Beautiful towns in Southern France

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The mere mention of well-known towns and cities like Perpignan, Montpellier, Marseille, Cannes and Nice is enough to make Francophiles want to hop behind the wheel and head south. But, it’s not just these popular destinations that should have holidaymakers excited. There are plenty of beautiful, lesser-known towns in the South of France that are also certainly worth exploring.

Soak up the seaside village of Étretat

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Étretat is a breath-taking village that beckons both trendy Parisians and English tourists. Attracting the likes of painters and writers for years, the cliffs of Étretat continue to pull in tourists who want to admire the stunning views. Being a short distance from Calais, the coastal drive down to Étretat makes a perfect destination to visit by car, too. Étretat Where in France: The Alabaster coast, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandy. Distance from Calais: 270km / 3h The small and delightful village of Étretat is found on France’s northern coast within the Seine-Maritime department of Haute-Normandy. Despite its small size though, there is plenty to keep you entertained if you feel like leaving your world behind for a few weeks. Thanks to its position on the Côte d'Albâtre, or Alabaster Coast, this stretch of white cliffs and pebble beaches are easily explored, from the fishing village of Le Tréport to historical port Le Havre. Natural Beauty The village is a sight to behold, framed by its dramatic coastal scenery and two cliffs that seem to set the boundary for where it begins and ends. The natural allure and relationship the village has with the sea has inspired painters for centuries, including Camille Corot, Eugène Boudin, Gustave Courbet and even Claude Monet. The incredible needle and elephant at Falaise d'Etretat. Étretat has been a fashionable haunt for metropolitan Parisians since the 19th century. During the early years of their fascination with the town, they built extravagant villas that today add buckets of charm and sophistication. The destination seems to have never gone out of style and still swells with visitors from around the world every weekend throughout the year. To the French, the beauty of the cliffs along their Northern coastline is held in the same regard as The White Cliffs of Dover to the English, this is no coincidence as they’re both made from the same brilliant white chalk. The most distinct and recognised section of the cliff face has been artistically dubbed, ‘Cap Blanc-Nez’, which translates to “Cape White Nose”. Depending on your route from Calais to Étretat, there’s plenty of opportunity to hop out and observe these awe-inspiring cliffs while stretching your legs. Best enjoyed on foot Once settled you’ll undoubtedly want to grab your walking shoes! Whether you’re a wanderer who likes to find their own way, or a serious hiker who leaves no stone unturned, Étretat has you covered. There are a number of natural wonders in and around the area that simply must be enjoyed first hand, including the three arches found in the nearby cliffside. Porte d'Aval and the Porte d'Amont are visible from the town, but the Manneporte is the third and biggest arch that requires seeking out. This provides you with the perfect opportunity to flex your French tongue and ask a local for directions! From a German WWII bunker nestled in the cliff face at Falaise Aval, a popular walking route begins where visitors can head in the direction of the famous ‘L’Aguille’ or “The Needle”, a 77m high pointed rock formation. The climb - when safely approached - allows you to enjoy magnificent views over the channel. Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde atop the cliff face at Plage à Etretat. Another rewarding stroll is to visit the ornate Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. The chapel was built in 1856 following a mission preached by a ‘Father Michael’, who had allegedly found a written note from the Virgin Mary herself at the site. The building was sadly destroyed during the German occupation in 1942, but then resurrected in identical fashion in 1950. Nestled at the top of Falaise d'Amont in Étretat, the church is a short yet steep walk from the town. There is also a golf course aptly named ‘Golf d’Étretat’ that overlooks the bay, providing breath-taking views and wild coastal conditions to challenge even the most seasoned player. The town also has a delightful promenade that spans across most of the beach. Promenade sur le Perrey provides the perfect setting for a stroll and is the viewpoint from which the two nearest cliff arches can be spotted. It’s ideal for those without hiking boots. The golf course and clubhouse on the cliffside. Getting wet The coast here runs along the English Channel, which flows from the Atlantic Ocean. This means that it can get a little chilly, yet not too chilly for the local residents who enjoy a good swim in the summer! Of course, the temperature really isn’t much of an issue when you pair it with a beautiful sunny day. For some of you, taking a dip isn’t very appealing regardless of the weather, but for others it’s an integral reason to visit Étretat. If you need convincing, the water is the most alluring shade of blue, as well as being incredibly clear and clean. To make the most of the summer months, the pebbled beach along the promenade is home to a water-craft rental company offering catamarans, windsurf boards, funboards, paddleboards and kayaks. Paddling out into these shores at high tide offers the unique experience of getting up close and personal with the three arches and the standalone, L’Aguille (the needle). This is the perfect location for both experienced water sports hobbyists as well as complete novices. The short drive from Calais allows seasoned enthusiasts to bring as much equipment as they need, otherwise the local surf school will lend you a board and teach you how best to use it. Visit the Normandy Tourism site to find out more. Colourful kayaks on the pebble beach at Étretat. So how about it? Do you fancy a short, beautiful drive along the French Northern coast, kayak in tow? Whether you’re planning a short or long stay, getting active or just taking in the sights, Étretat is the ideal destination for a getaway. Book your next adventure with us now to take advantage of the best fares.

