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Amsterdam Tulip Festival - Great Escapes


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Amsterdam Tulip Festival

Tulips are an integral part of Holland, and the month of April brings a celebration of these beautiful flowers to Amsterdam, where you can see hundreds of different varieties illuminating parts of the city in colour. Sometimes being referred to as ‘tulip mania’, tulips have been popular in Holland since as far back as 1593, and competitions quickly arose amongst growers to try and create the most colourful and unique varieties.

Today, April sees the celebration of the tulip, and you’ll find that all over Amsterdam, pockets of vibrant colour can be found as effort is made to ensure the tulips bloom. The ultimate aim of this festival is to eventually have one tulip for every citizen of Amsterdam, amounting to a staggering 800,000.

So if you’re heading to Amsterdam before the month is up, here we’ll tell you exactly where you can find the most beautiful displays of this popular and historic flower.

Amsterdam’s Tulip Festival…

Amsterdam Tulip Festival - Great Escapes

Image credit: Rob Young, Flickr 

Amsterdam Tulip Museum

Located in the Jordaan district, you can visit this museum to learn all about tulips and their position in Amsterdam’s history. Open Monday – Sunday 10am – 6pm. AmsterdamTulipMuseum.com/en/

The Keukenhof

Keukenhof gardens are the world’s largest flower gardens, and for a short period during the spring months you’ll be able to find an abundance of tulips in all manner of shapes of patterns. With 9 different gardens to explore which house 7 million bulbs including 800 varieties of tulip, it’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, wandering around and taking in the beautiful sights and smells of the different gardens. The theme for 2016 at the Keukenhof is ‘The Golden Age’, and you’ll be able to watch individual flower demonstrations and experience themed exhibitions when visiting this garden. There are also activities for children available here, such as a treasure hunt, petting zoo, playground and hedge maze.

Amsterdam Tulip Festival - Great Escapes

Image credit: Olga, Flickr

Amsterdam Tulip Festival - Great Escapes

Image credit: Viator.com, Flickr

Tulip Festival & Locations

With over 500,000 tulips to be found during the celebrations this year, here’s a selection of the places you can find them:

  • Hermitage Amsterdam
  • Hortus Botanicus
  • Museum Van Loon
  • Multiple public areas across the city
  • EYE Filmmuseum

For a full list of locations plus a map, visit TulpFestival.com/

You can also visit the famous flower strip which is one hour outside of the city, where you’ll be surrounded by all manner of colours and varieties of tulips. Find out more about how to get there.

If you’re now looking for a last minute break to Amsterdam, visit GreatEscapes.co.uk to book your trip to see the fabulous tulips.

Amsterdam Tulip Festival - Great Escapes

Keukenhof gardens, image credit: Paul Haahr, Flickr


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Top 10 eats in Cologne, Germany

If you’re looking for some culinary inspiration during a trip to Cologne, or want to know some of the best eateries the city has to offer, dive into our top ten eats and discover where you can get a great burger, a traditional bratwurst, a delicious local beer and much, much more…

Bei Oma Kleinmann

With a busy and bustling atmosphere, this restaurant is a great place to visit if you’re looking to dine on traditional German schnitzel – and lots of it!

Zülpicher Str. 9
50674 Köln
Phone:  +49 221 232346

Website: https://www.beiomakleinmann.de/

Image credit: Larry Hoffman, Flickr

Image credit: Larry Hoffman, Flickr    

 

Die Fette Kuh

With many guests claiming they had ‘the best burger they’ve ever had’ here, it’s no wonder it makes our top ten. The pictures you’ll find on their Facebook page are enough to tempt you into making a pit stop.

Bonner Str. 43
Cologne
Phone: +49 221 37627775

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DiefetteKuh#_=_

Image credit: designsquad, flickr

Image credit: designsquad, flickr

 

Zippiri Gourmetwerkstatt & Wein-Bar

A little Italian restaurant with fabulous food and great service, if you fancy a slice of Italian cuisine during your break in Cologne, this is a great place to try.

