For most people, Calais is the first place they will see when they arrive in France. Thanks to the huge ferry port and Eurotunnel station, Calais welcomes millions of visitors every year – but most of them don’t stick around. This means that despite its huge popularity with travellers, Pas de Calais is still largely undiscovered by tourists.
Away from the busy ferry terminus, there is a lot to see in this pretty French province. For peace and quiet, head south to a cottage by the sea near Berck, where the endless sandy beaches are ideal for families and romantic strolls at sunset.
Coastal cottages near Boulogne-sur-Mer will allow you to make the most of the local cuisine. Boulogne-sur-Mer is the largest fishing port in France, and local specialities include herring, mussels and lobster. If you are staying at a coastal holiday cottage near the town, a visit to the lively fish market is a must – take your pick of the daily catch, haggle over the price, then grill it at home and serve with wine and bread for a perfect French meal.
Just next to Boulogne lies the beachside town of Le-Touquet-Paris-Plage. Created as a resort town by the British, it is a great place to enjoy all the comforts of home, in the stunning surroundings of the French coast.
The British influence is huge in Pas de Calais. Most locals speak English, and you can find British food and brand names wherever you go. But perhaps the most ‘British’ place in France is Dunkerque – aka Dunkirk.
This was the site of the most famous evacuation of World War II, and it has become a popular wartime memorial.
Away from the seaside cottages and historical sites of the coast, there is a fascinating world to explore in inland Calais. The city of Arras is full of majestic architecture and quaint cafes, and the communes of Bethune and Hesdin offer a more traditional view of France with their cobbled streets and gothic architecture.
Nature-lovers should choose a sea view cottage near St-Omer or Valenciennes, which border on a cluster of national parks and ancient forests which are ideal for hiking tours.
Just a few days in Pas de Calais will be enough to convince you that there is so much more to this region than ferries and trains.
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