The ultimate ski checklist

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Whether you’ve been skiing since before you could walk, or you’re planning your first foray onto the slopes, our ultimate ski checklist will have you covered. The ski season As far as Europe goes, the ski season doesn’t really kick off until December, but if you find yourself unable to wait that long, you can still hit the slopes in the early season during October and November. Generally, early season skiing is limited to glacier areas, and can be a bit hit-and-miss due to the unpredictability of the weather. If you do manage to get lucky with an early snow fall, however, you’ll benefit from much quieter slopes. It also tends to be cheaper in the early season, for both accommodation and lift passes. You may even be lucky enough to spot national ski teams in training, as they like to get out there as early as possible, and will drop everything for that first dumping of fresh powder. Tignes, France, is one of the best destinations for early season skiing Austria and Switzerland are best for early season skiing, as there are several resorts open from the beginning of October. In fact, in Austria, the glacier areas of Sölden and Stubai have been known to open as early as September, providing the conditions allow it. In France, Tignes is the only resort to open at the start of October, and is considered one of the most reliable areas for early snow. It’s suitable for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, catering to everyone from beginners to experts in equal measure. From December, it’s a different story, with ski resorts all over Europe open for business, welcoming skiers and snowboarders right up until April, so there’s plenty of opportunity to carve up those slopes. What to pack When you go on any sort of trip, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and make a list of everything that you’ll need to pack. But when it comes to skiing, it’s even more vital. Ski clothing and equipment can be quite pricey, so you’ll kick yourself if you end up having to buy twice! Don’t forget that you can’t hire goggles at ski resorts Clothes Warm knitwear – layering is key, and natural fibres tend to be best Warm socks – bring more than you think you’ll need Base layers – it’s up to your preference of traditional thermals or modern layers Gloves, scarves and hats – remember it’s cold even when you’re not up a mountain Comfy shoes – there’s no need to exacerbate any blisters you might get from your boots Wellies – or other suitable waterproof footwear Slippers – for padding around your chalet Swimwear – in case you fancy a dip in a hot tub Smart-casual outfits – in case you fancy treating yourself to a nice dinner one evening Coat – you may not always want to wear your ski jacket Ski equipment Skis or snowboard – you’re not going to get very far without these! Ski poles – don’t forget to take them with you to and from the slopes Ski boots – make sure they fit properly, otherwise you’ll be incredibly uncomfortable Ski socks – at least three or four pairs Helmet – make sure you get it professionally fitted Goggles – you can’t rent these, so make sure you buy before you go Ski jacket – or any warm, waterproof and breathable jacket Salopettes – these should also be warm, waterproof and breathable Ski gloves – or mittens if you prefer Glove liners – for when it’s very cold Balaclava – essential for extremely cold conditions Neck warmer – the more layers the better, really It’s particularly important to be well prepared if you’re heading off piste Useful extras Backpack – for carrying all your essentials around Sun cream – you can easily get sunburn on your face and lips whilst skiing Lip balm with SPF – again, the sun can be strong, and the cold can chap your skin First-aid kit – make sure it’s well stocked with all the essentials Deep Heat – your aching muscles will thank you for this one Insurance papers – always keep your paperwork somewhere safe and accessible Passport photos – in case you need them for your lift pass Lift pass – check and check again that you have this on you Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe – essential if you’re heading off piste Map and compass – so that you can always work out where you are Multitool knife – you never know when you might need a blade or tools Hand warmers – cold fingers make everything so much more difficult Ankle, knee or wrist supports – in case you need extra support or strain something Water – make sure you’re always well hydrated Snacks – for a little pick-me-up energy boost A general rule of thumb for skiing is that it’s always better to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared. With this checklist at your disposal, though, you should have absolutely everything you need to have the best skiing holiday ever. If you’d like more tips and packing inspiration, take a look at our video with Brogan Tate, in which she shares some of her favourite tricks, including packing cubes and a handy supply of sweets at all times!   If you’re already mentally packing your bags and loading up the car, don’t forget to book your tickets with us early to take advantage of the best offers on fares.  

French Christmas traditions

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France is only a short trip away across the Channel, but when it comes to Christmas, our traditions often seem miles apart. And depending on which part of France you’re in, you might find something other than turkey on your plate at Christmas dinner, and open presents on a different day entirely! Let the festivities commence Generally speaking, here in the UK Christmas is celebrated on the 25th December, and that’s when we all sit together and swap gifts. The only discrepancy tends to be whether your family opens their presents before or after Christmas dinner. Well, in North and North-Eastern France, children receive their presents much earlier in December on the 6th, which is St Nicholas’ Day. There is an old folklore story told in France about three little children who get lost and captured by a wicked butcher, Père Fouettard. Fortunately for the kids, St Nicholas rescues them, which is how he became the patron saint of children. And so, every year on the night before the 6th December, children leave out a boot or a shoe for St Nicholas who gives out gifts, sweets and gingerbread to all the good children, and Père Fouettard leaves the naughty ones lumps of coal. Children in France leave shoes or boots out for St Nicholas to fill with gifts Elsewhere in France, families exchange presents on Christmas Eve, which tends to be the biggest day of celebrations throughout Europe. Some families in France even wait until the 6th January, which is Epiphany or ‘Three Kings Day’, to give their gifts to each other. Why a shoe and not a stocking? The favourite British tradition of the Christmas stocking isn’t really a thing in France, as it’s replaced by children leaving out their shoes and boots for St Nicholas instead. Both traditions come from the same place, however. According to the story, St Nicholas threw gold coins or gold balls through the window or down the chimney (depending on the version of the story) of a needy family. They landed in the family’s shoes or stockings, and this now represented by chocolate coins in gold foil and oranges, respectively, which are traditional stocking fillers. Everyone’s favourite meal of the year Whether you’re a fan of sprouts or not, it’s safe to say that Christmas dinner is one of the best meals of the year. Not necessarily just for the food, but also because it’s a time when you get to sit down and enjoy spending time with your family and friends whom you might not get to see as often as you’d like. And in France, as with present-giving days, the big Christmas meal is often eaten on a different day, as well. Turkey is traditionally served stuffed with chestnuts in France The prevailing tradition in France is for everyone to sit down together and feast on the 24th December for a long, often luxurious meal called a réveillon. This tends to start in the evening, sometimes following a day of fasting, and goes on until midnight and beyond. As well as turkey served with chestnuts, you may also find lobster, snails, and oysters on the table, and for dessert, a Bûche de Noël, which is a chocolate yule log. All of this rich food is accompanied by fine wines and champagne for that little extra indulgence, and it’s traditional to sing carols and songs around the table. As you can imagine, Christmas dinner is a lively, merry affair in France! What else is served at Christmas dinner? In Provence, there is a delicious tradition of 13 desserts served at Christmas dinner, which represent Jesus and his 12 disciples. There is usually a mix of figs and dried fruit, as well as a traditional cake called the pompe à l’huile, which is bread-like in texture, and made with olive oil and flavoured with orange blossom. If you find the charm, or the fève in your slice of galettes des rois, you get the crown! Another festive cake eaten in France is the galette des rois, or cake of kings, which is enjoyed particularly at Epiphany on the 6th January. Made of puff pastry filled with frangipane or apples, a small charm or bean called a fève is hidden somewhere inside, and if you find it in your slice you are crowned king or queen for the day! Do you and your family fancy celebrating Christmas a little differently this year? Book your tickets with us early to get the best price on fares!

