Skiing vs. Snowboarding for Beginners

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Skiing or Snowboarding? It’s a tough decision, so we’ve outlined some important things to consider and which resorts are best suited to each sport. Gliding through the snow, regardless of whether using a snowboard or a pair of skis, is one of the most liberating and exhilarating activities that anyone can experience. It’s no wonder why so many people from the UK flock to the French Alps year on year to hit the slopes. The stunning French Alps are enjoyed by skiers and snowboarders alike Which do I choose? Is one easier than the other to pick up? This is an important question for beginners because spending more time falling over than riding comfortably can be discouraging. It’s thought that skiing is easier to learn but harder to master, whereas snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master. So, those heading out on their maiden winter holiday might want to grab a pair of skis. Although, some find snowboarding easier to pick up if they have a background in surfing or skateboarding because of the similar stance and type of balance required. Some of the basics An integral part of learning to ski is learning to stop. An easy way for beginners to stop is to ‘snowplough’, by turning the front of the skis in towards each other, and although it’s not as smooth as a ‘hockey stop’, it serves its purpose. When snowboarding, it can be difficult to learn to stop dead, but once mastered it grants an unparalleled sense of control over the terrain and an ability to traverse the thicker, off-piste snow, where some of the best fun is to be had. Using the lifts is considerably easier for skiers than for snowboarders, as well as riding on the flatter areas that link the pistes together. Although, once off the mountain and après ski commences, snowboarders can walk around easily in their comfy footwear and only have to carry their board. Skiers on the other hand face the difficult task of walking in stiff boots and carrying two skis, along with two poles, which can be a little awkward. Be sure to stop and enjoy the views regularly Considering the cost Choosing to ski or snowboard doesn’t really have much effect on the cost of hiring equipment. However, those keen on buying all their own gear should note that ski equipment is sometimes more expensive to purchase than snowboarding equipment. Which is safer? There’s no need to be worried about safety, as long as beginners are sensible and visit the beginner’s facilities within their chosen resort. France has some rather stringent health and safety laws in place, meaning every resort has ample trained staff that keep an eye on visitors at all times. Beginners should wear a helmet, not try anything beyond their ability and read the International Ski Federation’s rules of the slopes. Which resort to chose Ski resorts cater to both sports equally, but some are favoured by skiers, and some by snowboarders. Val Thorens comes to life at night Val Thorens is one of the most popular ski resorts within the French Alps and is our suggestion for those looking to hit the slopes for the first time on a pair of skis. The resort has been a favourite for British skiers for decades because of its reliability when it comes to snowfall and the ample facilities it provides that help to make beginners’ experiences as much fun as possible. We recently sent vlogger, Saunders Says to Val Thorens via our service to enjoy the best skiing conditions the French Alps have to offer. Check out the two videos he created on his YouTube channel. To get a further understanding of just how expansive the resort is, visit our page on ‘How to make the most of Val Thorens’. Snowboarders are rather fond of the half pipes in Avoriaz Beginners looking to find the ideal snowboarding resort should head to Avoriaz. The resort is regarded as the snowboarding capital of Europe because of its ample facilities built with snowboarders in mind. It’s was the first resort in Europe to feature a snowboarders-only section and now boasts three major snowboarding parks and a super pipe, as well as acres of off-piste terrain to explore. Also, veteran snowboarder Johann Baisamy runs a snowboarding school from within the resort, making it perfect for those in need of a few lessons. Whether a beginner skier or snowboarder, everyone looking to hit the French Alps can do so on their own terms by travelling with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. Book a ticket with us now to take advantage of the best fares.

Experience Menton’s spectacular Fête du Citron

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When winter fades and the springtime sunshine rolls in, a town in the French Riviera plays host to an extraordinary annual festival that uniquely celebrates the changing of the seasons. Fête du Citron Where in France: Menton, Alpes-Maritimes, Côte d’Azur Distance from Calais: 1,255km / 11h 45m Celebrate the coming of spring in the gorgeous Côte d'Azur. What is the Fête du Citron? Visitors are left staggered by the sheer number of oranges and lemons used in the displays The Fête du Citron (also known as the Carnival of Menton) is an annual celebration of the leaving of winter and the coming of spring, where the entire town of Menton becomes coloured with locally grown oranges and lemons. The fruits are collected in abundance and used to make impressive structures and displays that are paraded through the town for a period of two weeks. The use of the fruit not only represents the bounty provided by the changing of the seasons, but the pride the town has in the quality of its produce. In fact, the lemons grown in Menton are rather unique and sought after. They are recognised by their particularly bright shade of yellow and for being more elongated than round, as well for being prized by chefs because of their rich, essential oils. Menton’s lemons are unique in their colour, shape and flavour How it all began Legend has it that Eve herself planted the first lemon tree in the Bay of Garavan - chosen because of its natural beauty and ideal weather. It’s even said that the town of Menton itself stemmed from a single lemon seed. The first display of flowers and locally-grown citrus fruit is believed to have been made by a hotel in Menton in 1928. After being admired greatly by guests and locals alike, the theme began to be adopted by other local businesses, growing year on year. Not before too long it was an event that the town became known for, with floats, carts and impressive structures being decorated with the brightly coloured local produce. It was in 1935 that the festivities were given the official name of ‘Fête du Citron’ (Lemon Festival) and since then the event has steadily grown in popularity. Today the festival truly is an unmissable occasion that every Francophile should experience. Fête du Citron 2019 2018’s Bollywood theme produced some dazzling displays There’s a different theme to the festival each year, with past examples such as ‘Bollywood’ and ‘Broadway’. 2019’s festivities will run from February 16th to March 2nd, with around 160,000 visitors expected to appear for the two-week festival that will feature a ‘Fantastic Worlds’ theme. Each day of the festival has a unique itinerary, with exhibitions, tours, fairs and a variety of shows. See the festival’s official site to discover the full program of planned events. Menton’s gardens The town’s gardens are where visitors can find the most impressive displays The town prides itself on its beautiful gardens throughout the year, but they receive special attention during the Fête du Citron. Visitors can find the most extravagant and impressive displays such as towers, huge statues and life-sized buildings in public parks, just like Jardins Biovès (Biovès Gardens). Visitors should make sure to experience the gardens during both the day and night, as the structures are even more magnificent when combined with lightshows and soundscapes that help to bring them to life. Orchid and craft fairs During the festival, Menton’s grandiose ‘Palais de l’Europe’ hosts an orchid and crafts fair, from within its own grounds. At the orchid fair, visitors can expect to see one of the world’s most impressive orchid gardens as the flowers begin to bloom for the first time in the year. The craft fair is where local artisans present their sculptures, ceramics and glass-blown pieces. Visitors also have the chance to sample delicious, local dishes such as ‘un bouquet de fleurs de courgettes’, a delicate courgette flower in a light and fragrant batter. Nearby festivities Nice Carnival is another sensational festival worth experiencing Menton’s Fête du Citron isn’t the only celebration in the French Riviera during the early spring period; the Nice Carnival and the Mimosa Festival are also unmissable celebrations to enjoy whilst in the Côte d'Azur. Nice Carnival easily matches the size and spectacle of Fête du Citron and dates as far back as 1873. 2019’s carnival will run from the 16th to the 28th of February and will feature a theme of ‘King of Cinema’ as the year marks Victorine Studios’ 100th anniversary. The studios are based in the Côte d'Azur and have famously been graced by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen and Jacques Demy. The Mimosa Festival is also in the nearby French commune of Mandelieu-La Napoule and is another annual event that heralds the coming of spring. The story goes that ‘Mimosa pudica’ (the plant that mimosa is extracted from) was introduced to the region after Captain Cook’s voyage to Australia in the mid-1800s. It was then destroyed by the unusually harsh winter of 1929, before being reintroduced two years later with a celebration, which was the birth of the festival. In 2019, the occasion is set to run from the 20th to the 27th of February and boasts the theme of “The Adventures of Marco Polo”. So, for those looking to welcome the springtime sun in style, why not do so by heading to Menton and witnessing the stunning Fête du Citron? Book your tickets with us in advance to get the best price.

Why your next ski holiday should be a road trip

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There’s nothing quite like a road trip to the French Alps. It’s the epitome of freedom - being able to hop into a car with a pair of skis and drive off into the sunset (or sunrise) in search of the good times. We teamed up with Saunders Says to show our customers just how hassle-free and convenient a skiing holiday in France is when travelling by car. We hosted his fun-filled road trip to the French ski resort of Val Thorens, and in his first video he shows just how quick and easy the process of using Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is. Travelling with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle helps skiers to make the most of the French Alps As well as all the fun that Saunders Says’ had, here are some more reasons why everyone’s next ski holiday should be a road trip: Driving down the cost Driving across France with friends and family is a lot of fun, but as with any holiday, an important consideration is the cost. Each Eurotunnel Le Shuttle ticket is per car, meaning that when every seat is taken, the cost per-head can work out to be cheaper when compared to individual airline tickets. More room for luggage Everyone’s favourite perk when choosing to drive is the advantage of being able to take more luggage. Taking a car allows skiers to pack in more than the amount aircraft baggage allowance permits, which is perfect for those who don’t fancy travelling lightly. Another luggage perk is that drivers also avoid the airline fees that come with taking additional luggage like skis and poles. Ultimately, how much luggage is brought depends on the size of the vehicle and the party, but with a roof box or a roof rack, passengers can afford to keep their leg room. Carrying skis by car is a lot easier than taking them on a bus Perfect for children Driving to a ski resort is beneficial for families. The ability to stop frequently at service stations and laybys to let children stretch their legs comes in handy, and the constant change of scenery can help to keep them occupied, too. The family car is also more of a familiar environment than an aeroplane, meaning they might find it easier to nod off. Travelling by car is ideal for families Four legged friends can come too Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is perfect for families with snow-loving dogs because of how easy and stress-free it is to bring them along. Unlike when travelling by plane, dogs can stay with their family in the car and even have the chance to blow off some steam before heading into the tunnel in our pet exercise areas. Also, it’s not just dogs that are permitted on board our service, we even allow cats, ferrets and more pets. Take a look at this useful page to find travel tips and more information on what to expect when using Eurotunnel Le Shuttle with pets. Four legged friends are more than welcome on board our service Extra perks Drivers have the chance to get creative with their chosen route and can stop to enjoy France’s many beautiful towns, cities and natural parks along the way. Also, having a car readily available at the resort allows visitors to seek out nearby places of interest and take their ski gear back and forth from the slopes (some chalets and hotels are a short bus ride away). Lastly, a pro tip: filling a car boot with foreign foods from a French supermarket is a great way to save on the cost of feeding a family! With so many advantages enjoyed by those who drive to their chosen ski resorts, it’s a wonder why anyone hasn’t taken to the road yet. So, book a Eurotunnel Le Shuttle ticket today and start planning a ski road trip. Be sure to book sooner rather than later, in order get the best possible fares.