The French Riviera

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The French Riviera is an opulent slice of south-eastern French coastline cooled by the Mediterranean. It stretches from Marseille to Menton and even includes the regal microstate of Monaco. The region - ‘Côte d'Azur’ to the French - is ideal for cruising cliff-top roads, sunbathing on glorious beaches, flitting through quaint local markets and of course, yachting. Around 320 days of its year are blessed with glorious Mediterranean sunshine, providing ample time to enjoy the 115km of coastline and beaches, 18 golf courses, 14 ski resorts and no less than 3,000 restaurants! In short, this part of the world is sun-drenched, seductive and oh-so French. A Divine Location The geography of this coastal belt is truly exceptional. The mountainous national parks of Verdon, Luberon and Préalpes d'Azur stand tall to the north, protective and breath-taking, while the endless blue of the Mediterranean Sea glistens to the south. If you were to flex your French tongue and ask a local, they would certainly direct you to any of the vantage points that provide astounding views of both. With ancient olive groves and fields of native lavender, there’s plenty to fuel the produce sold at the weekly local markets. Almost every town in the region boasts a bustling square teeming with stalls offering the goods, as well as spices, soaps and various handmade crafts. And if you’re looking to get up close and personal with the spectacular landscape and rolling hills, you can take part in plenty of afternoon excursions including vineyard visits, hiking trails or cycling routes. Like the stunning Gorge du Verdon, the deepest canyon in Europe. A colourful soap stall in Marseille. Yachting Through the Years But perhaps you’re looking to take advantage of the sea? The French Riviera does after all host 50% of the world’s superyacht fleet, with 90% of all superyachts visiting the region’s coastline at least once in their lifetime. In 1872, the Prince of Wales at the time paid his first regal visit with his royal yacht, appropriately named, ‘Britannia’. He would frequent the French Riviera during its long summers until he became King Edward VII in 1901; presumably he was too busy from then on. Other royalty and high-ranking aristocracy throughout history have also favoured the Côte d'Azur as a holiday destination. Queen Victoria visited many times as well as Napoleon III of France, Leopold II of Belgium and even Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Although it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th century that the first influx of upper class British tourists descended upon the Côte d'Azur, all eager to visit Europe’s latest fashionable health resort. Unmissable Marinas To really soak up the grandiose yachting culture, we recommend visiting the many marinas and ports across this beautiful stretch of coastline. Cannes is another popular yacht charter destination with many ports, the most desirable of which is Vieux Port (650 yacht berths), which occupies a prime spot at the foot of the historical Le Suquet. Although very busy during the various festivals the city hosts throughout the year, the rather apt Cannes Yachting Festival is definitely worth experiencing. Panoramic cityscape of Vieux Port, Marseille. Nice is the fifth largest city in France and home to Port Lympia. The blue waters of the 500-berth port create an idyllic setting when paired with the red of the surrounding terracotta roofs. Nearby is the lively Old Town area (Vieux Nice) and splendid seafront promenade. Enjoy a plethora of restaurants and superb artistic and cultural attractions including the breath-taking opera house, Opéra de Nice and the grandiose Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Blue waters of Port Lympia, Nice. Mandelieu-La Napoule is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes. Port La Napoule (917 yacht berths) and Port de la Rague (560 yacht berths) are the two ports you’ll find here. The local beaches of Plage du Sable d’Or and Plage Robinson provide a healthy untouched paradise, each having been awarded the Pavilion Blue (Blue Flag) label for environmental cleanliness. L’Oasis and La Palmea are two Michelin-starred restaurants nearby, both with stirring views of the harbour especially at sunset. The province of Mandelieu-La Napoule. Boat Tours Although chartering a luxury yacht in the Côte d'Azur would indeed be the perfect way to spend a summer, popping from port to port in a privately-owned vessel is not quite a hobby that everyone can pursue. Luckily, there is plenty of opportunity for you to experience the thrill by taking part in an exciting locally-run tour. That’s right, you too can enjoy the same pleasures as Victorian aristocracy! Prices really do vary when it comes to sailing along the French Riviera. You could pay under €20 to share a cruise for an hour, €100 to sail around in a private yacht with your own personal skipper, or over €40,000 to rent a superyacht for the day. Luckily, there are options to suit any budget, no matter how small or large. A view of Cannes Bay. We’ve scoured the region to provide you with some of the boat tour businesses that operate in the area. Viator is a very handy TripAdvisor-owned company that lists plenty of the available excursions, while there are more options on the French Riviera tourism site. For those looking to really splash out, you can rent a luxury yacht or join a more lavish tour with Talamare. Where you wish to visit in the French Riviera will affect the length of your drive from Calais. You can get to Marseille in less than 9hrs 30mins, or a trip to Monaco would take you around 11hr. The fastest route either way would see you pass through Lyon and soak up plenty of the delightful French countryside. So, how about it? Throw caution to the wind and make the Côte d'Azur the destination of your next Eurotunnel road trip! Just remember to book your tickets with us early to take advantage of the best prices available.

Things to do in Eindhoven

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Often overshadowed by the likes of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Eindhoven is one of the Netherlands’ unsung heroes. Few people realise what a hidden gem the city is. As a focal point for art, design and technology enthusiasts, driving to Eindhoven offers plenty to inspire its visitors with the city’s ingenuity and inventiveness. Eindhoven Where in Europe: The Netherlands Drive from Calais: 291km / 3h For over a century, Eindhoven has been a hub of technological developments, and every year, thousands of design enthusiasts the world over descend upon its streets. Amazingly, as the fifth largest city in the Netherlands, it wasn’t actually until the industrial revolution that it even became a city. Since then, however, Eindhoven has flourished into a nerve centre for European innovation and technology, fostering the young talents at the Eindhoven University of Technology and the Design Academy Eindhoven. Take a stroll around the quaint city centre As you might expect from its reputation as the design capital of the Netherlands, Eindhoven attracts many people interested in admiring its architectural verve, visiting its design hotspots and attending its many technological events. It’s easy to see why many are charmed by Eindhoven’s entrepreneurial tenacity, and it’s hard not to feel inspired by the creativity the city often celebrates. Van Abbemuseum The Van Abbemuseum boasts an impressive collection of modern art, including masterpieces from the likes of Picasso, Kandinsky, and Chagall, as well as more recent works by contemporary artists. The museum was originally established in 1936 by local magnate Henri van Abbe, after whom it is named. He was an avid lover of modern art, and wanted somewhere to enjoy his passion close to his place of business in Eindhoven, and he went on to donate a great many of the works on display. Spend an afternoon amongst the masters at the Van Abbemuseum The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11am until 5pm all year round, except for New Year’s Day (1 January), King’s Day (27 April) and Christmas Day (25 December). Philips Museum The Philips Museum explores the fascinating entrepreneurial history of the Philips family business, which saw what started off as a humble lightbulb factory grow into the giant electrical appliances brand we know today. It is actually thanks to the Philips factory opening in 1891 that Eindhoven became as big and important as it was after the industrial revolution. Whilst touring the museum, you can discover all sorts of fun inventions created by Philips over the years, and there’s even a fun game for the kids to play, themed around innovation, discovery and invention. The Philips Museum is housed in the former Philips Lightbulb Factory The Philips Museum is also open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11am until 5pm. The museum is closed on New Year’s Day (1 January), Carnival, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, King’s Day (27 April), Whit Sunday and Whit Monday and on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (25 and 26 December). Dutch Design Week Eindhoven If you’re in any way interested in design, it’s worth pencilling in a reminder in your diary to check out Dutch Design Week Eindhoven. It takes place every October in the city, and draws design aficionados from all over the world to what is actually Northern Europe’s biggest design event. What makes Dutch Design Week Eindhoven particularly special is that its focus is on the designs of the future with an emphasis on experimentation and innovation. During Dutch Design Week, there’s inspiration everywhere in Eindhoven There are hundreds of locations across the city, with something to appeal to everyone including exhibitions, lectures, networking events, and debates. Each year, there is a slightly different theme to the week, but the designs on show are always about solving problems for the present and future. Tickets to the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bicycle Path If you’ve brought your bikes along, or even if you’ve hired some whilst you’re there, you simply have to go for a cycle along the 1km trail between Eindhoven and Nuenen. During the day, it’s part of the lovely Van Gogh cycle route, linking various places of interest and heritage connected with the famous Dutch painter, but at night it becomes something really special. Take a late night bike ride down the world’s first glow in the dark cycle route Opened in 2015 for the 125th anniversary of Van Gogh’s death, this is the world’s first glow in the dark cycle route. It was designed by contemporary Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and created with thousands of blue and green LEDs that resemble Van Gogh’s famous ‘Starry Night’. Eindhoven and its many inspiring things to do are just a short drive away. If you’re planning a visit, don’t forget to book your tickets with us in advance to take advantage of the best fares.

