As summer ends and the air turns autumnal, it may still seem a little early to be thinking of Christmas but it is a very popular time of year to visit many European cities. The best hotels, in the best locations soon fill-up. I’ve already shared a post about Christmas Market dates for this year but it’s not just about the markets. There are some wonderful bargains to be had in the shops leading up to the festive season. And where better to replenish your wine and champagne stocks in time for Christmas then by taking a short break to France.
Hop across the Channel to Calais
The most popular shopping street in Calais is the now trendy, Rue Royale, which as well as the big high street stores has some great specialty shops including designer crockery, crystal and Lalique porcelain, at prices much cheaper than you’ll find in the UK. At Brulerie La Tour, you’ll find some 70 different teas on offer while chocolate lovers should visit Au Royal Chocolate, a really charming chocolate shop. Also on this street you’ll find the stylish Passage Royale, with a fabulous range of little boutiques and cafés inside.
For genuine Calais lace, from tablecloths to lingerie, visit Royal Dentelle on Boulevard Jacquard. Nearby you’ll also find The Living Centre, one of the newest shopping centres in Calais.
1 night from £56pp including ferry crossing
This modern hotel, in an excellent central location, is just 5 minutes’ drive from the ferry port and from the huge Cité Europe with over 140 stores including a hypermarket. All of Calais’ bars, restaurants and shops are also within easy walking distance allowing you to make the most of your short break here.
Enjoy a 1 night shopping break from only £56pp (car with 4 passengers) or from £76pp (car with 2 passengers) including the ferry crossing from Dover to Calais with P&O Ferries and accommodation. The price also includes hot and cold buffet breakfast and a voucher per couple for 2 bottles of wine to be collected from Calais Vins. Extra nights are available from £34pp.
Visit the beautiful Champagne region
If it’s champagne you are after than a visit to Reims, in the heart of Champagne country, is an ideal choice and many prestigious champagne houses offer tours and tastings, including Lanson and G.H.MUMM.
Reims’ also boasts a Les Galeries Lafayette department store and the Halles du Boulingrin covered market, in a fabulous art deco building, as well as some excellent specialty stores. If you visit between 21st November to 28th December, you can also enjoy Reims’ Christmas Market.
3 nights from £146pp including ferry crossing
The Best Western Plus Hotel de la Paix is located just a stone’s throw from Reims’ magnificent cathedral, shops and restaurants. Its facilities include an indoor pool and secured parking.
We’re offering 3 nights for the price of 2 with packages starting from £146pp (car with 4 passengers) or £166pp (car with 2 passengers) including your ferry crossing from Dover to Calais with P&O Ferries (free night valid for all stays completed in December) and accommodation. The price also includes breakfast, a guide book, a bottle of Champagne per room and a tour of a Champagne house including tasting.
Enjoy the festive spirit in Paris
Paris, the city of lights, shines even brighter at Christmas with streets like the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Place Vendom, as well as the major departments stores, such as Les Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, all trying to out do each other with their seasonal lights and decorations. For dates and loads more information visit at PARISINFO.
You’ll find a wonderful array of speciality shops in Paris and here are a few of my favourites. For cheeses try La Fermette on rue Montorgueil, a fabulous street full of foodie delights. For fantastic coffee head for La Caféothèque on rue de la Hôtel de Ville, while at Rémi Flachard on rue du Bac, you’ll find a veritable treasure trove of antique and out-of-print cookbooks. Interesting that all my favourites are food and drink orientated and for more edible ideas visit the website Paris by Mouth which has a great guide.
3 nights from 182pp, accommodation only
A delightful hotel in a quiet area, yet within easy walking distance of the Champs Elysées.
We’re offering 3 nights for the price of 2, starting from £182pp, accommodation only on B&B based on 2 sharing. Packages including Eurostar are also available.