A Francophile’s guide to Canterbury

Enjoy a French frisson in this spiritual English city

Spiritual home of the Church of England, the city of Canterbury, like its French twin Reims, has a beautiful medieval cathedral that stands proudly over a historic centre. Canterbury is just a short hop from France and has a number of Gallic connections to charm residents and visitors.

To brush up on your French head for the Adult Education Centre in Knight Avenue (tel: 03000 412 222, www.kentadulteducation.co.uk). The centre organises a range of language courses and encourages learners to turn up and chat with a native speaker or attend the free taster sessions.

For a mid-morning break take a seat at Café Saint Pierre in St Peter’s Street in the city centre (tel: 01227 456 791). Enjoy a café au lait and home-made pâtisserie and soak up this authentic slice of France before continuing your visit.

Visit the cathedral and learn about the rebuilding of this majestic building in 1070 by the Norman bishop Lanfranc. Explore the old centre, with its narrow cobblestone streets, timber-framed buildings and weavers’ houses, once home to French Huguenots who introduced silk weaving to the city in the 17th century. Their legacy can also be seen at the cathedral, which holds a service in French on Sunday afternoons.

Stop for lunch at The Goods Shed (tel: 01227 459 153, www.thegoodsshed.co.uk, mains from £16.50), a foodie haven in Station Road West, where the on-site restaurant’s lunchtime bites include braised scallop and duck confit. While away part of the afternoon in the food hall which is stocked with French treats.

Enjoy an early dinner at Café du Soleil in Pound Lane (tel: 01227 479 999, www.cafedusoleil.co.uk, mains from £10.95), whose food is inspired by the flavours of Provence. Opt for such dishes as bouillabaisse, aubergine gratin or crab and prawn ravioli.

After your meal, try the Curzon independent picture house in Westgate Hall Road (www.curzoncinemas.co.uk), which regularly screens French-language films.

Peter Stewart

For more on the city go to www.canterbury.co.uk