Riehlerstr. 73
50668 Köln
Phone: +49 221 92299584

Website: http://www.zippiri.de/

Image credit: Cucino di Te, Flickr

Image credit: Cucino di Te, Flickr

 

Gilden im Zims

For something a little more than just food, visit this beautiful historic gastropub that’s more than 550 years old. Here you’ll experience great, traditional food, refreshing Kölsch and a helping of German history all in one place.

Heumarkt 77
50667 Köln
Phone: +49 221 16866110

Website: http://www.haus-zims.de/index.php/en/

Image credit: Raymond - Raimond Spekking, Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Raymond – Raimond Spekking, Wikimedia Commons 

 

Hanse-Stube

Located inside Excelsior Hotel Ernst, a 5* hotel in Cologne, its restaurant is just that – 5*. With spectacular gourmet dishes on offer, this is a great place to dine if you’re partial to meat and fish.

Trankgasse 1-5 / Domplatz
50667 Köln
Phone: +49 (0) 221 270 1

Website: http://www.excelsiorhotelernst.com/restaurants-bar/restaurant-hanse-stube-koeln.html

Zen Japanese restaurant

For a taste of Japan during your break in Cologne, choose from Zen’s extensive Japanese menu and enjoy the taste of exquisite tempura, ura maki and sashimi dishes.

Bachemer Str. 236
50935 Köln
Phone: +49 (221) 2828 5755

Website: http://www.restaurant-zen.de/

Image credit: kanonn, Flickr

Image credit: kanonn, Flickr

Ristorante Al Solito Posto

Eat pizza and pasta until your heart’s content at this small and rather quaint restaurant. Fresh, homemade sauces compliment their Italian specialities and they’re also very reasonably priced – an ideal place for a quick spot of lunch.

Wattstraße 9
51105 Köln
Phone:  +49 221 16877018

Website: http://al-solito-posto.de/index.html

Image credit: Matthew Kenwrick, Flickr

Image credit: Matthew Kenwrick, Flickr

Gast und Weinhaus Brungs

This is a great restaurant to experience authentic German cuisine and sample beautiful wines from their 14th century cellar. Using local ingredients, you can choose traditional dishes such as Bratwurst, or Italian options are also available.

Marsplatz 3-5
50667 Köln
Phone: +49 221 2581666

Website (only in German): http://www.weinhaus-brungs.de/#_=_

Image credit: Oxfordian Kissuth, Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Oxfordian Kissuth, Wikimedia Commons 

Gilden Brauhaus

If you’re looking for a traditional German Brauhaus with a cosy and rustic atmosphere, then add Gilden Brauhaus to your itinerary. Enjoy a refreshing glass of fresh local beer (Gilden Kölsch) and choose a dish from the daily menu – Thursdays include Jägerschnitzel, or head down on a Wednesday for traditional Bratwurst.

Clevischer ring 121
51063 Köln
Phone: +49 221 6406339

Website: http://www.gilden-brauhaus.de/gilden_brauhaus__koln-mulheim.html

Image credit: Raimond Spekkin, Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Raimond Spekkin, Wikimedia Commons 

Rheinau

Described as a ‘hidden gem’, this restaurant is off the tourist track and popular with locals. It’s ideal for lunch or dinner, and the extensive menu has something to suit everyone, why not finish your meal with tasty apple pancakes with cinnamon? It’s also worth noting you might want to make a reservation here, as it does get very busy.

Im Sionstal 2
50678 Köln
Phone: +49 221 99701230

Website: http://www.rheinau-cafe.de/Seiten/de/menu.aspx

Image credit: Jeffreyw, Flickr

Image credit: Jeffreyw, Flickr

 

If this has inspired you to explore all the culinary delights that Cologne has to offer, you can book your very own holiday to Cologne through Great Escapes.