Hidden gems of the Netherlands: Delft

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Just a short three-and-a-half-hour drive from Calais, with its peaceful canals lined with medieval buildings, you’ll find the beautiful city of Delft. This charming little city is perfect for a short trip or weekend break, and packs just as much of a cultural punch as Amsterdam, just on a smaller, more intimate scale. Vermeer Centrum Delft High on your list of must-see attractions is the fascinating museum dedicated to the life and work of Dutch master painter Johannes Vermeer. He may not be as well-known and instantly recognisable as say, Monet or Picasso, but you’ll no doubt be familiar with his most famous piece, Girl with a Pearl Earring, which inspired the book and film of the same name. Inspiration isn’t hard to find in beautiful Delft During his lifetime, he was relatively unknown, and faded into obscurity after his death in 1675. It wasn’t until the 19th century that his work and mastery of light was recognised, and he has since come to be recognised as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. The Vermeer Centrum Delft is open seven days a week, except for Christmas Day, and there is an admission fee for adults, students and children aged 12 and older. There are free guided tours in English on Sunday mornings, and there’s also a café and a shop for all the refreshments and souvenirs you need. Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles Another of Delft’s most famous exports is their blue and white pottery, or Delftware, which has been in production since the 16th century. The most famous and highly sought after period is from circa 1640-1740, when a shortage in Chinese porcelain boosted the popularity and creativity of Delftware. Pick up a charming souvenir from the Royal Delft shop The Royal Delft Experience is housed in the last remaining earthenware factory from the 17th century, and offers a look at the history of the Dutch pottery trade, and a glimpse at the skill that still goes into crafting these beautiful ceramic wares. Royal Delft is open daily, with reduced hours on Sunday, and it’s closed on 25th and 26th December, and 1st January. Children aged 12 and under go free, and there is a reduced ticket price for 13-18 year olds and students. Oude en Nieuwe Kerk There are many lovely churches that you could pop into in Delft, but there are two in particular that stand out. The Oude Kerk, or Old Church, and the Nieuew Kerk, or New Church. The crooked tower of the Old Church is best seen from the canal As you may have guessed from the name, the Old Church is the oldest of the two, built in 1246. Back in those days, the church was known as St Bartholomew’s, named after the patron saint of its founding father Bartholomeus van der Made. During the centuries that followed, the church underwent some major expansions and developments to become the magnificent gothic basilica that we see today, but there is still a distinctly medieval feel about it. The other main church in Delft, the New Church, is only new in relative terms. Construction actually began in 1381, but it wasn’t completed until 1655, almost 300 years later. Both churches are famous for their respective towers, and they also each have important tombs housed within them. The Old Church’s tower stands at 75m in height, and has come to be known as ‘Scheve Jan’, or ‘Crooked John’ in English, as subsidence from the surrounding canals has caused it to lean roughly 2m from the vertical line. You’re not allowed to climb the tower, but inside the church you’ll find the tomb of Delft’s artist in residence, Johannes Vermeer. The New Church offers stunning views from the top of its tower The tower of the New Church is taller at 108.75m, to be precise, which makes it the second tallest tower in the Netherlands. Fortunately, as this tower isn’t wonky, you can climb the 376 steps to the top, if you’re feeling energetic. It’s well worth the hike, as on a clear day, you can see all the way to Rotterdam and The Hague! If stairs aren’t your thing, spend some time admiring the stunning interiors, and don’t miss the tomb of William of Orange whose effigy has been carved out of white marble, along with his faithful spaniel who lies at his feet. You can buy one ticket to visit both churches, and children 5 and under go free, although they are not allowed to climb the tower and older children must be accompanied by an adult. The churches are both open daily, Monday to Saturday, but are closed on Sundays for religious services. Check the opening hours before you visit, as they change seasonally. If you’re feeling inspired to plan a little getaway or short break to explore Delft and beyond, remember to book your tickets with us in advance to get the best prices.