5 Must Dos When Visiting a Traditional French Christmas Market

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A visit to a French Christmas market is a pleasure for all the family, with all the sights, sounds and sights to discover it can be a magical experience. From tasty treats to fairground rides, take a look at these essential experiences: Something to eat As enthralling as the festivities are, the most exciting aspect of a traditional French Christmas market - as with any Christmas market – is the delectable food on offer. Whether a small nibble or a hearty meal, the Christmas markets in France have plenty of heavenly foods to choose from, all boasting flavours loved in France. Sugar crêpes at a Christmas market stall in France. The smell that lingers in the air when visiting most French Christmas markets is made up of a combination of elements, but perhaps the most prominent aroma is that of chestnuts being roasted. Follow the scent on arrival and pick up a paper cone full of them to enjoy whilst strolling around the stalls. Tucking into a plate of incredibly cheesy, tartiflette is a soul-warming experience that cannot be missed when visiting a French Christmas market. The dish originates from Savoie, a department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of the French Alps and has been enjoyed by the French since the early 1700s. Traditionally, the recipe consists of potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions, but modern interpretations often include bacon with a sprinkling of thyme. Also, be sure to purchase a block of deliciously strong, Maroilles cheese to enjoy at home. Something sweet After sampling some savoury delights, a sweet treat is always welcome. A stall selling sweet treats and souvenirs in Strasbourg. Sampling some bitesize, crunchy bredele really is a must as they appear only during the festive season in France. The typical flavours include almond, honey, anise and a combination of orange and cinnamon, known as Schwowebredele. The variety found in the Christmas food market in Strasbourg is considered the best because of the biscuits’ Germanic origin and the city’s proximity to Germany. Those more interested in chocolate should visit the Christmas market in Arras, which is famous for its Gaufres - waffles of Flemish origin that are best served smothered in melted chocolate. A bretzel is also well worth sampling. Essentially a French-take on a pretzel, this salty and sweet snack is popular in festive markets on the other side of the Channel. Other favourites for those with a sweet tooth include, Beignets (a type of mini doughnut), macarons d’Amiens (cakes made from almonds and honey) and gâteau battu (a brioche-like cake shaped like a chef’s hat). Something a little stronger After enjoying the plethora of savoury and sweet treats offered in French Christmas markets, why not wash it all down with a delicious beverage. A steamy mulled wine stall. The obvious choice is a nice, toasty glass of mulled wine, which in France is called ‘Vin chaud’. Often ladled from a heated copper vat, the warming drink can undoubtedly be found at almost every Christmas in France. Those interested in broadening their pallet can do so on a wine cellar tour at the Colmar Christmas market, where wine-lovers can chat to regional winemakers while sampling a large variety of wines, eaux-de-vie and liqueurs. For a more-hearty festive tipple, head to Amiens’ Christmas market to enjoy a locally made, mulled beer. Something for the children Christmas markets in France tend to go above and beyond to cater for children. The colourful canal in Colmar that features a floating children’s choir. The market in Arras boasts a large Ferris wheel that offers breath-taking views of the surrounding festivities and Flemish architecture. Some other attractions available in Arras include a carousel with wooden horses, a Christmas tree roundabout, a natural ice-skating rink and a sledge run. Place Rapp park in Colmar’s market has a huge, 800 square-meter ice rink and Christmas roller coaster. An itinerary of shows and performances can also be enjoyed in Colmar, including a floating choir of children that sing as they drift along the canals in the picturesque ‘Petite Venise’ district. Something for everyone With the spirit of good will and togetherness in the air, French Christmas markets are ideal to enjoy as a family. Strasbourg illuminated by Christmas lights. For the chance to step back in time, head to Strasbourg and visit the traditional market that serves as a throwback to Christmas celebrations from yesteryear. The city’s historic quarter, ‘Petite France’ is a dream to stroll through on a winter’s night, too. Those who chose to visit Amiens have the chance to witness a very special, annual Christmas circus show at the Cirque Jules Verne, the largest circus venue in France that sees more than 1400 people. Also ideal for families is the light show projected onto Amiens’ cathedral, Notre Dame d’Amiens. The impressive display begins at 7pm daily whilst the Christmas market remains open. Lastly, the Christmas market that is arguably the most quintessentially ‘French’ is Colmar’s. The festival is a rather large and expansive example and the architecture within the commune really does suit the atmosphere. Visitors from across the globe flock to partake in the festivities that were voted the second best in Europe in 2017. Where to find these markets and when to visit Arras Where in France: Grand Place, Arras, Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France Distance from Calais: 109km / 1h 10m Read more about Arras here. Amiens Where in France: Place Gambetta, Amiens, Somme, Hauts-de-France Distance from Calais: 157km / 1h 39m More information here. Colmar Where in France: Place Jeanne d'Arc, Colmar, Haut-Rhin, Grand Est Distance from Calais: 610km / 6h 20m More information here. Strasbourg Where in France: Place de la Cathédrale, Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin, Grand Est Distance from Calais: 621km / 5h 30m More information here. With all these exciting experiences and locations to choose from, why not book a Eurotunnel Le Shuttle ticket today and start planning a French, festive adventure?

Mountain adventures with your furry friend

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When leaving pets at home isn’t an option, France can be an accommodating (and dog-friendly!) country. Peak Retreats give their guide to the French Alps with dogs and why it’s the perfect year-round destination. No one wants to leave a member of the family behind when going on holiday, so the fact that lots of the Alpine properties offered by French Alps specialist Peak Retreats accept pets makes them top dog!  Take the opportunity to explore the French Alps in winter or summer and fully immerse yourself in the Alpine experience with your four-legged friend. In the guide below the experts at Peak Retreats have chosen their favourite spots to go to with your pawed pal! Samoëns Where in France: Haute-Savoie Drive from Calais: 871.7km / 8hrs 13m Take full advantage of the stunning scenery in the pretty village of Samoëns, in a beautiful setting at the foot of mount Criou. Not forgetting to mention the traditional French market held every Wednesday all year round, with an abundance of local fresh produce to indulge in! Looking to ski? No problem! With less than an eight minute ride on the Grand Massif Express lift to get to the beginner’s area at Samoëns 1600 and with access to 265km of slopes across the whole Grand Massif ski area, you’ll be able to quench your thirst for fresh powder on the slopes in the morning, and keep your furry friend company in the afternoon! We recommend: The 4* apartments in La Reine des Prés are perfect for dog lovers, with options to sleep up to 10 people, and pets are welcome (one per apartment, supplement payable). The residence has superb facilities including an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and fitness room. It is ideally situated near the Grand Massif Express and close to the main village square. Find out more. The village is officially classified as a ‘monument historique’. Credit: Peakretreats.co.uk Bourg-Saint-Maurice Where in France: Savoie Drive from Calais: 973.4km / 8hrs 53m If you’re searching for the perfect base for a summer or winter Alpine holiday, then Bourg Saint Maurice is the place to go! Located at the edge of the Vanoise National Park, this large town has everything you need in terms of amenities, shops, bars and restaurants that open all year round. It’s also where the funicular railway to Les Arcs leaves from so you can easily head up into the mountains to ski or hike. There are some great walks nearby. Why not follow the peaceful path along the River Isère between Bourg Saint Maurice and Aime? (Do check with your local tourist information whether dogs are allowed or prohibited in these areas.) We recommend: The luxurious apartments in Le Coeur d’Or will provide you with all of the comfort you need during your stay, with options to sleep up to 8 people. Pets are welcome (one per apartment, supplement payable). Facilities include an indoor pool and spa. The residence is only 800m from the train station and a 10 minute walk from the town centre. Find out more. Bourg-Saint-Maurice is a must for outdoor enthusiasts. Credit: Peakretreats.co.uk Combloux Where in France: Haute-Savoie Drive from Calais: 872.5km / 7hrs 57m The enchanting village of Combloux with its rich heritage and rustic charm is an ideal spot for a visit to the Alps. Medieval features, horse-drawn carriages and stunning views of Mont Blanc characterise this traditional Savoyard village. With plenty of marked paths for walkers and cyclists alike, Combloux is a lovely setting for a stroll! You could even head to Gorges de la Diosaz (30 minutes by car), where you can walk around five waterfalls; dogs are also permitted. In winter, there is plenty of skiing on offer, as the resort is part of the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area. We recommend: The stylish 4* apartments at Les Fermes du Mont Blanc have amazing views, a beautiful sun terrace and indoor pool. They offer everything you need for a comfortable stay, with options to sleep up to 8 people. Pets are welcome (one per apartment, supplement payable). The residence enjoys an ideal location just 300m from the centre of the resort. Find out more. Our Combloux accommodation includes an indoor pool. Credit: Peakretreats.co.uk Saint-Gervais-les-Bains Where in France: Haute-Savoie Drive from Calais: 878.6km / 7hrs 57m Set at the foot of the mighty Mont Blanc, the spa town of St Gervais is perfect for an Alpine break with the whole family (including the dogs)! Great for skiers, the town is part of the diverse Evasion Mont Blanc ski area. St Gervais also offers plenty of après-ski from its Olympic skating rink to the thermal baths. The area also boasts 180km of trails and footpaths for a leisurely wander or alpine hike in both winter and summer.  We recommend: Situated in a peaceful area, the 3* Superior apartments at Les Fermes de St Gervais are a 15 minute (downhill) walk to the resort centre. The largest apartment sleeps up to 8. Facilities include an indoor pool and steam room. Up to two dogs are welcome per apartment (supplement payable). Find out more. Hit the slopes in St Gervais. Credit: Peakretreats.co.uk More Peak Retreats Peak Retreats is an award-winning French Alps specialist featuring traditional villages and resorts that enable its clients to experience the real French Alps. Peak Retreats was the winner of The Times Travel Editor’s Award 2018. Its expert team know its resorts inside out and love finding clients their perfect Alpine holiday destination in both winter and summer too. The company can arrange a host of extras from lift passes, ski equipment and ski school to the delivery of quality frozen meals, from brands like the UK’s COOK, to make self-catering a breeze. All holidays are ABTA bonded. How to book Talk to the Peak Retreats team to plan your trip Call 023 9283 9310 Visit www.peakretreats.co.uk Ready to explore the Alps with your pet? Start planning your epic 'walkies' adventure and book with us in advance to take advantage of the best fares.

