Brittany Ferries to launch world’s largest hybrid vessel on France-UK routes

Brittany Ferries is set to launch the world's largest hybrid vessel on its services between France and the UK.

Brittany Ferries to launch world's largest hybrid vessel on France-UK routes
A ferry from Brittany ferries sails in the harbour of Le Havre, northern France in 2021 (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Set to enter service in 2025, the ship will be called the Saint-Malo – and appropriately will operate on the Portsmouth-St Malo route.

The vessel will be able to run both on natural gas and battery power, and the company says it represents another step in its goal of lessening its carbon footprint, after it launched its first LNG-powered vessel, the Salamanca, earlier this year. The company will also launch another hybrid vessel, the Santoña in 2023.

The company announced that this hybrid ship “will be a first on the cross-Channel routes, demonstrating Brittany Ferries’ strong commitment to the energy transition.”

The Saint-Malo will run by combining thermal engines with electric motors/generators and batteries, which will allow it to significantly reduce its fuel consumption. The existing hybrid vessels are already set to reduce Brittany Ferries’ emissions by 20 to 25 percent.

On top of decreasing its carbon footprint, the addition of the hybrid vessel will also offer more beds, in order to increase its capacity for night crossings.

The ship will measure 194.7 meters long and 27.8 meters wide, which is larger than the current vessel in use, Le Bretagne, and will be able to increase passenger capacity during night crossings by 200 to 300 additional seats.

The cabins will range in size and accommodation, with both luxury and standard options. All cabin seats will be equipped with wifi, USB ports, and electrical outlets fitted to both EU and UK standards. Additionally, the ship will also offer five bars and restaurants, as well as a recreational area the deck and two play areas for children.

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France caps visitor numbers at Marseille coves

The Calanques National Park in southern France is limiting entries in a bid to stop its age-old rock formations from collapsing.

France caps visitor numbers at Marseille coves

Two popular coves in the “Calanques” area near Marseille, among southern France’s main attractions, saw visitor numbers capped on Sunday for the first time to protect their fragile ecosystem.

The coast between Marseille and Cassis features France’s best-known Calanques, age-old rock formations featuring steep cliffs, offering spectacular views, rare marine fauna and protected swimming.

Hugely popular with locals and visitors alike, they are often accessible only by boat or hiking trails.

Because the limestone formations have little or no topsoil, plants have had to take root in cracks between the rocks, making their hold tenuous and vulnerable to disturbances.

“The Sugiton and Pierres Tombees calanques have fallen victim to very serious soil erosion because of overcrowding,” said the Calanques National Park which manages the landscape of narrow vertical cliffs, inlets and beaches.

“This phenomenon is threatening the landscapes that we love so much, and bio-diversity,” it said.

Access to Sugiton and Pierres Tombees was limited to 400 people each on Sunday, compared to the usual summer daily visitor numbers of 2,500.

The new measure is to allow “the natural regeneration” of the cove, Nicolas Chardin, the national park’s interim director, told AFP at the Sugiton beach on Sunday.

Online bookings are free of charge, but anyone found at the beaches without a pass on capped days can be fined 68 euros ($72).

“Everything went well this morning, let’s hope it stays that way the entire season,” Mathieu Benquet, who heads the national park’s police team, told AFP.

However, many people — including several foreigners — had been turned away at the several checkpoints along the access path to the cove because they didn’t have the required QR code.

Some visitors, hoping for a cooling swim on a hot day, were unhappy about the new rule.

“We’ve been coming here for 10 years, it feels like our home cove,” said Younes Azabib, a 26-year old Marseille resident.

“We thought of everything, the picnic and the pizzas. But we didn’t think to book,” said his friend, Bilal.

But others appreciated the new-found calmness at the beach.

“This is great,” said Isabelle, a 50-year old Marseille resident who usually stays away during the summer because of crowds. “It’s finally possible to have a swim.”

Nicolas Ponsot, a 41-year-old father of three, also welcomed the visitor cap, saying “it helps to preserve this whole eco-system”.

The new rule is to be applied again next Sunday and then daily between July 10 and August 21, the national park said.