Unique places to celebrate Valentine’s Day

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Once you’ve recovered from the festive period and settled into the new year, the next big date in the diary is Valentine’s Day. Why not celebrate with something other than roses and chocolates, and head to Europe for a Valentine’s Day to remember. Minnewaterpark Where: Bruges, Belgium Drive from Calais: 112km / 1h 20m Bruges is renowned for its romantic charm, and it’s not hard to see why. Strolling along its pretty streets, crossing gently arching bridges over tranquil canals, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d found yourself in a fairytale. In short, photogenic Bruges is perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway. Go for a romantic stroll around Minnewaterpark in Bruges. In the south of the city, you’ll find the beautiful little park of Minnewaterpark, and at its heart Minnewater Lake, or the Lake of Love. There is a legend surrounding this serene body of water, that there was once a girl called Minna who was in love with a warrior from another tribe called Stromberg. Her father forbade her from being with her lover, so Minna ran away into the nearby forest. When Stromberg heard about what had happened, he took off at once to look for her. At length, he eventually found her, but poor heartbroken Minna was so exhausted from running for so long that she died in his arms. The lake and the surrounding park is named after this tragic heroine, and it is said that any lovers who cross the bridge over Minnewater Lake together are destined to have eternal love in honour of the love between Minna and Stromberg that was cut short. Champagne region Where: Reims, France Drive from Calais: 274km / 2h 30m If you can’t help but swoon at the thought of classic romance, then a short break to France’s Champagne region will be right up your street. But if you’re thinking that there’s nothing more to do than visit vineyards and quaff a couple of glasses of bubbly, you are sorely mistaken. Gaze in wonder at the awe-inspiring Cathédrale Notre Dame in Reims. One of the best places to explore the region from is the charming city of Reims, famous for its breath-taking Gothic cathedral, the Cathédrale Notre Dame. The site of numerous coronations of kings and queens throughout history, the centuries of history, pomp and circumstance are palpable here. There are also two statues of Joan of Arc, one inside and one outside the cathedral. It’d be a shame to visit the area and not even have one glass of fizz. If you’re staying in Reims and don’t fancy driving out of the city to a vineyard, head to the headquarters of Taittinger. It’s about 1.5km from the city centre, which means you can either walk or get the bus. It’s a draw for history lovers, too, as part of the cellars are actually housed in 4th century Roman stone quarries. If you are looking for a quick day trip from the city, though, the maison of Moët & Chandon is a short 40-minute drive from the centre, where you can join one of the frequent tours of the labyrinthine cellars. Le Chemin de la Corniche Where: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Drive from Calais: 411km / 4h 20m More often than not, our favourite memories of time spent with loved ones are those spent enjoying the simpler things in life. Something as humble as going for a walk, hand in hand, somewhere peaceful where you can just enjoy each other’s company can stay with you forever. Enjoy a romantic stroll together in Luxembourg City. This is particularly true when you find yourself in settings as beautiful as the Chemin de la Corniche in Luxembourg City. This stunning walkway has been called the ‘most beautiful balcony of Europe’, and runs along the 17th century ramparts of the city. Take a leisurely stroll along this short promenade and enjoy the panoramic views below, which are beautiful at any time of day. You’ll find plenty of pretty photo opportunities to take advantage of to remember your romantic Valentine’s Day for years to come. Feeling lovestruck and inspired to explore Europe’s most romantic destinations? Remember to book your tickets with us early to take advantage of the best prices.

Kobee the Dog’s Guide to Germany & Austria

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Looking for a new destination to holiday with your dog?  If you haven’t thought about taking your dog to Germany let Kobee the Shih Tzu inspire you with his favourite destinations in Germany and Austria. Although Kobee the Shih Tzu may be small, he loves going on big road trip adventures with his family to Europe. Having travelled with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle a total of seven times, he’s explored countries like Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. However, it was the latter 2 countries that particularly caught his eye.  If you’re looking to take your pet’s paws further this year, find out more about Kobee’s adventures in Germany and Austria. Nuremberg, Germany Drive from Calais: 814.3 km / 8h 25m Explore the medieval streets of Nuremberg with your pet. One of Kobee’s favourite places to visit is Nuremberg, which usually consists of a stop-off in Luxembourg for one night.  The long journey is worth it though when reaching Nuremberg, being Bavaria’s second largest city it’s both beautiful and dog-friendly.  There are a number of very dog-friendly hotels (Kobee recommends Mövenpick Hotel Nürnberg) and plenty of outdoor seating areas. Thankfully, dogs are allowed inside some of the city’s cafes, restaurants and department stores (supermarkets are an exception), so you don’t have to leave them alone in your accommodation.  Getting around the city is easy too as dogs are also allowed to travel for free on the trams, railways and the city’s U-Bahn (underground rail system). If you’re staying in Nuremberg for a long break, Kobee recommends a day trip from here to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  A well-preserved walled medieval town – taking your furry friend for a walk along the ramparts is not to be missed!

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 museums 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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Why you should visit Tournai

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Discover where it all began for Belgium, in Tournai, one of its oldest cities. Dating back to Roman times, it was the home to kings, a beautiful cathedral, and was also famous for its tapestry-weaving. Where is Tournai? Located only an hour and a half's drive from Calais, in the Wallonia region of Belgium, Tournai is part of the French speaking community, so it's probably time to brush up on your GCSE French! Discover two UNESCO sites in Tournai As a signifier of Tournai's beauty and important cultural influence, UNESCO has given it the honour of not having just one, but two World Heritage sites. Notre Dame Cathedral Tournai Cathedral is an extravagant building that stands intimidatingly over the surrounding streets. Surviving both world wars, it was a tornado in 1992 that left the cathedral in need of serious restoration work. Despite the continuing building work (which should be completed in 2018), the five bell towers of the Notre Dame stand tall and proud over the city. It's not just the exterior of the cathedral that makes it so special, the interior is just as spectacular. The stained-glass windows let droplets of bright colour dance around the walls, and Corneille de Vriendt's Renaissance rood screen is worth visiting alone. The cathedral is closed Saturday and Sunday mornings, and on public holidays, but is open the rest of the year. If you want a guided tour, this can be arranged by the Tournai tourist office. The Belfry Climb all the way to the top of the Belfry and you could almost touch the clouds. The second UNESCO World Heritage site is the Belfry. This is a freestanding tower, reaching 72 metres in height. If you think you can handle it, you can walk the 256 steps to the top. It may turn your legs to jelly, but the view will be worth it. First built in 1188, the Belfry has had numerous roles throughout its long life. From acting as a town siren, to a watchtower, to a prison, it's had an important role in Tournai's history. It's closed Mondays and Sunday mornings from November to March. Entry is €2.10 for adults and €1.10 for children and seniors. What else can you see in Tournai? Don't worry, you don't just have to climb to the very top of a Belfry to get the best out of Tournai. There is plenty for you to see and do on the ground. The Grand Place Enjoy a drink and bite to eat in Tournai square. After a long day exploring, a sit down in a bustling, vibrant square with a drink in hand is just what you need. The Grand Place is unique as it is triangular in shape, covered in colourful banners flying above fountains and a statue of Princess Christine of Espinoy, wielding an axe. Halle des Draps The Halle des Draps is a beautiful gilded building and the perfect background to your holiday photos. In the square, you can also see the Halle des Draps, a look back to Tournai's past as Belgium's centre of tapestry. The hall has a traditional gilt exterior, but its interior is a simple brick design. It was first built in the early 1600s by Quentin Ratte, a master builder. It withstood both world wars, but had previously collapsed in the 1800s, and was rebuilt to its exact original design. The hall is occasionally open for exhibitions, so make sure you check what's happening when you visit. Are you looking forward to taking a step back into the history of Belgium? Start planning your trip to Tournai, and don't forget to book your tickets early, to get the best price.

