vessel Queen Elizabeth seen in the distance outbound from Southampton heading for Dublin

© Ray Goodfellow

The Cunard Line vessel Queen Elizabeth is seen here heading through the Solent outbound from Southampton heading for Dublin

© Ray Goodfellow

Not the greatest shot in the world due to the distance and the grey weather but here the APL Sentosa can be seen passing through the Solent heading for the Port of Southampton. The APL Sentosa is the 9th ship in a 14 ship series and was built in South Korea by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries and she entered service in 2014. She weighs in at 151,015 GRT and has a length of 368 metres. She is 51m wide and has a draught of 15 metres and is capable of carrying 14,000 containers between Europe and the Far East. After her brief stay in Southampton she departed for the Suez.

© Ray Goodfellow

Shortly after the arrival of the Bretagne the Brittany Ferries vessel Pont-Aven departed Portsmouth for Santander in Spain. I hope it’s a bit sunnier there than it is in the Solent! She is seen here approaching Clarence Pier

© Ray Goodfellow

The Pont-Aven passes through the entrance to Portsmouth harbour outbound to Santander

© Ray Goodfellow

The Pont-Aven passes Southsea, Portsmouth outbound to Santander

© Ray Goodfellow

A close up view of the bow of the Pont-Aven as she passes Southsea with one of the Southampton Pilot launches inbound to Portsmouth Harbour

© Ray Goodfellow

The Pont-Aven passes Southsea, Portsmouth outbound to Santander

© Ray Goodfellow

The Pont-Aven passes Southsea, Portsmouth outbound to Santander

© Ray Goodfellow

The Pont-Aven heads out into the Solent

© Ray Goodfellow

The Pont-Aven heads out into the Solent


20:15 Portsmouth – St Malo

MV Bretagne

After an afternoon on the waterfront watching the comings and goings of not just the ships but the great British weather it was soon time for us to head to the Portsmouth International Port to check in for our 2015 sailing to St Malo. As per usual with Brittany Ferries check-in was painless and hassle free and unusually security was already open and we proceeded straight to the berth to wait for embarkation to commence.

After a 20 minute wait we were driving onboard and heading for the upper car deck (deck 5). Once aboard we heading straight to our Club cabin on deck 8 to get ourselves ready for departure. We discovered that we had a problem with no hot water in our cabin and this was reported at the reception desk. By this time the weather had really closed in with mist and drizzle but the bar was open so it seemed rude not to toast our journey with a pint or two. We didn’t even have to go to the bar to purchase our drinks as the serving staff in the Gwenn Ha Du lounge are very attentive and take your order from your seat. Our barman remembered our order for the rest of the evening.

The ship went astern off the berth on time and after swinging close to the naval vessel HMS Kent we were heading through Portsmouth harbour and out into the Solent. The overnight crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo takes about 11 hours, arriving at 0715 British time. This gives ample time to enjoy the ship and it’s ample facilities.

After witnessing our departure we quickly headed back to our cabin to find that we now had hot water (well done Brittany Ferries) before we headed to the Les Abers a la carte restaurant for dinner. We have previous experience of this restaurant and we were looking forward to the meal, some may say it’s the highlight of the trip and for me it definitely helped make the journey very enjoyable indeed.

The restaurant was very busy and as a consequence we had to share a table. We were seated straight away with a couple from South Wales who were heading to France for a month with their motorhome. They were friendly and certainly helped make the dining experience more interesting.

Having studied the menu we opted for the set price menu at £30.80, yes this isn’t the cheapest meal in the world but it is 4 courses and this was a special occasion and from previous experience on this vessel the food and the service is well worth the money.