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Exploring the Champagne region of France

The Champagne region is located in the north-east of France, sharing a small border with Belgium, and we figure you won’t need two guesses to know what the region is famous for. With so much to see and do in the Champagne region, it’s ideal if you’re looking for a relaxing short break in France with your loved one, an exploration into the region’s history, or just a taste of Champagne’s Champagne. So, here’s a little round-up of some great things you can see whilst visiting, and where you can find the cellars for a home grown taste of your favourite fizzy tipple…

1. The capital

Despite being a fairly small city and only a quarter of the size of better known Reims, Châlons en Champagne is the capital city of the region. A unique place with over 2,000 years’ worth of history, you’ll find some beautiful architecture including the impressive Notre-Dame-en-Vaux with its 56 bells, a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Image credit: Aimelaime~commonswiki, Wikimedia Commons

2. Reims

Located in the Champagne-Ardennes region of France, Reims is best known as the ‘unofficial capital’ of the region, and a visit here is sure to ignite your senses. With art deco cafés, impressive Roman remains, a 13th century cathedral and the home of Taittinger champagne, you can enjoy the view, the food and perhaps most importantly, the Champagne. Tours are available in the area where you can explore the champagne houses, the beautiful vineyards and the wine cellars. Visit Reims tourism for more information and to book a tour.

Taittinger Champagne - Great Escapes Blog

Image credit: Andy Hay, Flickr

Image credit: Michel Jolyot

Image credit: Michel Jolyot

3. Épernay

Another ideal place to visit if on a little champagne tour is Épernay. Located around 30km south of Reims, Épernay is home to some of the most renowned producers, including Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët. Regularly scheduled tours can be booked online, where you can walk through the wine cellars and learn about the making of this famous bubbly, also enjoying a bespoke tasting session. See the Moët website for more information and to book.

Moet & Chandon cellars - Great Escapes Blog

Image credit: Giulio nepi, Flickr

If you want to see more of Épernay, you can visit the ‘Portail Saint Martin’, a beautiful stone doorway which is the oldest monument in the town, or wander the impressive Avenue de Champagne where you will get some wonderful photographs of the grand wine houses and some other rather impressive chateaux and residential properties.

Avenue de champagne - Great Escapes Blog

Image credit: Marc Veraart, Flickr

4. Lac du Der-Chantecoq

Located to the west of the town of Saint-Dizier, Lac du Der is the largest artificial lake in Western Europe, holding a massive 350 million m³ of water. It’s a great place for avid walkers to explore, and if you love wildlife – especially birds – then it’s an ideal spot, in fact one of the best known spots in northern France attracting bird watchers from all over Europe. If you’re feeling energetic, you can partake in a selection of water sports, or you can climb to the top of some of the higher banks for some wonderful photographs of the surrounding landscape.

Lac du Der - Great Escapes Blog

Image credit: Georges & Benjamin Bruny, Flickr

Lac du der - Great Escapes Blog

Image credit: Luc Coekaerts, Flickr

5. Le Château Fort de Sedan

As the biggest ancient fortress in Europe, this breath-taking medieval castle was built in the early 15th century, and is a place where you can experience 1,000 years of history. Take a tour of the castle where you can learn about the construction of the fort and explore its towers, then visit the museum and exquisite restaurant that are also housed there. The castle has also been home to a unique hotel since 2004, which Great Escapes is delighted to be able to offer. If you would like to spend a short break at Le Château Fort de Sedan, where you’ll also receive a complimentary bottle of Champagne and free entry to the museum, visit GreatEscapes.co.uk for more information.

Le Château Fort de Sedan - Great Escapes Blog

Le Château Fort de Sedan - Great Escapes Blog

If we’ve inspired your next short break to Europe as one which includes the beautiful Champagne region of France, you can visit the Great Escapes website for more information and to book.


