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  • Christmas shopping breaks in Nord Pas de Calais

    Just a hop across the Channel from south east England lies the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. When visiting France, we often get on the autoroute and drive quickly through, but this is an area that deserves exploration – and it’s our region of the month for November.

    Christmas shopping is a great excuse for a long weekend or midweek short break before the flurry of the festive season sets in and in Nord-Pas-de-Calais you’ll find everything from speciality wine cellars and France’s most famous cheese boutique to big names in European retail at the modern shopping city of Cite Europe near Calais.

    The region is proud of its gastronomy and local beers, along with traditions where fairs, fêtes and festivals are so much a part of daily life – and it’s full of enchanting Christmas markets.

    Big Christmas markets are held at Amiens, Arras, Lille, Bethune,  Calais and Boulogne. Follow the link below to our complete guide with all the details. At Licques the market is accompanied by a famous turkey parade with hundreds of turkeys rampaging through the town’s streets. Spectators are given a glass of the local liqueur, Licquoise, and then have the chance to buy a turkey. Beats the local supermarket!

    The region also offers varied landscapes of forests, meadows and marshlands, an unspoilt coastline that stretches for miles, Regional Natural Parks, a network of waterways and lots of historic sites. For great places to stay and visit in the region, check out our accommodation and guide to the Nord-Pas-de-Calais

  • Discover the Nord-Pas-de-Calais

    There's a tendency to think of the Nord-Pas de Calais as an area of France that we rush through when heading further south - which is a pity. Every time I explore the region, I'm impressed by the clear impression that I have most definitely entered France with all that means in terms of ambience, way of life - and most especially way of eating.

    Particular favourite places? Well, let's start with Ardres, a small town close to a lake with beautifully planted public areas, a delightful square with one of those art-form patisseries and an excellent British-owned wine merchant and enough good restaurants to keep anyone happy from Monday to Friday and the weekend as well.

    If Ardres is a good example of small-town France, then Le Touquet is the epitome of Parisian chic and sophistication transported to the seaside. The Christmas shops and lights are wonderfully tasteful, the cultural events are impressive, the seafood is exceptional, the super-luxury houses set in woodland are well worth a drive-by and the people watching is superb. Oh, and for outdoor lovers there's a huge beach to stroll and some famous golf courses to play.

    Less well known but delightful in a different way is the seaside town of Wimereux, which has quite an Anglo-Norman feel with its beach huts and painted seafront houses. Equally charming is the historic town of Montreuil-sur-Mer, which is actually quite a way inland, but has some lovely medeival architecture and a very French feel.

    If I want to blow away the cobwebs of a good lunch and stretch my legs, then I climb the slopes of Cap Blanc Nez or Cap Gris Nez, take in the fabulous coastal views, reflect on the history and look back at Kent, feeling how cool it is to be so close and yet 'abroad'.

    Browse accommodation in the Nord -Pas-de-Calais region

  • Remembering French-British co-operation at Dunkerque

    Moving scenes in the Channel today as a flotilla of small ships sails from Ramsgate to Dunkerque, marking the 70th anniversary of the World War II evacuation from Northern France.