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First time trip!

Manchester, United...
Level Contributor
5 posts
2 reviews
First time trip!

This summer my husband would like to go to Germany whilst I'd prefer France so we are thinking of Alsace-Lorraine to suit both of us! We will be driving from Manchester. I am trying to decide whether to get Dover-Calais ferry then drive on via Reims or to get the more expensive overnight Hull-Zeebrugge ferry and then make our way through Belgium perhaps staying in Gent (which i've visited once and loved). We'll be with young daughter so want to break up the journey.Are there any recommended places to stay between Calais and Alsace? Any advice greatly appreciated!!!

Level Contributor
790 posts
13 reviews
1. Re: First time trip!

Best places are Reims in Champagne-Ardenne and Nancy in Lorraine.

Alsace, France
Level Contributor
4,285 posts
138 reviews
2. Re: First time trip!

With DS having spent 4 years at UMIST whilst being resident in Alsace, I know the journey you're describing all too well.

Practicalities first.

You can drive to Alsace in a LONG day if you take the overnight ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge. It's a long flog down one of the world's most boring - but toll-free! - motorways from Brussels to Luxembourg, but doable. Petrol is cheaper in Luxembourg so a good place to fill up ... but there are L O N G queues at the two motorway service stations, so get off the motorway and find a town/village.

If you do the Dover/Calais route, the timing is against you on the way out ... in that you add one hour on arriving in Calais, often negating an early saving from Dover.

You've got a long trek 'darn sarff' to start with, with the joys of the A1/M25/M2 or A2 or the M6 -not my favourite!!- M1/M25/M2 or A2.

I suggest either overnighting at Dover - recommend the Premier Inn above Dover at Dover EAST - and then taking a 6.30 am boat, which means arriving in say Strasbourg about 8-10 hours after arriving in Calais only stopping for toilets coffees or snacks, or travelling on an evening sailing to Calais and overnighting at a 'budget' hotel such as a F1 or Etap before setting off reasonably early already breakfasted and on French time.

But if you decide to break the journey, you could consider:-

Dover-Calais route - Rheims, Epernay, DisneylandParis -ok so it's closer to Paris and makes a couple of days of joy for your daughter- Metz, Nancy

Hull-Zeebrugge route - Han (Caves, which my DS did a primary school trip from France to see - www.grotte-de-han.be), Luxembourg City - not that there's a lot to see - Metz, Nancy.

When you think about Alsace-Lorraine there are plenty of things that might interest your daughter ...

Strasbourg - Orangerie Park - with mini-zoo, Le Vaisseau (interactive science museum for kids in 3 languages), Alsacian museum, Chocolate Museum at Geispolsheim (with tasting!!)

Kintzheim (Bas Rhin) Eagle sanctuary, monkey mountain, Cigoland (stork and little amusement park)

Hunawihr - Butterfly tent, Stork reintroduction centre

Colmar - 1901 carrousel, ice rink, toy museum, Aqualia swimming pool - though there are plenty of others in neighbouring villages

Mulhouse - Ecomusée, a village of houses you can go into and touch things, experience a school day, stroke animals etc, also Mulhouse Zoo, Train Museum, Car Museum (ok Dad needs some encouragement too!)

In Germany - Rust - Europapark - even better than Disney ... and Euromouse is miles less tacky than Micky!; thermal baths such as those of Baden Baden (Caracalla), Badenweiler (Cassiopeia), Bad Krozingen (Vita Classica) which kids can enjoy too. There is a tiny but enjoyable model railway museum in the heart of the Black Forest near St Blasien and fantastic waterfalls, connected by paths and lit up at night at Triberg ... where there are also loads of cuckoo clocks.

Level Contributor
1,992 posts
9 reviews
3. Re: First time trip!

I'm in Lorraine and regularly drive back too.

As you're coming from Manchester an alternative could be to get the ferry from Dover to Dunkerque and spend the night in a cheap and cheerful motel near the port or push on an hour to say Lille area.

The advantage with Dunkerque is you get a rest from driving as it's a 2 hour crossing and it tends not to be too busy with cars (most traffic is lorries and the so the ferry itself has few people on it compared to the load it's carrying).

It has a half decent cafeteria style restaurant so if you're happy with pie and chips you can eat and be refreshed ready for a bit more driving. It's then about 7 hours driving time to Alsace, depending where you finish. The motorway through Belgium is boring (one stretch is almost straight for 150km) but if you set off promptly you can get to Luxembourg for lunch (4 hrs from Dunkerque) and spend some time to see this as it's definitely worth stopping for.

Alternatively go via Reims and see the Champagne area - this adds maybe 80GBP to a return trip for tolls and adding in the saving you make filling up in Luxembourg.

You can then carry on down past Reims to Vittel which is nice for an overnight and then enter Alsace via Epinal & Mulhouse, which leads nicely to Colmar. If you take the A4 motorway towards Strasbourg you may like a stop off in Amneville-Les-Thermes. I keep meaning to go but haven't been yet - website makes it sound great if you have kids. It's in Lorraine too so counts as part of the holiday not the journey.

Also my favourite theme park, due to zero queues Fraispertuis, but it's very french.



Manchester, United...
Level Contributor
5 posts
2 reviews
4. Re: First time trip!

Wow! Thanks for such detailed replies - you've given me a lot to think about.

Manchester, United...
Level Contributor
5 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: First time trip!

Wow! Thanks for such detailed replies - you've given me a lot to think about.

6. Re: First time trip!

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