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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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Top Ten Things to do in Lille for Mother’s Day

Lille is the perfect location for a girls’ getaway and, with Mother’s Day coming up, a long weekend with your Mum would make a fantastic treat for her (and you). In a blatant attempt to persuade you to visit, here are our favourite things to do, eat and drink in Lille. Together they add up to make a Mother’s Day or even a weekend to remember.

Top Ten Things to Do, Eat and Drink in Lille for Mother’s Day

1. Personal Shopper at Printemps

39-45, rue Nationale

Printemps, Lille, France

Splash out at this famous department store with your very own assistant guiding you to the latest fashions that will flatter your figure and reflect your personality. You’ll need to book it in advance. Tel: +33 (0)3 20 63 62 76.

 

2. Visit Wazemmes Market

Place de la Nouve Aventure

Wazemmes Market, Lille, France

If markets are more your style than department stores, then a visit to Wazemmes famous Sunday morning market is a must. Pop inside to pick up some fabulous cheeses or wander around the outdoor stalls selling a huge variety of things including flowers, Indian fabrics, antiques and street food from around the world.

Open: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
Metro: Line 1 to Gambetta

 

3. Morning Coffee (and cake) at Coffee Makers

151 rue de Paris

Coffee Makers, Lille., France

Reputedly serving the best coffee in town, Coffee Makers are also known for their delicious homemade cakes and tasty sandwiches.

 

4. Cycling Tour of Lille

Cycling tour of Lille, France

Perfect for the more active Mum, a cycling tour with Le Grand Huit is a great introduction to the parks and historic sites of the city. You can read about my experience with them on my personal blog, Exploring Lille by bicycle.

 

5. Lunch at Guinquette de la Marine

8 Avenue Léon Jouhaux

Guinquette de la Marine, Lille, France

After all that cycling you’ll have worked up an appetite and this quirky riverside brasserie is the perfect place to refuel. Try their Carbonnade Flamande (Beef and beer stew) or their Tarte au Maroilles (Cheese Flan), both traditional to the area and utterly scrumptious. Arrive early to be sure to get a table. Tel: +33 (0)3 20 39 85 43.

 

6. Afternoon Tea at L’Impertinente

9 boulevard Papin

Impertinente, Lille, France

A fantastic tea room with a warm and friendly atmosphere where the delicious homemade cakes are bound to tempt you.

 

7. La Piscine, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent

23 rue de l’espérance, Roubaix

La Piscine, Roubaix, Lille, France

Not far from Lille in neighbouring Roubaix, which you can easily get to by tram, is my favourite museum and art gallery, La Piscine, a former art deco swimming pool with a fascinating history which you can read about in this previous post, La Piscine, a beautiful museum in Roubaix, Lille.

For more information about public transport in and around Lille visit the Lille Tourism website and for more information about opening times and prices visit their website, La Piscine.

 

8. Waffles and chocolates at Méert

27 rue Esquermoise

Méert, Lille, France

A beautiful and historic shop and café, famous for its chocolates and waffles. You’ll also find them in Lille’s Printemps store.

 

9. Champagne at Alliance Couvent des Minimes

17 Quai du Wault

Alliance Couvent des Minimes, Lille, France

Just ten minutes from Lille’s main square you’ll find the city’s only champagne bar. Located in the glass-roofed courtyard of this 17th century former convent, the hotel beautifully combines many historic features with modern design. (And they are currently running a 3rd night free offer which you can find out more about at the end of this post.)

 

10. Dine at Basilic Café

24 bis rue Esquermoise

Burgers

A little further down the same street as Mason Méert, away from the tourist traps of the main square, you’ll find this trendy, reasonably priced restaurant known for their excellent burgers with a twist. They have a number of vegetarian options and I’ve heard they can also offer vegan dishes on request (although talking to them in advance is recommended).

 

3rd Night free offer at Alliance Couvent des Minimes

To make this Mother’s Day a day to remember, book a long weekend in Lille at one of the many lovely city centre hotels. The elegant Alliance Couvent des Minimes currently has a 3rd night free offer for travel completed between 15th February and the 9th March. With this offer the price for 3 nights, including breakfast and travel by Eurostar, is from £187 per person based on 2 sharing a room. And you can travel in style with an upgrade to Eurostar’s Standard Premier from £73 per person each way.

For more information or to book call 01489  866932.

Please note that the price for the Eurostar element is subject to fare availability.

 


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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.

