Brittany Ferries – Cross Channel Ferries to France & Spain

Brittany Ferries

Founded in 1972 by proud Breton Alexis Gourvennec and a group of fellow Breton farmers wanting to export their cauliflowers and artichokes to the UK, Brittany Ferries is now the leading maritime carrier on the western and central Channel.

The company, originally known as Armement Bretagne-Angleterre-Irelande, or B.A.I. for short, was officially born on a bleak New Year’s Day in 1973, with French, British and Breton flags flying and a choir singing carols. With Britain’s entry into the Common Market in 1973, Gourvennec saw his chance to end the geographical isolation of Brittany.

Realising the quickest route to this new market would be across the western Channel to Plymouth, he contacted several large shipping companies to see if they would be interested in operating the route. These efforts were to no avail so he and his fellow farmers purchased their own freighter and named it ‘Kerisnel’, after a small Breton village famous for its cauliflowers. The Breton farming groups who founded the company remain its main shareholders to this day.

In 2013 Brittany Ferries marked its 40th anniversary whilst sailing to France and Spain from the United Kingdom with eight different vessels (including the returning Barfleur to operate once again between Poole and Cherbourg).

Named ‘Best Small Tour Operator to Western Europe’ and ‘Best Small Camping and Mobile Tour Operator’ in the British Travel Awards and ‘Best Ferry Operator’ in the prestigious Telegraph Travel Awards 2013. In May, Normandie Express inaugurated a new route from Portsmouth to the Norman port of Le Havre – the furthest east the company has ever operated.

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