Drive to Ypres

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Visiting Ypres A lot of Ypres' history is a result of the devastation caused by the battles of the First World War. Despite the ravages caused by the attacks and the young lives lost there, this is still a city that is worth visiting. Whether you are coming to pay your respects to the soldiers who died, or just want to take a break in a historic city, Ypres is the hidden gem that you have been looking for. What to see in Ypres In Flanders Fields Museum In Flanders Field Museum is an important place to visit, to understand the devastation caused by the war. When visiting Ypres, you should take the time to remember the tragedies of World War I. Ypres was the setting for some major battles during the war, with thousands of young men dying, sustaining life changing injuries, or going missing in action. In Flanders Fields Museum has carefully and respectfully collected the information and artefacts from the war, so its visitors have a full and detailed picture of the sacrifices that they made. Ypres Cloth Hall Ypres was built on the cloth industry, and in the same building as Flanders Fields Museum you can find the cloth hall. Once the most important building in Ypres, serving as both the warehouse and market place for the city, it was the beating heart of Ypres. Tragically, it was destroyed in the First World War but was rebuilt to its original structure from 1933-1967 by architects J. Coomans and P.A. Pauwels, and paid for by Germany's reparations. It is open today, and the city's tourist office is located here, so it's definitely worth a visit. Menin Gate Ceremony The Menin Gate Ceremony is a daily tribute to the soldiers who died in battle. Ypres has never forgotten the tragedies of the war. The destruction of the town and the lives lost has had a lasting imprint on the citizens. Many visitors who go to Ypres, pay a visit to the Menin Gate, to see the engraved names of the 54,389 soldiers that died in battle there and don't have a known grave. Every day at 8pm, the police halt traffic passing under the Menin Gate and the buglers play The Last Post in memory of those soldiers, followed by a minute's silence. Upon special request, you can be involved in the ceremony by laying a wreath. Around Ypres Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Europe’s largest military cemetery. A number of visitors pay their respects in the battlefields and cemeteries that surround the city of Ypres.  Such as the Tyne Cot Cemetery, just 9km north east of Ypres or Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, closer to the city and located in a large chateau that homes a permanent exhibition on the First World War's history. Some of these sites and others are part of a cycling trail named the Peace Route.  A 45km circular route in and around Ypres, where you can explore the countryside and significant battlefield sites.  A map of the route is available from the Tourist Information Office and there are plenty of bike rental options in Ypres too. Where to eat in Ypres De Ruyffelaer In an historic city, it's only right you dine in an historic restaurant that serves the local delicacies. De Ruyffelaer is a homely, quaint restaurant with brocante décor. Not only will you enjoy traditional Ypres meals, but you will definitely find some kooky eccentricities nestled away. Where to drink in Ypres Kaffe Bazaar As Belgium is famous for its beer, you can't possibly visit without trying a new tipple. Kaffe Bazaar has over 30 Belgian beers and 50 spirits, so even the fussiest drinker will find something they like. Try to visit on a Sunday, as that's when the bar hosts live music for a real party atmosphere. Where to stay in Ypres Main St Hotel A small, boutique hotel is the perfect place to stay in Ypres, a city known for its unusual atmosphere. Main St Hotel is beautifully decorated, close to the centre of the city with hand selected Belgian beer and a small library, you'll feel right at home. Weather in Ypres Ypres can be quite warm in summer, thanks to its location near the Belgian coast. If you're planning on visiting in its warmer months, expect highs of 22°C on average in July and August. However, those visiting in winter will experience lows of 5°C or 6°C in December, January and February. It is mainland Europe after all, so still pack a raincoat even if you're coming in summer - just in case. Getting there and around Don't be fooled into thinking that because Ypres is in a different country to Calais, it must be a long drive. In fact, it is actually only one hour, 15 minutes from our Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais Terminal. Simply take the A16 to the A25, continue to D948 then take the R33 to your destination in Ypres. You will find plenty of on-street parking in Ypres, but it is pay and display, so remember to have Euros handy. The main carparks are in the town centre, and by the cathedral. Feeling inspired by Ypres? It's only 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, and if you book your tickets early with us you will get the best price.