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Amsterdam’s Canals

At just over 400 years old and collectively over 100km in length, Amsterdam’s 165 canals are certainly a breath-taking sight. With the canal ring listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, they’ve been recognised as having outstanding universal value. But perhaps better yet, they’re a fabulous way of exploring the city when on a short break in Amsterdam.

History of the canals

Built during the 17th century, the first four (and main) canals were implemented as a way to improve defence and water management, along with residential development. Named Singelgracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht, these are the four original and more notable canals in Amsterdam, which encircle the city centre in the shape of a half moon.

Amsterdam's canal and bicycles

Image credit: Dennis van de Water | Shutterstock

The dancing houses

We’re sure if you’ve ever visited Amsterdam, or even just seen a few images, you’ll have noticed the charming canal houses which form a beautiful silhouette in all their shapes and sizes. These houses are known as the ‘dancing houses’, as over time they’ve sunk, moved or tilted in the swampy soil along the canal bank, creating a rather unique and colourful view.

Amsterdam's canals, the dancing houses

Image credit: kavalenkava volha | Shutterstock

Bridges, islands and houseboats

As the city grew over time and more canals were created, you’ll find that today, Amsterdam rather spectacularly boasts no less than 1,281 bridges and 90 separate miniature islands. The most famous of these bridges is Magere Brug, or ‘skinny bridge’ (however as of 1871 it was made a lot larger and is no longer particularly skinny). Named as such due to originally being so narrow it was hard for just two people to pass each other on foot, this famous drawbridge is located on Amstel, between Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht.

Houseboats are a popular way of living in Amsterdam, where there are over 2,500 floating in the meandering canals. Some being more than a century old, if you take a walk along the canal bank you’ll discover many different colours, shapes, sizes and materials; however concrete houseboats are most popular as they require fewer repairs.

Amsterdam's canals, houseboats.

Image credit: ActiveSteve, Flickr

Events on the water

Depending on when you choose to visit, you may be lucky enough to experience one or two of the festivities that happen on and around the canals each year. April sees the city turn a beautiful hue of orange in honour of King’s Day, and there’s also a canal festival in August named The Grachtenfestival, where an abundance of classical music concerts take place both on land and water. During the winter months, the whole of Amsterdam comes alive with artistic displays during the light festival. A great way to see this is from a boat ride along the canal, as some of the creations are in the water!

Amsterdam's canals - light festival art display

Image credit: Julia700702 | Shutterstock

 

If we’ve inspired you to take a short break to Amsterdam, visit the Great Escapes website for more information and to book.


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The best views in Belgium

A beautiful country, Belgium is filled with many a fantastic photo opportunity. But in case it’s your first visit, or you’re looking for a little inspiration for some truly magnificent views both from the ground and the sky, we’ve selected a few of our personal favourites which may help you see a little bit more during your short break in Belgium.

Belfry Tower, Bruges

One of the most prominent buildings in the city, the belfry of Bruges is a magnificent medieval bell tower right in the heart of the town. Standing 83m tall, to look up at this architectural splendour from the ground is a grand sight, however if you’re feeling energetic and choose to climb the very respectable 366 steps up to the bell tower at the top, one of our favourite panoramic views awaits, over the market square below and the surrounding area of Bruges.

Belfry tower

Image credit: Wolfgang Staudt, Flickr

Belfry tower2

Image credit: John Cooke, Flickr

Meuse Valley

Located in southern Belgium, this luscious countryside balanced on the edge of the glorious River Meuse is certainly a sight to behold. Limestone cliffs are a backdrop to charming little towns and dense forest, as well as some breath-taking architecture. Capture the best pictures from the river, or on the numerous hiking and cycling trails available to explore.

Meuse Valley

Image credit: Peter.Lorre, Flickr

Grand Place, Antwerp

With cobble-stoned streets leading to ornate 17th century architecture and a bustling Grote Markt (Main Square) filled with flower stalls and bird markets, there’s not just one great view here but far too many to count. From the Brabo Fountain to the Guild Houses and magnificent city hall, many a photo opportunity awaits for visitors to the Grand Place in Antwerp.