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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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Top 5 château breaks in France

Our range of châteaux are among the most exciting and rewarding properties at Great Escapes. The grandeur and flamboyance of one of France’s most impressive and historic buildings make for an unrivalled holiday experience. Whether you opt for the rolling vineyards of the Champagne region or a base close to the ocean in Pas de Calais, we have a range of breath-taking châteaux awaiting holidaymakers in 2016. To help inspire you further, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 château breaks in France

 

1. Château de Fère

Located in the stunning and famed Champagne region, Château de Fère is the perfect base for exploring the vineyards, verdant hills and historic towns of Champagne. The fully restored chateau dates from the 16th century and is set amid the imposing ruins of a 13th-century medieval castle. This 5-star hotel and spa is a pleasure to stay at, equipped with luxurious suites and rooms, a gastronomic restaurant managed by a Michelin-starred chef, pool facilities, and a stunning location amid the pristine countryside of Champagne.

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2. Le Château Fort de Sedan

Introducing another of Champagne’s premier châteaux, Le Château Fort de Sedan is part of the largest medieval castle in Europe; surely one of the most prestigious places to rest your head during château breaks in France? A step back in time will be awaiting you at this château, with original stone walls ensuring that the character and medieval charm is retained throughout the hotel. Comfort isn’t sacrificed however, with large and relaxing bedrooms decked out with all the usual mod cons, while an on-site bar and restaurant promises to keep guests fed and watered with the best culinary treats of the region.

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3. Château Hotel Mont Royal

Located only 35 minutes from wonderful Paris, a stay in Château Hotel Mont Royal will reflect all of the romance, flamboyance and style of the French capital. This stunning 18th-century château can be found nestled in the heart of the picturesque Chantilly Forest, providing a relaxing and peaceful escape from the hustle bustle of Paris. The hotel’s immense location and splendour is reflected in its facilities, boasting a spa, fitness centre, sports infrastructure and an ancient ballroom in which the hotel’s renowned restaurant is set. The guest rooms are thoughtfully decorated, while also providing all of the comforts of any modern hotel, promising all-round relaxation during chateau breaks in France.

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4. Château Hotel Clèry

Surrounded by five acres of parkland amid a wooded grove within the realms of a charming French village, the stunning manor house that encompasses Château Hotel Clèry is a remarkable sight to behold. Awakening your Downton Abbey dreams, albeit in the wrong country, the splendour and traditions of this hotel encapsulates a unique and flamboyant holiday experience. 25 beautifully decorated rooms are on offer, as well as a reading room, bar, terrace and gourmet restaurant called ‘Le Berthier’.

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5. Château Tilques

An attractive 19-th century château set in beautiful parkland and reflecting an attractive Flemish style, Château Tilques is one of our most popular châteaux. Just a short drive from Calais, Château Tilques is one of the most accessible of its kind for those on self drive holidays, introducing visitors to a region of France famed for its verdant countryside and winding canals. Features at this hotel include a comfortable lounge bar, an indoor swimming pool, classic château rooms and more modern rooms, as well as a fantastic gourmet restaurant.

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Tempted by a holiday to France full of splendour and style? Have at our full range of chateau breaks in France.


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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.


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Tis the season…

Christmas has finally arrived! So we wanted to treat you all to a compilation of beautiful Christmas photos from around Europe – a mixture of food and drink, markets and lights – arguably all the best things about this wonderfully festive time of the year.

So let’s make a start with a classic Christmas in Paris, the city of love…

You can’t really beat the gorgeous Eiffel Tower, covered in a glistening layer of snow, a beautiful backdrop to a very festive looking carousel.

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As you can see, Galeries Lafayette knows exactly how to decorate for Christmas and keep up an ambience of class.

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I’m sure you’ll agree there’s nothing more magical than wandering around a Christmas market, mulled wine in hand, looking at all the trinkets and gifts on sale. And in the snow, it couldn’t be much more festive!

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As we all know, it’s not just Paris that are skilled in adding that little (or large) festive touch…

Lille, France is a dab hand at adding a touch of bling to their architecture.

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And Reims looks stunning when the markets start to pop up, coating areas of the city in lights.

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Now let’s take a stop next door to Belgium, and see the handsome buildings of Grand Place, in the central square of Brussels take your breath away…

29884_4952045_Other.. BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

And definitely not forgetting one of the best activities associated with this time of year, ice-skating! Take to the ice in one of Belgium’s Flemish Christmas markets.

