Northern France – it’s a voyage of discovery!
Northern France is surprisingly unknown territory for many of us, despite the fact that it’s just a short hop across the Channel from Dover. Most of us only see the Pas de Calais from the motorway en route to destinations elsewhere in France, but it’s a part of France which is full of hidden treasures and well worth exploring.
Northern France is surprisingly unknown territory for many of us, despite the fact that it’s just a short hop across the Channel from Dover. Most of us only see the Pas-de-Calais from the motorway en route to destinations elsewhere in France, but it’s a part of France which is full of hidden treasures and well worth exploring.
SeaFrance Dover-Calais Ferries have been operating on this route for 13 years and are well acquainted with the gems that this region has to offer. Here are some of their recommendations for an enjoyable outdoorsy weekend in Northern France:
A fun way to get aboutMake the most of the Pas-de-Calais’ pretty winding lanes and verdant countryside – hire a Citroen 2CV for the day and get a real taste of France! Les Belles Echapp�es is based just outside Saint-Omer and offers meticulously cared-for 2CVs or little electric E-Solex bikes for hire. You can choose from a number of itineraries - they all make the most of the local attractions. And if you don’t fancy stopping off in a local caf� for lunch, they’ll even provide you with a yummy picnic hamper. E-solex hire starts from €18. You can also hire assorted tandems, tricycles etc. For more info, visit seafrance.com/inspire_me
A shaggy llama storyIf you prefer to get a bit more exercise on your holiday, why not try walking with llamas! Beno�t Daveau’s llama farm is in the picturesque village of Zutkerque, 15 minutes south of Calais. You can go walking with Beno�t and his llamas around the charming countryside and benefit from his knowledge of the area, its customs and history. Beno�t will take you for a 2-3 hour walk (plus wool weaving demonstration) for just €9.80 per person (minimum of 5 people). Day walks and other activities can also be arranged. You’ll need to contact them in advance. Open all year round. For more info, visit seafrance.com/inspire_me
Messing about on the riverHire an eco friendly electric boat and spend a morning messing about on the Clairmarais marshes. A whole network of small rivers and canals have created a patchwork of little islands, many of which are still traditionally farmed. A large proportion of the islands are inhabited and it’s fascinating to chug around the marshes and see their beautiful waterside gardens and allotments. The wildlife is amazing and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a kingfisher or marsh harrier. ISNOR provide guided trips of the Clairmarais marshes from €6.50 per adult. You can also hire your own boat. You’ll need to contact them in advance. More details at seafrance.com/inspire_me
A swimming pool with a differenceIf the weather isn’t on your side, there are plenty of cities, war attractions and museums to visit. The Museum of Art and Industry in Roubaix, near Lille, is housed in a beautiful former art deco swimming pool and runs regular exhibitions alongside its own displays.
The newly opened Calais Lace Museum has to be seen to be believed. Located in a former lace factory, this museum is truly state of the art. Visitors can see working Victorian lace machines, and a stunning display of lace clothes throughout the ages. A special camera enables visitors to see 3D images of themselves dressed in the museum’s lace dresses.
For more ideas on great activities to do in northern France, check out the Inspire Me section at seafrance.com.
SeaFrance operates up to 15 daily return car ferry crossings on the Dover-Calais route from just 75 minutes. Online fares for a car and up to five passengers start from only �25 each way, any duration and from �25 return for a day trip.
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