HAUTS-DE-FRANCE CALAIS TRAVEL GUIDE
A hop, skip and a ferry across the Channel brings you to Calais and the Hauts-de-France region of northern France. While many tourists use this region as a stepping-stone to Paris, the area has so much to offer visitors who are always pleasantly surprised with the variety different things to do in Calais.
After undergoing a massive rejuvenation in the last 10 years, Hauts-de-France has quickly become a hub for art lovers, foodies and history buffs. Boasting a rich industrial heritage, quaint towns, lush countryside and an array of historically important sites, this region offers a taste of France unlike any other.
Explore northern France simply and easily by boarding a ferry from Dover to Calais
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Hauts-de-France Seaside Breaks
Many visitors pass through the region seeking southern climates, missing out on one of the most coveted areas of France, the Côte d'Opale. This 26-mile stretch of craggy, dramatic coastline rivals the beauty and accessibility of even the most breathtaking beaches in the world. Dotted with fishing villages, seafood restaurants and elegant holidays resort, like Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, this popular area is one of the most alluring yet secret corners of France.
Just 26 miles from Dover, Calais is the closest port to England, making it the best destination for day trippers and the perfect place to begin your French adventure. Like all of the Cote d'Opale and Hauts-de-France region, Calais offers many theatres, churches and lighthouses to explore, making it perfect for family getaways. The Calais tourist board has created a 2-hour walking tour, so you can discover all the hidden gems of the town centre.
Calais is also famous for its lace making heritage, with local lace used recently to create Princess Kate's wedding dress. The Museum of Fashion and Lace pays tribute to Calais lace making heritage and offers a chance to see rare collections and looms up close. Calais also acts as the perfect base to discover the Côte d'Opale, with so much to discover in under 15 minutes' drive from the town.
Hauts-de-France Cultural City Explorer
Besides its gorgeous coastline, Hauts-de-France is known for its historic towns and cities. A highlight is the city of Lille, which was voted the European Capital of Culture in 2004 and boasts three internationally acclaimed art galleries. Essential on the itinerary for any art lover is the LAM art museum, which contains the largest selection of outsider art in France and the former mail sorting office Le Tripostal, which brings contemporary art exhibitions to life. Explore all of the must-see monuments with the Lille City Pass where you’ll get either 24 or 48 hours’ access to over 30 top tourist sites. Your pass will also grant you access to Lille’s metropolitan public transport network too – perfect for exploring!
Every four years, the city also hosts the Lille 3000 festival. This incredible performing arts festival held in the La Gare Saint Sauveur cultural hub attracts millions of visitors. The city also offers a charming Old Town with Flemish influenced architecture.
Ideal for a day trip, you can wander around Lille's cobbled streets stopping at bistros and bars while drifting through the city's many open air markets. To maximise your time, why not embark on a 2-hour Lille walking tour with a qualified guide taking you to the key sites and uncovering the old town’s history and tales; or tour the city from the comfort of an open top tour bus with Lille’s City Tour), a 75-minute bus tour with audio and video commentary for you to enjoy whilst you soak up the sights.
The city of Lens is also a great place for anyone interested in art and is home to the Louvre Lens, the regional branch of the famous Parisian art gallery.
Hauts-de-France' Historic Road Tour
The Hauts-de-France has some of the most well-preserved World War II sites and memorials in Europe. One of the easiest ways to see them is on a self-drive adventure across the region.
You can begin by visiting the seaside town of Dunkirk, the site of the allied evacuation and home to the famous three month carnival early in the year. A short distance south will see you enter the picturesque town of Saint Omer and the secret bunker base La Coupole, a hulking mass of concrete which became a symbol of the oppressive Nazi regime.
Still further south, Arras also offers a number of fascinating war museums, including the man-made Les Boves caves and the quarry of la Carrière Wellington.
Discover this forgotten region by catching a P&O Ferry to France on one of our Dover to Calais ferry crossings and get a taste for the delightful north of France.
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