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St. Peter’s Church, Leuven

In the centre of Leuven, shining a glorious gold hue is St Peter’s Church (or Sint-Pieterskerk). A very well preserved example of 14th century Brabantine Gothic architecture, this church is just as impressive inside as out. With a museum dedicated to religious art, with metalwork, paintings and sculptures as well as a stunning baroque carved pulpit, you’ll be truly absorbed into a past world.

St Peter's Church

Image credit: Renata Sedmakova, Shutterstock

Panoramic views from the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM), Brussels

Located in central Brussels along Rue Montagne de la Cour, an intriguing museum and stunning terrace awaits. The building itself is rather spectacular, being art nouveau in style and boasting a fabulous glass elevator. However, the sunlit rooftop café is what we really love, as this is where you can sit and enjoy a Sunday brunch whilst ogling over the 360° panoramic views of Brussels. If you’re inside, you’ll find that the decorative building design will frame your photographs, and when outside on the terrace, you’re met with a breath-taking cityscape. This is certainly a perfect afternoon spent during your short break in Brussels.

Image credit: Daniel Lobo, Flickr

Image credit: Copright of WBT – Ricardo de la Riva

Automium, Brussels

With an interesting and rather unique infrastructure, the Automium comprises nine spheres which are linked by escalators. Constructed for the 1958 Brussels World Fair, its purpose was to symbolise peace among all the nations, as well as being a vision for a more modern, technological world. A vision in itself, a 360° panoramic view of the 19 municipalities of Brussels also awaits at the top sphere, 102m up.

Image credit: http://www.atomium.be – SABAM 2011 – Axel Addington

Image credit: http://www.atomium.be – SABAM 2010 – Axel Addington

Ardennes

For those in search of views not of architecture but nature and wildlife, simply head south for the rugged hills of the Ardennes. With cave systems, river valleys, wooden canyons and limestone hills, as well as lynx, deer and wild boar to be discovered, we couldn’t possibly name even ten great views here, as there are just so many. A town called Dinant, in the province of Namur is a good place to start your adventure in Ardennes, located around 100km south east of Brussels.

Image credit: Daviddje, Flickr

If we’ve inspired you to take a short break in Belgium and see some of these wonderful sights for yourself, you can visit Great Escapes to book.

 


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Speciality dishes from different regions in France

As we’re sure you’re already aware, France is a foodie’s paradise. It’s a place where connoisseurs can revel in all kinds of weird and wondrous cuisines, from escargots and ratatouille to soupe à L’oignon and tartiflette. That’s why we’ve decided to give you a whistle-stop tour around this flavoursome country, delving into a selection of different regional dishes, so you can choose which regions of France are to your taste.

South France

Making a start at the bottom in Southern France, this area is appreciated for its seafood, tomatoes and olive oil. Cassolulet (a slow cooked casserole with meat and white beans) is a popular winter dish, and a distinct Spanish influence can be found in their cooking, including spicy sausages and peppers. You’ll also find that lamb is the most popular meat in the south.

On the seafood front, bouillabaisse is popular (especially in Marseille), which is a traditional fish soup with a hint of aniseed, along with Brandade de morue – a starter made up of pureed salt cod combined with cream, garlic and olive oil, served with bread or potatoes.

You’ll certainly find an aromatic mix of Mediterranean flavours in the south, more so than in any other region, so if these dishes ignited your taste buds, it’s time to head down to the south of France.

bouillabaisse
Bouillabaisse, image credit: Blue moon in her eyes, Flickr

South-West France

Wonderfully rich foods dominate this region, with duck, oysters and truffles being some of the main specialities. One of the delicacies popular in south-west of France (and arguably all over the country) is Foie gras, meaning duck or goose liver, which has a rich and buttery taste and can be prepared as a mousse, pâté or parfait.