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.

Getting the most out of Val Thorens

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With plenty of facilities to keep everyone entertained, a trip to Val Thorens is as good as it gets! When plans were announced during the 1970s for a ski resort to be built at the top of the Belleville valley in France, many thought it was a crazy idea. Locals expressed their concerns that the area was too high, too cold and too avalanche-prone to expect tourists to visit. Yet in defiance of the nay-sayers, 40 years on, Val Thorens has become the busiest and most well-rounded ski resort in the Alps. It continues to adapt and evolve to this day, maintaining its popularity with skiers from all over the world. Val Thorens is home to over 600 km of pistes The perfect skiing conditions Val Thorens is in fact the highest ski resort in Europe at an altitude of 2300m above sea level. It stands today a mix of man-made and natural slopes, an ideal combo for skiers as they can enjoy both rugged, natural terrain and sculpted tracks designed to provide optimum fun. The altitude helps by maintaining thinner and colder air, creating the perfect atmosphere for snow to be made both naturally and artificially. This abundance in snow is why Val Thorens’ mountains are regarded as some of the most reliable in the French Alps. Val Thorens boasts over 600km of skiable pistes and 180 lifts that take skiers to whichever peaks they choose, the highest of which sits at a jaw-dropping 3,230m. The lifts also span across the three valleys and give Val Thorens a huge advantage over other resorts. A cable car reaches the peak of Cime de Caron What ski pass do I need? Purchasing the correct ski pass is important. Those looking to tackle as much of the landscape as possible will want the pass that grants access to all 600km of Les Trois Vallées region. There are also more localised ski passes available, which cover the 150km Val Thorens-Orelle area, or the wider 300km area of the Vallée des Belleville. To be able to hit the slopes as quickly as possible it’s best to book a ski pass online, which can either be delivered to a home address beforehand or can be collected on arrival. For last-minute bookers, acquiring a ski pass after arriving is also very easy. For further information on ski passes, visit the Val Thorens site. A snowboarder carves up the slopes at Val Thorens Après Ski Après Ski (after ski) is essentially all the fun available whilst not on the slopes, and as it turns out, there’s an awful lot to do in Val Thorens when not clipped into a pair of skis. After a full day of skiing, the region’s bounty of bars and clubs come in handy. For younger party-goers, clubs like La Folie Douce, 360 and Europe’s highest bar, The Frog and Roast Beef, are all Val Thorens institutions. But for those looking to put their feet up and enjoy a peaceful tipple, Bar-Au Perchoir in the Hôtel Le Portillo is perfect. It’s a rustic, wooden haven where visitors can curl up with a drink in front of a roaring fire. Other facilities within the resort include a large sports centre, ideal for those with an exercise routine they’d like to keep up, as well as a spa that is a godsend for sore, post-ski muscles. There’s also plenty of fun to be had on the snow without a pair of skis. Val Thorens grants visitors the opportunity to take a ride on a skidoo (snowmobile), with sessions running throughout the ski season. It’s great fun and allows visitors a new and exciting way to tackle the mountains.   Paragliding is another unmissable activity in Val Thorens, perfect for daredevils. “You can see the mountains in a completely different way”, is what Saunders Says remarks in his video, which features spectacular footage of him enjoying the airborne experience. Those keen on taking to the skies can find out more and make a booking here. For those who intend on keeping their feet firmly on the ground, why not try snowshoeing? Guided tour groups gain a new perspective on the region as they ramble off-piste through the snow-capped mountains. Val Thorens even has its very own cinema, where two movies are shown every day at 18:00 and 21:00, with an extra 14:30 slot added in the event of weather conditions that put the slopes out of action. There’s also a bowling alley in the region, allowing some healthy, sportsmanlike competition between friends and family! The hotels, restaurants and bars come to life at night Where to stay When deciding on where to stay in Val Thorens, visitors must consider what type of accommodation is best for their party and their budget. There are plenty of self-catering, bed and breakfast and all-inclusive hotels to choose from in the region. Self-catering accommodation is the best option for those looking to not spend too much as it allows guests to shop in the local supermarkets and whip up their own meals. The accommodation featured in Saunders Says’ video is a self-catered chalet that boasts a rather spectacular view of the surrounding landscape, and a balcony to enjoy it from. Those looking for luxurious hot tubs, saunas and all sorts of mod cons will enjoy any of the region’s 5-star hotels. These high end all-inclusive hotels are ideal for honeymoons, special occasions or for those that like to enjoy the finer things in life. The resort boasts a variety of indoor, outdoor and underground carparks, meaning your vehicle is never too far away. More parking information, as well as things to consider when preparing for winter driving can be found on the See Val Thorens website. Chalets and hotels in Val Thorens Where to eat Val Thorens has plenty of options when it comes to cuisine. As previously mentioned, there are lots of supermarkets within the resort that are perfect for those who want to fill up the boot of their car and feed themselves for the duration of their stay. Although, most will want to head out to a restaurant at least once in celebration of a trip to France’s most beloved ski resort. The resort takes its dining seriously, with a variety of restaurants serving up different types of cuisine. Les Enfants Terribles is a sophisticated restaurant named after the 1929 novel by Jean Cocteau, where seafood is their speciality. La Maison Val Thorens is a bar, restaurant and pizzeria that has an open air seating area, allowing diners to enjoy the scenery and the sunshine as they eat. To dine as the locals do, try La Pause in Hôtel Le Portillo in the middle of town or for occasions worth celebrating, try the Michelin star-awarded Les Explorateurs in the Hotel Pashmina. With Val Thorens offering so much, why not book a Eurotunnel ticket and have an exciting adventure to look forward to? Be sure to book as far in advance as possible to take advantage of the best possible fares.

