France weekend trip
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Oct 11, 2012 7:51 AM Last Post By: Kerouac2
Oct 8, 2012 3:09 AM
France weekend tripHi everyone,
I'm taking my girlfriend to France for her birthday in early December, unfortunately it will have to be only a weekend as we're short on holiday.
I used to live in France (Brittany) and travelled a lot of the country, but never really the north.
Been to Calais/Dunkirk passing through to Belgium but not really been south of this.
We'll be leaving London (driving) on a Friday, taking the ferry to either Calais or Dunkirk and hoping to spend a couple of days in a nice area within a couple of hours drive. I'd love to do Paris but I understand it's not amazing to take a car to (traffic) and it's a bit far, I don't want to waste too much time driving.
Any recomendations of nice areas and towns in the Nord region?
Oct 8, 2012 3:10 AM
1Ps. or would anyone advise on just driving to Paris and stop moaning about the distance? :P
Oct 8, 2012 4:21 AM
Oct 8, 2012 8:13 AM
Oct 10, 2012 5:22 AM
It really depends on whether you want to drive and explore or stay in one place, and for how long you want to drive before you want to get out and explore. I personally like these small towns:
Admittedly, the later aren't great for December days, but they are worth a visit nonetheless.
Bethune is a Flemish influenced town, it's square is home to a number of small shops and cafes, and most buildings are nice to just to see from their facade. It's also worth a visit to some of the World War graves that are nearby. From here, you can catch a train to Lille, which is relatively inexpensive. (I stayed two nights in Bethune and one in Lille). And especially in December, Lille will have it's Christmas markets and so on. Lille is a great city with a lot to pack into a day/ 2 days, it has amazing shopping (Galeries Lafayette, Place de l'Europe) and museums are aplenty. Even the station (Flandres) is something to see! The Hotel Eden in Bethune and the Novotel by Gare Lille-Flandres are nice places to stay and relatively inexpensive, and I went during August...
St. Omer is a small town with a beautiful cathedral and lanes that really do feel French, which is difficult to say after World War 2, one of the worst times of architecture for the area! It has a number of little hotels, and one chain (Ibis). Recommended for a couple of days, especially travelling to somewhere such as Cassel, to view from the area from the hills. Plus it is around a 40 minute drive.
Amiens, admittedly I have never been to, but is a bustling University city, with a beautiful cathedral (take a look at some pictures of it).
Le Touquet is home to a number of expensive hotels and great restaurants, and has some nice tree-lined streets, along with golf courses and the usual more expensive hobbies, such as horse riding (you can ride down the boulevards). It is quite 'romantic' and has both cheap and expensive places to stay. Hotel Red Fox is a relatively inexpensive place to stay from what I remember paying but that was around 5 years ago!
Hardelot-Plage, is similar to Le Touquet and is probably best left for the summer, but still nonetheless when I visited in January last year, it still had a lot of people walking around!
Personally I would suggest the first... One night in Bethune and then two days in Lille, should make for a nice trip.
If you have any more questions I can answer them.
Oct 10, 2012 12:46 PM
8A couple of hours driving will get you to Honfleur - a really pretty town just beyond Le Havre. Alternatively, the same time will get you to Paris. If you don't want to drive into Paris ( get the time wrong and you'll easily spend 2h in traffic jams trying to get into town) and then find and pay for parking, you could park at Roissy airport and catch the RER train in.
Oct 11, 2012 1:25 AM
9Thank you thank you thank you for all your help. Will check out all the towns suggested and plan it from there, I'd heard previously that Lille wasn't amazing, but as so many of you seem to love it I must have been wrongly informed.
Oct 11, 2012 7:35 AM
10I was also going to suggest Lille. Arras is nice to for a night or so.
you're also pretty close to belgium so you could also consider Ghent/Antwerp/Brussels
Oct 11, 2012 7:51 AM
11I recommend Lille, which also has the amazing "Lille 3000" cultural event going on for the next 3 months, as well as having a good Christmas market. And you can even get local trains to places like Bruges from Lille.
As for just driving to Paris, obviously it is always worth it to do so -- but you are talking about a completely different budget in such a case. Nevertheless, the A1 autoroute is generally an easy trip, except frankly December can be the worst month if there are any reports of fog in northern France. Then the A1 becomes a death trap because people just do not slow down enough.
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