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A Weekend In Northern France Itinerary + Ferry Guide


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Fiona Wine



Planning a weekend trip to Northern France? Get ready to immerse yourself in the charm, beauty, and cultural heritage that this picturesque region has to offer. From the stunning coastal landscapes to the historic towns and cities, Northern France is a perfect destination for a memorable getaway.


With its proximity to England, a popular option for reaching Northern France is by taking a ferry from major ports like Dover. This not only adds a touch of adventure to your journey but also provides the flexibility to bring your car and explore the region at your own pace.


Once you arrive in Northern France, a plethora of unique experiences await you. From exploring the quaint streets of charming coastal towns to delving into the rich history and culture of ancient cities, there is something for everyone to enjoy.


In this article, we will guide you through a fantastic itinerary for a weekend in Northern France, taking you to some of the most enchanting destinations. We will also provide a ferry guide to help you plan your journey seamlessly. So, let’s dive in and discover the delights that Northern France has in store for you!


Day 1: Arrival and Exploring Calais

Your adventure begins as you arrive in the charming port city of Calais. Known for its rich history, Calais offers a perfect mix of cultural attractions and natural beauty for you to explore.


Once you disembark from the ferry, start your day by strolling along the picturesque coastline and taking in the fresh sea air. Calais boasts beautiful sandy beaches, perfect for a relaxing morning walk and a chance to soak up the scenic views.


Next, head towards the town center, where you will find an array of historical landmarks and architectural gems. The imposing Hôtel de Ville, a magnificent Town Hall, is a must-visit. Marvel at its intricate façade and explore the surrounding square, which often hosts bustling local markets.


Continue your journey by visiting the iconic Calais Lighthouse. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the city and its surroundings, including the bustling port area. The lighthouse also houses a maritime museum, offering fascinating insights into Calais’ maritime heritage.


No visit to Calais is complete without a visit to the impressive and thought-provoking Musée de la Dentelle. This museum showcases the intricate art of lace-making, which has been an integral part of Calais’ history and heritage. Explore the beautifully curated exhibits and witness artisans showcasing their craftsmanship.


As the day winds down, indulge in the local cuisine at one of Calais’ charming restaurants. Sample regional delicacies, such as seafood platters or hearty French classics, paired with a glass of local wine. Calais’ proximity to the sea ensures that the seafood is fresh and flavorful.


After dinner, take a leisurely stroll along the Calais-Marck canal, enjoying the peaceful ambiance and charming canal-side shops. End your day by savoring a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in one of the cozy cafes or bars that line the canal.


With memories of a day well-spent, it’s time to rest and prepare for the adventures that await you on Day 2.


Day 2: Discovering the Beauty of Boulogne-sur-Mer

On your second day in Northern France, venture out to the enchanting coastal town of Boulogne-sur-Mer. Just a short drive from Calais, Boulogne-sur-Mer offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, historical sites, and authentic French charm.


Start your day with a visit to the magnificent ramparts of Boulogne-sur-Mer. These ancient city walls surround the old town and provide breathtaking views of the town and the sea. Take a leisurely stroll along the ramparts and immerse yourself in the medieval ambiance.


Next, make your way to the town’s most famous attraction, Nausicaá. This impressive national sea center is a paradise for marine enthusiasts. Explore the vast exhibition galleries and get up close with thousands of marine species. Don’t miss the thrilling shark tank and the opportunity to learn about marine conservation efforts.


After an enriching experience at Nausicaá, wander through the vibrant streets of Boulogne-sur-Mer’s old town. Marvel at the well-preserved architecture, browse through the charming shops, and take a moment to relax at one of the cozy cafes. Be sure to visit the magnificent Boulogne Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture.


For a dose of history, head to the Boulogne Castle Museum. This medieval fortress turned museum is home to an extensive collection of artifacts, including ancient weapons, sculptures, and archaeological finds. Explore the exhibits to learn about the town’s fascinating past.


As lunchtime approaches, treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the local seafood restaurants. Boulogne-sur-Mer is famous for its fresh seafood, so don’t miss the opportunity to savor dishes like moules marinières or fish soup.