Drive to Leuven

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Visiting Leuven It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes Leuven so special, there are so many layers to this often (unjustly) overlooked city. The streets are lined with intricate, imposing gothic architecture and from September to June, the many bars and restaurants are full of students, taking time out from their studies at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. In fact, joyful student merriment has been a part of Leuven’s culture for hundreds of years- since 1425, to be exact, when the university was opened. Of course, Belgium is famous over the world for its beer, and Leuven wouldn’t be the quintessential Belgian city it is without a brewery. Theirs is the most famous of all; the Stella Artois brewery. If you only have a day to spend in Belgium, Leuven is one of the best places to visit. Everything that makes Belgium the vibrant, quirky, playful destination that it is can be found in the Gothic architecture studded streets. What to do in Leuven Stadhuis The Stadhuis is a must see when you come to Leuven- you’ll be missing out if you don’t marvel at its gothic architecture. A daily hazard of visiting Leuven, we feel we must warn you, is the risk of hurting your neck from craning to the sky to admire the Gothic archictecture. Of course, the buildings that you’re looking at are so breathtaking, you won’t mind or notice. One of the most famous (and therefore magnificent) examples of Leuven Gothic architecture is the Stadhuis. This detailed gold and black building has been the centre of politics in Leuven for over 600 years. The exterior is decorated with turrets and statues, interwoven in its elaborate design. Like the university, the Stadhuis has been a part of Leuven for generations, since its creation in the 15th century. You can learn more about the history of the Stadhuis and Leuven at the permanent exhibition inside. St-Pieterskerk Another must visit is the beautiful St-Pieterskerk, an ancient church that has stood the test of time. We aren’t the only ones who want to celebrate the architecture of Leuven. UNESCO World Heritage have listed the belfry of St-Pieterskerk on its coveted list. Once again, this is a building that has been in the heart of Leuven for many years. First built in 1425, people come from far and wide to admire the rood screen and pulpit, a staple of European churches from this era. The church is also home to Dieric Bouts’ masterpiece, ‘The Last Supper’. This is the only painting by Flemish primitive that is still on display in its original location. As you would have gathered, the history and culture of Leuven is still incredibly important to the locals, and everywhere you go, you will be enchanted by some part of Leuven’s history. M Van Museum One of the unique aspects of Leuven, is its mix of old and new. Despite it being an old town, the youthful, vibrant student feel has imbeded itself into the streets and buildings. Almost as a reflection of this, the M Van Museum displays works of art and artefacts from Leuven’s past and present. 15th century art sits with today’s modern pieces, in rooms as breathtaking as the art. The exhibition rooms are decorated with patterned wallpaper and rich oak floors and doors. Or they are more minimal with huge blank-canvas white walls, so all the attention is on the art. As with all musuems worth their salt, M Van Museum always has fascinating art exhibits on, so make sure you check out what they are showing before you visit. Stella Artois Brewery When in Belgium, you drink beer. Belgian beer is one of the country’s most famous exports, and naturally they are very proud of their craft. Many towns and cities have at least one brewery, but Leuven is home to the daddy of them all: Stella Artois. The brewery is open for tours, where you can discover the history of Stella Artois, some of the secrets to its brewing process, and naturally enjoy a cold, frosty glass at the end of the tour. You never know, with all your new-found brewing knowledge, you might detect even more flavours to the beer. The famous ‘Fountain of Wisdom’, or ‘Fonske’, near the centre of town represents the students of Leuven. Where to Eat in Leuven University cities are the places to go to experience fun, quirky, and easy-on-the-wallet restaurants. Leuven has these by the bucket load, but one of the most popular is De Werf. The walls are covered with paint rollers and other decorating equipment, and the designers deliberately left rooms unfinished, to continue the theme. It’s not just the décor that has the building site theme. Food is served in lunchboxes, and colourful plastic plates- keep an eye out for the little jokes hidden in the menus. As this is popular with the university students, you will definitely experience a fun and lively atmosphere. Where to Drink in Leuven To a slightly chicer establishment now. Mattiz Is the kind of bar that looks like it was made for Instagram. This is a tapas and cocktail bar, where the food and drink are as photogenic as they are delicious. This is a great place to come at the start of the night, and tuck into a couple of plates of tapas so you’re ready to party into the early hours. If you go in summer, try to get a seat on the terrace that overlooks the town. Where to Stay in Leuven In a city like Leuven, where its history and energetic vibe makes it so special, the ideal way to experience it is to live like a local. Renting an apartment with Your House Apartments is the way to do that. Decorated so they won’t look out of place in a home décor magazine, you can stay in the large apartments with modern furnishings and all the amenities you want, including private on-site parking and free Wi-Fi. Weather in Leuven If you are planning on spending a few summer days in Leuven, you’re in luck, as the average temperature often reaches around 24°C during June to July. If it’s a winter break you’re after, you will need to wrap up warm to brace the lows of 0°C. But, Leuven is so beautiful, that the frost will only make it prettier. Getting there and around: Don’t be fooled by thinking crossing the border will make the drive longer. It’s only two and a half hours from our Calais terminal, and what luck- there are no tolls! Take the A16 to the E40, then leave on Exit 18-Herent from E314. After that, follow the N26a to Mathieu de Layensplein. There are plenty of places to park, with around ten car parks in the centre of town, and a little less on the outskirts. There is free parking but this tends to include a longer walk to the main points of interest, so it’s probably best to keep some Euros on you for the parking meter. Save money for parking and souvenirs by booking your tickets with us early- it’s the best way to get our best fares.

The best places in Belgium to take your pet

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Here in the UK, it’s safe to say that we are a nation of pet lovers. So, it’s important to know that when we take our pets on holiday with us, we’re going somewhere equally welcoming to our cats and dogs. Fortunately, just over the Channel, Europe is full of pet lovers, too, and nowhere more so than Belgium. Enjoy dog-friendly beaches in Knokke-Heist Where in Belgium: West Flanders Drive from Calais: 1h 30m / 135km There’s plenty of open space for your dog to run free on the beach at Knokke-Heist If your pooch loves nothing more than diving into the sea in hot pursuit of their favourite tennis ball, or kicking up the sand behind them as they race down the beach, you’ll find yourself in luck in Belgium. Many of the beaches along the coast of the North Sea are open to your four-legged friend. Generally, during the off-season months from October to May, you’re welcome to bring your dog any time of day, but in the summer, it’s often restricted to morning and evening walks only. One of the best beaches along the coast is Knokke-Heist, where you’re not only allowed to visit at any point during the day between October and March, but the whole beach is leash-free! And as well as hours of fun on the beach for the dogs, the charming little seaside town has plenty to keep you and the rest of the family entertained. There are some particularly lovely little art galleries to wander around, as well as local boutiques and shops selling everything from high-end goods to novelty souvenirs. Walkies in the High Fens Where in Belgium: Liège Drive from Calais: 2h 50m / 296km Wooden boardwalks lead you through the beautiful marshes of the High Fens The Hautes Fagnes, or High Fens as we call them in English, are Belgium’s largest protected nature reserve. There are a number of trails and walks you can set out on for the day, varying in length and difficulty, however, you should check beforehand which areas you’re allowed to walk your dog. Environmentally, the High Fens are incredibly diverse, with the landscape ranging from dense woodland to beautiful heathland, via swampy peat bogs. Which route you choose will depend on your own levels of experience and fitness, as well as your dog’s! As you’d expect in any nature reserve, the High Fens are divided up into different zones in order to preserve the delicate ecosystems, so dogs aren’t allowed everywhere. The zones are always clearly marked, though, to help you. Zone D is forbidden to everyone, in Zone C only people accompanied by an authorised guide can enter, and in Zone B there are no dogs or bicycles allowed. That said, anywhere that isn’t specifically marked off is free to roam for you and your pooch. The High Fens offer a treasure trove of new scents and sights for your dog to explore, with an adventure just waiting to be sniffed out around every corner. A day out in Rivierenhof Park Where in Belgium: Antwerp Drive from Calais: 2h 5m / 204km Sterckshof castle looks particularly magical in the winter months credit: Torsade de Pointes  On a visit to Antwerp, you’ll no doubt notice that there is a distinct shortage of green space in the city centre. And although dogs are more than happy to pootle around town with you, and relax outside coffee shops, they really love nothing better than letting loose in a great big outdoor space. The good news for you and your pooch is that there are a couple of stunning public parks a little further out in the suburbs of Antwerp. One of the loveliest of which is Rivierenhof Park. Rivierenhof is the largest park in Antwerp, covering a massive 132 hectares, which for comparison is not much smaller than Hyde Park in London. That’s plenty of space for your pet to have a run around and stretch their legs. There are a number of canals running through the park, as well as a few larger ponds and a river, so watch out if your dog is a fan of swimming! As you and your dog explore the park, you’ll no doubt discover that it’s also home to a couple of castles. There’s the 16th-century Rivierenhof castle, which looks out over a pretty pond that stretches out in front of the grand house. And also Sterckshof castle, which is actually a 20th-century ‘replica’ of an older castle! Has all this talk of exploring the great outdoors got your pet’s tail wagging? Book your tickets with us to explore all that Belgium has to offer – and the earlier you book, the better your fare!

The best shopping destinations in France

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When you think of shopping in France, you probably immediately think of Paris. It is true that the capital is up there as one of the world's greatest shopping cities, but there are plenty of other fabulous destinations to spend some cash and spoil yourself if you fancy a change of scene. Rue Sainte-Catherine Location: Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Drive from Calais: 8h 10m / 877km The Rue Sainte-Catherine is famous as one of the world’s best shopping streets. Photo by Alain Muller. Bordeaux's famous Rue Sainte-Catherine is often hailed as Europe's longest pedestrian shopping street at just over 1.2km in length. So, if you think of yourself as something of a serious shopper, then surely this street is up there on your list of personal shopping challenges. The main draws for shoppers visiting Bordeaux are the department store, Galeries Lafayette, and the shopping arcade, Galerie Bordelaise, built in 1834. You'll also find all the most popular high street shops along the Rue Sainte-Catherine, such as Zara and H&M, as well as lots of local French brands. Once you've exhausted all that the local shops have to offer, you might like to explore the rest of the city, half of which is actually UNESCO listed, making it the largest World Heritage site in a city. Head to the Miroir d'Eau, the world's largest 'reflecting pool', for an iconic holiday snap in front of the Palais de la Bourse. And whilst you're in town, you can't pass up the chance to try some of the world-renowned local wines. There's no better place to learn all about the wine-making process and culture than La Cité du Vin, which you can get to by tram on Line B, or drive to in your car as there is plenty parking nearby. Annecy Flea Market Location: Annecy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Drive from Calais: 7h 30m / 837km Explore the market stalls around the canals in Annecy. On the last Saturday of the month, if you drive down to Annecy you'll be in for a treat, as this is when the town hosts their local flea market. This isn't your average flea market, as professional sellers and artisans travel from all over to sell their wares, including art, crafts, clothing, and plenty of curios and antiques. The stalls are set up all over town, lining the streets and canals, so the shopping experience is also something of a walking tour. Whether you're looking for vintage furniture, a one-of-a-kind piece of art, or even a pair of antique wooden skis, you're sure to find it here. All that shopping and bargain hunting is hungry work, so it's important to stay well-fed and watered. If the weather's mild enough (or not, if you don't mind the cold!), a picnic on the waterfront of Lac d'Annecy will be a meal you won't soon forget, as the crystal-clear waters offset by the backdrop of the Alps is a view sure to stay with you. If it does happen to be a little too chilly for you, there are plenty of great restaurants in town that serve delicious local food, and you can enjoy the views on a lake-side walk instead. Marché des Halles de Menton Location: Menton, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Drive from Calais: 11h 43m / 1,274km The colourful little town of Menton is as pretty as a picture. The Marché des Halles de Menton was built in 1898, and has been used as a market hall ever since. You'll find some sort of market here almost every day, except for Mondays, selling a variety of clothes, toys, flowers, and most famously, food. The local produce is truly incredible, and there are about 40 or so stands for you to browse and choose from, making it tricky to know where to start – but what a lovely predicament to find yourself in! If you're lucky enough to be staying in the local area and have access to a cooker, just imagine all the recipes you can try out with those fresh ingredients. But if you prefer to leave the cooking to someone else, you can always enjoy a meal at one of the many local restaurants. If you really feel like spoiling yourself, book a table overlooking the sea at two Michelin-starred Le Mirazur, which currently boasts fourth place in the world's best restaurant list. If your tastes are a little simpler, sample the homemade delights at Maison Martin et Fils, tucked away just behind the covered market. Wherever you dine, you're guaranteed a feast, and given Menton's location on the southern coast of France near the Italian border, the weather is always pretty mild. So, after dinner you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach to walk off your food and take in the views of the pretty paint-box town reflected in the calmly lapping waters. Have you got the urge to shop 'til you drop? When you book your tickets with us early you get the best price, which means more spending money!

