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Last minute weekend trip to France, suggestions?

Last minute weekend trip to France, suggestions?

Mar 14th, 2013, 11:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 45
Last minute weekend trip to France, suggestions?

We recently moved from America to London. We were thinking of putting together a quick overnighter to France. Obviously the Eurostar is out, way too pricey at the last minute (we will plan ahead when we want to do Paris) but the ferry from Folkestone to Calais is quite reasonable. I know we need to pick the breatherlizers to drive in France, but other than that is there anything we should know about driving there?

We have three boys (11, 8 & 5) that enjoy historic type outings (they loved Stonehenge & Avebury last weekend). Does anyone have suggestions for places near Calais? We haven't tried any museums with them yet as they are quite an active bunch. Castles or old buildings or anything that has a story behind it would be awesome. I know it is likely to rain this weekend, but that is okay... I know almost nothing of France (yet) so any place to start is great. Thanks!
Natalie2b is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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It's my understanding that the breathalyzers in car requirement is on hold but a quick Google search didn't find confirmation. They may still be sold on the ferries and are about 1€ each.

I don't know much about the Calais area--how far are you willing to drive?
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 12:05 PM
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I was hoping for something relatively close, under an hour, since we are about two hours from Folkestone already.
Natalie2b is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 12:10 PM
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Whike staying near Folkestone, we have done several day trips by car to Northern France and Belgium using the Channel Tunnel, which is quicker and less hassle than the Ferry. We have been to Brugge and Gent in a day, as well as Ypres, Arras and Boulogne, so with an overnight stay you should have no problem.

The First World War battlefields are always fascinating, with Ypres and Vimy Ridge good places to see. Another area which the children might enjoy is the German fortifcations on the coast between Calais and Boulogne. Because of its proximity to the coast, the area is very easy to visit - you will even see road signs in English. All the small towns and vilages have cafe and restaurants wich are a good introduction to French food, and you may find French markets which are always fascinating. It is not too touristy but bery accessible.
chartley is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 12:32 PM
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The breathalyzer legislation is indeed on hold. No need to worry about them at this point.
StCirq is online now  
Mar 14th, 2013, 12:33 PM
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Boulogne is a place that we used to go to a lot for day trips/over-nights; there is a historic upper town and lower town with interesting shops and a v good cheese shop.


if you go as far as Lille there are forests and national parks along the border with Belgium.

Arras is also an interesting place with nice cafes and restaurants.
annhig is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 12:58 AM
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Thanks for all the tips!
Natalie2b is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 04:45 AM
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I used to live in the area and take school groups to historic sites, so I've been to many places of interest in the region. In addition to the other suggestions -

Vimy is a lovely site, but the WWI site which had the most impact on me was another Canadian memorial site, Beaumont-Hamel. Vimy and BH are staffed by young Canadian volunteers, and I found especially at BH they really brought the history alive. I always went as part of pre-arranged group tours, but I think you can just go and join a tour http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/memori.../beaumonthamel

It's also near the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing ( http://www.greatwar.co.uk/somme/memorial-thiepval.htm ), which worth a look if you're in the area. There's also the Lochnagar Crater ( http://www.lochnagarcrater.org/VisitorInfo.html ), site of a massive explosion in WWI. How interesting this would be without a guide though, I don't know. From memory, these are maybe a 2-hour drive or so from Calais though. They could potentially all be combined together (Vimy, Arras; Thiepval, Lochnagar, BH) if you were particularly keen.

Another war-related site much closer to Calais is La Coupole, a bunker where the Germans were trying to build V2 missiles in WWII. They've done a good job building a fancy interactive visitors centre which I think kids would enjoy. FYI - it's cold in there! http://www.lacoupole-france.co.uk/

The Last Post ceremony which takes place nightly at 8 pm at the Menin Gate in Ypres (Ieper) is also worth attending. The museum in the Cloth Hall in Ypres (WWI again) is good as well (plus, Belgian chocolate!) Ypres is a bit over an hour from

There's also quite a good zoo in Lille, which is also near the old citadel (you can only go inside this with a tour group though). Lille also has a pretty city centre. I did find it a bit stressful navigating and parking there, but that was with a coachload of children!!

The drive down the Opal Coast is pretty. It would be a couple of hours' drive, but another option could be to follow the coast then go inland to the Grottes de Naours, an "underground city" carved out of the chalk quarries
gwan is offline  

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