Want to treat your Mum to a fabulous Mother’s Day – then how about a day trip to France where you can spoil her rotten with a lovely lunch in a typically French bistro, a spot of shopping and get some chocolates to nibble on the way home!
We’ve picked 5 outstanding places in France that can be visited in a day trip – with or without a car. Mother’s Day is on Sunday 30th March and you will find that many places might be closed as is tradition in France so you could pick another day or we’ll tell you what to see on a Sunday if that’s your choice.
5 Best Mothers Day Trips to France
1. Lille: You can reach Lille by Eurostar train, or by ferry to Calais or Dunkirk Port or by car on Eurotunnel (allow up to 1.5 hours for the onward car journey to Lille). Start the morning with a browse around one of Lille’s colourful markets – there is even one on a Sunday (in fact there is a market every day except Monday in Lille). There are literally hundreds of cafés and bars to choose from and most are open on Sundays. Local specialities include Maroilles cheese and carbonnade, a beef stew cooked in beer with brown sugar.
Take a wander around the area known as Vieux Lille, the old town of Lille with its cobbled streets, fabulous architecture and picturesque squares. If you’re going for the Lille shopping (there are almost 4000 shops!) Tuesday to Saturday are the best days as most shops are closed on Sunday. You’ll find the best of the department stores – Galleries Lafayette, Printemps, luxury stores like Louis Vuitton and Hermes and a plethora of excellent chocolate shops including the stunning Meert chocolate shop (27 rue Esquermoise) a must see, and cheese shops, boulangeries and patisseries. Pick up a shopping map from the Tourist Office to get lots more details and great offers.
There are museums, art galleries and culture galore or hop on the metro to Roubaix to see the truly outstanding La Piscine museum in an art deco swimming pool. Or, you and your Mum could go for a cookery lesson with a chef and then enjoy the fruits of your labour – lessons start at just €17.00 for a one hour lunch lesson and chef provides the wine and dessert!
2. Paris: Let the train take the strain and hop on the Eurostar to Gare du Nord in Paris. Take your Mum to lunch somewhere special, people watch at a pavement café like Les Deux Magots, buy a metro day pass and hop on and off the underground to get around to see the Eiffel Tower, Louvre or Musee d’Orsay or hop on a river boat to get around. Take tea at Angelina tea room, macarons at Ladurée and if you do happen to be in Paris on the last Sunday of the month you can take a visit at Elysée Palace gardens (details in the link below), if you go on the first Sunday of the month – most museums are open for free.
5 Fabulous things to do in Paris in the spring
3. Le Touquet: Just 45 minutes’ drive from Calais is the chic seaside resort of Le Touquet. This little town is one of northern France’s best kept secrets but it wasn’t always this way. Ian Fleming used to love to holiday here and based Casino Royale on the casino in le Touquet, Sean Connery signed his first Bond film contract here. Queen Elizabeth II learned to sand yacht on the beautiful sandy beach and a whole raft of celebrities have long loved this town – including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who like to take their kids there from time to time.
Read about the world’s biggest hotel which was once in Le Touquet so luxurious the rooms had their own swimming pools!
Go on a Saturday to experience the sensational art deco covered market. Enjoy lunch at one of the many eateries and push the boat out at with a sumptuous meal at the Michelin-starred le Pavillon restaurant at Le Westminster Hotel. Buy chocolate from the 100 year old Au Chat Bleu chocolate shop and watch the seals when the tide goes out from the Marina.
4. St Omer: 30 minutes’ drive from Calais, this rural market town has a huge amount to offer. A lovely Saturday morning market, wonderful patisseries and chocolate shops and a very pretty square to people watch from a pavement café. There are loads of restaurants to choose from, traditional, authentic, and gastronomic though we recommend an estaminet, a Flemish style restaurant typical of this area such as the Drie Kalders in the main square.
Afterwards wander round the pretty town, pop into the museum, visit the beautiful church with its Rubens oil painting, pop into the public library with its oak lined walls and magnificent book collection and if the weather’s nice, take a punt on the famous Marais marshes, the only place in France where the postman delivers the post by boat! (Note: Sundays will see most attractions closed).
5. Calais: Take a day trip from Dover on foot via P&O Ferries. Alighting from the ferry in Calais, take the shuttle bus from outside the port terminal (€2.00 each) into the town where it stops right by the famous Rodin statue of the Calais Burghers in front of the Town Hall and UNESCO status Belfry. There are plenty of shopping opportunities in Calais and artisan shops , Rue Royale is especially good pick up some cheese, chocolates and wine to take home. Lunch at the friendly L’Histoire Ancienne at Rue Royale or at the very smart Le Channel (details in the link below). Don’t miss a visit to the extraordinary Calais Lace Museum and get around by hopping on and off the nippy little navettes – the free bus service in the town.