Driving to Granville

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Visiting Granville If you are dreaming of visiting Monaco, but wish it could just be moved north by a few hundred miles, you are in luck. The town of Granville, in the Manche region of France has been nicknamed 'the Monaco of the north', thanks to its coastal location, and rocky landscape. With a population of just over 13,000 this is a more intimate town to visit, but ideal if you are really looking to be engulfed in proper Northern French culture, and skip out on anything too touristy. What to See in Granville La Maison Dior La Maison Dior, home of Christian Dior is one of the most popular attractions in Granville. Credit: Philippe Fauvel. As Granville is the northern cousin to Monaco, of course the town is going to be adorned with sophisticated glamour. There's no name that drips with as much French sophistication as Christian Dior, so naturally Granville's history is tied with the iconic designer. Christian Dior, born in 1905, was raised in the seaside town of Granville. Being Christian Dior, of course he didn't fade into the background; he was raised in an incredible pink mansion, known as La Maison Dior that looked out over the crystal blue sea below. The mansion is now an intriguing museum, a must-visit for fashion connoisseurs, or anyone who is fascinated with the history of one of France's most famous figures. Monsieur Dior's mother, Madeline, was determined to have the blush-pink house as soon as she saw it, and spent many years carefully sculpting it to perfection, much like Christian would do years later with his elegant haute-couture creations. Christian was so fond of his childhood home and town, that Granville crept into his own creations. Light pinks and grey, the colours of his childhood can be seen in his classic designs, and he named a perfume after Granville, scented with notes of rosemary, pine and thyme. The house often hosts exhibits celebrating its eponymous founder, so check out what's on before you visit. Carnaval de Granville The annual carnival in Granville takes over the streets for five fun-packed days. One of Christian Dior's inspirations for his designs came from the annual Granville Carnival which is still celebrated to this day. In fact, this carnival is so legendary that it has been included in the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The celebrations last for five fun-packed days, leading up to Shrove Tuesday. The mayor hands the town's keys to the King of the Carnival, a paper maché figure, and the celebrations begin. The carnival is very important to the town, with 40 floats paraded through the streets. The floats can take as long as six months to create, and many members of the community join together to make the festivities as wonderful as the years that precede them. With its sea-facing location, cod fishing used to be one of the main industries of Granville, and the fishermen would leave the town around Shrove Tuesday to catch all those tasty fish, so the carnival was there last chance to celebrate before heading off on their mission. Granville Beaches The inviting and rich blue sea at Granville is not to be missed. Of course, a must-do in Granville is to spend a day (or two, or three…) at the sandy beaches that make up the coast of Granville. It was at the end of the 19th century that Granville became one of the more popular seaside resorts in France, and its popularity hasn't slowed down. If you love to swim in the salty, fresh sea water then don't worry about timing the tides. In the 1960s, a retention pool was created at the Donville-les-Bains part of the town. More of a sun-worshiping beach goer? The warm golden sand of Granville is the perfect place to lounge, get bronzed, and dig into your holiday read. The Upper Town If you can pull yourself from the beach, then the town is great place to spend the day. Not wanting to be outdone by larger French cities, Granville's Upper Town has many interesting and cultural places to stop by, perfect if you want to discover more of the history of Granville, and what makes it such a special place to visit. Dotted amongst the striking Upper Town homes are art galleries, museums and chic shops. The Richard Anacréon Modern Art Museum takes you on a journey through 20th century art, featuring works from Picasso, Derain and Claudel. If the proximity to the sea has got your mind racing about what might be swimming in the depths below, then a visit to the Le Roc des Harmonies, the Granville aquarium will answer all your marine questions. Where to Eat in Granville Granville's history and classic style is embedded into its streets and shops, and this is no truer than at Picorette, a delightful tea room and restaurant on Rue Saint Sauveur. Fresh, homemade meals, pots of tea and traditional French pastries are the order of the day, with a cheerful service to match. If you fall heavily in love with the food, you can buy some treats there to take home with you. Where to Drink in Granville   In a small town, you have the happy opportunity to become close with the locals. One of the best ways to do that is to visit smaller bars and pubs, and get chatting. Winnibelle is one of those tiny bars that has a welcoming feel. Go for the dry white wine, and mingle with the residents. Where to Stay in Granville In such a historical town, surely you would want to stay somewhere that is a part of the history. If that's you, then Hotel des Bains is the dreamiest place you can rest your head. It was built in 1881, right on the seaside. It is a quirky red and yellow building, with amazing views of the sea. You can also bring your pets with you!  Weather in Granville In June and July, the temperatures can reach up to around 22°C, with a low chance of rain, meaning that there will be plenty of beach days. In the winter time, pack your coat as it is quite chilly, at 4°C. Make sure that coat is waterproof, as it's likely you'll have to duck through some showers. Are you excited about seeing Dior's real life home, and wandering through this exquisite town? Book your tickets early with us to get the best fares. Getting there and around The fastest route from our Calais terminal to Granville is just over four hours, but this does include toll roads. You can avoid the tolls, but this will add an hour onto your journey. Take the A16 from our terminal, and continute to the A84, taking A28, A29 and A13. Then follow the D924 to Granville.

France’s spa towns

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With our busy modern lifestyles, it's not surprising to feel tired and in need of rejuvenation from time to time – particularly towards the end of the year, as winter draws in. It's important to take some time out for yourself to relax and unwind, and there's no better place to do that than at one of France's many beautiful spa towns. Aix-les-Bains Location: Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Drive from Calais: 7h 45m / 866km The pretty town of Aix-les-Bain is nestled on the shore of France’s largest freshwater lake. Originally discovered for its natural thermal springs by the Romans, people have been flocking to Aix-les-Bains for well over a thousand years. The town's real heyday, however, was in the 19th century, when the British aristocracy descended en masse to 'take the waters' for their health. This brought in a lot of money to the area, and grand Belle Époque hotels were soon erected to cater to the wealthy holidaymakers, including Queen Victoria herself. These days, you can still enjoy the benefits of the sulphurous waters, which are supposedly good for all manner of respiratory ailments. There are a number of spas you can visit in the town, but the most well-known is the Thermes Chevalley. You can enjoy a range of treatments, including massages, or simply immerse yourself in the waters of one of the pools. There are pools located both inside and outside, the former of which is naturally tinted green, and is supposed to be particularly good for easing the symptoms of arthritis. It's worth noting that there is a strict dress code at the Thermes Chevalley spa for hygiene reasons, so make sure you check the specifics ahead of your visit and turn up well prepared. Vichy Location: Allier, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Drive from Calais: 6h 35m / 694km Take the waters at the Source des Célestins in Vichy. Vichy is undoubtedly one of France's most famous spa towns, known around the world as being the home to the premium skincare brand that uses the local waters in its formulations. Vichy was also first discovered by the Romans, but it wasn't until the 16th century that word really spread of the town's 'miraculous' waters. Later, in the 19th century, Napoleon III visited a number of times between 1861 and 1866, which really sparked Vichy's rise in popularity, attracting other celebrities of the time. There's still actually a festival held in his honour in the town every year during April, which is great fun and worth a visit alone! Although the splendour of the Belle Époque era has faded slightly, the town retains an air of elegance about it, best exhibited at the luxurious Vichy Célestins Spa Hôtel. The focus here is on all-round wellbeing, offering treatments for diabetes, metabolic imbalances, cellulite, and all sorts of aches and pains. There are also a number of beauty treatments to improve the quality, youth and purity of your skin, including water therapy, mud treatments, and massages. After you've indulged in a little R&R, as it were, take a stroll down to the Source des Célestins, to see where the hallowed water actually springs out of the ground. The water from this source is the most 'diluted', and is the only one that is relatively palatable to drink. A short walk on, call in at the art deco Hall des Sources where you can sample some of the other waters, if you're brave enough (our tip is to pinch your nose), some of which can only be taken if you have a specific prescription from your doctor! Dax Location: Landes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Drive from Calais: 9h 30m / 1,015km Visit the Fontaine Chaude monument in Dax. Those Romans certainly knew a thing or two about the benefits of thermal water, as the spa town of Dax was also first discovered by them. There is a monument, the Fontaine Chaude, on the site of the original Roman thermal baths, located in the centre of town at the aptly named Place de la Fontaine Chaude. The fountain was built between 1814 and 1818 in the style of Roman baths, but unfortunately you're not allowed to take a dip here. There are, however, no less than 15 thermal spas and a thermal hospital in the town where you can enjoy the waters and healing treatments that they offer, making Dax France's most popular spa town. Around 60,000 people visit each year specifically to take advantage of the spas, which specialise in aiding rheumatology and phlebology problems. One of the most popular treatments is the 'Dax Peloid', which is a type of therapeutic mud unique to the spa town that is kept at a constant temperature of 45°C. You can try it for yourself at the Domaine Thermal de Borda. It's reputed to be particularly beneficial if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Has all this talk of spas and pampering has got you longing for some you-time? Book your tickets with us early to get the best fares.