Driving to Le Havre

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Known as one of the cooler cities in France, Le Havre is a great city to visit if you want modern chic, an optimistic post-war attitude and beautiful tourist spots. Since 2005, Le Havre has had the honour of being a Unesco World Heritage Site, thanks to its use of modernist buildings that blossomed after WWII. The Drive to Le Havre A post-war town, Le Havre sits boldly and beautifully on France's coast. If you're planning a French road trip, it is surrounded by many beautiful and intriguing cities and towns that make great stop-off points. Read through our guide on what you can find on the way to Le Havre. What to see on the way to Le Havre Rouen Rouen is a historical city, the backdrop to the legends of Joan of Arc and Richard the Lionheart. About an hour away from Le Havre, is the medieval city of Rouen. Known for being the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, it is a place teeming with French history. There are plenty of Joan of Arc points of reference you can visit, such as Tour Jeanne d'Arc where she was put on trial. You can also stop by Rouen Cathedral, as not only is this a beautiful building, but it is also the place where Richard the Lionheart's actual heart is entombed. Amiens Walk along the canals of Amiens, and discover the history of the Sommes. This French town is about two hours from Le Havre, and is known for its memorials to those killed or injured in the First World War, as well as its spectacular Gothic cathedral. Cathédrale Notre Dame is the largest Gothic cathedral in France, and visitors from all over the world come to see its magnificent beauty in person.  Saint-Quentin Saint-Quentin is a city rich in different architectural styles. It's not just Amiens where you can go to see beautiful architecture. The mix of Gothic and art-deco styles is one of the main draws to Saint-Quentin. Those who are fans of Gothic architecture, head to the town square, where the town hall stands intimidatingly. If you do visit, make sure you don't stand too close when the bells start ringing; with 37 of them, they definitely make quite the racket! The art-deco style on so many of the other buildings throughout the city was as a result of the destruction of the war, and much of the city was rebuilt in this style. What to See in Le Havre Inside the tower of St Joseph's Church, Le Havre St Joseph's Church Le Havre's number one must-see location is the stunning St Joseph's Church. Its highest point stands at 120 metres tall, and its position is so prominent that sailors use it as a reference point when at sea. Visitors can spot it from wherever they are in the city, and it's hard to not be blown away by its architecture and stained glass windows when up close. Where to Eat in Le Havre La Taverne Paillette   Any trip to a French town needs to feature traditional French dishes, and in this case, it's mussels. La Taverne Paillette has four different types of mussels on its menu, so there is some variety. The cosy, family restaurant also serves La Bière Paillette, a local delicacy that you should definitely sample. Where to Drink in Le Havre Marie Louise As le Havre has grown in popularity, the bars have become trendier. But, if you are looking for a taste of the old-school Le Havre, then the Marie Louise on the Quai de Saône is a great choice. Originally a docker's bar, locals still come here to drink and chat with the landlady. A real Le Havre experience. Where to Stay in Le Havre Passino Spa Hotel All that wandering around a new city, you will definitely need some proper R&R. Passino has a great spa that will both relax and rejuvenate you. After all, if you don't come back from a holiday completely refreshed, what's the point in going? Weather in Le Havre Visiting in the summer, the average weather in July and August reaches around 18°C, but it can get higher. If you're planning a winter trip, then bring a coat to combat the chilly lows of 5°C. As for rainfall, the autumn sees the most, with 70ml from September to November. Getting there and around The drive from the Calais Eurotunnel terminal to Le Havre is just under three hours, but be aware that that drive does include tolls. You just need to take the A16 to Gonfreville-l'Orcher, then the N282 and D6015 to Avenue du Général Lecler in Le Havre. There are as many as fifteen car parks in Le Havre with Coty being the largest. An underground car park just six minutes walk from the centre and allows cars to stay short term (€1.20 an hour/€4.80 a day) or longer (€20 for one week). Will you be paying a visit to Le Havre? At only 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, you can be there in no time. Make sure you book your Eurotunnel Le Shuttle tickets early, to get the best price.

Driving to Dieppe

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The drive to Dieppe Located right on the coast, Dieppe was well known in the 19th century as a seaside resort, and has a rich history as an important port; it was the setting for an allied raid on the Nazis when they occupied France. While Dieppe is a great place to visit, either to visit the beach or see the WWII history, there’s other locations not to miss on the drive there. Driving to Dieppe from our Calais terminal gives you amazing views of the coast for the entire journey, taking you through Boulogne-sur-Mer, Le Touqet and Berck. The drive is just over two hours, so really easy to do in one day. However, driving past so many coastal towns, it would be a shame not to stop off along the way for a paddle or to stretch your legs along the beach. The seaside town of Dieppe is a beautiful spot, surrounded by many picturesque villages along the way. What to see on the drive to Dieppe Saint-Valery-sur-Somme The Guillame Towers are a must-see site in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. An hour from Dieppe, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme is one of the three Somme ports, and a popular tourist spot. Many tourists spend their time walking through the narrow streets, seeing the fishermen's colourful cottages or taking in the Medieval buildings that still stand on the streets. If visiting Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, you must take the time to see the Guillame Towers, which act as an imposing stone gateway to the town. As well as taking in the tourist sites, you should also visit the market, on either a Wednesday or a Sunday. Mers-les-Bains The Belle Époque style villas along the seafront are legendary. One of the most famous periods of French history, Belle Epoque is a huge feature of Mers-les-Bains. The intricate timber design, the narrow towers and windows can be seen on the seafront villas. The villas were built for the wealthy, just as the trend for sunbathing had begun, and they needed somewhere cutting edge to stay during the summer months. The architectural gems don’t stop with the Belle Epoque villas. Stop by the art deco church, Saint Martin, to admire its symmetrical design and pretty brickwork. Mers-les-Bains is about 40 minutes from Dieppe and makes a perfect walking spot to break up the journey from Calais. Le Treport The white cliffs of Le Treport are famous for their stunning views. At just over a half hour drive from Dieppe, Le Treport is a small port, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in flavour. Known for its seafood, it would be a real shame to miss out on the fresh catch of the day. Either stop off at a local restaurant, or stop by the harbour fish market if you can cook it yourself that evening. Le Treport has a pebbled beach, ideal for those who want a relaxing beach holiday. It is also known for its white cliffs and the views that stretch out ahead. Locals recommend summer visitors to see the cliffs at night, when they are beautifully lit up. Where to stop off to eat in Dieppe Due to its close location to the sea, you must try the fresh seafood at Dieppe. Its local dish is its most famous, marmite dieppoise. A creamy stew, made with locally caught fish, muscles and prawns. Where better to try this delicacy than À La Marmite Dieppoise, an iconic local restaurant, that is famous for the stew. Where to stop off to drink in Dieppe When visiting an historic town, you should drink somewhere with a bit of history and character behind it. Café des Tribunaux was once the haunt of artists such as Sickert, Renoir and Monet, and is even the subject of a painting by Sickert. Its connection to high art doesn't stop there, and it's rumoured that Oscar Wilde himself wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol whilst drinking there.  Where to stay when driving to Dieppe If you're looking to extend your road trip to Dieppe, and want to spend a bit more time exploring the locations on the way there, then Hotel Les Pilotes is a great place to stop off. This boutique comes with free parking, stylish rooms and is located on the beachfront, so you will always be near the peaceful water.  Weather in Dieppe The sights from Château de Dieppe make the climb worth it. Dieppe isn't famed for its scorching summers; its average hottest summer temperature is 18°C in August. Its lowest temperature is in December, at 8°C but expect temperatures to drop as low as 3°C. As for rainfall, in January there could be 80ml of rain. Does a road trip to Dieppe sound like your ideal holiday? It's only 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, and if you book your tickets with us early you'll get the best deal. Getting there and around It is just over two hours from the Eurotunnel Calais Terminal to Dieppe, but do be aware that this route contains toll roads, so have your Euros ready! In Calais, get on the A16 and continue to Route de Bosc Geffroy and exit on A28. Follow D920 to D925 in Dieppe. There are plenty of free car parking spots in Dieppe. Quai de la Marne, Quai de Carénage and Rue de Ravelin are all free. Be aware that during the winter months you can't park on the streets at night, and your car may be towed or fined if you do.

