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Visiting Calais

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If your ferry to France requires a short stay at Calais before or after a connecting train you may be wondering what you can do to pass the time whilst you are waiting, here are a few ideas:

Calais is probably most famous for the shopping opportunities available due to the “booze cruise” trips many take to get cheap duty free alcohol. The cheap products available and the relatively low cost for a ferry to France make such trips worthwhile. When you arrive you will find a range of huge large supermarkets which stock everything you could possibly imagine alongside a range of speciality stores. The speciality stores cover sweets, tea, seafood and wines. If you are shopping for alcohol or tobacco you should check the personal allowances before you go and ensure you stick to these.

If you want to enjoy some fine, authentic French food on your arrival then there are restaurants on almost every street. Due to its seaside location most of the restaurants specialise in seafood with others offering more traditional French food. The cafes are traditional with their offerings and most importantly their opening hours so if you are looking to eat outside of typical lunch hours you will need to find a “non-stop” restaurant.

Hotels in Calais
If you are arriving in Calais late in the evening and would like to relax and refresh in a hotel before travelling on for the rest of your trip then there are several budget friendly hotels available around the port from popular chains such as Holiday Inn and Ibis, both three star rated accommodation to independent budget bed and breakfasts.

Sight Seeing
Although Calais isn’t considered a tourist hotspot the port does have a lot of history when it comes to the Second World War so if this is a particular interest of yours then you will enjoy spending a few hours at the Calais sights which the War Museum which is situated in a German bunker. For those more interested in medieval art and architecture The Notre Dame Church or the Fine Art Museum are also situated in Calais and include pieces of art from Picasso.

French Wine Tours

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For fans of wine, particularly French wine, there can be no greater holiday than a wine tour through one of the world’s most important wine producing countries. There’s no shortage of companies offering to tour you through France’s wineries, but if your energy levels, or your budget, won’t stretch to a full tour of all of the country’s wine regions you will need to be more discerning about which regions you visit. This guide will help you pare down which to hit and which to miss.

Found on the Rhine River, Alsace is famed for six appellations, including Crémant d’Alsace, Pinot Blanc, and Gewurztraminer, all of which are white wines. The wines in this region are flavoured with a Germanic influence from across the river and in majority are dry.

Famous for its full-bodied red wines, Bordeaux is home to just under 7,000 wine producing chateaux and around 21 appellations. Bordeaux is a must for those who like their wines to fight back a bit and is one of the only regions where pre-booking your tour of the winery is not always essential.

Known to most as Burgundy, Bourgogne is also home to 21 appellations and two of France’s most popular wines and home and abroad: Beaujolais and Chablis. The wines of Bourgogne have a sophisticated flavour – reds are subtle in tone, while whites are less sharp.

What has to be said about this region beyond its name? Famous for its ubiquitous sparkling wine, Champagne makes champagne and almost nothing else. If you’re feeling in a celebratory mood, dip into the Moet et Chandon, Perrier-Jouet or Taittinger chateaux for a festive flavour.

Côtes du Rhône
Rhône is a region of contrasts: while its northern wineries are famed for their rich reds, the south is a place where quantity far outweighs quality. If you want to enjoy France’s flavours on a budget, Rhône should be on your list, along with…

Languedoc is another place where the notes of the wine take a back seat to the notes in your pocket. Almost half of all of France’s budget red wines come from Languedoc, so be prepared to empty your wallet.

Loire Valley
For fans of a stiff white, Loire Valley is the place to be. Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon grapes are the chief ingredient and the region is known for its delicate, fruity wines.

Cycling in France

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Many people use a ferry to France as a way to start off a driving holiday around the country or perhaps continent but you could very easily take your bike on a ferry to France and enjoy a cycling holiday around France. If this is something that excites you then take a look at four of the best cycling hot spots in France!

Morven National Park, Burgundy
Located to the South East of Paris, Morven National Park is a stunning, historical area which combines rivers, canals and medieval paths through ancient woods, orchards and the famous vineyards of France. Cycling in the Burdundy area is perfect for the beginner cyclist who wants to explore the area, enjoy the scenery and history behind the area whilst taking some fantastic photographs.

Emerald Coast, Brittany
The Emerald Coast of Brittany is a naturally beautiful area of France with quaint fishing villages with traditional working harbours, white sand beaches and medieval castles. The cycle routes around the Emerald Coast are relatively flat so ideal for the beginner cyclist or those that are cycling for fun rather than to challenge their fitness levels. Of course, thanks to the fishing history of the area the food is predominantly seafood and you cannot visit without sampling some of the freshly caught oysters or prawns!

Toulouse plays host to hundreds of kilometres of cycle paths the majority of which are along the Garonne, cycling along the banks can lead you through the Pyrenees to Port Lauragais, a 30km track which is ideal for advanced cyclists.

If you are looking for a route which is closer to the ferry ports of France so you do not need to travel through the country then how about the nature trails in the Caps Et Maris D’Opale Regional Nature Park?
The French are big fans of cycling as both a method of transfer and as a leisure activity and this soon becomes apparent when travelling along the well-kept cycle trails and routes around the countryside and even in the cities such as Paris. If you’d prefer not to take your own cycling equipment on the ferry then you can hire a bike once you arrive at the destination you would like to cycle around.

Latest News

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The latest news from the ferry sector this week has been focused around the shocking behaviour and incidents caused by hundreds of students on board a ferry to France from Dover. Approximately 200 students from both the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan were heading for an alps skiing holiday and crossing the channel by ferry when they caused a severe disturbance. The on board rampage was on an early sailing of a P&O ferry to France on 1ST April 2012.

Both of the Manchester universities are currently investigating the events that happened on board the ferry to France which resulted in the need for all non-student passengers to be moved to an exclusive lounge on the ferry in order to be safe from the fights, brawls and disgraceful scenes.

It has been reported that most students were drunk prior to boarding the ship and this then escalated into mass bar brawls once the two university groups clashing. Such brawls included throwing and jumping on furnishings such as tables and chairs, climbing and attempting to set fire to various items on the ship. The violence was followed by further inappropriate behaviour when several students stripped then ran around naked on board in front of the many other passengers.

The shocking behaviour caused severe distress to the other 1300 passengers that were travelling on the ship at the time; several young families with children were witness to these events. P&O released a statement about the issue, stating the unacceptability of the incident which they have now reported to the authorities.
P&O Ferries informed both of the universities that they would not be transporting the students back to England at the end of their holiday on the booked journey. This led to the students making their own way back on another ferry; they did not cause any issues on the return journey.

In other, more positive ferry news, this week marked Condor Ferries’ 25th anniversary of ferry routes between England and the Channel Islands. Condor Ferries started ferry routes to France when the company was established in 1964 and moved into Channel Island stops and combined Channel Islands/France routes in 1987. The route has recently relocated to a Poole departure point and is enjoying great success.