Stay warm this winter

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As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, you won't be the only one pining for the warm days of summer and dreaming of distant lands, most likely in the southern hemisphere. But you needn't set your sights quite so far away, when you can jump in the car and drive south for the winter. Aquitaine (or Nouvelle-Aquitaine) Region: South-West France Climate: expect averages of 12°C during the winter, and 27°C in the summer Drive from Calais: around 8 hours to the heart of the region                    What was once the region of Aquitaine is now known as Nouvelle-Aquitaine, since the administrative regions of France were reshuffled in January 2016, but as Shakespeare once said, what's in a name? The Aquitaine region has a long and colourful history, dating back thousands of years, making it a fascinating place to visit. And with its vibrant cities, dramatic Atlantic coastline, famous wine regions, and the breath-taking peaks of the Pyrenees, there's something for everyone in Nouvelle Aquitaine. Poitiers Drive from Calais: 6h 10m / 624km Visit the futuristic theme park Futuroscope near the city of Poitiers. If you're driving down from Calais, one of the first cities you'll come across in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region is the beautiful and historic city of Poitiers. Known as ‘the city of 100 bell-towers' due to the abundance of Romanesque churches, the most famous of which is the Église Notre Dame la Grande. The oldest parts of the church date back to the 11th century, and the stunning west façade was carved with intricate biblical scenes between the years 1115 and 1130. The city is also home to one of France's oldest universities, and is still a student city to this day, bringing with it a vibrant energy. Another big draw for tourists is Poitiers's proximity to Futuroscope, France's second-biggest theme park after Disneyland Paris. This futuristic theme park offers plenty of fun to keep the whole family entertained, and because they change a third of their attractions every year, there's always something new to discover. If you want to experience absolutely everything the park has to offer, give yourself a couple of days, but the highlights should keep you busy for five or six hours at least. Throughout the winter months, the park is closed during the week and for most of January, so check ahead before making the trip. La Rochelle Drive from Calais: 6h 45m / 692km The 14th century towers of La Rochelle harbour. If you were to dream up a perfect little seaside town, it probably wouldn't be too dissimilar from La Rochelle. In the harbour, you can see the masts of yachts dancing as the boats bob gently on the water, and people stroll along the waterfront at their leisure, pausing to admire the two towers. The shorter, round tower is the Tour de la Chaîne, and the taller of the two, is the Tour St-Nicholas. The latter is unusual in that it has leaned ever so slightly to one side since it was built in 1376, and also that it is set up a little like a house inside. It was used both defensively and as a royal residence, with some of the rooms open to the public, but the real draw here are the views of the city. Before you head off into the heart of La Rochelle, don't miss a look around the Tour de la Lanterne. The third tower around the harbour is often mistaken for a church at first glance, but is actually a 15th-century lighthouse. It was also once used as a prison, and you can still see some of the graffiti carved into the walls and floors by the prisoners, including a backgammon board in Room 4. Elsewhere in town, you can easily lose a good couple of hours just wandering the winding streets, browsing shops and picking up souvenirs – the salt in this part of France is particularly good, if you're looking for a local gift. Saint-Émilion Drive from Calais: 8h 20m / 871km Saint-Émilion has been producing wine since Roman times. The only wine site to have been granted UNESCO classification, some of the vineyards in Saint-Émilion can be dated back to the 2nd century when the Romans first planted them. It wasn't until the 8th century, however, and the arrival of the town's namesake, the monk Émilion, that the local wine was commercialised. The wine produced here has always been popular, and almost two thousand years since the Romans first planted a vine, Saint-Émilion is still one of the principle red wine producers of the Bordeaux region, creating some of the finest wines in the world. Many of the local vineyards are open to the public for tours and tastings, and it would almost be a crime to visit the area and not at least sample a glass – providing you're not driving! A great place to start is the Maison du Vin de Saint-Émilion, where you can learn about all the intricacies of the Saint-Émilion wines before continuing your tour through the region. Pau Drive from Calais: 10h 20m / 1,078km Admire the dreamy architecture of the Château de Pau. As the gateway to the Pyrenees mountain range, Pau may be a long drive from Calais, but it is certainly worth the trip. The view that a stroll along the Boulevard des Pyrénées affords is astounding. The majestic snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees pierce the horizon in the distance, contrasting starkly with the palm trees and 19th century mansions lining the street either side of you. The balmy climate that allows these palms to flourish is the same reason that Pau has been enduringly popular with tourists. The first real boom in tourism in Pau started with wealthy Victorians, who came to spend their winters here, bringing with them the first 18-hole golf course in continental Europe, and a love of landscaped gardens, some of which you can still stroll around. The main attraction of the town, however, is its castle. Some of the Château de Pau dates back to medieval times, but the majority of the castle's creamy stone exterior was built in the 16th century when it was converted into a royal palace. Once a holiday destination of Napoleon, the castle is now a museum dedicated to the fascinating ancient history of the area. If you're dreaming of warmer climates and feeling inspired to hop in the car and set off on a road trip adventure through France, book your tickets early to guarantee the best price.

The best day trips in France and Belgium

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Whether you’re looking for something a little different to do at the weekend, or have a spare holiday day that you don’t know what to do with, a day trip to the continent might be just the answer. It only takes 35 minutes to get from Folkestone to Calais, and from there, there are myriad little towns and cities within easy driving distance that you can explore in a day. Ghent Where: East Flanders, Belgium Drive from Calais: 1h 40m / 147km Admire the medieval architecture of Gravensteen castle in Ghent. Ghent is one of Belgium’s best-kept secrets, and as such, is relatively light on tourists. But that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty to do to keep you entertained. As a city, Ghent is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, so once you’ve parked up, explore the city on foot or hire a bicycle and join the locals on the cycle paths. There are a number of bicycle tours you can do, such as Bike Ghent which offers an ‘insider’s tour’, but if you’d rather explore the city off your own back, there are a couple of highlights that you simply can’t miss. The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb in Saint Bavo's Cathedral attracts art-enthusiasts the world over, and for good reason. It’s one of the earliest known oil paintings, dating from 1432, and has an illustrious history. It has almost been destroyed by fire, both accidentally and intentionally, and is the most-stolen piece of art in history – in fact, one panel that was stolen in 1934 is still missing. Ghent is also famous for its medieval architecture, and there’s no finer example of this than the 12th century castle Gravensteen, which means ‘castle of the counts’ in Dutch. To look at, Gravensteen is very much what you’d imagine a castle to be, with its turrets, crenellated parapets, and surrounding moat. The castle was once used as a mill, but has been lovingly restored since, and there’s a great video tour you can take round with you that tells a fun story to teach the history of the place. Saint Quentin Where: Aisne, Hauts-de-France Drive from Calais: 1h 49m / 177km The historic Basilica of Saint Quentin still shows signs of damage from the war. Another lesser-visited city which is perfect for a day trip is that of Saint Quentin, and if you or your party are interested at all in military history, you should definitely pay it a visit. Saint Quentin is the site of many significant WWI battles, but is less well known than Ypres and the Somme. The central square is the location of one of the most famous retreats in British military history, when the British Expeditionary Forces were forced back from Mons by the Germans. They later redeemed themselves, however, in September 1918 with the Battle of St Quentin Canal, which was one of the most pivotal battles of WWI. Because of its significant involvement throughout the Great War, there’s an impressive war memorial in the town near the railway, and plenty of historical sites to visit nearby. Just to the north, you can visit the canal where the Battle of St Quentin Canal took place, and to the south you can see some of the original Hindenburg Line bunkers, where the allied forces broke the German defensive line. Saint Quentin is also well situated for exploring other important WWI battlefields, such as the Somme, Arras, and the Aisne, but it’s so full of its own interesting history, you may prefer to just stay put. If you do, be sure to visit the impressive Basilica Saint-Quentin, which was originally built between the 12th and 15th centuries. It was very badly damaged during WWI and almost actually blown up – you can still see the holes made in preparation for explosives – but thankfully it was saved in the nick of time, and has since been restored and is open to the public. Saint Omer Where: Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France Drive from Calais: 0h 42m / 46km Explore the beautiful canals and wetlands surrounding Saint Omer. You don’t have to travel far at all to visit the town of Saint Omer, and also one of France’s most popular tourist attractions. Just to the south of the town, nestled amongst the trees, is the sweeping concrete dome of La Coupole, which was once the location of Hitler’s secret V2 rocket base. Today, La Coupole now stands as a museum examining the fascinating history of the bunker, as well as the science of flight and space travel. There are plenty of other draws to Saint Omer, aside from La Coupole, however. The entire surrounding area is part of the Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d’Opale, which is home to the famous Audomarois marshes. They are the only cultivated wetlands left in France, and as such, are recognised by UNESCO. There is a museum in Saint Omer, La Maison du Marais, dedicated to the marshes and their fascinating history dating back over a thousand years, and you can even go on a boat tour of the area. With its proximity to the Audomarois marshes, and the 50 or so local farmers tending to the area, Saint Omer benefits from an abundance of incredible local produce. There is a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, which is definitely worth getting up early to travel for, where you’ll find it all too easy to fill your entire car with fresh jams, cheeses, vegetables, and wine. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy some of France’s most charming little towns and exciting tourist attractions. It’s so easy to pop over for a fun-filled day out, or even extend your trip for a spontaneous weekend away, so book your tickets with us in advance to guarantee yourself the best price.