Driving to Cherbourg

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The port city of Cherbourg is a great place to visit. About four hours' drive south of Calais, there are plenty of coastal spots for you to see en route to Cherbourg. The drive to Cherbourg Driving through Normandy, there are many beautiful historic sites to stop by along the way. That is the beauty of travelling with us - the drive is a part of your holiday! Along the drive to Cherbourg there are plenty of cities and attractions for you to visit. What to see on the way to Cherbourg Bayeux Tapestry The Bayeux Tapestry is a valuable historical artefact, on permanent display at Museum of Queen Matilda. Just over an hour's drive away from Cherbourg, is the town of Bayeux. The town is famous for the Bayeux Tapestry, a huge medieval tapestry depicting William the Conqueror's invasion of England, and his subsequent victory at the Battle of Hastings. The tapestry is 70 metres in total, and is one of the most important historical artefacts from that time. It is on permanent display at the Museum of Queen Matilda, so you can see it whenever you visit Bayeux. Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives   The Medieval town of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives is a great place to visit in Normandy.© ChBougui   This town is famous for its abbey, founded in the 11th century. The abbey is a striking example of Medieval architecture, but it isn't the only example in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives. The Market Hall was built in the 11th century and shows what life looked like back then, when the monks would sell to the locals. If you can, visit on a Monday when there is an open-air market. Basilique Sainte-Thérèse The magnificent Basilique Sainte-Thérèse is a must-see on your drive to Cherbourg This is an incredibly important church to Roman Catholics, just under two hours from Cherbourg. Named for Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the church is huge, and is noted for its sublime interior, made with marble, mosaics and glittering stained glass windows that tell the story of Sainte Thérèse's life. This church is one of the most beautiful monuments you can see in Normandy. What to see in Cherbourg Explore the wonders of the deep whilst comfortably on dry land, at La Cité de la Mer.© Office de Tourisme Cherbourg Cotentin La Cité de la Mer One of the must-see tourist attractions in Cherbourg is the La Cité de la Mer, an expansive maritime museum that takes visitors on a tour of the hidden depths. From exhibits featuring the Titanic, to the machinery that made it possible to explore the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean, this is a great place to visit. Where to eat in Cherbourg As you gaze out to the ocean, dine on fresh seafood. Cafe de Paris is a well renowned restaurant in Cherbourg, with picture perfect sea views. Don't miss out on the oysters, which are their speciality. Where to drink in Cherbourg For a really quirky cocktail bar, look no further than Le Shake It Café. Known for its skull emblem, great menu and hard liquor, this is a great place to hang out at night. If it's a warm evening, try and get a seat outside. Where to stay in Cherbourg Your accommodation is always incredibly important. You want somewhere clean, accessible, but also interesting and just a little bit quirky. Hotel Napoleon has all that: 20th century architecture and beautiful rooms- there's also parking available. Weather in Cherbourg   In July and August you can experience average highs of 16°C, and lows of 13°C. In the winter, expect temperatures of about 5°C. With rainfall, December is wettest month, with just over 60ml on average. Getting there and around At just over four hours from the Calais Eurotunnel Le Shuttle terminal, you will experience coastal views and amazing stop-off points throughout.  Leave Calais on the A16, take the A28 to Les Rouges Terrres, continue on Voie de la Liberté and drive to Cherbourg. (this road does contain tolls.) You can find free car parks in the city, near La Perge Verte, Place Divette or along the streets. If these spaces fill up, there are multi story car parks a bit further out of town that charge about 40 cents an hour. Have you been inspired to drive to Cherbourg? It's only 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, and if you book your Eurotunnel Le Shuttle tickets with us early, you'll get the best price.

