A very pretty small town, with good hotels and restaurants. This place is a bit of an oasis among the busy stretch along the Calais coast. But the location is perfect for anyone who wants to stay overnight on a day trip or shopping trip to France via the ferries or Channel Tunnel. It sure beats hanging around Calais!
900 mile cycle journey - best holiday ever. The European Bike Express makes it possible to cycle from the Channel to the Mediterranean (Manche à Mer has a similar ring to Coast to Coast) by dropping you off at Calais (not a scheduled stop, but if you ask them nicely) and picking you up at Narbonne. In our case the return date was 29 days after the drop-off, giving us a few days by the Med. We found the CTC information, Alastair Sawday’s French Bed and Breakfast Guide, IGN 1/25,000 scale maps and local tourist office guides invaluable. We mostly booked the day before except when our overnight destination coincided with the Tour de France. As we were getting on a bit we avoided the Massif Central. Among the many highlights were: being pressed to take food, drink and an orange for the journey by Licques cycling club (we met their club outing food stop), watching Le Tour go by, staying at the Chateau Larra and dining with the Baroness and her family. We took no spares (just puncture repair kit) on the premise that we’d never be too far from a cycle shop in France. Others may not want to risk it, although we only suffered two punctures in 970 miles. It all added up to one of the most memorable holidays we have had.
P.S (can be included if this doesn’t make it too long:
Our overnight stops were Bois-en-Ardres, Montreuil. Chépy, Gaillefontaine, Les Andelys, Evreeux, Maletable, Bonnetable, Pontvallain, Saumur, St Jean de Thouars, Parthenay, St Maixent, Angouleme, Biras-Brantome, St Sauveur, Villeneuve-sur-Lot, Valence d’Agen, Castelsarrassin, Moissac, Larra, Villefranche-en-Lauragais, Castelnaudary, Marseillette, Gruissan –Plage.
Just 30 minutes by road from Calais, Ferme du Vert is a charming little farmhouse in a peaceful bucolic setting, and great value for a weekend break. The rooms are lovely, the food is superb - the owners have their own fromagerie - and the small collection of farmyard animals makes it a hit with young children.
For weekend city breaks to Calais the Bonsai hotel is a good choice. Tiny rooms but ideal location and budget prices. Located right opposite the main station, a few minutes' walk from the centre of the town of Calais. Most important - free parking facilities for those who travel by car.
Quai Du Danube, Calais, 62100
The Café is the best in Calais for lunch or for a wee drink. The staff are friendly and professional - it is not sloppy student service. Okay, Calais is definitely not the most beautiful place in the world but this place makes you really feel that you are in old France. It is simple and unpretentious.
Fantastic mussels and chips (and the chips are hand cut, none of the frozen crap), excellent steak tartare and plat de jour/ grillade.
The square in front of the café was partly destroyed twice in the two world wars and they threw up bits of concrete, but the café is an original - benches and wood panelling. We go every time we visit our journalist friend who works for the local tele.
The staff try their best to speak English, although a svp and a merci goes a long way.
They have a simple kids' menu but I really advise mussels. They might find it strange, but they will always remember it. My kids eat anything, at least once without force - then it gets more complicated.
I'm sort of regretting this as it has almost been an English free zone.
Watch out for the lovely old girl who drinks a coffee and then sings a chanson or two on Sundays - she loves Scots.
All in all, if you have an afternoon or a booze cruise - this is the best of Calais. And you can walk along the front after and see the White Cliffs of Dover on most days. Go up to the lighthouse!
Place Armes. Walk down from the station towards the sea and after the "grey" tower (not the townhall)on your left.
Even though for many people Calais is a place to bypass en route to Paris or Lille, this hostel is clean and safe with modern facilities (bar, library, games room) and is the only cheap hostel in the town.
The double rooms are satisfactory, though admittedly they are tiny. The staff kindly put me up for a couple of nights on a camp bed despite the fact that there were no rooms available and I was stranded with nowhere else to go.
Breakfast is provided. The hostel is only 5 mins walk from the beach, and 10 mins from the town centre and train station.
Av. du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, 62100 Calais
Tél : 00 33 3 21 34 70 20
Fax : 00 33 3 21 96 87 80
Take the free bus from Calais ferry port to the main town square and go straight up the main road to the beach (going over a canal and passing a caravan site). The hostel is well signposted.
An excellent hotel for overnight stays; very good value.
I booked on the internet; I was surprised to get an automatic extra 5% discount off their already low price of €36.
We arrived well after midnight, via the Eurotunnel, but their reception was still open, as was the bar.
Our room was clean and fresh; bed a bit firm, but that's what I like anyway. There was an extra bunk bed sideways over our double bed, perfect for our 7-year-old boy, who loved it.
The self-service buffet breakfast was really great value for only €5 extra each (children seemed to be free), with a big choice of fruits, breads, toast, cereals yoghurt etc - much better than most French breakfast offerings.
2 Quai du Danube, Calais, Pas-de-Calais, 62100
Calais gets a bad press, but ride off the ferry and turn right and you are on the Côte d’Opale, one of the most dramatic coastlines in northern France. And inland, just 20-30km from Calais, you are in idyllic, pastoral countryside where there is hardly a car on the road. This is fantastic cycling country, far more relaxed than on our side of the Channel — they really respect bikes here. As cyclists count as foot passengers on a ferry, this is by far the cheapest way to get to France by bike . . . or any other mode of transport come to that.
A good, reasonably priced (£60) hotel, with good breakfasts, and rooms that sleep 4 in comfort.
It's quite close to the Cite d'Europe and the Channel Tunnel terminal, but not too hard to find from the Ferry terminal.
The hotel is part of the Accor group, and is one of three hotels in a little block with secure parking at the back (the others were Ibis and Etap, both cheaper).
Nice reception area, complete with mountain bikes to borrow (and a Smart Car at the back for you as well - don't know if there's a charge for these but got the feeling not).
Access to room is by a chip card. The rooms are LARGE, certainly compared to the Holiday Inn Express or Travel Lodge. As we walked in, there was a loo on the left, a table and 2 chairs (both on wheels, likewise the TV). Large sofa which turns into a single bed, and a pull out one from under the double bed so the room comfortably sleeps four.
There's a fridge, small sink and microwave in the room, and then we discovered there was a room divider that one can pull across to separate the (very big) double bed from the rest of the room - thus ensuring a little privacy from children should you have them. One caveat - the divider is quite thin - almost japanese in style.
Next to the double bed there's shelving (with a small safe box), and entrance to the bathroom (with a bath and separate shower, hairdryer, as well as a wash basin).
I felt that one could spend a whole holiday in one of these, even cooking a little in the microwave. There were no real glasses or cups/plates or the like, so if you want to feed little ones, bring your own. There were a couple of plasic glasses and paper cups along with tea and coffee. There are both smoking and non-smoking rooms.
Food. Don't know what dinner is like - there were 'meal packs' in the large fridge by reception. Breakfast. Croissants and coffee are free of charge, I understand, but you can also buy a 'breakfast box' for about E6 - well worth it when you eat it - very nice fruit, quality honey and jam, a large portion of very tasty butter (I like expensive butter), a plastic container of ham (don't know what that was like - we're veggies), a kiwi fruit and some President cheese - again a big portion. Help yourself to rolls and decent criossants.
Place de Cantorbery
E-mail : H3335@accor.com
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