Pups on piste: Skiing with Dogs

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Travelling dog bloggers World Wide Walkies give their guide to one of their favourite dog friendly ski resorts in Europe. We gave up on ski flights long before we had dogs. Taking into account getting to the airport, all the fandangling and transfers, door to door driving to the Alps is not actually much different. Not only that, the journey is fun – not a chore. It’s a road trip! Enter Les Quatre Cavapoos (our four dogs); Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani. To avoid separation anxiety (us, not them!) we wanted to take them skiing but could find little information on taking small dogs to a cold climate. So here, I will share with you my tips on taking Pups on Piste and also let you into a big secret – Monte Rosa! We happened upon Gressoney by accident. A last-minute ski trip to a quiet and little-known Italian resort... it was love at first sight! Skiing in Monte Rosa Where in Italy: Pennine Alps, Western Alps Drive from Calais: 1,301.4km / 10h 6m Part of the Aosta Valley ski area, Monte Rosa consists of three valleys and their namesake villages; Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna. There are spectacularly long descents in each of the valleys – and you can ski to a destination. Monte Rosa – not ‘pink mountain’, derived from a patois word for ‘glacier’. Credit: World Wide Walkies Staying in the middle valley, Gressoney, we can get back to the dogs easily from everywhere. Monte Rosa itself is an intermediate resort where there are a few easy blues, although the blacks are more like reds. And being Italy, everything is pisted to perfection daily! For Advanced skiers, Monte Rosa is an off piste paradise. There are Heliskiing opportunities and the Indren lift serves only off-piste itineraries. However, while skiing powder is the eighth wonder of the world, don’t do it without a professional guide. We love Monte Rosa for various reasons. First, it’s Italy, so fine food, excellent wine and wonderful people are guaranteed (but there are also mountain lunches for under €10). Monte Rosa can be busy at the weekends, but mostly it feels like your own personal ski resort. Pups on piste! Credit: World Wide Walkies Of course, the scenery didn’t disappoint – we were surrounded by majestic 4000m Alpine peaks, overshadowed by Monte Rosa and with spectacular views of the Matterhorn. Monte Rosa is also sheltered by Mont Blanc, so bluebird skies are not uncommon. For snow, the resorts are relatively high and have extensive snow-making facilities too. Taking dogs skiining in Monte Rosa Dogs are welcome on gondolas and in many mountain huts. Although, dogs should wear a muzzle on shuttle buses (Navetta) and in cable cars. As for walkies, there are well-marked and pisted skinning tracks, snow-shoe trails and Nordic (Ski de Fond) pistes, which are ideal for pooches. (However, do ask Tourist Information where is safe to walk.) Gressoney St Jean – La Passegiata della Regina (Queens Walk) and the River Lys Path make a lovely circuit. Gabiet Gondola walks on skinning trails to the off piste Orestes Hut and Coumarial, above Fontainemore, is a beautiful area in the Mont Mars Nature Reserve with extensive and relatively safe walking tracks. Winter walkies – the Orestes approach. Credit: World Wide Walkies Top 10 tips to keep chilly canines cosy Of course it’s still important to keep your dogs warm when travelling to the Alps. Here is our swift summary of everything that we needed to know: Cold –Dog Jumpers insulate, keep snow out and wick moisture. Salt & Antifreeze - are toxic. No drinking from roadside puddles and rinse paws before licking! Snow Removal - Soak off snow balled up in the coat with lukewarm water. Only dry doggies should go back outside. Don’t Leave Dogs in Cars - Dogs die in cold cars. Winter Hazards - Snow piled near boundaries presents escape opportunities. Snow sliding off roofs can injure dogs (and people!). Watch out for things like frozen ponds, which may be concealed under snow. Walk in Sunshine - Walk when the day has warmed up. A few shorter walks or play sessions are better than one long walk in freezing temperatures. Stay Indoors - Don’t leave pets outside in cold weather. Indoors, provide a cosy bed, not a cold floor. Make sure that they can’t burn themselves on radiators, heaters or log fires… Hydration – Cold, altitude and central heating are all very dehydrating – and you can’t rehydrate by eating snow. Water should always be available indoors and out walking. Winter Feeding –avoid a pooch with a paunch! Indoors and doing shorter walks, they probably need less food. Paws Trim - nails & fur between the pads to stop slipping and reduce snow and ice build-up between pads. Paw Balm – protects pads from chemicals. We used Musher’s Secret and had no sore or cracked pads. Wash & Dry Paws (and tums) - to remove salt and chemicals. During the Walk –remove ice balls from between pads. Boots – we agonised over boots; we tried them; we gave up! They are not really necessary. Stretching our legs in Lys Valley. Credit: World Wide Walkies For more information, see the Visit Monte Rosa website, or to join us on more of our Continental Driftings with a Caravan and Cavapoos, read our other blog for Eurotunnel about our pawsome adventure from Calais to Slovenia! There’s a whole new pawsome adventure to discover with your pooches! Start your winter walkies planning early and take advantage of the best prices when booking in advance with us. Top image credit: World Wide Walkies

A Roman Ruins Road Trip Through France

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The Roman Empire played an important part in France’s history and left an indelible mark on the country’s culture and language. There are lots of Roman structures that are still standing in France, so why not head out on a Roman ruins road trip? On arrival in Calais, drivers are usually keen to hit the highways and start seeing some of the beautiful French countryside. But for those looking to marvel at some ancient Roman buildings, there stands a question of where to start. To point you in the right direction, we’ve put together a list of some of France’s most popular sites to visit when on the hunt for awe-inspiring Roman ruins. The Gallo-Roman ruins of Champlieu Where in France: Orrouy, Hauts-de-France Distance from Calais: 240km / 2h 55m The remains of the theatre at Champlieu on a summer’s day. The first stop on our historical road trip! Orrouy is home to the Roman ruins of Champlieu and is a delightful town to visit in Northern France, whether drivers are keen on ancient artefacts or not. Officially recognised as a ‘Gallo-Roman’ site, these ruins are surrounded by beautiful French countryside, making them a joy to drive to. The ancient structures are well preserved, making it easy to imagine the baths, theatre and temple as they would have been in the 2nd century. The site is free to visit and usually not very busy due to it being quite the hidden gem! An insider’s tip is to take a detour to the nearby chapel of Champlieu, where a marvellous mixture of Carolingian, Romanesque and Gothic architecture awaits. Lyon Where in France: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Distance from Calais: 760km / 6h 30m The Ancient Theatre of Fourvière is France’s oldest Roman theatre. Travelling south in France means edging closer to Italy, so naturally there are more surviving Roman structures to discover. Lyon is a prime example of this southern Roman influence as there are plenty of spectacular ancient ruins to see there. France’s third largest city in fact owes its existence to the Romans, being established as a settlement for Roman refugees of war in 43 BC. There are a number of Roman buildings to explore including the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, one of two remarkably well-preserved Roman theatres in Lyon, and France’s oldest Roman example, completed in 17 BC with a capacity of 10,000 people. Today it’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lyon. Equally well preserved are Lyon’s Roman baths. Found on Fourvière Hill, the ancient Roman buildings were discovered during the 1970s and date as far back as the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Lyon is also home to an impressive Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilisation, where visitors can learn more about this fascinating period in history. Orange Where in France: Vaucluse, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Distance from Calais: 950km / 8h 40m The Roman Theatre of Orange is one of France’s greatest Roman structures. As drivers approach the Mediterranean coast, the number of Roman ruins starts to increase, again with proximity to Italy and the heart of the empire. The commune of Orange began life as a Celtic settlement but was taken under Roman rule after the Battle of Arausio. As for the Roman buildings and ruins in Orange, the commune’s pièce de résistance is the Roman Theatre of Orange. Perhaps the highlight of a road trip through France, the stunning 1st century theatre is one of the best preserved Roman sites in the world. The façade wall of the theatre is an impressive 338 feet long and 121 feet high and the structure even has its original stage, which is still in use today! As well as the Triumphal Arch of Orange, the Roman Theatre of Orange is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are audio guides and 50-minute guided tours that set off throughout the day. For opening times and prices, check the website ahead of visiting. Pont du Gard Where in France: Vers-Pont-du-Gard Distance from Calais: 990km / 8h 55m The Pont du Gard is a testament to Roman engineering. Near the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard in southern France, is the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct built over the Gardon River in 60 AD. The three-tiered structure is the tallest of any Roman aqueduct ever built. It was constructed to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes) and was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1985 due to its historical importance. It’s been a tourist attraction for centuries with restoration efforts and stairs for tourists approved by Napoleon III in 1850. Nîmes Where in France: Occitanie Distance from Calais: 1000km / 9h 0m Maison Carrée in Nîmes is a glory to behold. Modern-day Nîmes was once the capital settlement of a Gaulish tribe that surrendered to the Roman Republic in 121 BC. Then known as Nemausus, its name derives from the Celtic god of the spring that once provided the town with water. The city’s historic hot spot is the Roman architectural remains of the Maison Carrée (Square House), a Corinthian temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the 1st century BC. Visitors today can enjoy a short film on the founding of Nîmes that repeats on the hour and half hour, every day. See the official site for admission prices and opening times. The Amphitheatre of Nîmes or ‘les Arènes’ is also worth a visit. It’s one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in Europe and was built around 70 BC. The marvellous structure once sat upwards of 24,000 spectators and was remodelled in 1863 to serve as a bullring. These days the amphitheatre serves as a venue for large concerts and events. Glanum Where in France: Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Distance from Calais: 1,000km / 9h 0m There’s no experience quite like walking among the Roman ruins at Glanum. Glanum is nearby to Nîmes and is practically unmissable when on a road trip through France. The Roman ruins are open to the public and sit just outside Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, amidst the beautiful Alpilles mountains. The site has seen over a century of archaeological excavation, and during this time has revealed many secrets. Once visitors are finished taking in the history, there’s the opportunity to gaze upon the sacred spring, which is believed to be the raison d'être for this ancient settlement. Check the site for opening times and admission prices before arriving. Arles Where in France: Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Distance from Calais: 1,035km / 9h 20m The amphitheatre in the French town of Arles has stood the test of time. Arles also boasts a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a large collection of monuments in its city centre. A true treasure trove for those in search of Roman ruins in France, Arles is regarded as a prime example of an ancient city that evolved into a medieval European civilization. The city is home to Arles Amphitheatre, The Roman theatre, a Cryptoporticus and Roman forum, the Thermes of Constantine, the Alyscamps, the Church of St. Trophime, to name but a few. It goes without saying that it’s best to stay in Arles for at least a few days if the plan is to see as much of the Roman ruins as possible. These historical sites have varying entry costs, although some can be enjoyed for free. France truly is a dream for those with an interest in Roman history. Visiting the many sites by car grants holiday makers the freedom to take their time at any particular stop. So, pack your bags today and book your Eurotunnel tickets now to guarantee the best price!