You’ll find a great lobster terrine here too, known in France as Homard Persille, which is cooked with some wonderful herbs, including parsley. Confit de canard (duck confit) is another speciality which comes from the Aquitaine region of France, and to finish it all off, if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, have a look out for Touron – a multi-variety, multi-coloured marzipan roll made with all kinds of sweet ingredients.

Fois gras
Foie Gras, image credit: Charles Haynes, Flickr

Confit de canard
Confit de canard, image credit:
Quinn Dombrowski, Flickr

North France

Now let’s take a trip up to northern France, where there’s a whole new world of gourmet delights to discover. Although a close neighbour to us in the UK, Truite Ardennaise (pan fried trout with smoked ham and cream) or kougelhopf (a delightful ring shaped cake with sultanas and almonds), are not necessarily dishes you’d find in abundance in the UK. Generally speaking, northern France is influenced by German and Belgian gastronomy and tends to be less Mediterranean-esque. Cold meats and root vegetables are popular, and if you’re a seafood fan then you’re in luck, as there are plenty of mussels and oysters to go round, especially in Normandy.

mussels
Normandy mussels, image credit:
Connie Ma, Flickr

North-East France

As close neighbour of Germany, as you might expect there’s a German influence in north-eastern French cuisine. Quiche Lorraine is perhaps one of the more well-known dishes which originated from German culture (although with a slightly varied recipe). Tarte flambée is another popular dish, especially in Alsace. It can be best described as a mix between a pizza and a crepe, and is traditionally laden with crème fraiche, onions and bacon. And finally, pickled cabbage or ‘choucroute’ is a very popular accompaniment to north-eastern French meals.

quiche lorraine
Quiche Lorraine, image credit:
Olga/ Олька, Flickr

Tarte flambée
Tarte flambée, image credit:
Nicolas Winspeare, Flickr

West France

With such a vast stretch of coastline, you can certainly expect western France to be a seafood lover’s paradise, with everything from crabs, shrimps, cockles, whelks, and lobster, right through to the more unusual delicacy of fried eel, which is a popular dish in the city of Nantes.

Farci Poitevin, traditionally a stuffed herb and pork pâté is a popular starter in the region of Poitou-Charentes, and Rillettes de Porc, a rich pork terrine which is usually enjoyed with crackers or bread.

A classic French sauce titled ‘Beurre Blanc’ also originates from the western region of Pays de la Loire; however both Nantes and Angers lay claim to the recipe. Being deliciously buttery, smooth and of course very popular, it’s no wonder that both towns would want to claim it as their own. Find the recipe here.

seafood plate
Seafood platter, image credit:
Archangel12, Flickr

Central France

The ideal place for both meat and cheese lovers alike, central France is home to some real culinary treats, including Potee Auvergnate, a warming casserole from the Auvergne region with pork, cabbage, bacon, sausages, carrots and potatoes. There’s also some top quality meat to be discovered in Limousin, as its pork, lamb and beef are acknowledged throughout France as being second to no other.

Pâté aux pomme de terre Limousin is a traditional dish of the region which puts their fine produce to good use, being a pastry or bread filled with potato, sour cream, bacon, sausage meat and parsley, usually served with a green salad.

With cheese in abundance, especially in Auvergne, make sure you stop by on your travels to appreciate the sensational tastes and smells this region has to offer. Strong blue cheese titled ‘bleu d’Auvergne’, and one of the oldest French cheeses ‘fourme d’Ambert’ can be found here, and if you’re really into your dairy delights, there’s an Auvergne cheese trail, where you can learn about the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheeses.

Bleu_d'Auvergne_11
Bleu d’Auvergne, image credit:
Coyau, Wikimedia Commons

If these culinary delights have prompted you to head to France for a gastronomic getaway, then visit GreatEscapes.co.uk for more information and to book a trip to the ultimate foodie’s paradise!


