September 22, 2015 at 10:19 AM
Most people cross the channel just for a “booze cruise” to Calais and ignore the region while the “Pas-de-Calais” is one of the most culturally rich areas of France.
There is a natural link between France and Britain as the two countries are only separated by 20.5 miles of sea.
Here are a few ideas to make the most of your trip to France
Eperlecques Bunker, Eperlecques, Pas-de-Calais
About ½ hour drive East of Calais via the A26. You will discover, in the middle of a Forest, this massive Bunker which was the place where the first V1 and V2 rockets were launched towards Britain during WWII. As a witness of Europe’s darkest hours this bunker was directly hit by a Tall Boy bomb but hardly damaged.
Étaples Military Cemetery, Étaples, Pas-de-Calais
This Commonwealth War Cemetery is located ¾ hour South of Calais and holds 11,500 graves both from WWI and WWII, a beautiful resting place for our fallen ones.
Nausicaa, Boulogne s/ Mer, Pas-de-Calais
France’s National Oceanographic Museum is the perfect place to take children and address their curiosity about the beauties of the marine world. From tropical fishes to sharks passing by sea lions, this place will unleash the imagination of your little ones. Learn about the beauties of our planet and share that incredible moment with your family. You’ll leave this place with a new awareness of our planet.
Considering you’re in the city you should take a stroll to discover its architecture and why not stop to enjoy a “cassolette de moules marinières” with a Jupiler (mussels cooked in wine and local beer).
Sand Yachting, Berck, Pas-de-Calais
About an hour’s drive from Calais via the A16 you will discover the huge beach of Berck (about 7.5 miles).
For those of you who love wide open spaces and speed you should try Sand Yachting, a pleasant mix of fun and adrenaline. It’s a good way to spend a few hours during the low tide, reaching speeds as high as 120mph, but the average speed is more like 30mph and there are no speed cameras to fine you! If you are more interested in architecture you should definitely have a look in Béthune.
About 50 minutes away from Calais via the A26 is Béthune, one of the best known cities of the North of France. It was culturally influenced by the Spanish Netherlands and then by the Dutch Republic - as you will see from its architecture. The city developed very quickly through the 19th century being located in the centre of a major coalfield, for perspective the area is similar to what South Wales or Yorkshire were during that same period. The coalfield is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. For those who are interested in mining you can visit the Mining History Centre located in Lewarde about an hour’s drive from Béthune. Or you can simply to go to Lille.
About 1 hour 25 minutes’ drive from Calais is Lille, the regional capital, to reach it take the A26. Historically the city is closely linked to the Hundred Years War and numerous other wars before coming back to France in 1668 after the siege led by King Louis XIV. Known during the Middle Ages because of its cloth fair, it led the city to develop a textile industry. Lille stayed a major textile production centre through the 19th and 20th centuries, but started to shrink from the 1950s. It then converted to an educational city with four universities and eleven “Grandes Ecoles” (business and engineering schools).
Take a stroll in the Old City and enjoy its amazing architecture.
Then on your way back you can buy some booze…