What to do at Parc Naturel de la Brenne

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Park walks are an activity that can be enjoyed throughout the year. You can breathe in fresh air and become one with nature at any time you choose. But autumn in France is considered by many to be the most beautiful season of the year, with its golden leaves and haze of mist in the distance. Where is Parc Naturel de la Brenne? Parc Naturel is located in the centre of France, in the Rosnay region, about a six-hour drive from our Calais terminal. The drive will take you through some beautiful areas of France, such as Arras, Sologne and Chateauroux, so a great opportunity for a little French road trip. The history of Parc Naturel de la Brenne The park may be relatively new, having been created in late 1989, but its history actually goes all the way back to the middle ages. The area's lakes and ponds were used for fishing by the monks of the abbeys at nearby Fontgombault, St.-Cryon and Meobecq. The area has now been developed into a national park, protected by the government. The area of a thousand lakes With four thousand lakes and ponds, you’ll never be too far from the water. Credit: Jean-David & Anne-Laure. As the park was originally used for fishing purposes by the monks, there are a number of lakes and ponds for you to walk around. There is some dispute over how many lakes and ponds make up the landscape; the number is believed to be around 4,000, but we'll leave it to you to try and count them all when you visit! The amount of water in the park means that there is a stunning range of wildlife that you can see. Birdwatchers flock here to see the 260 species of birds that have made the park their home. The wildlife of Parc Naturel de la Brenne Make sure you bring your binoculars to not miss the wildlife of the park. Credit: Daniel Jolivet. In total (including the birds), there are 2,300 species of animals living in the park, including 27 protected species. The animals range from big to small, and everything in between. Otters and beavers splash about in the water, and 22 different species of bats fly through the night sky. It's the larger animals that most visitors hope to catch a glimpse of. If you're lucky you could see animals such as deer and boars, or the sleek otters that swim in the lakes. The birds are one of the main draws of the park, especially the ones who stay to breed, such as the Black Necked Grebe, Night Heron or the Western Marsh Harrier, you can also see rare breeds like the Eurasian Bittern. Anyone who is a bit nervous of snakes may want to keep their eyes to the ground, as the Asp Viper, Grass Snake and Viperine Water Snake have all made the grassy ground their home. The Flora and landscape of Parc Naturel de la Brenne Water Lilies are floating on the lakes, turning the park into a scene from a magical fairy-tale. Because of the large expanse of wetlands in the park, there is a huge amount of beautiful fauna making up the landscape. This includes floating lilies, like the False Water Lily, and Floating Water-Plantain. As the park is so vast, there is a range of different landscapes, from the wetlands through to the meadows and the forests. Make sure you wear proper walking boots, or maybe even wellies, when you trek through Parc Naturel de la Brenne as you will likely get your feet pretty wet. Exploring the park There are plenty of ways to see the park, from hiking to cycling, but if you decide to cycle, make sure you stay on the designated paths. You can also go horse-riding, or if you don't think your legs can take all that exercise, there are also electric carts.  Staying at Parc Naturel de la Brenne After all that walking you'll be pleased to know that there are plenty of places to stay, including inside the park. We love the holiday cottages that are dotted around the park, as the owners of the houses are dedicated to sustainability and protecting the environment.   Are your feet itching to get out and march through the beautiful Parc Naturel de la Brenne? It's only a car journey away, and don't forget that booking your tickets with us early will give you the best price.

Drive & explore Dinard

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Visiting Dinard Made famous by aristocrats journeying over from Britain and America in the 19th Century, a walk down Dinard is a walk through the past. The sort of past you see in films; beautiful belle époque mansions, picturesque beaches studded with blue and white striped tents and tall cliffs looking over a tranquil sea. What to see in Dinard Promenade Clair de Lune As well as being a beautiful beach, Plage de l'Écluse is also known for its blue and white striped tents. The best things in life are free and what's more enjoyable than a costal walk with a beautiful view? On a warm summer's day, take your time walking along the palm and mimosa tree lined Promenade Clair de Lune. The walk will take you to Plage de l'Écluse, Dinard's main beach and home of your next stop on our guide. Casino Barrière Dinard Just a five-minute walk from Plage de l'Écluse, you will find Casino Barrière Dinard, the perfect place to go for a glamorous night out. If you don't want to run the risk of lady luck not being on your side, then the casino is also home to a restaurant and bar with a stunning sea view. Belle époque mansions Promenade Clair de Lune is a beautiful walk surrounded by exotic plants, looking out to the stunning sea below. One of the most charming things about Dinard are the belle époque houses that you can find perched high on the cliffs, watching out over the sea. The houses were built in the 19th century, during the height of the belle époque fashion. All the houses are especially beautiful, but make sure you try and get a glimpse of Empress Eugénie's villa, as it's quite spectacular. Plage de l'Écluse In Dinard you must take the time to get a proper look at the beautiful belle époque houses that make the area so famous. As this was briefly mentioned at the start of our guide, Plage de l'Écluse is the largest and most popular beach in Dinard. It is decorated with blue and white striped beach tents, and is in walking distance to the Olympic-sized swimming pool as well as lots of lovely little cafés and bars. It gets quite busy in the summertime, so if you're planning a beach day make sure you get there early. Where to eat in Dinard La Balafon On your holiday, you want only the best. La Balafon is known locally as one of the finest restaurants in Dinard, and for good reasons. It's set away from the busy seafront, in a quieter, less touristy area. This is a true neighbourhood restaurant, using ingredients from local markets so you get the real Dinard experience. Where to drink in Dinard Bar Rock Café For those who love a big dose of live music to go with their beer, then the Bar Rock Café is a great place to go for a brilliant night out. A good selection of drinks, tables shaped like guitars and live music; the perfect ending to a day at the beach. Where to stay in Dinard Hotel Barrière Le Grand Hotel In such a grand and historic town, it's only fitting that you treat yourself to a special place to stay. Hotel Barrière Le Grand Hotel is a beautifully decorated vintage hotel that doesn't just offer gorgeous rooms, but a relaxing spa, delicious restaurants and a kid's club, all overlooking the stunning Vicomté Bay. Weather in Dinard During the summer, the average weather is around 17°C, but expect it to climb higher, especially in July and August. There will be a healthy sea breeze, so do remember to bring a light layer. It gets quite cold in December (7°C), but January and February are colder so definitely don't forget your winter wardrobe if visiting then. Getting there and around: It's just under five hours from our Calais terminal to the sun-kissed streets of Dinard. Take the A16 to Voie de la Liberté then take the D168 to Dinard. This route does involve tolls, so keep your euros close. Dinard isn't known for its parking facilities. Expect to spend some time driving around for a space and you will probably have to spend a few euros once you find it. If you're staying in the town, it's best you leave your car at your accommodation and walk everywhere. You'll see more that way! Are you ready to live the belle époque dream? Jump in the car and head down to Dinard. Book your tickets through us early, to get the best price.

The Haunted Castles of France

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With its beautiful castles and bloody history, a country like France is bound to have a ghost or two lurking about. If you dare, step over the threshold of some of the most haunted locations in France, and see if you detect any spooky goings on. Château de Puymartin Region: Nouvelle-Aquitaine Drive from Calais: 7h 58m / 830km Explore the haunted tower of Château de Puymartin. Built in the 13th century, the honey-coloured turrets of Château de Puymartin will take your breath away as they emerge from behind the trees as you drive up to the castle. In the day time, you can take a tour around some of the rooms (the family still lives in part of the castle), admire the period furnishings and tapestries, and learn more about the history of the place. In the summer months, on Tuesday evenings there are tours after dark, which recount the tale of the ‘Dame Blanche' or ‘White Lady'. This is the legend of Thérèse de Saint-Clar who was imprisoned in the north tower in the 16th century, after her husband returned from war early and discovered her in the arms of another man. He supposedly killed his wife's lover, and then locked her up in the tower for 15 years, until the day she died. Rumour has it that her body is buried in the walls, and her ghostly figure can be seen around the tower just after midnight. Château de Puymartin is closed from mid-November, but opens again in April. Entrance will cost €8.50 for adults, €6 for teenagers (13-18), and €4 for children (6-12). Check ahead for opening times.