In the afternoon, take a short drive to the picturesque Cap Gris-Nez. This stunning cliff offers breathtaking views of the English Channel and is the perfect spot for a leisurely walk or a picnic. Take in the beauty of the rugged coastline and enjoy the tranquility of nature.


As the day comes to an end, head back to Boulogne-sur-Mer to witness the stunning sunset over the sea. Find a spot along the beach or the harbor and immerse yourself in the magical colors of the evening sky.


Reflect on the wonders you’ve experienced in Boulogne-sur-Mer and get ready for another exciting day of exploration in Northern France.


Day 3: Exploring the Charming Town of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

On the third day of your weekend adventure in Northern France, set off to discover the enchanting town of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. Located along the Opal Coast, this elegant resort town has long been a favorite destination for both locals and tourists.


Start your day by exploring the beautiful beach of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. With miles of golden sand and sweeping dunes, this beach is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing sunbathing session. Take in the invigorating sea breeze and marvel at the breathtaking views.


After enjoying the beach, head to the charming town center, known for its elegant architecture and vibrant atmosphere. Explore the array of boutique shops, elegant restaurants, and stylish cafes that line Rue Saint-Jean. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample authentic French pastries and indulge in a cup of coffee at one of the local patisseries.


For a taste of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage’s cultural heritage, visit the Le Touquet Museum. Housed in a beautiful villa, the museum showcases the town’s history and hosts rotating art exhibitions. Admire the impressive collection of artworks and gain insights into the local culture.


A visit to Le Touquet-Paris-Plage would not be complete without a trip to the stunning Le Touquet Lighthouse. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the town and the coast. On a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of the English coastline.


For a memorable outdoor experience, explore the lush greenery of the Aqualud Gardens. This tranquil park offers plenty of space to relax, have a picnic, or enjoy a leisurely walk amidst beautiful landscapes. During the summer months, you can also visit the Aqualud Water Park for a fun-filled day of water slides and swimming pools.


As the day draws to a close, indulge in a delectable dinner at one of the many gourmet restaurants that Le Touquet-Paris-Plage has to offer. Immerse yourself in the town’s renowned culinary scene, which boasts fresh seafood, locally-sourced ingredients, and innovative gastronomy.


After a day of discovering the elegance and charm of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, you’ll surely be captivated by its beauty and enlivened by its vibrant atmosphere. Rest and recharge for the next part of your Northern France adventure on Day 4.


Day 4: Adventure in Amiens

On the fourth day of your Northern France getaway, embark on an exciting adventure to the vibrant city of Amiens. Known for its Gothic architecture, charming canals, and vibrant cultural scene, Amiens offers a delightful blend of history and modernity.


Begin your day by exploring the iconic masterpiece of Amiens, the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in France and is renowned for its intricate sculptures and stunning stained glass windows. Take your time to admire the architectural grandeur and soak in the spiritual atmosphere.


After visiting the Cathedral, make your way to the Quartier Saint-Leu, the picturesque historic district of Amiens. Stroll along the Quai Bélu, a charming street lined with traditional houses and artisan shops. Explore the narrow winding streets and discover hidden gems such as the Maison du Sagittaire, a stunning example of medieval architecture.


For an immersive cultural experience, visit the Musée de Picardie, a magnificent museum housed in a neoclassical building. Here, you can admire a diverse collection of art, archaeology, and artifacts that span centuries. The museum offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history and artistic heritage.


As lunchtime approaches, head to the Les Halles du Beffroi, a lively covered market where you can indulge in a variety of local delicacies. Sample regional cheeses, pastries, and charcuterie, and engage with the friendly local vendors. This bustling market is a feast for the senses and a culinary delight.


In the afternoon, take a leisurely boat ride along the les Hortillonages, the unique floating gardens of Amiens. Drift along the calming canals and marvel at the lush greenery and stunning floral displays. Learn about the history and importance of these traditional market gardens in the region.


For a dose of tranquility, relax in the Jardin des Plantes, a beautiful botanical garden in the heart of Amiens. Wander through the well-manicured lawns, admire the vibrant flowers, and take a moment to unwind in this serene oasis.


