Spend your half term break exploring Saint-Omer’s historical gems. © openroads.com
I always say, “it’s never too early to start planning your next holiday”. I say this because research and planning are
an important part of organising a holiday the whole family will love, especially when you’re organising a short getaway
where time is limited. Half term is a prime example of this. And with February half term just around the corner,
it’s about time you started planning your half term holiday. To help you out, I’ve selected a few of my favourite
destinations in France, all of which are less than two hour’s drive from Calais, so you can spend more time holidaying
and less time getting there!
Average time from Calais: 40 minutes
If you want to do as little travelling as possible, Saint-Omer is a great choice. This historic city is full of beautiful
old buildings, magnificent squares and plenty to keep you busy over the half term break. There’s the Museum of the
Hotel Sandelin, showcasing local art, ceramics and historical objects, the gothic-style Cathedral and the ruins of
the abbey of Saint Bertin. A short drive out of town is the Ponds Romelaëre nature reserve, a particular favourite
2. Le Touquet
Average time from Calais: 1 hour
While most people visit this seaside town during the summer months, my family and I actually prefer it at the tail end
of winter, as it’s far less busy. As with Saint-Omer, there are lots of old buildings to explore in the town centre,
as well as a number of fun activities which are just a short car journey away. We love driving out to the equestrian
centre for an afternoon of horse-riding, and sometimes I can sneak away for a quick round of golf!
Average time from Calais: 1 hour, 10 minutes
To the east of Calais, just over an hour’s drive away, is Béthune. Known for its spectacular Belfry, Béthune is an architectural
delight, with beautiful buildings found on almost every street corner. As well as the eye-catching Belfry, the main
square features buildings from a range of eras, creating an amazing scene. My family and I often wander the streets,
soaking up the atmosphere, before popping into a café for a French hot chocolate.
Average time from Calais: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Just like many of northern France’s towns and cities, Douai has a rich history, which can be seen in its spectacular
monuments, historic sights and breath taking buildings. One of the best (and most fun!) ways to see the city is by
boat. The river Scarpe runs directly through Douai, and various tour operators offer boat rides. It’s great for young
children who may struggle with walking long distances – when we went several years ago, my kids loved it.
Average time from Calais: 1 hour, 50 minutes
A little less than two hours’ drive from Calais is Saint-Quentin. This is a fantastic place to visit when there’s a chill
in the air, as there are plenty of museums to explore. While the Antoine Lecuyer Museum and the Matisse Family House
are favourites of mine, the kids prefer the Butterfly Museum. Here you can see approximately 600,000 beautiful specimens,
alongside various amphibians and a mammoth tusk! Afterwards, if you can brave the cold, take a stroll in the Parc
d'Isle Jacques Braconnier wildlife reserve.
Plan ahead for your half term break…
...with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. It only
takes 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, and from there you can reach any destinations in mainland Europe.