Top five wine and food festivals in France

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Going on holiday means discovering new places, relaxing and, most importantly, eating and drinking! If you want to find the best food and drink on your holiday, a culinary festival is the place to go. One of the best things about going to a local food festival is to meet the chefs and producers of the food. And of course, trying the local dishes that make the area so special. As you will be driving to the destinations, it means you can leave plenty of space in the boot to bring back all the delicious ingredients. Toulouse à Table: The Last Bite of Summer in Toulouse (September) Toulouse Nine hours from Calais There is more to Toulouse cuisine than its famous sausages. Visit its food festival to find your new favourite dish. In the famous city of Toulouse, you can visit the Toulouse à Table festival, and get stuck in to the cuisine of South-West France. Aside from the famous Toulouse dishes that weigh down the tables (cassoulets or Toulouse sausages) there are plenty more new and delicious treats to discover. The festival is two weeks long, so you have plenty of time to pop in and feast on the best that Toulouse has to offer. If you're planning on visiting, check out what special events they have for when you're there. The events include a food truck night, food conferences and banquets, so there's something for every type of foodie. The Fête du Ventre Festival (October) Rouen Two hours 10-minutes from Calais Normandy cuisine is rich, hearty and comforting. How many sausages will you bring home with you? credit: Frédéric BISSON. Normandy is known for its cuisine; hearty delicious food that is comforting and elegantly simple. In the city or Rouen, they celebrate the dishes of Normandy over a weekend in October, as well as Norman history. The city's streets are covered in market stalls, selling local produce of honey, oysters, apples and andouillette sausage and many more tasty treats. The vendors dress in traditional Normandy clothes of aprons, large veiled hats and patterned scarves, so you get a real quirky feel for the city. It can get quite busy, but the hustle and bustle is all a part of the atmosphere, and you'll soon find plenty to chat to your fellow food fans about, especially when sampling the local produce. The Chablis Wine Festival (November) Chablis Four and a half hours from Calais Visit the region of Chablis for its wine festival, and learn more about the art of wine making. France is the home of good wine, and people travel far and wide to visit each of its wine regions. And one of the most important events in a wine lovers calendar is the Chablis Wine Festival. It doesn't matter if you're a wine connoisseur, someone with an interest in wine or a complete novice, there are plenty of wine-soaked activities for you to get involved in. From new vintage baptisms, tastings and learnings, you will definitely leave the festival with a new-found appreciation of wine.   Sarmentelles of Beaujeu (November) Beajeu Six and a half hours from Calais Celebrate the new barrels of wine with acrobats, fireworks and plenty of dancing. This is a special night for all wine lovers. Another celebration of wine, the Sarmentelles of Beaujeu celebrates the new vintage of Beaujolais with the sort of fanfare and partying that's usually reserved for a major sporting event! Expect dancing into the small hours, acrobats and fireworks when the broaching of the Beaujolais Nouveau barrels starts at midnight. Everyone gets to taste the wine for free, so you can see just what makes it so special. Bordeaux: Bordeaux S.O Good (November) Place Puy Paulin Six hours from Calais While some of the festivals on this guide have been smaller, quirkier gatherings on the streets of France, Bordeaux S.O Good is a bit different. This expo is huge, and is the place to come to find the best of Bordeaux food and wine under one roof. Here, you will meet the people behind Bordeaux's most popular dishes, from the vendors to the chefs to the sommeliers. And there's enough samples available to keep you full the whole time you're there!   Is your stomach rumbling at the idea of touring the best food and wine festivals of France? Make sure to leave plenty of space in your boot so you can bring back as much goodies as possible! And if you book your tickets early with us, you'll get the best price.

Entertain your kids on a car journey

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When half-term gets closer, so does the longing to get away from it all for a week, and discover a new place. It only takes 35 minutes to get from Folkstone to Calais when you travel with us, but there is still the journey to your destination to think of after. Follow our guide to keep your children entertained in the car, even on the longest journeys. One of the easiest things you can do to keep your children happy and quiet in the car is to pop the latest kids movie on the tablet or laptop, and enjoy a peaceful couple of hours. But, if you also want to keep your children engaged with the scenes you're driving past (especially if you're driving in a different country), you can come up with some fun games that will keep the whole family entertained as well. Story time If your kids get travel sick reading in the car, there are lots of other story time activities to keep them entertained. Obviously, a fantastic way to keep children happy is by setting them up with a library of books, but travel sickness and space in the car might make this difficult. Instead, there are other easier ways to have story time in the car. Audiobooks Audiobooks are brilliant, and a great way for you and your children to enjoy your favourite stories while on the move. You can download books, long or short depending on your child's attention span, which will keep them quiet and entertained for a couple of hours. Audiobooks are also a wonderful way to introduce your kids to literature if they're too young to read on their own. Story games If your children love reading stories, then get them to create their own! Start with a parent thinking of a sentence, then each member of the family continues the story one sentence at a time. It's a great way to use your imagination, and fun to see how silly the story can get! Car games Car games are great ways to let your competitive side out, and alleviate boredom.. If this gives you flashbacks to times in the car, desperately trying to guess your younger brother's increasingly more surreal Eye-Spy clues, then don't worry. There are many more car games that will make travelling not only fun, but quick too. The alphabet game This is great because it lends itself to a whole variety of different subjects. Start with A, and make your way down the alphabet trying to name as many counties, cities, football players, or chocolate bars as you can. Think it sounds easy? You wait until you're trying to think of a football player who begins with Q… The number plate game   This one is really simple, and gets you to use your mind! Just pick any number plate you see, and come up with a sentence using the last three letters on the plate. The funnier, the better! The packing game Having a break to run around is great for your children (and you!) on a long journey.. Want to test your memory, and ability to pack? Start with the sentence ‘I am going on holiday to (wherever you are heading to) and I am bringing…' and then each member of the family comes up with something they'd bring, and remember what everyone else has said! How many items do you think you can remember? Games you can bring with you Obviously, there are lots of different board games that you can bring with you, from travel size Connect4 to Guess Who. But there are fun games that you can make yourself which will save money, and be perfectly tailored to your family and your trip. Make your own map Before you set off, make a map of your route that your child can have to follow along with, and note down exciting things they see. This helps keep them engaged with their new surroundings, and makes them feel like they are helping you on your journey. Bingo cards If they love to look out the window and shout out all the new and interesting things they see, then why not turn that cute habit into a fun bingo game? Make bingo cards of all the things they'll see outside. Each time they get a line, or full house, they get a little treat. Outdoor games We don't recommend playing outdoor games in the car, of course, but what we suggest is to plan-out your stops on your route, where you can stretch your legs and have a run around with a ball. Not only will it give you a break from driving, it will tire the children out too; and while they sleep, you can have control of the radio.  Have you been inspired to travel longer journeys with your little ones? For more to spend on car sweets and bingo treats, book your tickets with us early to get the best price.

Gouda; There’s more than just cheese

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The Netherlands is brimming with beautiful, quirky towns and cities, all with that famous Dutch charm. Gouda is considered one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands, and not just so you can fill your boot with cheese! Where is Gouda? You can find Gouda in the south of Holland, south of the capital city, Amsterdam, north of the major port of Rotterdam, and just to the east of the seaside city of The Hague. If you're planning to travel through the Netherlands, it's an ideal stop for a day or two. You may think that driving to the Netherlands from France will take you hours, but it's actually only three hours and 43 minutes from our Calais terminal. You will experience a beautiful drive through France, Belgium and the Netherlands on your journey.   Have I heard of Gouda before? You probably know Gouda from its famous cheese. Gouda is known as a great place for tourists to visit, but the reason its name probably rings a bell is because of its cheese. Gouda cheese is famous all over the world, and while there are things to do that don't involve cheese, the Gouda residents are incredibly proud of their famous export and want its visitors to learn as much as possible about it. Gouda Museum Take a trip to the Gouda Museum to learn more about the history of this fascinating place. Like many cities in the Netherlands, Gouda has a rich history, dating back to the middle ages. To get to know the city intimately, take a few hours to wander through the Gouda Museum. It's not only cheese that the museum focuses on, but the whole tapestry of Gouda's past, including religious art, relics and ceramics. After touring the museum, chill out in the walled garden at the back. The museum is located in the old hospital, Catherina Gasthuis, on Achter de Kerk street, where Erasmus, a famous priest and theologian from the early middle ages, lived as a child. After spending his childhood playing in the streets of Gouda, he went on to become one of the world's most highly regarded Renaissance humanists, priests and teachers. De Waag For hundreds of years, Gouda has been producing its eponymous cheese, so holidaying here without learning about it is pretty difficult. To find out how the production of Gouda cheese put the city on the map, visit the former cheese weighing house, De Waag. Although it's no longer used to weigh the cheese, it is now a museum about Gouda, and its cheesy past. The museum doesn't just focus on Gouda's important cheese history, but also the whole of the Netherlands too. See where they used to weigh the cheese, as well as a scale model replica of the market square.  Cheese Market Visit the cheese market and fill your car up to the brim with the world-famous Gouda. After spending a couple of hours learning all about cheese, you'll definitely be feeling a little peckish! Plan your visit so you're in Gouda on a Thursday between April and August, when the famous cheese market is held. During the morning, make your way down to the market to purchase the cheese from the local traders. The market is still held in front of De Waag, just like it has been for hundreds of years. Church of St John Take plenty of photos of the church’s famous stained-glass windows. As if the cheese didn't give Gouda enough reason to be famous, it is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage site. The stained-glass windows of Sint Janskerk (Church of St. John) are so famous that they have been put on UNESCO's coveted list.   The church itself is a large, Gothic building, built in the 15th and 16th centuries. The famous windows were installed between 1555 and 1571 by the brothers Dirk and Woulter Crabeth. Town Hall The impressive town hall is a must-see for any visitor to Gouda. As with many historical cities, the town hall is an incredible structure. The seat of power for hundreds of years, its impressive Gothic structure looms over the market square. The town hall dates back as far as 1450, or earlier. It has been through many modifications throughout the years, including the removal of the moat that initially protected the hall. It's also striking on the inside, and visitors are free to wander through the halls, looking at the open rooms and snapping pictures (without a flash) of the art and interior decorations. Has Gouda's draw of delicious cheese and historic monuments convinced you to pay a visit? If you book your tickets early with us, you'll get the best price. So now you can buy more cheese!

