Great Escapes

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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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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.

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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.

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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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Discover the history of Cologne

A self-drive or Eurostar holiday to Cologne will introduce visitors to a city boasting a wealth of historical and cultural attractions. This should come as no surprise; the city holds a history spanning over 2,000 years and amazingly several cultural monuments dating from the city’s early years are still standing today. You’ll discover them stood beside medieval and modern landmarks, all combining to showcase a city of immense affluence and intrigue.

Given the history of Cologne, you’ll find an endless list of attractions, sites and stories to discover during your city break. To help you connect with the most fascinating elements of Cologne, we’ve put together a timeline of the city’s fascinating history and culture.


Roman Cologne

There is a long history of Romans residing beside the River Rhine, a history that Cologne has been a significant part of. Several signs of the Roman civilisation can be found in the city, from the Roman foundations beneath the City Hall, the famed Roman Tower which was built in the first century AD and the Weidener Grabkammer burial chamber which contains spectacular furnishings. For the best insight and information into the city’s Roman era, look no further than a visit to the fantastic Roman-German Museum.

The Cathedral

Arguably one of the most prominent landmarks in the history of Cologne, Cologne Cathedral towers above the Old Town, offering panoramic views from 157 metres up across the roofs of the city. The first stone was laid in 1248, though the cathedral as it stands today wasn’t completed until 1880. Miraculously, the cathedral survived heavy bombing during WWII and today the building is maintained and resorted by a team of 80 stonemasons, glaziers, roofers and several other specialists.

Image source: Kolntourismus

Image source: Kolntourismus

Romanic Churches

Touring the many Romanic churches found across the city is easily one of the top things to do in Cologne. There are twelve Romanic churches that contribute to the culture and history of Cologne, from St. Andreas and magnificent St. Gereon to charming St. Maria Capitol and the towering Groß St. Martin (pictured below).

Image source: Kolntourismus

Image source: Kolntourismus

The Old Town and Medieval Cologne

Picturesque charm resonates throughout Cologne’s Old Town. Over 70% of the city was destroyed during WWII, but much of the breath-taking medieval architecture and buildings were rebuilt to their original appearance. Today, one of the best places to enjoy the atmosphere of the Old Town is over a glass of Kölsch – a traditional Cologne beer – off the cobbled medieval streets of Heumarkt.

Image source: Kolntourismus

Image source: Kolntourismus

Hohenzollern Bridge

Cologne’s iconic bridge provides passage across the River Rhine, while also simultaneously blending history and modern culture. The bridge was built in 1907 and then rebuilt after WWII, reopened to the public in 1948. It is a proud feat of German engineering, but for many today, the bridge is perhaps best known for its ‘love lock’ tradition. This involves tens of thousands of padlocks being secured to the bridge by different couples, symbolising their love. It is estimated that the padlocks have added over two tonnes of weight to the bridge!

Image source: Kolntourismus

Image source: Kolntourismus

Modern Cologne

The modern day city holds another important chapter in the history of Cologne and its captivating culture. The city has become a haven for shoppers with one of Europe’s biggest shopping areas, found along Hohe Straße and Schildergasse, just a stone’s throw from the city’s cathedral. Art lovers will also revel in the opportunities presented by Cologne, especially via the world-famous Museum Ludwig and the ART Cologne festival held every April. Koelner Zoo is another famous modern day resident of the city, popular with tourists and locals alike. Cologne is also recognised for its diversity and acceptance of different cultures, famed as being one of the most gay-friendly cities in Europe.

Image source: Kolntourismus

Image source: Kolntourismus

Read more about Cologne via our informative guide.


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The best views in Amsterdam

The Netherlands’ capital, Amsterdam, is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities, boasting a network of fairy tale-like canals, romantic bridges and splendid architectural gems. The city is also famed for being home to the one of the most extensive historic city centres in Europe, with 7,000 buildings registered and recognised for their history. It’s safe to assume then that your camera will be busy during a holiday to Amsterdam, and to ensure you capture the finest photographs to take home with you, we’ve put together a list of the best views in Amsterdam – make sure you pack an extra memory card and battery!


The Canal Ring

Given that the city is built around and on a winding and curving network of canals, it is likely that you’ll stumble across one or two top spots for capturing that perfect view of Amsterdam’s waterways. We think one of the best views in Amsterdam can be enjoyed from one of the several bridges crossing over the Keizersgracht, especially at the junction with Leidsegracht where you can enjoy a fantastic view of several bridges, boats and canals.

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Source: Holland.com

The historic buildings

There are numerous historic buildings of interest to those on holiday in Amsterdam, from Anne Frank’s House and the Oude Kerk, to the Begijnhof and the countless traditional, medieval houses that line the canals. The best way to absorb Amsterdam’s architectural splendour is from the water on a canal boat tour. From here you’ll enjoy some of the best views in Amsterdam, as well as the opportunity to access nooks and crannies unreachable on foot.

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Photo credit: Alberto Mateo | Holland.com

Amsterdam in the snow and ice

If you find yourself on an Amsterdam holiday in the winter months, you’ll have the best chance of seeing Amsterdam in the snow. The wintery façade of the city is beautiful, providing some incredible snowy views for your camera to capture. During particularly cold winters it isn’t unusual for the canals to freeze over, triggering a bizarre scene of ice skaters whizzing along the winding canals.

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Source: Holland.com

The city skyline

One of the best ways to absorb the sprawling beauty of Amsterdam, especially the old centre, is from up high where you can enjoy a view of the city skyline. There are several places that offer an impressive view across the roofs of Amsterdam, but the most popular is Sky Lounge Amsterdam, a classy bar serving up tasty drinks and bites.

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Photo credit: INTERPIXELS | Shutterstock

Canal sunrise

The orange glow bouncing off the water and heritage buildings are a beautiful view not to be missed in Amsterdam. The sunrise is the cause of this marvel, best enjoyed from any canal bridge in a relatively open area, such as along Brouwersgracht. Just make sure you’re facing east!

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Image credit: Dennis van de Water | Shutterstock

Church of St. Nicholas

Easily one of the best views in Amsterdam, peering across to the towering turrets of the Church of St. Nicholas, with the shimmering waters of the Oudezijdsvoorburgwal canal before you, is an unforgettable moment to capture in your memory and on your camera.

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Image credit: Neirfy | Shutterstock

Amsterdam by night

The city lit up at night is one of the most breath-taking scenes from any holiday in Amsterdam. There are several spots to discover the best of the city’s illuminated character, but we think Amsterdam Centraal Station emits an extra special sense of grandeur when the sun goes down and the lights come on.

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Image credit: Neirfy | Shutterstock

 

Tempted by a holiday to Amsterdam? Whether it is a self-drive adventure or a comfortable journey by Eurostar, check out our range of holidays to the Netherlands.

Share your favourite views of Amsterdam by commenting below.


 


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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.