Now for some food shots……


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Gravlax De Salmon, Condiment Betterave-Tomate (Salmon gravlax, flavoured with beetroot and tomato)

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Coquilles Saint Jacques Mariniere De Coquillages au Cidre et Kari Grosse (Scallops, marinated in a shellfish, cider and Kari Gosse sauce)

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Tournedos de Filet de Canard, Fruit Laque (Fillet of duck tournedos, lacquered fruit)

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Filet de Boeuf Roti, Sauce au Poivre Rouge de Kampot (Roast fillet of beef, Kampot red pepper sauce)

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Profiteroles a la Vanille et au Chocolat (Profiteroles with vanilla ice cream served with Chantilly cream and hot chocolate sauce)

Please note we forgot to take pictures of the Plateau de Fromages Des Regions de France (Plate of Regional French Cheeses) and Camembert en Boîte, Chutney de Pommes et de Poires (Baked camembert, apple and pear chutney)


Once again Brittany Ferries and the Bretagne lived up to the reputation of providing the finest quality food and the greatest service available on a ferry. We have eaten a lot of ‘ferry food’ in our time and in my own mind nothing compares to what I have experienced on this ship. Yes as I stated previously, it wasn’t a cheap meal but that saying “You get what you pay for” certainly does apply in this case.

After dinner we retired to the ‘Gwenn Ha Du‘ lounge for a few more drinks and to sample the onboard entertainment. On this sailing there was a magician for the younger passengers and this was followed by a singer. Unfortunately for me it was a Shania Twain tribute act and I will admit now that I can’t stand Shania Twain. Don’t get me wrong the female artist had a great voice but the content of the show was not to my taste, I think Paul enjoyed it more than me! After a few more drinks it was soon time to retire to our cabin for some rest before our early arrival in St Malo.


St Malo

15th July 2015

After a very comfortable nights sleep we were both up quite early (I think it was about 0530) so after a hot shower it was up on deck to witness our arrival at the Breton port of St Malo. The weather was still quite overcast but the sun was trying to make an appearance and more importantly it was warm.


© Ray Goodfellow

The sun makes an appearance as we approach St Malo, nothing like a bit of fresh sea air to wake you up after a night out!

© Ray Goodfellow

The Grand Jardin lighthouse on the approach to St Malo

© Ray Goodfellow

On final approach to St Malo following a very enjoyable crossing on the Bretagne

© Ray Goodfellow

The Condor Ferries fast craft Condor Rapide gets underway from St Malo for St Helier, Jersey. The Condor Rapide is no stranger to us here in Dover being the ex SpeedOne which served between Dover and Boulogne for the now defunct Speed Ferries

© Ray Goodfellow

The Condor Ferries fast craft Condor Rapide gets underway from St Malo for St Helier, Jersey. The Condor Rapide is no stranger to us here in Dover being the ex SpeedOne which served between Dover and Boulogne for the now defunct Speed Ferries

© Ray Goodfellow

Just in case you can’t remember the name of the ship you’re on!

© Ray Goodfellow

The Bretagne coming astern to her berth with the walled old city of St Malo (La Ville Intra-Muros) beyond. After arrival we headed for the Intra-Muros for breakfast

© Ray Goodfellow

The walled old city of St Malo (La Ville Intra-Muros)

© Ray Goodfellow

Port staff bring a large ramp down the linkspan with a forklift, quite a commendable piece of driving when you consider the ramp is nearly as wide as the linkspan

© Ray Goodfellow

Port staff bring a large ramp down the linkspan with a forklift, quite a commendable piece of driving when you consider the ramp is nearly as wide as the linkspan

© Ray Goodfellow

Job done, now it’s time to disembark and head to the Intra-Muros for breakfast

© Ray Goodfellow

After a nice continental breakfast in the walled city we headed out on the pier to witness the Bretagne depart back to Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

A panoramic view of St Malo port captured from the pier. It may not have been particularly sunny but it was nice and warm

© Ray Goodfellow

The sailing vessel ‘Le Renard‘ (The Fox) is seen departing St Malo on a cruise. She is a replica of an armed boat built in 1812 by the St. Malo privateer Robert Surcouf (1773-1827). This topsail cutter has a breadth of 19 metres and a length of 30 meters and is part of the heritage of the city of Saint-Malo. She is owned and operated by Etoile Marine Croisier. Further information on this vessel is available on there website