Keep your Pets Calm around Fireworks

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If you are travelling to France at the same time as any national or local festival, such as New Year’s Eve, Bastille Day in July or Beaujolais Nouveau day, in November, you may get the chance to see some fireworks! This is great news for you, but maybe not so much for your pets. So what can you do to help keep them calm and happy during a firework display? If you suddenly hear a loud noise, it naturally startles you. But, you are also able to quickly realise where the noise is coming from, and be reassured. With a pet, they can’t do that, and during a firework show when it’s bang after bang, they could become really nervous. But not to worry! You don’t have to avoid travelling during festival periods, or feel you have to move to somewhere in the middle of nowhere to avoid any chance of being near a firework display. There are plenty of things you can do to keep your pet calm during the loud bangs. With these tips, your pet won’t be bothered by fireworks at all! It might seem strange, but don’t reassure them When your pet seems nervous or worried, it’s only natural that you would want to reassure and cuddle them. But if you add this love and affection to the continuous loud noises outside, it only reaffirms to your pet that there is a reason to be worried. Instead, do your best to carry on as normal. As well as this, there are plenty of other options for you to try out so your pet can be their normal, happy self during a fireworks display. Staying in is the new going out If you go for evening walks with your pet, it’s best to rearrange these if you know there will be fireworks. Stay indoors with the curtains drawn, all lovely and cosy, while the fireworks rain their brightly coloured sparks over the crowds outside. Turn the TV or radio up loud to help drown out the sounds of the bangs, and set up a little hiding space that they can settle in if they are particularly nervous. If they are crate trained, then this is the perfect place to put them, keep the door open, though, so they can leave if they want. These tips are all designed so your pet feels safe during the loud noises. What about keeping them happy? How to keep your pet happy during fireworks Give a dog a bone A treat (or two!) is the perfect thing to keep them happy when the fireworks are going off. Make sure you give your pet their favourite treat to cheer them up when the fireworks are crackling away outside. For dogs, a tasty and juicy bone will keep them occupied for a while. If it’s delicious enough, they might forget all about the fireworks. Not only will they stay distracted, it will give them positive connotations with the loud noises. Pheromones mean no more moans Before you take the medication route, there are plenty of products out there designed to calm your pet during stressful times. Natural anti-anxiety products with calming pheromones will really help your worried pet. What about before the fireworks? If you know you’re going to be near fireworks, then start training them early. You shouldn’t only become firework-conscious when the display starts. Get your pet used to the loud noises early on, so they aren’t as bothered when they start. Get them used to loud noises Getting your pet used to loud noises early on can be helpful, as long as this suits your dog's temperament. Rescue dogs might not respond well to this sort of training. Start with noises slightly louder than they are used to (like a car door slamming) and increase them until you get to reach the sound level of fireworks. Starting this kind of training really early, when they’re young, can mean that you get your pets used to all sorts of loud noises, like thunder, lawnmowers and motorbikes. Each time your pet hears a loud noise, reward them with a treat, and if they are particularly well-behaved when you make the noise, give them an extra little treat. This sort of training does take quite a while, and a lot of patience. Perseverance is your friend in firework training! Now you know the different ways to look after your pet when there are fireworks going on outside, your travel plans don’t need to be affected. Book your tickets with us and festival fun here you come!

Driving to Honfleur

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Visiting Honfleur The old harbour of Honfleur has a distinct Dutch feel, with narrow timber houses overlooking the water and boats bobbing around below. This is a town that was popular with famous artists such as Monet, so expect a beautiful backdrop to your holiday snaps. Honfleur is France's third most popular tourist destination and a favourite day trip spot for Parisians seeking a few sun kissed hours by the water. The summer is naturally the most popular time to visit Honfleur, with the golden sun beating down on the water. Meander your way through the bustling streets and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this perfect summer getaway. What to see in Honfleur The Vieux-Bassin The most famous part of Honfleur is the Vieux-Bassin, a really colourful spot. Any trip to Honfleur has to include a visit to the famous Vieux-Bassin, the towns old harbour. Lined with narrow, tall houses once owned by the wealthy elite (it was considered a huge privilege to have a home that directly faced the water), its a bright, bustling place full of colour and charm. Venture here for a walk in the sunshine, stopping off at a local café for a drink or a bite to eat and marvel at the 16th-18th century architecture. Just a short walk from Vieux-Bassin is the fishing port, Avant Port, where the fishermen sell their daily catch at Marché au Poisson. Notre-Dame de Grâce Chapel The inside of the chapel is decorated with boats, commemorating Honfleur’s maritime history. Credit: Stewart Holmes Every town or city in France worth visiting has a beautiful cathedral or chapel and Honfleur is no different. The Notre-Dame de Grâce Chapel is a stunning 17th century piece of history, built on a 100m high hill, so you get incredible panoramic views of the town below. The maritime history can be seen everywhere here, including the chapel. Inside you will find several boats strung up from the ceiling, and the stained glassed windows adorned with maritime images. Eugène Boudin Museum Pop by the Eugène Boudin Museum to see the amazing artwork. Credit: Jim Linwood As Honfleur is a renowned spot for artists, its only right that you should take a few hours out from wandering around the harbour to visit the Eugène Boudin Museum. The museum is located in a church that offers panoramic views of Honfleur below, but with such beautiful art inside, this is an added extra. Naturospace Head to Naturospace to see some beautiful birds and butterflies fluttering about.Credit: Olivier Duquesne In such a heavenly place, you might find that you want to really embrace nature. After all, staring at the magical sun setting over the harbour might ignite a nature loving flame within you. If it does, head to Naturospace where you can see birds and butterflies flying freely. Its a great place to visit to learn about nature, as well as be fully immersed in it. Where to eat in Honfleur Le Bréard While there are plenty of places to eat in the main part of town, if you head down a small alley you will come upon Le Bréard, a modern restaurant offering a beautifully presented menu of quirky courses. Try the oysters to start, and then the passionfruit soufflé for a real gourmet treat. Where to drink in Honfleur Overlooking the harbour, this is bright and friendly spot to come for a cold drink under the sun. Make sure you try to get a seat outside to make the most of the bustling port. Where to stay in Honfleur A L'École Buissonniere For a beautiful, but unique, place to stay, spend a few nights at à L'École Buissonniere. Once a school house, it's now a beautiful B&B, with a pretty outdoor courtyard and rooms decorated with original timber beams, exposed brickwork and relaxing bathrooms. There is parking, but it costs €10 a night, so remember to factor that into your budget. Weather in Honfleur As this is a summer spot, visit during June-August to get the best weather, with highs of 21°C and little chance of rain. During winter the temperature is still warmer than other spots in Normandy, as it can reach 11°C in November. Getting there and around: You can get to Honfleur from our Calais terminal in just over two and a half hours, but be aware that this route includes toll roads. In Calais, take the A16 and follow that to the A28 and A29 to the D580 in Honfleur, and then just continue to your destination. Couldn't be easier! You can park right in the centre of Honfluer for €2.80 an hour, but these spots do fill up quite quickly. So, if you don't mind the walk, park a little further afield for more of a chance of a space. If you want to be sunning yourself in Honfleur Harbour soon, then book your tickets to travel with us early, to get the best price.

Keep your pet calm in the car

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Planning a holiday with your pet? It's so much easier when you travel with us, but we understand that some pets may need a few creature comforts to make them feel more at ease. Not to worry though, there are lots of easy things you can do to keep your pet comfy and cheerful in the car. Helping your pet with travel sickness Turn that frown upside down! Your pet will love being in the car in no time.   Most pets love travelling, and have no difficulty setting off on new adventures. But, some may experience travel sickness when they start travelling in the car. If that is the case, don't worry! It's easy to cure and prevent, and certainly not a reason to stop going on holiday. There are lots of ways that you can help your pet to feel better, so their journey is as fun and exciting for them as it is for you. These simple steps will make their journey less queasy. Give them something small to eat Only give them something small to eat before setting off, about an hour or so before you drive. A big meal will make it more likely that they will be ill in the back of the car. However, on a long journey they will probably get peckish. Give them some light and healthy snacks, such as carrot sticks, to munch on. If you have a young dog who is teething, a deer antler will give them something to gnaw on, without risking an upset tummy. It's also something fun to do that will keep their mind off the car. Talk to your vet about anti-sickness medication There are anti-sickness medications that your vet can prescribe your pet to help them feel better when they travel. Speak to them before your journey, and they will be able to recommend the best ones. Before the medication starts to work, your pet might still be ill. In which case, it's good to know the signs of travel sickness so you won't be delayed too much.   Signs of travel sickness Your pet may not be able to tell you that they have travel sickness, but their body language will let you know. Your dog will whine, pant and yawn, and seem uneasy or show signs of listlessness and be inactive. If your pet is at real risk of travel sickness, get a passenger to sit in the back with them (if there is room) so they can keep an eye on them, and offer some much-needed love and comfort to your poorly pooch. If your pet vomits in the car Despite these tips, accidents can still happen. Remember to stay positive, if your pet gets in trouble for being ill in the car it may give them negative connotations associated with travelling, making it harder for you to take them to new and exciting places. If you can, pop them on a puppy pad while you're travelling, so the mess is easier to clean up. If they're sick, open a window or stop to let them out to get some fresh air. It's a good idea to keep the window open a crack for the whole drive, as that helps with travel sickness too. Help your pet feel relaxed in the car Fresh air blown through the car will help any pet with an upset tummy. Eventually, your pet will be fine in the car and become a good traveller. While some pets take to driving instantly, others might need a little more convincing and gentle encouragement that driving is the best way to travel. As with helping your pet with travel sickness, there are steps to take before you set off on your long journey to get your pet comfy and happy in the car. Give your pet plenty of exercise The more you get your pet running around before you set off, the more likely they will sleep through. Try to make stops throughout the journey too, so they can run around and get some fresh air. Fresh air is always a great way to help with nerves or an upset tummy. Go on shorter journeys Start with shorter journeys that increase in length, building up to the longer journey. This will help your pet get used to being in the car and reduce their anxiety. Try not to be too ambitious in these early journeys, you also want to build up to things like roundabouts, motorways and very bendy roads. Afraid of motorbikes? If your pet gets scared of motorbikes, or other noisy vehicles, try to get a passenger to use the ‘watch me' command to keep them focused on something else, or give them a treat or a tasty bone to play with. The tips don't stop once you get in the car. There are also a lot of things you can do once your pet is travelling with you.    These tips will soon get you a pet who’s more than happy to be in the car. Keep them cosy Pop them in their dog bed on the seat, to get them comfortable in familiar surroundings. This is also good if you are stopping and starting a lot on the journey, as they won't move around too much. Bring their favourite blankets that smell of home with them, as this will help reduce any anxiety they may have. Get them a pet seatbelt Just like humans, pets need to be secure too! You can purchase a harness that keeps them held in place in the car, but they need replacing as your pet grows. Another option is a seatbelt clip that attaches to their collar. Your pet can move around a bit more (which might not be great if they are fidgety), but they are secure, and you won't need to replace the attachment as often. Keep them distracted You can do this with toys, but don't choose ones that will get them too excited as this could be dangerous. If you're travelling with your dog, use a toy with treats hidden inside. It's something for them to focus on, and as we know, all dogs love treats! Use a calming scent or spray You can get sprays and scents with pheromones in them that will help relax your pet in the car, and keep them calm. Spray this on their bed as well as around the whole car (focusing on the place your pet will be sitting) so they get a strong enough scent. Look at anti-anxiety medications If your pet really doesn't like travelling in the car, despite you trying everything, then your vet will be able to talk to you about anti-anxiety medication that will help your pet to relax. Remember to keep lots of treats and water in the car for your pet, and don't leave them unattended for too long, and never with the window closed. Travelling with us makes going away with your pet easier. If you book your tickets with us early, you are guaranteed to get the best price.

