Heading off on holiday the Newhaven to Dieppe ferry is a great way of getting over to France before you drive to Paris, Provence and the rest of Europe.

I have always glanced across the shore when we arrived in Normandy, catching sight of what looked like an attractive beach and port town.

But when you drive off the ferry you do not get to see much of Dieppe and you are soon heading off to Brittany, the South of France or maybe over to Belgium, Holland and Germany.

But this time our curiosity had gotten the better of us and we were dying to see what Dieppe was really like, and we are so glad we did.

The ferry port drops you off on the east side of the town when in fact the beach, the hotels and the pretty town centre is on the west side.

Heading to our hotel gave us a taste of what was to come passing by the attractive harbour.

Our hotel, the welcoming Inter Hotel de la Plage, was on the seafront but separated from the beach by fields, a little like Hove Lawns. After a lovely buffet breakfast on our first day we took the advice of Isabelle our host and headed to the huge French Saturday market.

Dieppe is a much busier, larger town than I had realised and the old French buildings in the centre reminded me of the likes of Lille with cosy little roads off of the main street.

There were dozens of stalls selling lovely French produce.

There were wooden boxes full of huge apples from nearby Picardie, then there were piles of sausages and meat. And of course there was the cheese.

There were lots of stalls selling cheese from nearby Neufchâtel in Normandy.

I asked the seller if it was like Brie, he said ‘yes, but with a little more salt’.

But when we had a picnic in the sun nearby we found that though it is from cow’s milk it tastes more like a goat’s cheese.

And lovely it was too. It is soft and slightly crumbly, said to be one of the oldest cheeses in France. Its production is believed to date back to the 6th century.

We decided to try one of the saucisson sec - smoked sausages. We went for the cured camembert flavour. That went perfectly well with the cheese and wine too.

We also bought some fantastic white asparagus that we’ve had at home since, which was gorgeous wrapped in bacon.

Some lovely ginger cake from the market that finished off our picnic on the beach in the sun too.

The children burnt off some energy on the life size pirate ship playground, also enjoying the small 2 euro a ride motorised cars as we took the chance to put our feet up. Though we were only two weeks into March it felt like a Summer’s day.

The gothic Saint Jacques church is hugely impressive, with its gargoyles it reminded me of Notre dame in Paris.

And another place we really didn’t want to miss was the imposing castle which stands high above the town. On our way we saw the last remaining gate house. It was the last survivor of five from when the whole town was surrounded by high walls to fend off the English.

Dieppe Castle overlooks the beach and town centre. The castle is impressive and inside is a wonderful exhibition of paintings, including work by Renoir and Sisley.

The museum highlights how Dieppe, and the Normandy coast, has a rich art history.

There are public information boards dotted the town around showing where impressionists and others would have stood, showing their paintings so that you can compare them to the modern day view.

There was one close to our hotel showing a painting by the British painter Walter Sickert, who lived in Dieppe in the 1880s.

It was great to see how little had changed since he painted on the exact same spot, the beautiful seafront having retained its charm.


Prices for travel with DFDS from Newhaven to Dieppe start from £78 each way for a car and two people.

Bookings include access to a lounge with reclining seats, and private cabins with ensuite bathrooms are available for an additional charge. Prices vary according to demand and are subject to change.

Crossings on the route take four hours, with two departures a day each way from October to April, and three sailings per day from May to September.

Customers are advised to check in at least 90 minutes prior to departure. Book at www.dfds.co.uk.

 For further information about Normandy visit www.normandy-tourism.org  

Prices for travel with DFDS from Dover to Calais or Dunkirk start from £39 each way for a car and nine people. All ships in the modern fleet feature a premium lounge, which can be booked for an additional £12 per person each way.

The lounge provides a quiet space with free newspapers, fresh fruit, pastries and petits-fours, soft drinks and a glass of Prosecco upon arrival. Prices vary in line with demand and are subject to change.

Crossings on the Dover-Calais route take 90 minutes each way and Dover-Dunkirk sailings are two hours.

Customers are advised to check in at least 45 minutes before their scheduled sailing time, or 60 minutes prior during busy periods. Book at www.dfds.co.uk.