If you have a free day why not book a day trip to La belle France ! For a few pounds you can get a return ticket to Calais and catch a ferry for a duration of 24 hours. Get to Dover by 5.30 am and catch the 6 o’clock ferry, the waiting in a queue to board gives you a chance to get a coffee and change some money into Euros.
Suddenly, you are going up the gang plank into this great big boat and parking behind loads of other tourists heading for France and beyond. Once the car is locked, make your way up the stairs to explore the wonderful things on offer, such as a big duty free shop selling cigarettes, drinks and perfumes as well as a variety of chocolates, sweets, toys and jewellery.
Should you feel a little peckish not having had a good breakfast the on board restaurant offers good quality food at reasonable prices. English breakfast being the favourite, with eggs, bacon and fried bread and not forgetting the cup of tea. As the trip takes about 90 minutes or more it is advisable to secure a good sofa or comfortable seats in order to get some shuteye before arriving in Calais.
Having been checked in Dover by the French Customs and excise, when you land in Calais there are no more barriers and you can drive straight out into the great big European continent. My advice is to head south for the port of Boulogne which clearly sign posted, there you will find a very nice city and the old town situated inside it’s original walls, with churches, cobbled streets, ancient monuments and houses as well as antique shops and restaurants.
You can actually climb up to the ramparts of the wall and walk all the way round the old town experiencing various views of the modern city it is today as well as some curious and strange monuments. Some parts are very old and extremely interesting as well very beautiful, ideal for taking some memorable photographs about this ancient town.
Of course you can if you so wish stop at one of the cosy little cafés and enjoy a café au lait with a croissant or savours one of the many different wines available in this region in one of the quaint little wine bars in the area.
By late afternoon, when you head back towards Calais you may wish to stop at City Europe, a great big shopping centre, housing a few hundred designer shops, multiple restaurants and a massive supermarket, where one can taste and buy almost anything one desires from the many fruit and vegetable stalls to the big cheese counters and delicatessens. Plus, you can choose anything from a music CD to a fancy set of plates or a big choice of breads and French sticks from the bakery.
Of course by now having wondered around the three floors of this wonderful place you may start to feel like having dinner, well you will not be disappointed, you can choose from a number of restaurants, all designed to look like the countries they are serving food from. Naturally most of them are of the fast food variety but in one particular establishment having paid a set fee of a few Euros you can actually choose your steak or chicken and watch the chef cook it for you while you wait next to the grill of oven, after which you can go on to a self service counter and help yourself to vegetables, chips, spaghetti, or salads and you can have as much as you feel like eating.
Depending on what time you booked your return trip back to Dover, you can now make your way to the ferry terminal in Calais where you will be checked by the British Customs and immigration before allowing you to board the ferry home. Not forgetting to put back your watches as you are one hour ahead and will land in Dover half an hour after sailing. On the way you can do all your duty free shopping on board the ferry of find a comfortable spot and snooze away the time as you may have a long drive home.