The church at Dunkirk – Image by Flickr user Daniel Jolivet
fans are flocking to France this summer for one of the year’s biggest
tournaments. Will you be one of them? If so, why not take the time to explore
more of northern France, when driving to Lille.
is a popular destination and capital of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, in
northern France. It can be easily reached from Calais by car, by following the
A16 and A25 roads, which will take you directly to the city. This part of
northern France has a dramatic history and is dotted with fantastic towns and
villages to visit, so check out some of the top pit stops to make on your
journey from Calais to Lille.
for its prominent role during World War II, Dunkirk has a lot to offer for
visitors. Located on the North Sea coast, around a 40-minute drive from Calais,
the town is home to the last remaining French windjammer ship, the Duchesse
Anne. Today a museum, the magnificent ship was built in 1901 and was originally
used as a training ship for German soldiers, before being gifted to the French
Museum of modern
and contemporary Art of Dunkirk can also be found in town, which boasts a
great collection of art works dating from the 1950s to the present day. The
museum is situated in the middle of a scenic sculpture garden, while the
building itself is impressive as an example of contemporary architecture, made
up of striking white blocks.
a spot of lunch, head to Le Country Grill for hearty burgers and sides such as
mozzarella sticks and cream cheese jalapenos. With generous burger portions,
it’s great if you’re hungry! Those seeking a more typically French experience
might want to look out for Le
Marmiton, a quaint local restaurant serving up gourmet French cuisine.
known as “the other Bruges in Flanders”, Bergues is a Flemish town which
entered the spotlight following a popular French film, Welcome to the Sticks
(in English), which was made in 2008 and featured the town belfry. If you’re a
fan, you can join one of the film tours which depart from the town centre.
without its claim to fame, Bergues is full of charm. The centre of town is
overlooked by the pretty church of Saint Martin, parts of which date back to
the 16th century. Take a stroll along the town’s medieval ramparts
and get great views of the town belfry, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re feeling fit, climb the 191 steps to the top of the belfry to see
panoramic views of the town square below.
Walk to the top of the belfry at Bergues.© Image by Olivier Duquesne
is also famous for producing delicious Bergue cheese, so be sure to look out
for it in town. If you want a sit-down meal, the Taverne Le Bruegel restaurant is
housed in a pretty building, decorated in traditional Flemish style inside.
Prepare to try some delicious local beers on tap and enjoy hearty soups and
stews, along with steaks, sausages and chips.
The pretty Flemish restaurant, Le Bruegel. © Image by Jean Robert Thibault
Golf Blue Green Dunkirk
driving to Lille for the football, stretch your legs on the golf course near
Dunkirk, Golf Blue Green. Made
up of two courses, one 18-hole course and one nine-hole course, the Blue Green
club is just 10 minutes from Dunkirk by car. It’s an ideal stop to make on your
way to the football, as a game of golf is sure to get you in the competitive
club covers a staggering 76 hectares and offers reasonable daily green rates,
plus lessons for beginners and advanced players. There’s also a driving range
if you’re not looking to play a full game. Grab a bite to eat after a long day
on the course at the on-site restaurant.
45-minutes north of Lille is the commune of Cassel. Situated on a hilltop, Cassel
is a great place to enjoy the sunny weather and take a break from the car. If
you head to the top of Mont Cassel, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over
the nearby Flanders Fields. On an especially clear day, you might even see over
the North Sea to England!
views can also be had around Moulin de Cassel, a pretty windmill surrounded by
peaceful gardens. This is one of the highest points in Flanders and the views
are wonderful, especially during the summer. Nearby are old Roman roads, which
are around 2,000 years’ old, as well as medieval walls and a WWI monument.
Moulin de Cassel.© Image by Jean Robert Thibault
Explore more of Lille and its surroundings, by
visiting the official Lille Tourist
Travelling to France for the football?
With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle you can get from Folkestone to Calais in 35 minutes.
Make the most of your drive to Lille and the rest of France using our guide to the city