Fall in love with the Alps in winter with Peak Retreats

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Surrounded by stunning mountains, with superb skiing and plenty for non-skiers to do, the pretty village of Samoëns is one of their expert team’s favourite winter destinations – here Peak Retreats reveals why. Samoëns Where in France: Haute-Savoie Drive from Calais: 871.7km / 8hrs 13m Samoëns is easy to fall in love with. The village is officially classified as a ‘monument historique’ and, sitting in a cosy café in the village square with its pretty church looking up at the surrounding snow-covered peaks, you can see why it’s so special. For Christmas, the central square is transformed into a magical Christmas village with a Christmas market, a living nativity, and activities for everyone from Gospel choirs to crafts and a firework display to truly get you feeling festive. Skiing in Samoëns For skiers the 265km of slopes of the Grand Massif await. The ski area is great for beginners and families, as there is a large beginners’ area at Samoëns 1600 – accessed via the Grand Massif Express gondola from the village. There is plenty of intermediate cruising for more seasoned skiers though and it’s easy to ski over to the other resorts in the ski area (Les Carroz, Morillon and Flaine). One of the Peak Retreats team’s favourite runs is the 14km Les Cascades blue run, which links Flaine and the village of Sixt Fer-à-Cheval. It's a great descent through snowy fields and forest. It sits on the edge of the Sixt Fer-à-Cheval Nature Reserve so it’s not unusual to see mountain goats! To get there, from Samoëns, you need to take the lifts to the summit of Les Grandes Platières in Flaine. Once you've skied to Sixt just hop on the shuttle bus back to Samoëns. The view from Flaine. Other activities in Samoëns A winter break doesn’t have to mean skiing and Samoëns has plenty to offer those who don’t want to ski. Wrap up warm and experience the joys of a ride in a dog sled through the snowy scenery of the Upper Giffre valley. Or try snowshoeing; experience the hushed winter landscape and learn about the mountain environment, how to recognise different animal tracks and more, on a guided snowshoe walk. Alternatively, book a walk by torchlight and be awestruck by the vast starry skies. For the adventurous, being a valley village, Samoëns is a great place to try paragliding and see the majesty of the mountains in winter from a different angle. Skiing isn’t the only winter sport you can enjoy in Samoëns. Credit: Peak Retreats Convenient Access Samoëns has one of the shortest driving distances from Calais of all the French resorts and it’s easy to access from the motorway. Taking the fastest route follows most of the A26, before it it reaches the mountains where the last stretch of the journey takes the A40 and then a few D roads follow. (This route includes tolls.) Where to stay in Samoëns The luxury apartments at Les Chalets de Layssia are ideally located right in the heart of Samoëns so you really feel part of the village. For skiers, getting to the slopes is easy; the free shuttle bus to the Grand Massif Express gondola stops 50m away. The apartments have superb facilities including a gorgeous indoor pool (with views of the surrounding mountains), hot tub, sauna and steam room and gym. There is also an O des Cîmes spa on site, where you can pre-book treatments and massages. We love the fact that you can order your croissants at reception for the next morning; pick them up then head back to your comfortable apartment for a relaxed breakfast – kitchens are equipped with Nespresso coffee machines so that’s breakfast sorted! Further information about these apartments can be seen here. An internal look at the luxury apartments at Les Chalets de Layssia. Credit: Peak Retreats More about Peak Retreats Peak Retreats features a range of other accommodation in Samoëns from more luxury self-catered apartments to self-catered chalets and hotels. Read more about Samoëns and see all accommodation here. Peak Retreats is an award-winning French Alps specialist featuring traditional villages and resorts that enable its clients to experience the real French Alps, as well as having access to superb skiing and a host of other activities. Winners of The Times Travel Editor’s Award 2018, its expert team know its resorts inside out and love finding clients their perfect Alpine holiday destination in both winter and summer too. The indoor pool overlooks beautiful mountain scenery. Credit: Peak Retreats The company can arrange a host of extras from lift passes, ski equipment and ski school to the delivery of quality frozen meals, from brands like the UK’s COOK, to make self-catering a breeze. All holidays are ABTA bonded. How to book Call 023 9283 9310 Visit www.peakretreats.co.uk Feeling inspired by Peak Retreats's recommendation in Samoëns? There’s nothing quite like driving from your front door straight to the slopes. Book your next ski road trip with us now to ensure you take advantage the best possible fares. top image credit: Peak Retreats

Dog friendly beaches in France

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Bringing your dog with you on your road trip adventure across France, it’s a dream for those of you that are particularly attached to your canine friends. It can be hard separating from the four-legged member of your family on the eve of a holiday, and even when you’re abroad enjoying yourself they can be sorely missed. So why not take your pooch with you? Dog-friendly France There are around 17 dogs to every 100 people in France which is one of the highest ratios in the world. The dog population is estimated to be around 10 million and a study even showed that 40 percent of French dog owners regarded their pets as the most important thing in their lives. Almost every town boasts at least one ‘poodle-parlour’ (salon de toilettage), which is ideal if your dog is in need of a spruce up and you feel like taking a break from the drive. With widespread adoration of dogs across France, it comes as no shock that there are plenty of dog-friendly hotels and resorts, too. But be sure to keep an eye out when booking your accommodation to ensure your dog is welcome. Can you spot Marcel on this beach in Normandy? Credit: Aurélie Four for @lecorgi Dog-friendly beaches One aspect that really sells France as the ultimate doggy destination is its coastline, which is a true haven for all canines. The hundreds of miles of beaches provide plenty of opportunity for sandy paws and soggy coats – utter bliss! Much like the UK, not every beach is dog-friendly and those that are, are often seasonal. But with France’s 267 dog friendly beaches, you’ll still be spoilt for choice. Whether you’re looking for a dog-friendly beach for your destination, or just a few ideal stop-off points along the way, there’s a beach perfect for a game of fetch, whatever the weather. A trip to the beach is a treat for any dog who enjoys the sunshine after a quick dip! If the trip you had in mind was shorter rather than longer, you’ll be glad to know that you needn’t travel far from Calais to find stunning sandy locations for your dog. Here are some towns and areas with dog-friendly beaches you may want to visit along the Western coast of France, once you’ve departed from Calais: Wissant Where in France: Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France Distance from Calais: 20km / 0h 25m Wissant is a small town just 25 minutes’ drive away from Calais with three beaches. The one worth sniffing out is Plage Dune d’Aval, as the local government permits dogs all year round. Visit the Information France site to find out more on this quaint town. Le Touquet Where in France: Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France Distance from Calais: 70km / 0h 55m Just an hour’s drive away from Calais is a town affectionately referred to as ‘Paris-on-Sea’. Le Touquet is known for its stretch of coast and its vintage glamour, once being a playground for the British literary establishment liked PG Wodehouse, Noel Coward and HG Wells. There are two distinct beaches, Plage Nord and Plage des Dunes, both boast soft sand and allow dogs all year round. There are also a number of things to see and do which we’ve covered here. Le Tilleul Where in France: Seine-Maritime, Normandy Distance from Calais: 275.3km / 2h 45m A 2-hour-and-45-minute drive from Calais, Le Tilleul is home to a large stretch of coast. Plage d’Antifer is the go-to beach and is regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Haute-Normandy region. No doubt your dog will enjoy the scenery as much as you, but please remember that dogs must be kept on a leash on this beach. Frequent traveller Miss Bouba at the beach in Le Touquet! Credit: missbouba.and.us/Instagram Vierville-sur-mer Where in France: Calvados department, Normandy Distance from Calais: 394km / 3h 45m Vierville-sur-mer is a village located just 20 miles from Bayeux and is where you’ll find the dog-friendly Omaha Beach, a stunning 2.5km stretch of white sand supervised during the summer months. Walk to the east of the beach to find monuments commemorating the Allied landing on June 6th 1944. Dogs are allowed on a leash here, all year round. Santec Where in France: Brittany Distance from Calais: 600km / 7h As of 2015, all beaches within the Santec region of Brittany are now dog-friendly, so a trip to any of the many beautiful beaches there is a great idea. It’s generally best to pick quieter stretches of coast, and Plouharnel, in the south of Brittany is a safe bet. Leashed dogs are allowed on its beaches all year round, including an untouched stretch of dunes along the Atlantic coast near Penthièvre, the perfect location for a peaceful walk with your best friend. Plage du Ris in Douarnenez is a stunning setting and worthy of a visit when in Brittany. Taking your dog to France with the Eurotunnel Our Taking Your Pet Abroad page has lots of useful info on the legal and mandatory requirements, such as your pet’s passport, up-to-date microchip and vaccinations. The page also features a comical video of Barley, a friendly talking dog looking forward to his upcoming road trip. Our Top Travel Essentials for a Dog-Friendly Holiday page features best practice tips like making sure to stop frequently during the drive any to keep tail-waggers happy. Trunk routes and autoroutes feature frequent rest areas (aires) where you can park up and the efficient highway roads make any journey through France from Calais a breeze, even with pooch passengers. Now that you’ve discovered that there are plenty of dog-friendly beaches to visit in France, it’s time you gathered your family and headed off on your next adventure! Book your tickets with us now to ensure you get the best possible fares. Top image credit: Aurélie Four for @lecorgi

