Who’s taking the horse to France? Find out why to take the ferry.

TRAVEL – 18 MIN READ

Who’s taking the horse to France?

BY DEIRDRE MCGLONE

Architectural Impression © Carl Gysling

We all loved that famous Kerrygold advert when it hit our tv screens many years ago, and now that our family takes regular trips to France, the phrase gets jokingly referred to from time to time. But the biggest question is actually ‘how’ to get to France. To fly or not to fly? For ‘flying trips’ (forgive the pun:-), it’s certainly handy to book a flight but when it comes to going on holiday to France, I can highly recommend taking the ferry.

Clos Lucé – Leonardo’s former home

Love the Lot - Our Journey

Why take the ferry to France?

It’s the sense of adventure as your holiday starts the moment you hear the sound of the ship’s horn as it leaves the port. It’s the freedom it affords you. No chaos at the airport and standing in long security queues. You can pack the car with as much as will fit in. If you don’t like to be strapped to your seat for the duration of your journey, travelling by ferry gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs while you sail. You’re also free to explore the ship, dine with your family and friends, indulge in some retail therapy in the on-board shop or catch up on a good night’s sleep in a comfortable cabin with en-suite facilities. If travelling with children, there is also plenty on board to keep them entertained. And we all know that as soon as the children are happy, you are happy: let the holiday begin!

As a child, I have fond memories of our family sailing over and back from Ireland to Scotland during summer holidays. The nostalgic smell of exhausts as engines were switched off and families were squeezed between rows of roof-topped cars. The crowd climbed the narrow stairway and spilling out into the foyer. I remember the race to our cabin to ‘bags’ the top bunk-bed and as we were on holiday, it was a free for all regarding sweets and treats. We ran up and down every corridor and played hide and seek for ages. We went up on deck to watch the port seem to get smaller and smaller as the ship set sail. The giddy excitement of it all.

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In recent years, the standard of facilities has greatly improved. We regularly book the W.B. Yeats Ferry, operated by Irish Ferries and it sails from Dublin Port to Cherbourg. Their cabins are clean and very comfortable. In particular, we enjoy dining in the Lady Gregory restaurant – it’s an elegant experience. Later on in the evening, after perhaps a night-cap in the bar, retire to your cabin and be gently rocked to sleep. Awake fresh in the morning and after breakfast, you’ve arrived in la Belle France. Bon Voyage!

Cherbourg to Amboise

FIRST LEG – 4 hours drive

From Cherbourg to Le Moulin in the south-west of France, it’s about an eight hour drive. So we usually plan an overnight stay at the half-way mark. Our favourite place to stop is Amboise – a charming 15th century town in the Loire Valley. Amboise was once the home of Leonardo da Vinci. Clos Lucé, Leonardo’s former home is well worth a visit. Château d’Amboise in the centre of the town, was once the residence of King Charles VII.

Amboise to Le Moulin

SECOND LEG – 4 hours drive

Following breakfast, head south along the Loire valley, perhaps pick-up some shopping along the way and arrive at your destination just in time for a refreshing dip in the pool or the river before lunch.

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Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb

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TOP TIPS WHEN TRAVELLING BY FERRY

  1. Relax and Enjoy – it’s Day 1 of your holiday
  2. Plan your overnight stay in advance for Day 2 – especially in high season
  3. Pack a bag of travel essentials to take on deck – passengers are not permitted to return to their vehicles during the ferry crossing
  4. It’s a simple thing but make sure you note the deck level and door number closest to your parked car. Same for your cabin number
  5. Internet is only available at the beginning and end of your journey and that’s a good thing! 
  6. On the homeward journey, stock up on some fine French food and wine 

Ferry from Ireland to France

Everything but the kitchen sink!

There are 4 ferry routes operating between Ireland and France that sail approximately 8 times per week. This is of course during normal travel times. Irish Ferries sails from Dublin to Cherbourg and that runs around 4 times a week. Stena Line runs one route from Rosslare to Cherbourg. Brittany Ferries runs ferries from Cork to Roscoff and from Rosslare to Cherbourg.

Irish Ferries

Dublin to Cherbourg

The MV W.B. Yeats by Irish Ferries

The crossing operates up to 5 times each week with sailing durations from around 18 hours 30 minutes. Visit www.irishferries.com

Stena Line

Rosslare to Cherbourg

MS Stena Horizon by Stena Line

The crossing operates up to 6 times each week with sailing durations from around 18 hours. Visit: www.stenaline.ie

Brittany Ferries

Cork to Roscoff / Rosslare to Cherbourg

MS Salamanca by Brittany Ferries

The Fastest crossing 13 hours Cork to Roscoff one per week or Rosslare to Cherbourg 18 hours one per week. Visit: www.brittany-ferries.ie

WATCH: Inside the W.B. Yeats – Irish Ferries

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Ireland to France Map
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Le Moulin sur Célé

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Amboise

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Cherbourg

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Cork

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Rosslare

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Dublin

Cherbourg to Amboise 400 km /4 hours – Amboise to Le Moulin sur Célé 400 km/4 hours

Try Google Route Planner

To Stay in Amboise

Le Clos d’Amboise is an upmarket four star hotel located in the heart of Amboise and is always a firm favourite with our family. Hotel Le Blasson is a smaller property offering excellent value and friendly service.

Le Clos d’Amboise

A mansion house dating from the 17th century, Le Clos d’Amboise is surrounded by a large landscaped garden in the heart of Amboise.  www.leclosdamboise.com

Hotel Le Blason

Set in a 15th-century house in the heart of Amboise. Excellent location, simple no fuss accommodation with friendly staff. www.leblason.fr

To Eat in Amboise

There is a big selection of restaurants. We like Les Arpents for its refined, creative cuisine and we also recommend L’Ilôt, a small restaurant with open kitchen where you can watch all the typical theatrics of a French kitchen. The food is fab too.

Les Arpents

Refined seasonal cuisine, creative set menus & a long wine list in an airy modern dining room.  www.restaurant-lesarpents.fr

Restaurant L’Ilôt

Inventive gourmet plates prepared in a small down-to-earth restaurant with an open kitchen. Restaurant l’îlot

Office de Tourisme Amboise

For more info about Amboise visit: www.amboise-valdeloire.com

Who’s taking the horse to France?

Take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with the iconic Kerrygold TV advert of the past ‘Who’s taking the horse to France?’

Kerrygold is Ireland’s much-loved global food brand. The Kerrygold brand was created by Sir Anthony O’Reilly in 1962, The Kerrygold story is, to a large degree, the story of Irish family farming. Known and loved by consumers around the world, the brand is associated with its Irish origins and its rich, indulgent and taste.

À Bientôt

And so, our dream of a wee place in France is real. We feel very blessed and happy. Our three kids, Christina, Carl and James are as excited about it as we are. There’s so much to do and no doubt there will be highs and lows along the way. It’s a journey and a story that we look forwarding to sharing with you.

We are really looking forward to welcoming guests to Le Moulin from June 2023. Our booking system is now open. The warmest of welcomes awaits.

Hope to see you soon!

Warmest wishes,

Deirdre & Marc

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