May 7, 2014

The Eurovision Song Contest is an institution, and something my family and I like to watch together each year. Not only is it hugely entertaining, it's also a great insight into the different cultures from around Europe. With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, it only takes 35 minutes to get to the continent, so why not take the opportunity to explore somewhere different in Europe? To help get you inspired, here are some travel ideas on how to see something a little different from the top Eurovision-winning countries the other side of the Channel.

France – 5 Eurovision wins

Being French, I am incredibly proud of my heritage and culture, and my family and I like to visit as often as possible. There is so much more to this incredible country than just the tourist favourites of Paris and the Cote d'Azur. When you plan your next trip to France, why not consider visiting somewhere a little different?

Take a drive along the north coast into Normandy, where you will discover Mont Saint-Michel a little over 4 hours from Calais. Wandering the medieval streets of this ancient island commune is like stepping back in time, despite its popularity amongst the 3 million tourists it attracts each year.

Mont Saint-Michel, France
Mont Saint-Michel, France

A little further south you will find Nantes, which is about a 5 and a half hour drive from Calais. Capital of the Pays de la Loire region, Nantes is happily situated on the banks of the Loire river, making it a great starting point from which to explore the rest of the Loire Valley.

If you would rather a shorter drive, then just 2 and a half hours from Calais is the beautiful city of Reims situated in the Champagne-Ardenne region. If you only do one thing whilst you're in Reims, make sure you visit the simply stunning 13th century Gothic cathedral.

Luxembourg – 5 Eurovision wins

Luxembourg is one of the smallest sovereign nations in Europe, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in stature. There is a reason that Luxembourgers are so proud; it is an incredibly beautiful country with a rich and varied culture, and well worth a visit!

Head down to the capital, Luxembourg City, which is less than 4 hours' drive from Calais. Learn about the fascinating, tumultuous history of the city at the Luxembourg City History Museum, before taking a stroll along the banks of the city's two rivers.

Vianden, Luxembourg
Vianden, Luxembourg

Just over 4 hours' drive from our Calais terminus is the charming city of Vianden. Explore the fairy tale castle set upon a wooded hill, or simply take a leisurely stroll along the cobbled streets that lead down to the old town centre.

If you're looking for something a little more active from your holiday, Echternach is the place for you, and also just over 4 hours away. Built around the site of a 1st century Roman villa, Echternach is a great starting off point if you want to explore more of the country by mountain bike or hiking trail. And if not, then you can always while away the hours in the beautiful, quaint town square.

The Netherlands – 4 Eurovision wins

Typically, when you think of the Netherlands, the first things that spring to mind are tulips, windmills and, of course, Amsterdam. The capital city is certainly worth a visit, but there are plenty of other fantastic places to visit besides!

Rotterdam, at less than 3 hours from Calais, makes for a wonderful day trip or weekend break. The Netherlands' 'second city' is a hub of modernist culture, with a plethora of spectacular museums to explore by day, before indulging in the vibrant nightlife after dark.

Leiden, the Netherlands
Leiden, the Netherlands

If you're keen on your classical art and culture, make sure you pay the city of Leiden a visit, which is just over 3 hours' drive from Calais. Leiden is not only the birthplace of Rembrandt; it is also home to the Netherlands' oldest university, and the Alma Mater of philosopher René Descartes. It is not hard to see where they found their inspiration whilst walking around the canals of this charming city.

A visit to the Netherlands wouldn't be complete without seeing at least one tulip, and if you take the 3 and a half hour drive to Haarlem, you are sure to see plenty! The best time to visit is definitely in the spring around the time of the annual flower parade, and when Holland is at its blooming best. That said, the historic buildings, cobbled streets and buzzing café scene lose none of their appeal year round!

The best way to get there

Wherever the road may take you, make sure you get your journey off to the best start possible. Eurotunnel Le Shuttle runs 24 hours a day, takes just 35 minutes to cross the Channel, has no baggage allowance and you will have the added freedom and convenience of having your own car. All that’s left to do is sit back, relax in front of the Eurovision Song Contest and look out for some holiday inspiration. For more helpful tips, why not visit our Inspiring Ideas in the meantime?

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