Day trips from the UK to France have been popular for a long time. Throughout my childhood my parents would regularly bundle my brother and I into the car to head over to France to
fill the car with booze...er, introduce us to France’s
wonderful culture and food, ahem. Read on for some great spots to visit on your
There are several ways to get to France for the day. You can zoom under the Channel using the Channel Tunnel or take a cross-Channel ferry such as DFDS Seaways Ferries. It is possible to take your car on either and I would really strongly suggest this because it gives you the freedom and opportunity to explore more. Obviously if you are going to stock the larder then you will need the car to transport your purchases too.
|Yummy French cheese!|
The nearest town when you hit France is Calais and the population is well-practiced at helping non-French-speaking tourists. Along with the large supermarkets and booze shops Calais has a charming town centre, leading from a large square to the train station, featuring lots of independent shops such as bakeries, patisseries and haberdasheries. There is a cast of a magnificent Rodin sculpture outside the Town Hall, depicting the Burghers of Calais, and an impressive war museum housed in an underground bunker. The clock tower in the Place d’Armes is protected by UNESCO. With its old architecture, some of which pre-dates the Second World War, Calais has a lot of character. Combined with a plethora of bars and cafes you could find yourself in a far worse situation than only getting as far as Calais.
|Rodin's Burghers of Calais statue in front of the Town Hall, Calais, France.|
Only 30 minutes drive south of Calais, Boulogne is a medieval port. The old town is the only part of the town to have escaped major damage during the bombing of World War Two. The castle on the hill is now a museum and home to a rich collection of artefacts and the cathedral contains some of English King Henry VIII’s canon balls. Thirteenth century city ramparts provide an atmospheric backdrop as you explore the many shops and other opportunities the town offers.
|Boulogne Cathedral dome, France.|
A gorgeous expanse of golden sand awaits visitors to Le Touqet that lies just across the Etapes Inlet. The beach is a real highlight and has features to keep everyone happy. International fairs visit regularly and all the usual amenities are available by the beach, such as changing facilities and an ice cream van. Facilities around the beach accommodate children especially well with fenced off play areas, tricycles for hire and that French favourite, the carousel. The town itself is built back from the beach and boasts lots of interesting shops, cafes and restaurants. There are also some great eats.
|Le Touqet Beach, France.|
Montreuil sur Mer
Deceptively-named Montreuil sur Mer is a small inland hilltop village. A receding tide has left it inappropriately named. The village itself is charming in its design with picturesque views around every corner and, on a clear day, some marvellous views. The town celebrates being the inspiration for Victor Hugo’s famous story Les Miserables and puts on an open-air performance each summer. If you fancy venturing a bit further afield and experiencing a genuine French town that many don’t get to, Montreuil sur Mer should satisfy you.
|People-watching in the cafe on the main square of Montreuil sur Mer, France.|
Situated almost as far north as possible within France, Dunkirk is about10 kilometres from the Belgian border and full of history. Dunkirk has seen many battles, with the most famous military presence being the Allied Landings in 1940. Having been bombed heavily towards the end of World War Two, the Dunkirk of today has a very modern atmosphere. There is a museum dedicated to the port and an art gallery containing a large collection of paintings and sculptures.
|Dunkirk Beach and Harbour Wall, France.|
Have you visited France on a daytrip from the UK? If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments below.