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Once you’ve spent the evening picking yourself up off the ice and probably feeling rather worn out, a Rakomelo is certainly well deserved. Actually a traditional Greek beverage, its warm, sweet (and alcoholic) taste will be sure to go down a treat – only for adults though, sorry kids!

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So moving along again, this time to Deutschland, we’ve found that Cologne is a trinket buyer’s paradise. With gifts galore and all sorts of wonderful bits and bobs to look at, we couldn’t not feature it in this blog.

Here’s a rather unique stall at one of the markets:

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Now here’s the bigger picture for you…

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And the ice-skating rink looks perfect for a family friendly race (if you can stay on your feet of course).

Blick auf die große Eisbahn auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt "Heimat der Heinzel" auf dem Heumarkt in der Altstadt Köln, im Vordergrund das Reiterdenkmal, im Hintergrund Dom und Groß St. Martin.

Our final stop on this festive tour takes us to a little place called Amsterdam, which embraces the Christmas spirit in a delightfully cultural way.

The most impressive perhaps, is this Christmas tree made of bicycles:

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Image credit: Xavier Vergés, Flickr

We then have performances from the ‘World Christmas Circus’, which is a festive tradition in Amsterdam.

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Image credit: DirkJan Ranzijn, Flickr

And finally, I can’t think of a better way to round up these images than with a drink, and better yet – a Christmas drink! Delirium Christmas, a festive Belgian beer will send your taste buds tingling with hints of fruit, spices, caramel malt and candied orange. You can buy a bottle or two here.

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Image credit: Hideyuki Kamon, Flickr

We hope you’ve enjoyed our mini festive tour around Europe, and are now well and truly in the Christmas spirit!

So now’s the time to go and get your favourite festive drink, a mince pie or two, put your feet up and await tomorrow’s fun and food filled day.

From everyone at Great Escapes, we’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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The Ferris Wheel, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France


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The Champs-Elysées at Christmas

Each evening throughout December lights sparkle in the trees, headlights glow and white wooden chalets line the pavements of the Champs-Elysées. From the magnificent Ferris wheel on the Place de la Concorde in the east to the Arc de Triomphe at the western end of the avenue, it really is an impressive sight.

The Ferris Wheel, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

Having recently visited Paris for a long weekend I couldn’t resist trying to capture the magic of Christmas with my camera. If only I could incorporate the sounds of chatter and laughter and the delicious smells and tastes from the food and drink stalls. Imagine mulled wine, spicy sausages, toffee apples, fizzing glasses of champagne, mulled cider and so much more.

Please join me on a photo walk down the Champs-Elysées in the City of Lights.

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Hundreds of stalls line both sides of the road for over a mile and as the light starts to dim the fairy lights that bedeck each chalet start to shine.

Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

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There’s a plethora of craft stalls with colourful ideas for seasonal gifts.

 Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

No Christmas market would be complete without an ice-rink.

Ice skating at Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

One of my favourite parts of the market though, as anyone who knows me would guess, is Le Marché Gourmand. One of the first things to catch my eye are these toffee apples and waffles. But I resist until I have checked out every stall.

 Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

 Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

A chilled glass of Champagne or warm glass of wine perhaps?

Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

People drink and eat while walking, perched on stools or inside one of a number of pop-up restaurants.

 Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

 Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

The stall holders are full of Christmas cheer.

 Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

Corsican specialities at Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

A stall over-laden with Corsican specialities brings back happy memories of Colomba and Pietra beer, fig and chestnut preserves, not to mention their delicious cheeses and charcuterie, from the ‘Island of Beauty’.

 Le Marché Gourmand, Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

Having carefully eyed-up every edible option I settle for a very tasty Toulouse herb sausage.

 Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

 Le Marché de Noël des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France

Paris is full of magic whatever time of year you visit and it was wonderful to see her once again sparkling for Christmas.

Things to Know

The Christmas market runs until January 3rd 2016 and is open every day from 10.30am until midnight (1am on Fridays and Saturdays).

The Champ-Elysées Illuminations will be lit every day until January 6th 2016 from 6pm to midnight and all night on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

The Ferris wheel, which costs 12 Euros per adult, will remain until September 23rd 2016 and opens every day from 11am until midnight (1am on Friday and Saturday). It makes one rotation as everyone gets on and off and then two more for a glorious bird’s eye view of the city.

For details of other Christmas markets in Paris visit Parisinfo.com.

And you can find out more about our Eurostar breaks to Paris here.