Remembrance at the Menin Gate

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I have been travelling to the battlefields of Europe almost all of my adult life and for much of that time I have made the most of the convenience and speed offered by the Eurotunnel link between England and France. The history of North-West Europe sometimes makes for grim reading; the area is so peppered with historic battlefields and evidence of conflict that it is often described as the ‘Cockpit of Europe’. You literally only have to emerge from the tunnel at either end to find yourself on a battlefield. That said, battlefield touring is a fascinating and generally, outdoors activity, usually undertaken in the warmer months of the year. Perhaps though, like so many people in November, you are thinking of Remembrance? The CWGC is currently offering assistance with Battlefield Guides. 2018 marks the centenary of the 1918 Armistice and the eventual end of the Great War; the war that it was hoped would end all wars. The recent centenary commemorations have stimulated much new interest in the First World War. If you have family links and few do not, or you just want to pay your respects, why not take the opportunity to visit Flanders yourself this month and perhaps also attend an act of remembrance? Ypres Where in Belgium: West Flanders Drive from Calais: 92.1km / 1h 11m One of the most emotive battlefields of the FWW was the Ypres Salient at the heart of Belgian Flanders. A battlefield so close to the channel coast and the fighting so ferocious that the sound of the heavy guns were often heard in Kent. A salient is a bulge in an otherwise straight line of military positions; in this case British and Commonwealth forces around Ypres frustrated the advancing German Army by forming an inconvenient salient measuring roughly 25 x 15 kilometres. The Wipers Salient as it became known, was held stubbornly by the British and their Allies for the duration of the war. Menin Gate 54,896 names are listed inside Menin Gate. The main artery that fed men and material into the salient was the Menin Road. Troops marched into the line over its muddy cobbles, many sadly never to return. It was the symbolism of this route that later saw the construction of a Memorial to the Missing on the site of the original Menin Gate, a memorial at the entrance to the salient. Today’s Menin Gate is possibly the most famous memorial to missing war dead in the world, it is located in the reconstructed centre of the picturesque Belgian town of Ypres; just over an hour’s drive from Calais. The iconic gate was built after the Armistice in the style of a Roman Triumphal Arch, its purpose to record the names of missing soldiers of Britain, her Empire and its Commonwealth who marched into the maelstrom of combat in the muddy Salient. The gate was designed by Sydney Blomfeld in 1921, then completed and inaugurated in 1924. The stone panels of the gate list the names of 54,896 men who the fortunes of war denied a marked grave; they are all, as Rudyard Kipling stated ‘known unto god’. This staggering number is however not the full total; those listed were lost in what Churchill described as the ‘immortal salient’ from the outbreak of war in 1914 until 16 August 1917. A further 34,984 missing in the salient are listed on a huge memorial wall at the rear of the Tyne Cot Cemetery close to the infamous Passchendaele Ridge. The Ethos of the CWGC, equality in death and every casualty should were practicable have a marked grave or their name listed on a memorial to the missing. Credit: CWGC Last Post Ceremony It was during the opening ceremony at the Gate that Field Marshal Plumer epitomised in words the function of the memorial when he said to an assembled throng of bereaved mothers and widows, ‘He is not missing, he is here.’ The missing are not forgotten, since 1928 a simple daily ceremony has taken place at the gate, a solemn act of Remembrance carried out by the townspeople of Ypres. Since its inception the Last Post Ceremony has taken place under the Menin Gate every night at 8PM, only interrupted by German occupation during WW2. Buglers found from the Town Fire Brigade salute the missing by playing the last post bugle call every evening without fail. This simple evocative ceremony for which local traffic is stopped attracts thousands of visitors from around the world. Once experienced it is never forgotten. Should you be present at the ceremony you are considered to be taking part, not attending. You can in fact, should you wish, lay a wreath or a simple poppy cross during the ceremony. Further information is available on the website of the Last Post Association. Looking out onto the town of Ypres from inside Menin Gate. If you are going to take part in the Last Post Ceremony I advise you to get to the Gate at least 50 minutes before the ceremony at 2000 hours local time. Discover the sites of the Great War and the rebuilt town of Ypres. Plan your trip ahead and find the best fares, book your tickets early for the best price. Top image credit: CWGC

Calais China lights

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In the coming winter months, Calais will be illuminated with a very special event. Hundreds of light sculptures can be admired in Saint-Pierre park. Matching Asian snacks, drinks and gigs make a visit to the event complete. China Light Calais is a special night out for families, couples, friends and colleagues. From 20 October until 6 January - China Light Calais will turn the Saint-Pierre park into a fairy-tale paradise with over 400 luminous sculptures and fantastic shows. Enjoy the Chinese tradition of light festivals. An unforgettable experience for young and old. Free nearby parking. Easy access and close to the Eurotunnel Calais terminal - just a 10 minute drive!

A Guide to Monschau Christmas Market by Driving Dad

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Driving Dad Matt Hyotte is no stranger to taking a European road trip. Since moving to the UK over 10 years ago, he’s loaded up his car and has explored the best of Europe, with his wife and 3 boys in tow. He recently wrote his guide to the Champagne region (featuring a tree top Champagne bar), but now the weather is getting colder he’s letting us in on the know about one of the best hidden gem Christmas markets. When the temperature drops, the leaves start to change colour and the chunky sweaters come out of the back of the closet, it’s clear Autumn has arrived. And for us, Autumn’s arrival means planning our annual road trip to one of Europe’s Christmas Markets. The Christmas season just isn’t complete without a weekend of steaming mugs of gluwein and hot chocolate, crispy potato pancakes and roasted chestnuts. A quick internet search will pull up lists of the largest and most popular Christmas Market destinations in Europe, however many of these cities are too far for a weekend drive. And whilst the atmosphere of a city Christmas Market is undeniably festive, the small-town Christmas Markets can feel more authentic than their larger counterparts. After a hike to Monschau castle, although I use the word hike very loosely… Credit: Driving Dad For those looking for one of the more off-the-beaten-track Christmas Market experiences within a manageable drive from Calais, look no further than a magical town in the little known Eifel region of Germany. Monschau Where in Germany: Aachen Drive from Calais:840km / 3h 57m Just under four hours from Calais and just over the Belgian border into Germany (seven minutes over to be exact) lies the village of Monschau. If you were to try to design the perfect set for a Christmas Market, it would be difficult to create a better backdrop than here. The half-timbered, slate-roofed houses that make up the medieval town centre are nestled in a shallow valley which is overlooked by an imposing 13th century castle. Not exactly 11 pipers piping, but some pretty serious horn blowing. Credit: Driving Dad Monschau's pedestrianised old town is small and one can walk the cobblestone streets from end to end in about 12 minutes, even with children in tow. The river Rur winds its way through town, flowing under the delightful bridges that connect the different parts of the old town and ensuring the sound of rushing water is never out of earshot. If you're lucky there will be a dusting or more of snow to complete the perfect wintery scene. The Monschau Christmas Markets have the traditional craft and food huts clustered throughout the town that one expects in Germany. However, in addition to the ubiquitous bratwurst, currywurst, mulled wine, lebkuchen and kasespatzle, a few gastronomic treasures set Monschau apart. I could stock up on wine and food and stay here all winter! Credit: Driving Dad First, Monschau is home to the Senfmuhle Monschau (Monschau Mustard Mill) which has been producing mustard since the late 19th century. They have a shop right in Monschau’s old town where you can sample and buy over 15 types of mustard (highly recommended is the fig mustard and beer mustard), or you can tour the mill itself, which is located on the edge of town. Second, Felsenkeller is Monschau’s 19th century brewery that has been converted into a museum. The small museum is worth a tour and whilst the beer (Monschau Zwickelbier) is now brewed off site, you can still taste a litre or two of it at the brewery’s restaurant. Finally, the one hut not to miss at Monschau’s Christmas Markets is the homemade schnapps hut. Choose from over 20 flavours of schnapps, all made in Monschau, which you can drink on site or buy in a bottle to take home. Guaranteed to warm you up on the coldest December nights. Before you set off, check out when the Monschau Christmas Market is open here. For the kids For the past few years we have packed up the car and headed to Germany. Credit: Driving Dad A great midday activity for the kids is a hike up to the Burg Monschau, Monschau’s 13th century castle. While this is not a particularly strenuous or long hike, it’s important to wear appropriate footwear as the paths can be slippery in winter. Though the castle is not open to the public, the sweeping views of the Monschau are well worth the climb, particularly at dusk, when the street lights illuminate the historic buildings. Belgian beer side trip Given the proximity to Belgium, a quick stop en route to Monschau is perfectly justified. And a mandatory side trip for Belgian beer lovers is the Kerkom Brewery in Sint Truiden. A short 10 minute detour off the E40 motorway, the Kerkom Brewery has been brewing beer since 1878. They currently brew about 10 different beers, some of which are seasonal. If you’ve timed your December visit right, the aptly named Winterkoninkske (Winter King) beer, their dark winter ale, will be available. Half the fun is getting there! Credit: Driving Dad But at 8.3% alcohol, make sure you aren’t the one driving the final hour to Monschau. Conveniently attached to the brewery is a country pub, complete with a pot-bellied wood burning stove (to ward off any chills the beer cannot) which serves hearty Flemish specialties that pair well with their beers. Are you ready to live the Christmas spirit in Monschau? Be inspired by Driving Dad and book your tickets with us in advance to take advantage of the best prices.

