Why do cheap UK-France ferry day-trips exist but France-UK do not?

Popping over to Dover for British goods or fish and chips used to be a nice day out for one reader until recently - blame duty-free

Cheap day returns from Dover to Calais are available but not in the other direction

One advantage of living close to Calais is the ability to pop over for British goods or fish and chips in a day.

Before one crisis or another, there were cheap day return ferry fares available to Dover, but recently I have discovered they no longer exist – only three-day or full-price tickets.

Dover to Calais direction get better deal

In the last few weeks, I have noticed more and more English customers in the Calais supermarkets stocking up on wine and cheese.

I asked one couple how they had got over and, to my surprise, they told me about a £39 day ticket from DFDS.

On checking the tariff for the Calais to Dover direction, however, the same day return would be no less than four times dearer.

Read more: Best time to buy ferry and plane tickets - 7 French travel updates

What is going on?

I emailed DFDS and they finally admitted I could only travel in that direction if I was prepared to pay 75% more, by buying two single tickets.

Irish Ferries are following the same policy. By choosing the right day and juggling off-peak sailings at unattractive times, it is just about possible to obtain a few lower fares from P&O, which could possibly make a day trip viable, but well short of the day offer from other firms.

To sum up, cheap day returns from France are pas disponible but in the other direction it is most definitely ‘welcome aboard!’. What is going on?

Malcolm GALE,


Editor’s note: DFDS said its day trip offer is to encourage people to travel and spend in the duty-free shops onboard and ashore at Calais and Dunkirk.

It is currently only available from the UK because customers have a larger duty-free allowance for entry into the UK than those travelling back into France.

“The duty-free spend offsets the lower ticket revenues generated from providing a £39 fare,” it said.

Customers travelling from France can still take advantage of three-day and five-day short break fares, which offer a saving on the standard return fare.

Your view

Have you noticed changes in ferry services or fares? Let us know via news@connexionfrance.com

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