Top ten traditional Dutch foods

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The Netherlands is known for windmills, fields of brightly coloured tulips and wooden clogs. But what about when it comes to their famous dishes? There is a lot more to Dutch cuisine than pancakes! 1. Poffertjes Probably one of the most famous Dutch dishes, Poffertjes are small pancakes, baked in an iron skillet, and traditionally served with melted butter and dusted with icing sugar. You can enjoy these all year round, but Christmas and New Year are typically the best times to have them. The best way to eat them is from a street food van on a cold winter's night, wrapped up warm and cosy against the chill. They are usually served on paper plates with plastic forks, making a very informal but delicious snack.   2. Hollandse nieuwe haring Although it may seem a little strange, pickled herring is a delicacy in Holland. Pickled fish always seems to be somewhat controversial in the UK. A dish that you may try once or twice, but not one that typically makes it to the dinner table of many homes. This is very different in northern Europe, where pickled fish is much more common. Hollandse nieuwe haring is translated to ‘Scoused Herrings', and is raw herring coated in a preserving liquid, made of vinegar, spices and cider. They're usually eaten as a snack, and are often served on their own, or with onions. 3. Pannenkoeken The Dutch definitely love their pancakes, no matter the size or the topping. Pannenkoeken are a traditional sort of pancake, loved the world over. The Dutch have them sweet or savoury, and many cafés offer a huge variety of toppings. Pancakes may not seem particularly exotic or different, but there is nothing better than one made by a professional chef, served with a hot cup of coffee as you sit outside a café, watching the world go by.   4. Sate Similar to satay sauce, it may be Asian in origin, but it has become a regular feature in Dutch cuisine. While it is enjoyed in the traditional way, over rice with chicken or beef, the Dutch more commonly have it covering their fries. It's basically a different take on mayonnaise or ketchup.   5. Stamppot One of the main features of Dutch cooking is its warmth and heartiness, and Stamppot is one of the best examples of this. It's a dish of mashed potatoes combined with root vegetables, like turnip, carrot and onion, but it can also include dark, leafy greens like kale or spinach. Stamppot is such an old dish (historians believe it dates back to the 15th century) that no one is entirely sure of its origin, or who created it, but it has become a staple of Dutch cuisine. It's perfect to try for dinner on a relaxed evening, and make sure you order it the traditional way, with smoked sausage. 6. Oliebollen Dutch doughnuts sprinkled in icing sugar are the perfect treat! If there is one thing to be said about traditional Dutch food, it's that it's not the healthiest cuisine. But when you are tucking into a plate of Oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts), you probably won't care! Their name means ‘oil spheres', and they are balls of dumpling batter fried in hot oil, and later sprinkled with icing sugar. There are variations all over northern Europe, but they originate in the Netherlands. Traditionally, they were eaten during yule time by Germanic tribes. The tribes would offer baked goods (including Oliebollen) to the Germanic goddess Perchta, to pacify her and her evil spirits. 7. Erwtensoep On New Year’s Day, a warm bowl of split pea soup is just what you need. A lot of Dutch dishes have their time to shine during Christmas and New Year time, and Erwtensoep is no different. This is a split pea soup, much thicker than our version. You could always add more stock if you want to make it thinner, but then it wouldn't technically be the traditional soup that the Dutch love so much. It is often served on New Year's Day; probably the best thing to have if you're feeling a little delicate. But you can have it on any cold evening, to warm your soul. 8. Bamischijf This is another Dutch dish inspired by Chinese/Indonesian cuisine. Bamischijf is bami (Indonesian noodles and vegetables), packed closely together and then coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. This is more of a treat, and definitely not one that you should have every day! 9. Bitterballen Tuck into these in the evening. You just need a few friends and some beers to really enjoy them! If you need a little something to eat before a big night out, Bitterballen is an obvious choice for the Dutch. Similar to a scotch egg, they are balls of finely chopped beef or veal that are seasoned with a mixture of spices, then rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried. They are part of a spread of food known as bittergarnituur, which basically means ‘garnish for bitters'. They are usually enjoyed with a pint or two of beer, so head to the cosiest Dutch pub you can find and start snacking. 10. Appeltaart It wouldn’t be right to visit Holland and not have a slice of apple tart (or two). We couldn't have a run-down of the best Dutch food without an appearance from its most famous creation. The apple tart is a must-have when you visit the Netherlands, and has been a part of their culture since the middle ages, first seen in an early Dutch cookbook, ‘A Notable Little Cookery Book'. In a Dutch apple tart, the apples are sliced, covered with a pastry lattice, and usually served with a side of whipped cream. Simple perfection. How many of these Dutch foods have you tried? Which ones are you looking forward to sampling when you visit the Netherlands? If you book your tickets earlyyou can save more spending money to really indulge in all those Dutch treats!

The Fortifications of Vauban

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France has a rich and, at times, turbulent history. Much of the relics from its past can still be seen, and provide a fascinating insight into life in France, and what shaped it into the country it is today. Some of the most famous of these relics are the Fortifications of Vauban. Built between 1667 to 1707, the Fortifications of Vauban are military fortifications designed to protect the borders of France from invaders. They were upgraded and designed by the Marshal of France and military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, in around 300 cities throughout France. Who was Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban? Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban was the mastermind behind France's fortifications, and was widely recognised for his military prowess. Despite also being military advisor to King Louis XIV, he came from very humble beginnings. Orphaned at a young age, he lived a life of poverty, and was educated in science, maths and geometry by the Roman Catholic Order; Carmelite. He joined the army and was eventually put in charge of constructing defences, and received highly distinguished honours. Many would say that his designs and upgrades of France's fortifications were his crowning glory. The fortifications became a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008, cementing his reputation as a military genius. Where are the fortifications? The fortifications are found across the western, northern and eastern borders of France, and vary in size, shape and purpose. They range from mountain and sea forts and communication buildings. Driving to the fortifications with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle With so many fortifications, you can't really just visit one to get a feeling for it. Instead, make a road trip out of it, and drive from fortification to fortification, uncovering their secrets and discover what it was about them that made them so special. For the easiest route from our Calais terminal, drive the western fortifications. Starting in Arras, and ending in Gironde. Western Fortifications of Vauban Arras: The Vauban Citadel One hour and 15 minutes from our Calais terminal Based on the citadel in Lille, this is a beautiful, must-see site. credit: ReflectedSerendipity. It was based on the nearby fortification in Lille, but does have some significant differences, making it unique. For example, Vauban designed it to have counterguards protecting the bastions. Despite it being a pentagon in shape, the internal buildings are arranged in a rectangle. The citadel is built high up a hill (naturally one of the best places to defend a city) so even though the walk up to the top might be a bit of a hard task on your legs, you will be rewarded with a great view. Manche: Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue and Tatihou: Watchtowers Four hours from our Calais terminal The watchtowers are great historical relics, still standing over 400 years after they were built. Along the Manche coast, take a break in the sea-facing commune, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue and its nearby island Tatihou. Both are home to watchtowers, looking out to sea. These towers weren't actually built by Vauban himself, rather his student Benjamin de Combes. This doesn't mean that they don't have the classic Vauban characteristics, and are still well worth a visit. Especially during the warmer summer months, when the sun is sparkling on the sea. Camaret-sur-Mer: Tour Vauban Seven hours, 15 minutes from our Calais terminal See the guardhouse, big enough to house 11 cannons and discover what made this fortification so special. This is one of Vauban's most impressive fortifications, a three-level defence tower that is protected by walls, along with a guardhouse and gun battery. The battery is particularly impressive, as it can hold 11 cannons. It was designed by Vauban in 1689, and building was completed in 1696. Vauban fought here himself, in 1694 to defend France from an attack from the Anglo-Dutch. Cussac-Fort-Médoc: Fort Médoc, Citadel of Blaye and Fort Paté Eight hours, 15 minutes from our Calais terminal The trio of forts at Cussac-Fort-Médoc are a must-see for every history lover! Near Bordeaux, the commune of Cussac-Fort-Médoc is home to three of Vauban's fortifications. All three work together as the Estuary's defensive system, and if you're after a walking holiday, a great trio of sites to walk between. Bordeaux is a famous wine region, so don't forget to stop at a café or bar and toast to the great Vauban himself! Are you ready to step back into the past and visit Vauban's greatest triumphs? Then get the bags packed, and jump in the car and head off! And don't forget to book your tickets with us early to get the best price.  

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