Traditional Northern French food
French food is renowned for its quality and style, with each region bringing its own characteristic cuisine to the table.
Meal time in France is much more than just eating; tradition calls for them to be a social occasion, a chance to bring people together, enjoy carefully selected dishes, local produce and that all important pairing of food with wine.
Northern France is celebrated for its hearty food and, not surprisingly along the coast, its fish dishes. This region also produces more beer than wine so you're likely to find a beer-infused stew on the menu and locals sipping a refreshing lager with their meals. Regional food of the north is wholesome and ingredients are usually chosen from what can be sourced locally.
A great place to start your culinary tour is Nord-Pas-de-Calais, a northern region of France, close to the Belgium border. There is plenty to explore so whether you're just passing through or want to make more of your visit, this
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle guide will introduce you to some of the cuisine highlights and visitor attractions not to be missed.
Head to the centre of
Calais and you can take your pick from a host of quality restaurants including
Le Vieux Fourneau, on Rue Royale. There's plenty of parking nearby so you can pull up the car and fill up on fine French food after your cross-Channel journey.
Calais has a vibrant cultural scene with lots of entertainment options as soon as you set foot on French soil. One of the highlights is
Le Channel Theatre, built by French architect Malgras in 1905. Opera buffs, theatre fans, comedy devotees and classical music enthusiasts can choose from a vibrant programme of both traditional and modern works. Thanks to the creation of the Restaurant du Théatre, Le Channel, you can now enjoy fine French cuisine in this unique artistic atmosphere. Depending on the size of your appetite you can choose a three-course meal in the restaurant or a light snack such as a warming bowl of soup or a selection of tapas to share.
Just half an hour's drive (40km) south of Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's terminal in Calais, sits the coastal town of Wimereux. This traditional resort maintains much of its architectural character from its Victorian era heyday. You can take a walk along the promenade or golden sands, past beach huts, shops and tempting patisseries. By the sea wall you'll find Restaurant
La Vie Est Belle. After picking up a Michelin star from his long stint at La Brocante in Wimille, chef Jean-Francois Laurent now heads up this lovely restaurant in Wimereux. You can relax in the cosy dining room or sit and breathe the sea air from the terrace while enjoying dishes made from fresh, local produce.
Although it's at the pricier end of the scale, a meal at the
L'Atlantic Hotel Restaurant is almost guaranteed to be both creative and fresh. For a real treat try the speciality fish dishes such as the turbot or delve a little deeper and sign up for one of the cooking courses.
Boulogne-sur-Mer is a large fishing port just 30 minutes' drive from
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais terminal. As you would expect, fish is the focus here and there are many excellent seafood restaurants to choose.
Bar Hamiot is the most popular restaurant in Boulogne-sur-Mer. Sitting down for a meal is an experience not to be missed, with its Parisian Brasserie look and feel and panoramic views of the fishing port. Fish dishes are prepared from catches fresh from the line that day and brought from the fish market at the port below.
Le Welsh Pub is the oldest restaurant in Boulogne, a friendly place which, despite the name, has a very French menu. There are pub, brasserie and restaurant food options to choose from. A classic plate of oysters or a delicious meaty stew are just two examples of the sort of food on offer. The restaurant's location on the central cobbled square means you can browse around stalls of local produce at the vibrant market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. While in the square, don't forget to pop into
Boulogne's oldest church, St Nicholas for a slice of history.
Continue the sea theme with a visit to the
Nausicaa Aquarium, National Sea Centre. This is much more than just an aquarium. You can discover tropical reefs and mangrove swamps, delve into a submerged tropical rainforest, learn why a sharks' reputation as a vicious beast is undeserved and watch African penguins waddling around a purpose-made beach.
Boulogne sur mer is 30 minutes' drive from Calais heading west along the A16.
To extend your trip and sample more tempting French regional food variations then head to
Paris. As a transport hub, almost every regional cuisine ends up here. This is also the perfect opportunity to experience eating in a Parisian brasserie which has become a French institution.
Starting life as taverns serving beer and hearty food, brasseries have preserved their Art Nouveau charms and become sumptuous dining rooms with glistening mirrors and hand-painted murals. It's here that you'll find authentic specialities at reasonable prices. Brasseries tend to be large and busy which makes for a lively atmosphere and are generally open late. If you're looking for a more romantic setting then
Brasserie Flo has dark panelled walls and dim lighting to set the mood. You can try some classic dishes such as steak tartare and the menu changes every day so you'll never run out of options.
For a riverfront setting, try the
Restaurant La Plage which has a range of speciality seafood and shellfish. The menu has a seasonal emphasis and the elegant, seaside-themed interior provides a relaxing environment to enjoy delicate fish dishes and fine wines.
All the towns above are within 30 minutes' drive from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais Terminal with Paris, a further 3 hours along the A16.
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