A selection of fun things to see and do during your drive to Lens, for this year's football.
The city of Lens is just an hour's drive from Calais and there are some fantastic things to see along the way, so you'll have plenty to do when travelling to see the football. Once an industrial hub, in recent years Lens has received a cultural revamp in the form of its famous Louvre-Lens museum, and this has given the city a surge of life.
In north-eastern France, Lens is just 40 kilometres from the city of Lille and sits within the Nord-Pas-de-Calais department of France. From Calais, drivers can take the A26 for most of the way to Lens, before taking exit 6.2 for the A21, which will lead you to the city centre. Check out some of the most interesting things to see and do, while travelling to Lens for football in 2016.
Explore the cathedral at Saint-Omer © Image by Flickr user Charles D P Miller
Just under half way between Calais and Lens, the commune of Saint-Omer is an ideal place to stop on your way to this summer's football. A medieval town with a thriving marketplace, if you stop by for a spot of lunch, you can enjoy strolling around the centre, exploring the beautiful 17th century architecture.
Be sure to check out the neo-classical town hall and, by contrast, the gothic-style cathedral. Constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries, the cathedral is vast, with the main features including an organ built by the illustrious organ builder, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, as well as stained-glass windows and a stone spire. Grab a coffee at one of the many town squares, and enjoy everything Saint-Omer has to offer.
Just 14 kilometres from Calais, the well-preserved medieval town of Ardres takes around 25 minutes by car. It's a popular spot for visitors from the UK who come to see the traditional market town, which boasts views over the picturesque marshlands surrounding Calais.
Historically the town has long been under dispute, and the nearby commune of Balinghem was the site of the famous "Field of the Cloth of Gold" battle in 1520. Visiting during summer is wonderful, as you'll get to enjoy the Ardres Lake at its best. Here you can try out all kinds of water sports, including fishing, canoeing and sailing, so it's the perfect place to stretch your legs and take a break from driving.
The inside of the stunning cathedral at Béthune.© isamiga76
Around 20 kilometres from Lens, you'll find the pretty town of Béthune. Despite its relatively small size, Béthune is packed with plenty of shops and restaurants, making it an ideal stop for supplies and a bite to eat. Just north of town is the Chateau de Beaulieu, which is home to a beautiful hotel and restaurant, with the option to sit and dine in the chateau gardens, perfect for a sunny day.
The town's main sight is the impressive belfry, which dates back to the 14th century, and overlooks the old town. The main square is a delightful mix of architectural styles, from art deco to gothic, and it's a wonderful spot to grab a drink in the sunshine.
Make new friends exploring the countryside around Cap Blanc-Nez. © Vincent Desjardins
Caps et Marais d'Opale Natural Regional Park
Just south of Calais, the Caps et Marais d'Opale Natural Regional Park is worth exploring if you have an extra day before heading to the football, or on your way back to Calais when returning to the UK. It's a beautiful protected part of northern France, with plenty of cycling trails and coffee shops within its small towns and villages.
You don't need to travel too far into the park to enjoy its natural beauty, and it's easily accessible by car. To the north you can enjoy the cliffs at Cap Blanc-Nez, and whether you're hiking, mountain biking or horse riding, you'll find plenty of trails to explore.
Go walking and cycling around the Caps et Marais d'Opale Natural Regional Park. © Rodrigue ROMON
For more information on Lens and its surroundings, check out the Tourist Information and Cultural Heritage Office.
Travelling to France for the football?
With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle you can get from Folkestone to Calais in 35 minutes. From there, Lens is just an hour's drive away.
Make the most of your drive to Lens and the rest of France using our guide to the city