Discover the winding vineyards of The Loire Valley

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The Loire Valley is pure French splendour. With style and renowned wine in ample measure, it’s the perfect region to escape to. When you next fancy a glass of wine, spare a thought to explore where it’s made in the stunning Loire Valley – then start planning your trip! Loire Valley Where in France: Loire River, Central France Distance from Calais: 500km / 5h No matter how high you set your expectations, the Loire Valley will exceed them. Poised between northern and southern France, the now UNESCO World Heritage Site was an important strategic geographical point for French royalty and aristocracy throughout history. Therefore, the region is abundant with hundreds of opulent estates, crenelated towers, soaring cupolas and glittering banquet halls. The Loire Valley also boasts plenty of sophisticated cities and towns, ideal for checking off the list on a long and exciting road trip. Orléans, Blois, Tours and Angers are all included within the area’s limits, as well as 42 beautiful châteaux and dozens of villages and vineyards that serve as even more reasons to visit. Every sight to see in the Loire Valley attests to thousands of years of rich architectural and cultural history. Chateau de Chambord, the largest castle in the Loire Valley. Vineyards What the Loire Valley is most widely known for is its outstanding wines. Whether you’re a fan of red, white, rosé or sparkling, you’ll have tried the produce from this area. After all, plenty of famous wines such as Saumur, Chinon, Muscadet, Layon, Touraine and Vouvray are produced here. A visit to the region will see you discover unique grape varieties, vineyards, appellations and plenty of opportunity to meet the wine makers themselves. While visiting the various vineyards you can immerse yourself in their tourist cellars and wine shops, while some even boast museums. Many of the vineyards in the region are recognised by the "Vignobles & Découvertes" (Vineyards and Discoveries) label, a sign of approval from the French wine tourism board that helps to guarantee your excursion as well-suited for the oenophiles among you! The Vignobles & Découvertes sign of approval makes it easier to find great accommodation and food whilst in the Loire Valley, as many hotels and restaurants are also accredited. It’s common in local restaurants to find helpful menus that suggest wine pairings as well as local produce to sample. The label also recommends to you a variety of remarkable heritage sites, activities and events on offer, enabling you to discover regional gems and get the most from the Loire Valley. Vineyard at the medieval castle, Château de Saumur. France’s longest wine route The river Loire is the second longest in France, falling just behind the Rhine, but France’s longest wine route stretches out over 1000km and of course is found in the Loire Valley. There are more than one thousand vineyards open to the public, including 400 specially accredited wine cellars, where the winemakers will greet you and allow you to taste their produce. The heritage behind the wines is also important, which is why the vineyards are always near to the cities, villages and towns that gave birth to them. View from Chinon Castle on the valley of the Venant The Loire by bike The great benefit of travelling through France by car is that you can bring along kit and equipment to help you really make the most of each individual destination you visit. This is certainly the case when visiting the Loire Valley because of the fantastic cycling routes. Bringing your bicycle along for the ride is a great idea, because of the region’s plentiful cycling tracks and routes. The La Loire á Vélo cycling route, is an 800km stretch in the region that is in fact a portion of the EuroVelo 6 route, that links the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. If 800km sounds a little much, there are also plenty of shorter suggested routes along the river, while simply hopping on your two wheels to see where the wind takes you is also common practice. Cycling alongside Château de Chenonceau. A sophisticated stop off Before checking your bike’s gears, packing your suitcase or brushing up on your wine tasting skills, you’ll need to work out your route from Calais. You might want to head straight there and arrive as quickly as possible, or you might want to map out some stops along the way. Take the A16 from Calais before joining the A28 at Abbeville, then head to Normandy’s capital region, Rouen. A stop at the age-old city is the perfect opportunity to soak up one of France’s unsung gems. Rouen is a city steeped in tangible history with architecture comprising of Gothic churches and medieval half-timbered houses, a great chance to visit a beautiful city before enjoying the wide open space of the Loire Valley. Whether you’re a connoisseur of the world of wine, a keen cross-country cyclist, or just fancy taking in some of the glorious French countryside, head to the Loire Valley. Book your next breathtaking French road trip with us now to ensure you take advantage the best possible fares.

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.

Lucerne is true Swiss beauty

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Lucerne or ‘Luzern’ to the local population, has all the ingredients of a gorgeous, quintessentially Swiss city. With gorgeous buildings and ancient walkways over the water, you’ll want to explore every inch of this beautiful city. The Heart of Switzerland Where in Switzerland: Canton of Lucerne Distance from Calais: 769km / 7h 45m Renowned for being a particularly safe city, Lucerne is a diamond found in the heart of Switzerland. Its central location within Switzerland makes a perfect base for driving to the country's main attractions. The small city also has a lot of character, thanks to its spectacular scenery. Sitting at the edge of Lake Lucerne and surrounded by majestic mountain scenery, you’ll have no trouble remembering what country you’re in. One particularly spectacular drive is through the Gotthard Pass (sometimes referred to as St. Gotthard Pass). Take the A2 south from the city centre and in an hour, you’ll find yourself cruising through the jaw-dropping mountain pass that traverses the Saint Gotthard Massif. The road is a vital link between northern and southern Switzerland and was made to fit the winding landscape. An insider’s tip is to try and hit the pass as the sun is setting (or rising if you’re an early bird), in order to witness as much of its beauty as possible. St. Gotthard Pass at sunset A Tangible History According to legend, an angel guided the city’s first settlers to a certain spot using a beam of light from the sky. They were then instructed to build a chapel in honour of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of fisherman and sailors. It then, appropriately, grew to become a small fishing town. There is no single language used by Swiss people, in fact the population is comprised by a mix of German, French, Italian and Romanish speakers. Lucerne’s population speaks German for the most part (Almennic Swiss German Dialect, to be exact) so brushing up on your Deutsch is a good idea before hitting the road. The city’s rich history is everywhere to be seen when strolling around and it reflects this multicultural sentiment. There’s architecture to behold from a variety of different periods and certain gems that cannot be missed. The Kapellbrücke (which directly translates to ‘chapel bridge’) is a covered wooden footbridge that spans across the river Reuss. It was built in 1333, making it Europe’s oldest wooden covered bridge, as well as the oldest surviving ‘truss’ bridge. It contains a number of paintings dating back to the 17th century, some with fire damage caused in 1993 still visible. Kapellbrücke over the river Reuss The Bridge is a fine example of Lucerne’s well preserved medieval architecture, with other examples including the Old City Wall or Musegg Wall. The oldest section of the wall dates back to 1386 and it remains mostly intact to this day. There are four towers along the wall that are open to the public; Schirmer, Zyt, Wacht and Männli. The oldest city clock was built by Hans Luter in 1535 and can be found in the Zyt tower. Because of its status, it’s set to chime every hour one minute prior to all the other clocks in the city, which allows the residents to hear the old bell distinctly. There are numerous walking tours provided in the city that feature historical hot spots for the history buffs among you. But if history and architecture isn’t your thing then the city’s galleries are sure to strike a chord. The Rosengart Collection Lucerne has an impressive collection of pieces including the works of Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and 23 other artists from the age of Classic Modernism and Impressionism. Lastly, the Bourbaki Panorama Lucerne is a joy to behold for everyone. The museum is home to a unique cylindrical painting from 1881 by Edouard Castres depicting the Frano-Prussian war. The Geography Lucerne is surrounded by ample natural beauty in the form of tranquil lakes that have sustained the city, and mountains that have safeguarded it for generations. Although enjoying their spectacular beauty at a distance allows you to take it all in at once, some of you might like to get a little closer. The fastest, easiest and most relaxing way to reach the 7,000ft summit of Mt. Pilatus is to take a ride on the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. Hop onboard the carriage and wind your way through various tunnels and alongside various cliff faces for 30 minutes as you climb to the top. The steepest cogwheel railway in the world, Mount Pilatus Lake Lucerne has a number of boat tours that utilise an impressive variety of vessels from historic paddle steamers to modern motor boats. Put your feet up as you look out over the endless blue. Hiking/Skiing The city’s surrounding mountains also offer the perfect opportunity to hike and ski your worries away. In the summer months when the snow is nowhere to be seen, tourist and locals alike dust off their walking boots and head to the hills! You can join a guided tour, head out as a family or on your own, there are plenty of tracks and routes to suit all abilities. See the official Lucerne site here to help you decide what walk would suit you best. Mt. Pilatus looming above the clouds In the winter months the landscape is covered in a spectacular blanket of powdery white snow. There are no less than 24 snow sport resorts nearby, all accessible by car. When it comes to skiing, your kit is extremely important, so enabling yourself to pack as much as you can into your car is ideal. There are trains and boats that run between resorts also, although we’re sure you’ll prefer to wind through the Swiss hills while enjoying comfort of your own car. The official Lucerne site has plenty of information on the region during the winter. Whatever time of year you visit, Lucerne is equipped with enough natural beauty and age-old culture to leave you feeling as though you’ve experienced somewhere unlike anywhere else. So, if you’re feeling inspired to discover this stunning city for yourself, remember to book your tickets with us in advance to take advantage of the best fares.