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Romantic breaks in Europe this Valentine’s Day

The most romantic day of the year has crept upon us again this year – Valentine’s Day. Shrouded in mystery as to the precise founder of this romantic celebration, Valentine’s Day is as popular as ever, and has even been recognised as the second largest card sending day after Christmas. We appreciate it can be hard to find something unique to surprise your loved one with (if you’re looking to do something a little different to the usual flowers, chocolates, dinner etc), so our Great Escapes experts have personally selected some romantic Valentine’s getaways across the water, which are sure to get you into your better half’s good books.

Hotel Prinsenhof, Bruges

Nestled comfortably in the heart of Bruges, is the charming 4* Hotel Prinsenhof. Set within a beautifully converted manor house and located in a quiet cobbled street, this hotel is only 350m from the city centre and the stunning sights of Bruges.

With 24 stylish guest rooms, the hotel has a very unique and personal feel, which is sure to make you and your loved one feel very special and well looked after during your stay. Take a romantic walk into the centre of Bruges, where you can explore the meandering canals and array of eateries. Or, take a horse and carriage tour around the city, where you’ll see everything from historical sites and museums, to canals and striking architecture. Carriage tours take place day and night, and the best place to find them is at the Carriage Station, or on a Wednesday morning before midday at The Burg.

Great Escapes are currently offering 3 nights for the price of 2 at Hotel Prinsenhof, from £229pp (including ferry crossing from Dover to Calais). You’ll stay in a beautiful superior room, with bed and breakfast, and will receive a complimentary box of chocolates for your custom.  For more information, visit the Great Escapes website.

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Hotel Prinsenhof 04-06-08

Château Hôtel Cléry, near Boulogne

If you’re looking for a romantic stay that’s quiet and away from the hustle and bustle, then Château Hôtel Cléry could be the ideal Valentine’s break. This beautiful manor house, located in the charming village of Hesdin l’Abbé, is surrounded by 5 acres of parkland and exudes traditional French elegance.

There are 25 comfortable guest rooms, some located in the main building, and some in quaint little cottages within the grounds of the Château. Only 10km away, Boulogne offers lots to see and do, including exploring the historic Ville Haute with its cobblestone streets and beautiful old buildings, visiting the impressive Nausicaa aquarium, or you could take a stroll in and around the famous Basilique Notre Dame.

Great Escapes are currently offering your second night’s stay at Château Hôtel Cléry for half price, from £119pp (including ferry crossing from Dover to Calais). A ‘charm’ room with bed and breakfast and two bottles of selected wines is included within the price. For more information, visit the Great Escapes website.

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Hôtel St Paul Rive Gauche, Paris

If you’re feeling a little more traditional, you could always surprise your partner with a trip to the city of love… 4* Hôtel St Paul Rive Gauche is located close to the stunning Jardin du Luxembourg, and with its wonderful lawns, fountains, statues and palace, it’s the perfect place for a romantic walk. The hotel itself is full of character, with exposed stone walls and beams just some of its superbly attractive features.

Being only 4.5km away from the Eiffel Tower, you don’t have to travel far to experience a true air of romance in quite possibly the most romantic monument in the world. Another close by attraction is which is worth a visit is Pantheon Paris, just 950m away. A stunning church building turned mausoleum completed in 1790, is home to the crypts of Marie Curie, Rousseau and Voltaire, among others.

Great Escapes is currently offering your third night free when you stay at Hôtel St Paul Rive Gauche, from just £199pp (including ferry crossing from Dover to Calais). Stay in a standard room with bed and breakfast, along with a complimentary map of Paris and visit to Montparnasse Tower, where you can see some of the most stunning panoramic views of the city. For more information, visit the Great Escapes website.

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Hopefully we’ve sparked a little inspiration for your plans this year, and you’re now feeling the romance.

Please share the love by commenting below if you’ve been somewhere that you thought was a great location for a Valentine’s break.