Let the Battle of Le Havre commence!

As the Chunnel tightens its grip on the Dover Strait, competition is heating up in the Western Channel. Brittany Ferries takes the fight to DFDS with a new high speed service Portsmouth – Le Havre.

Brittany Ferries starts its high speed Portsmouth-Le Havre service in May.

Brittany Ferries starts its high speed Portsmouth-Le Havre service in May.

Dominant western channel operator Brittany Ferries has moved to consolidate its position with a new service to take on up-start DFDS.

The move is the latest in a series repositionings by English Channel operators and comes a few weeks after Eurotunnel said it had taken the majority of Dover Strait traffic for the first time.

DFDS – which merged with LD Lines last year, and this year consolidates their combined routes under the DFDS banner – currently runs an overnight service Portsmouth – Le Havre (with the return journey starting in the late afternoon).

The company advertises fares for two+car without cabin from £39 each way before 30 April 2013. Cabins start at £12 per leg. The cheapest option in the last two weeks in July 2013 is £199 return.

Starting 17 May (until 8 September) from Thursday to Sunday, Brittany Ferries’ high speed Normandie Express catamaran will make the same crossing in 3h 45mins.

The ship departs Portsmouth at 07:00 and arrives at 11:45. There is no word yet on fares. It is unclear if the new service is in addition to, or replaces, existing services.

Rival DFDS/ LD Lines currently runs an overnight service Portsmouth-Le Havre on Norman Voyager

Rival DFDS/ LD Lines currently runs an overnight service Portsmouth-Le Havre on Norman Voyager

Portsmouth is 75 miles south west of London on the A3 and A3(M). Le Havre is just across the mouth of the River Seine from the historic resort Deauville, via the amazing Pont de Normandie bridge and Honfleur.

The centre of Le Havre may well be a UNESCO World Heritage Site but that was for the work of Auguste Perrot ‘the poet of concrete’ and may not be to everybody’s taste.

Paris is 122 miles away with a toll of €19.20 (compared to 180 miles and €19.80 from Calais) along the beautiful Seine Valley. Notable stops include Rouen, the mediaeval fortress at Les Andelys and Giverney for Monet’s house, garden and museum. Le Mans is a useful 160 miles south (though the nearest port is Caen).

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