© Ray Goodfellow

The sailing vessel ‘Le Renard‘ (The Fox) is seen departing St Malo on a cruise. She is a replica of an armed boat built in 1812 by the St. Malo privateer Robert Surcouf (1773-1827). This topsail cutter has a breadth of 19 metres and a length of 30 meters and is part of the heritage of the city of Saint-Malo. She is owned and operated by Etoile Marine Croisier. Further information on this vessel is available on there website

© Ray Goodfellow

The last few pieces of freight board the Bretagne before she departs for Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

The Bretagne gets underway on her 10:30 crossing from St Malo back to Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

The Bretagne gets underway on her 10:30 crossing from St Malo back to Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

The Bretagne gets underway on her 10:30 crossing from St Malo back to Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

A wide angle shot of the Bretagne heading out of St Malo for Portsmouth. The Grand Jardin lighthouse and numerous yachts are visible 


14:00 Caen – Portsmouth

MV Mont St Michel

After witnessing the departure of the Bretagne from St Malo it was time for the 2 hour car journey to Ouistreham (Caen) to get our return crossing back to Portsmouth on the Mont St Michel. We have also travelled on this vessel a number of times and have found her to be a comfortable day boat as well as a superb night boat. Even though this was a day crossing I still booked an inside two berth cabin, it’s handy as a place to keep your bags and if you want to get your head down on the 6 hour crossing and at £15 it’s great value.

We arrived at Ouistreham about 30 mins before check-in closed and we were soon waiting to board the vessel. After about another 20 mins we were driving on to the upper car deck. After boarding we found our cabin on deck 7 and headed to Le Café du Festival on deck 9 for a light bite. The ship departed on time and soon we were clearing the port and heading out to sea. Following the early start we headed to our cabin for a couple of hours sleep.

After a pleasant sleep we decided to get some dinner ahead of our 19:15 arrival in Portsmouth. We headed for the ‘La Galerie‘ self service restaurant on deck 8 where we both had a steak (which was cooked to order) a dessert, a drink and bread and cheese and it came to £27, very good value especially when compared to what some ferry operators charge for a simple dish such as Fish & Chips with mushy peas!

After dinner we headed for the forward facing sundeck on deck 7 to watch our approach to Portsmouth. It wasn’t long until we were entering the Solent. The Normandie Express passed down our port side inbound to Portsmouth from Cherbourg. After this the P&O Cruises vessel Arcadia sailed down our portside  at close quarters outbound from Southampton heading for Bergen, Norway.


© Ray Goodfellow

The Mont St Michel seen at her berth in Ouistreham loading for her 14:00 sailing to Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

The Arcadia outbound from Southampton is seen through the heat haze produced by the Normandie Express in the Solent

© Ray Goodfellow

The P&O Cruises vessel Arcadia passing down our port side outbound from Southampton heading for Bergen in Norway

© Ray Goodfellow

The P&O Cruises vessel Arcadia passing down our port side outbound from Southampton heading for Bergen in Norway

© Ray Goodfellow

The P&O Cruises vessel Arcadia passing down our port side outbound from Southampton heading for Bergen in Norway

© Ray Goodfellow

The P&O Cruises vessel Arcadia passing down our port side outbound from Southampton heading for Bergen in Norway

© Ray Goodfellow

The flag of Normandie (les p’tits cats) proudly flying from the bow of the Mont St Michel on approach to Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

The final approach to Portsmouth seen from the forward sun deck on the Mont St Michel

© Ray Goodfellow

Type 45 ‘Daring-Class’ destroyer HMS Dauntless (D33) at HMNB Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

Type 45 ‘Daring-Class’ destroyer HMS Dauntless (D33) at HMNB Portsmouth

© Ray Goodfellow

Type 45 ‘Daring-Class’ destroyer HMS Diamond (D34) at HMNB Portsmouth. Her sister vessel HMS Dragon (D35) can be seen undergoing maintenance in dock beyond. Also in this shot is the decommissioned ice patrol ship HMS Endurance (A171) which served with the Royal Navy between 1991 and 2008. She has been out of service since 2008, when she was seriously damaged by flooding. In October 2013 it was reported that she would be scrapped but in July 2015 the vessel was offered for sale for further use or recycling.