Camping with a view in France

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Camping gives you the freedom to explore at your leisure, with the unique opportunity to choose precisely what sort of view you want to wake up to. Something you just can’t get from a hotel! France is a big, beautiful country with vastly different landscapes wherever you travel. Travelling by car means you can see the best of every region, from the snow-capped peaks of the Alps, to the wild beauty of the Provence countryside. Huttopia Bourg-St-Maurice Where in France: Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Drive from Calais: 967km / 9h The campsite Number of pitches: 108 camping pitches and 45 glamping units The Huttopia Bourg-St-Maurice campsite has something for everyone, including your pets. There are plenty of lovely pitches to choose from if you’re bringing your own tent, caravan or motorhome. Alternatively, you can choose from the permanent glamping options available on site, including safari tents, gypsy caravans and chalets. The campsite is open from late May until late October, and there is a swimming pool on site that is heated, which means you can enjoy a dip even in the chillier spring and autumn months. There is also a playground for children, as well as many other activities including volleyball, boules, table tennis and table football to keep the whole family entertained. A view from the hills down to Bourg-St-Maurice. You’ll also find a shop selling all the essentials, a library with a great range of holiday reads, and a central lodge with free WiFi and internet access. If you fancy exploring the wider area, there is plenty of tourist information available at reception, and friendly staff to offer advice. The area Savoie department, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes With the dramatic scenery of the Alps all around you, for the outdoorsy types, this is the ultimate destination. There are hundreds of kilometres of hikes and walking trails to explore in the region, with several lovely walks to set off on directly from the campsite. For thrill seekers, put your mountain bike on your roof rack, or else hire one locally, as there are a number of exciting downhill rides to conquer. The local scenery of the Savoie is simply breath taking. The local town of Bourg-St-Maurice is completely charming, with its pretty wooden buildings and baroque chapels. While you’re visiting the town, be sure to try some of the local dishes on the menu at the little restaurants. Raclette and tartiflette are particularly popular in this region, both of which involve rich gooey cheese melted over potatoes, sometimes served with onions and lardons. Hearty and delicious, and just what you need if you plan to hike up and down those big beautiful hills! Camping La Serre Where in France: Aigues-Vives, Occitanie Drive from Calais: 1,061km / 10h The campsite Number of pitches: 48 very large camping pitches The pitches at Camping La Serre are lovely and big and feel nice and secluded with trees offering shade. Whether you’re bringing your tent, caravan or campervan, you’ll instantly be made to feel welcome, and you can even bring your dog along with you. There are also 14 wooden chalets on site, or for something a little different, there’s even a wooden treehouse that will comfortably sleep a family of five. The campsite is open from April until the end of October, and no matter what time of year you visit, the on-site nature reserve is sure to delight. 15 acres of natural woodland have been dedicated to the project, and campers are welcome to walk the trails and learn about the natural flora and fauna. Also on site, you can take advantage of the good sized pool, badminton courts, and football pitch, and there’s even a little eco-museum looking at the local farming history. In reception, you’ll find a range of helpful leaflets, guides and maps of the local area, and the owners are also on hand to answer your questions. There are lots of hiking and cycling trails in the local area, so why not bring your bike with you too. Spend a day exploring the charming town of Foix with its medieval castle. The area Ariège department, Occitanie Nestled at the bottom of the foothills of the Pyrenees, a short drive from the borders with Spain and Andorra, Ariège is one of the most unspoiled areas in France. With wild, untamed landscapes dotted with pretty little towns, the roads throughout the area offer unparalleled views. There are loads of villages and attractions to explore from your campsite as a base, but the nearby city of Foix is particularly worth visiting. The skyline is dominated by the medieval silhouette of the 10th century Château de Foix with its crenelated towers, and the town below is everything you’d expect and hope for from rural France. Stroll the winding lanes browsing shops beneath ancient wooden arches, or simply pull up a chair at one of the many cafés that spill out onto the streets and take the time to watch the world go by. Huttopia Gorges du Verdon Where in France: Castellane, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Drive from Calais: 1,089km / 11h The campsite Number of pitches: 136 camping pitches The team at Huttopia Gorges du Verdon welcome everyone, including the family pets, whether you’re bringing your own tent, caravan, or arriving in a motorhome. There are 136 pitches to make your own, separated and shaded by shrubbery and trees, as well as many wooden chalets and tents that you can hire from April to October, before the campsite closes down for winter. Castellane is famous for the striking rock face towering above the town. The whole family will be kept busy with a range of activities on site, such as bowling, boules, volleyball, table tennis and table football. There is also a playground for children to let off some steam, a lounge with free WiFi so you can stay connected with friends and family, and a communal room for relaxing in front of the TV and making some new friends. Huttopia Gorges du Verdon also benefits from being situated on the banks of a river and is therefore able to offer an exciting array of water sports, as well. You can go on a canoeing or rafting adventure, swim in the open waters, and even try your hand (and patience!) at fishing. The area Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur A short drive down the road from the campsite is the beautiful ancient town of Castellane, with written records showing that people have lived here since the 10th century, but artefacts have been found locally that date back as far as 6,000 BC. The local history is fascinating, with cave paintings and Bronze age tombs discovered in grottos in the area. Marvel at the natural beauty of the Gorges du Verdon. No matter what you do, you just can’t leave without having visited the campsite’s namesake, the Gorge du Verdon. It’s about an hour or so in the car through picturesque scenery, and more than worth the trip. Often considered the most beautiful river canyon in France, it’s about 25km long and 700m deep in places, with the river culminating in spectacular fashion where it flows into the lake of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. If you’re feeling inspired to jump in the car and head off in search of a campsite with a view, remember to book your tickets with us as early as possible to take advantage of the best fares available.

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.

Explore the south of France in the Cévennes

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The Cévennes is home to a sprawling landscape of mountains, forest and cave complexes – it’s the perfect getaway for intrepid hikers and weekend explorers alike. If the tourist routes are not for you and you don’t fancy stopping off in Paris for a stroll along the Seine, you can visit the Montagne de Reims Wildlife Park as you drive south from Calais. There’s plenty to explore in a day here, with 250km of hiking paths through the park’s four unique terrains. Roughly halfway along your journey, you can discover the Great Lakes of the Forêt d’Orient, and spend an afternoon fishing in the Lac du Temple, sailing on the Lac d’Orient or swimming at Port Dienville. Admire the beautiful scenery of Cévennes. From here, it’s plain sailing through Dijon and down to Lyon, before beginning your drive through Lozère state and into the lush landscape of the Cévennes. There are more than 60 campsites across the park to choose from, so pitch your tent and plan your first route. If it’s scenic trails through dramatic gorges you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. And if the Alps or Pyrenees are a little ambitious for you, the hilltops of the Cévennes feature a range of hiking trails and cycle paths to suit every ability. An explorer’s dream Hiking route: GR70 Stevenson trail How long is it: 225 km from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille The famous GR70 Stevenson trail provides the setting for the 1879 book Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes and is named for the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. If you’re bold enough to follow in some of Stevenson’s footsteps, take the Cévennes trail uphill through the woods to 1308 metres, and you’ll emerge into the peaceful meadows and scrubland of Le Moure de la Gardille. Keep rising further up with the mountain and you’ll find yourself at the 1702 metre peak of Mont Lozère, the jewel of the Cévennes, while an unmissable view across bas-Languedoc opens up before you. Explore the countryside along the Mont Lozère hiking trail. If you’re looking for a slightly less strenuous way to see the area, you can rent a canoe in the lovely Medieval castle town of Florac. Your picturesque paddle through the River Tarn’s gorges in the north-west of the park will be mapped out by buildings rising straight up from the water, as the river snakes through the breath-taking clifftop town and alongside hidden hamlets and dramatic cliffs. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all easy going in this canyon: there’s still plenty of opportunity to get your adrenaline pumping, with kayaking, caving and climbing just some of the activities on offer. On the history trail Rich in history, the Cévennes is home to several Medieval villages, all easily reached by its hiking trails. Officially one of France’s most beautiful villages, La Garde-Guérin is on an isolated, rocky plateau above the Gorges de Chassezac in the north of the park, which has been home to the fortified village since the 12th century. Its little cobbled streets are perfect for walking tours, just like the granite-scattered riverbeds of Le Pont-de-Montvert, around a 25km journey south-west of La Garde-Guérin. This town – one of the stops Stevenson made with his donkey guide – is a little livelier, with souvenir shops and cafés to help get you going again, before your four-and-a-half-hour trek west along D998 to Florac. The architecture of Le Pont-de-Montvert is classically French. To the north of the park is the town of Mende. It’s the perfect place for a daytrip, where you can while away the hours touring its 16th century cathedral, impressive monuments and Medieval houses. North of the old town, even the Notre-Dame bridge dates to the 13th century, while parts can be traced back to 200BC. Take a two-hour drive south and you’ll find Belmont-sur-Rance, a scenic Medieval village perched on a hilltop with beautiful views of the Monts de Lacaune. It’s surrounded by natural beauty and perfect for exploring on bike. Continue south and find yourself at the mouth of the Haut-Languedoc Regional Natural Park, home to lakes, mountains and breath-taking views of the Mediterranean Sea – well worth the 25-minute drive to Lacaune. Gorgeous gorges and heady heights There’s plenty to keep all the geography and geology buffs among you happy, too. The gorges of Cévennes are cut westwards by the Loire and Allier valleys and east and south-eastwards by the Ardèche, Chassezac and Cèze rivers, leaving beautifully characteristic channels in the limestone that lies beneath the hills. If you venture further out, you can visit the Grotte des Demoiselles at the southern edge of the park. This cave complex in the Hérault valley was once known as the ‘Grotte des Fées’, named for the fairies that were said to live there. It’s easy to feel the magic flowing between the stalactites and stalagmites, especially inside the 120-metre-long and 52-metre-high Cathedral Cavern. There are open underground railway tours of the caves that are available throughout the year and are operated locally. Discover the beautiful rock formations in Les Grottes des Demoiselles. If all this talk of walking is a little too low-energy for you, maybe some winter fun is more your speed. Mont Aigoual in the south-west is the Cévennes’ highest peak, and while spring and summer explorers get to work on the 4,000 steps to the top, winter visitors are more interested in navigating their way down 9km of slopes when the Prat Peyrot ski resort wakes the mountain up from late-December to mid-March. With 12 runs ranging from beginner to advanced, there really is something for everyone. Plan your next holiday in the stunning Cévennes and enjoy a family adventure with thrills, culture and endless of scenic beauty. Just remember to book your tickets with us early to take advantage of the best fares.

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