Driving to Deauville

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Drive to Deauville and explore its beautiful beaches and famous racecourses. Visiting Deauville This is a commune whose pavements regularly echo with the click-clack of expensive heels. Since Napoleon's half-brother discovered it in 1861, hordes of Parisians descend on its golden beaches to soak in the sun and shop 'til they drop'.  However, there's more than just sunbathing and shopping in Deauville. Spend a few days here, and discover more of the cultural highlights of this sunny spot. What to see in Deauville Deauville-La Touques Racecourse Deauville is famous for its horseracing, so make sure you pay a visit to one of the historic racecourses. The surrounding countryside to Deauville is France's main horse breeding area, so it's no surprise that it is home to a large racecourse. Deauville-La Touques was founded by Charles Auguste Louis Joseph, the same man who founded Deauville. Since 1861, it has hosted flat races for all four seasons, so regardless of when you visit Deauville, there is a good chance you can see a race. Villa Strassburger The beautiful Villa Strassburger is open to the public throughout July and August. Villa Strassburger, originally built in 1907 for Henri de Rothschild, it was later bought by Ralph Beaver Strassburger. After his death, his son donated it to Deauville in 1980. It is open to the public in July and August, and is a fascinating insight into the luxurious life of Deauville's rich and famous. The house itself was inspired by the rural farmhouses in Normandy, a striking juxtaposition against the chic Deauville. Parc des Enclos Calouste Gulbenkian Deauville is famous for its public gardens and green spaces, and none are more beautiful than Parc des Enclos Calouste Gulbenkian. Originally it was privately owned by the businessman Calouste Gulbenkian, and like Villa Strassburger, his son donated it to the city of Deauville. The garden was his sanctuary, where he would go to escape the pressures of his work life. It is a calm, serene outdoor space where you can discover new exotic plants away from the bustling city. Where to eat in Deauville Les Vapeurs Like much of Deauville, Les Vapeurs is a historic part of the city. Since 1927 it has been serving fresh seafood, across from the seafood market. This means that the mussels and haddock are straight from sea to plate. If you aren't a fan of seafood, they also serve classic French brasserie style food too. Where to drink in Deauville One of the most luxurious hotels in Deauville, Hotel Barrière Le Normandy has had some famous guests. The Normandy Bar, Hotel Barrière Le Normandy As Deauville is so well known for its glamour, famous visitors, and stunning buildings it's only right that you treat yourself to a drink at The Normandy Bar, at one of Deauville's grandest hotels, Hotel Barrière Le Normandy. The hotel was built in 1912 and has hosted Winston Churchill and Coco Chanel, amongst other glamorous stars. Where to stay in Deauville Le Grand Hôtel Cabourg Continuing the theme of seaside glamour, Le Grand Hôtel Cabourg was a favourite of writer Marcel Proust. Built in 1907, not only is the hotel a beautiful call back to the city's past, but it also boasts a private beach, golf facilities, a gourmet sea-facing restaurant and exquisite rooms and suites. Weather in Deauville It can get quite warm in Deauville, with highs in August of 19°C and the rest of the summer is a similar temperature. Winter is obviously cooler, at about 6°C. Rainfall is really low in the summer and in the colder months it picks up, with 66ml in October. Getting there and around It's just under three hours to get from our Calais terminal to Deauville. This does include toll roads, so be sure to have Euros accessible for these. Follow the A16 and A29 to Hornfleur, then follow D79, D288 and D278 to Deauville. There are plenty of spots to park in Deauville, but expect parking spots near the seafront to get busier- especially on a sunny day. Does the idea of vintage French glamour sound appealing? Then a trip to the beautiful Deauville will be perfect. Make sure you book your tickets with us early, so you get the best price.

European Music Facts

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Setting off on your car journey to France, Germany or anywhere else in Europe? You need a great playlist. And there’s nothing better than to have musical facts to go alongside it! Europe’s musical history is rich and varied, from classical, to 80s synths, to Swedish pop domination. Every genre of music has found a home within Europe. Join our journey of musical facts, and maybe find some places to stop off along the way! Our journey begins, as it should, with classical music. The world’s most famous classical composer, Mozart was a child prodigy who despite being loved and revered for his musical creations, died penniless and was buried in a pauper’s grave. Fortunately, his reputation did not suffer the same fate, and he remains one of the most famous musical minds in the world. Mozart Facts Mozart’s house is a great place to go and discover the history of the great man himself. He always had a head for music, even at a young age. When he was 14, he heard Allegri’s Miserere and was later able to write it down in full, completely from memory! 14 was clearly a good age for Mozart, as it was also the year when he wrote his first opera, Mitridate Re di Ponto. Starting young, he composed his first 30 symphonies by the time he was 18. In total, he created 41 before his death at aged just 35. If you want to discover more about Mozart, there is nowhere better than his birthplace in Salzburg, Austria. Ten hours from Calais, you will pass through Germany, which is perfect if you’re planning a European road trip. It’s one of the most popular museums in the world, and a Mecca for all classical music fans. Disco in Europe Urtijë is the alpine birthplace of Giorgio Moroder. From the classical sounds of Mozart to the revolutionary synth pop that was blasted all over the radio in the 1970s and 80s. One of the most famous examples of this is Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. Although Summer is American, the choice to use an entirely synthesized backing track came from revolutionary Italian music producer Giorgio Moroder. The song is regularly featured in lists of the greatest dance songs ever, and is widely recognised as one of the most influential pop songs ever made. Moroder was born in Urtijëi, in the alps of Northern Italy, but has resided in Berlin for much of his life. For those who are looking for a holiday with breath-taking natural sites and fresh, alpine mountain air, Urtijëi is a great place to stop by on your travels. The town itself only has about 4000 inhabitants, so if you’re looking for a quiet place off the beaten track, this is it! It’s three hours from Salzburg, if you’re continuing your musical journey, or 11 hours from Calais, taking you through Germany and Austria. Disco Facts The term ‘disco’ came long before the genre of music, and comes from the French word ‘discotheque’. In the 1970s, non-UK pop bands were grouped under the umbrella title ‘Euro-Disco’. Bands like ABBA, Boney M and Arabesque were all described as Euro-Disco. Europe’s Biggest Music Event… Eurovision! Did you know the first Eurovision song contest took place in Lugano, Switzerland? One of the biggest nights in Europe is Eurovision and although we haven’t been the lucky winners in recent years, many of our European neighbours have. The last time France won Eurovision was in 1977, later Belgium took the top spot in 1986 with Germany winning recently in 2010! On a long journey, fun facts are just what you need to keep the conversation flowing. Did you know for instance that the first Eurovision song contest took place in Lugano, Switzerland? Under four hours and half away from Moroder’s Urtijëi, you could even pay it a visit! Eurovision Facts It may be 40 years since France won, but their Eurovision woes aren’t quite as bad as Norway, who have finished last 11 times, and Cyprus, who have never made it into the top four. In 1969, there were no rules for what would happen in the result of a tie, and four countries won. If that happened today, it would be the country with points from the most countries who would win. That’s not the only rule. All Eurovision songs must be under three minutes, and no more than six people are allowed on stage. Do you want to make your musical journey across Europe? With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, it is only 35 minutes to Calais, so before you know it you'll be ready to Hit the Road Jack!

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