© Ray Goodfellow

Type 45 ‘Daring-Class’ destroyer HMS Diamond (D34) seen at HMNB Portsmouth. Her sister vessel HMS Dragon (D35) can be seen undergoing maintenance in the dock beyond

© Ray Goodfellow

The Condor Ferries freight vessel Commodore Goodwill is seen loading at Portsmouth International Port pending her evening departure to the Channel Islands

© Ray Goodfellow

The Bretagne seen loading at Portsmouth International Port for her evening departure to St Malo whilst taking on bunkers from the Jaynee W . The fast ferry Normandie Express is seen berthing having just arrived from Cherbourg

© Ray Goodfellow

Type 23 ‘Duke Class’ frigate HMS Kent (F78) seen at HMNB Portsmouth undergoing maintenance

© Ray Goodfellow

The now retired ‘Invincible Class’ aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (R06), affectionately known as “Lusty” to her crews seen at Portsmouth. She was decommissioned at HMNB Portsmouth on 28 August 2014 following 32 years of active service. It is hoped that she will be preserved and opened to the public in the future.

© Ray Goodfellow

The Bretagne seen loading at Portsmouth International Port for her evening departure to St Malo whilst taking on bunkers from the Jaynee W . The fast ferry Normandie Express is seen berthing having just arrived from Cherbourg

© Ray Goodfellow

The Bretagne seen loading at Portsmouth International Port for her evening departure to St Malo whilst taking on bunkers from the Jaynee W . The fast ferry Normandie Express is seen on her berth having just arrived from Cherbourg


Conclusion

Once again we had a very enjoyable Brittany Ferries experience on these two vessels. The Bretagne is not the youngest ship in the Brittany Ferries and with the possibility of her being withdrawn in 2016 I advise people to try her before she goes. She has a quaint charm about her and she will be greatly missed when she leaves the fleet.

I hope my good friend Paul Cloke enjoyed his pre wedding break and I wish him and his bride Rachel the best of luck for their future together and I would like to thank Paul for asking me to be his best man. It’s a big responsibility but I am sure I will do you proud.

It just leaves me to thank Brittany Ferries for updating our booking and the crews of the MV Bretagne and MV Mont St Michel for a very enjoyable time and have no fear we will be back, hopefully on the Pont-Aven this time (hint, hint).

Ray Goodfellow

19th July 2015


All of the photographs featured in this article were taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMZ FZ72

This article and all photographs featured (unless otherwise stated) are the copyright © of Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos) 2015, All rights reserved. Images posted in this article may not be reproduced or shared without permission.

4 Comments

  1. Hello Ray and of course Paul, who I would like to congratulate him on his forthcoming marriage, well a very good story about your journey I like it very well and read it with pleasure.
    Thanks.

    Have a nice day and greetings from a cloudy Netherlands.

    Henk.




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    1. Hi Henk,

      Thanks for your kind comments and I shall pass on your good wishes to Paul. I am glad you enjoyed the report on our voyage with Brittany Ferries 🙂

      Greetings from a wet and now foggy Dover.

      Best Wishes
      Ray




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  2. Thanks for those magnificent photos Ray. You have a gift of being able to capture a trip like that with your camera.
    Well done!

    Trevor




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    1. Thank you for the kind words Trevor, greatly appreciated 🙂

      The next long voyage report will follow later on in the year when we complete our exhaustive crossings of the North Sea.

      All the best
      Ray




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