As the day comes to an end, savor a delightful dinner at one of the charming restaurants in the city center. Amiens’ culinary scene offers a range of exquisite French cuisine, from traditional dishes to innovative gastronomic creations.


After a day filled with adventure and discovery in Amiens, you’ll be enchanted by the city’s beauty and cultural richness. Rest well and prepare for more wonderful experiences in Northern France on Day 5.


Day 5: Exploring the Historic City of Rouen

On the fifth day of your journey in Northern France, venture out to the historic city of Rouen. Known for its rich history, magnificent architecture, and association with iconic figures such as Joan of Arc, Rouen offers a captivating glimpse into the past.


Start your day by visiting the stunning Rouen Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Admire the intricate façade, intricate stonework, and beautiful stained glass windows. Step inside to experience the grandeur of the interior and take a moment to reflect in this sacred space.


Venture into the heart of the city and explore the charming streets of the historic quarter. Wander through the narrow cobblestone lanes, lined with medieval timber-framed houses and charming shops. Visit the Gros-Horloge, a magnificent astronomical clock that dates back to the 14th century, and don’t miss the opportunity to climb the adjacent belfry for panoramic views of the city.


Continue your journey by visiting the Joan of Arc Museum and the nearby Notre-Dame Church. Learn about the fascinating life of Joan of Arc and her historic trial in Rouen. Explore the exhibits that showcase her legacy and the impact she had on French history.


For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Musée des Beaux-Arts is a must. This impressive museum houses an extensive collection of European art, including works by renowned artists such as Monet, Renoir, and Delacroix. Admire the masterpieces and delve into the world of art and culture.


As you explore the city, take a moment to relax in one of Rouen’s charming squares, such as Place du Vieux-Marché. Enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of local cider while taking in the vibrant atmosphere and the beautiful medieval architecture that surrounds you.


For a lunchtime treat, indulge in the local specialty, ‘Canard à la Rouennaise’, a sumptuous dish of roasted duck with a rich and flavorful sauce. Pair it with a glass of fine Normandy cider for a truly delicious and authentic culinary experience.


In the afternoon, visit the Church of Saint-Maclou, an exquisite example of flamboyant Gothic architecture. Marvel at the intricate stone carvings and the stunning stained-glass windows that adorn this magnificent church.


End your day with a visit to the Place du Vieux-Carré, the oldest square in Rouen. Enjoy the lively ambiance, perhaps catch a street performance, or simply soak up the historic charm that surrounds you.


As the sun sets on your exploration of Rouen, reflect on the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. Rest, rejuvenate, and get ready for more exciting adventures in Northern France on Day 6.


Day 6: Enjoying the Coastal Town of Dieppe

On the sixth day of your Northern France itinerary, immerse yourself in the coastal charm of the picturesque town of Dieppe. Nestled along the English Channel, Dieppe offers a perfect blend of history, natural beauty, and seaside allure.


Begin your day by exploring Dieppe’s historic quarter, with its narrow streets and charming old buildings. Visit the Castle Museum, housed in a medieval fortress, and learn about the town’s fascinating maritime past. Admire the panoramic views of the town and the sea from the castle’s ramparts.


Stroll along the Promenade Marcel Proust, a beautiful coastal walkway that stretches along the beach. Enjoy the fresh sea breeze and take in the breathtaking views of the English Channel. If the weather permits, you may even consider dipping your toes in the water or enjoying a beachside picnic.


Next, visit the delightful Dieppe Saturday Market, a vibrant gathering of local vendors selling fresh produce, regional specialties, and artisan crafts. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere, indulge in a variety of treats, and perhaps pick up a souvenir or two.


For art enthusiasts, the Château-Musée de Dieppe is a must-visit. This museum showcases a diverse range of artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. Step into the world of French art and admire the collection that spans various artistic movements and styles.


Take a walk along the picturesque Quai Henri IV, lined with charming cafes and seafood restaurants. Indulge in a delicious lunch featuring freshly caught seafood, such as scallops or moules-frites, while enjoying the beautiful views of the harbor.


After lunch, explore the Dieppe fishing port, where you can witness local fishermen at work and witness the bustle of the bustling market where they sell their daily catch. The lively atmosphere and the sight of colorful fishing boats create a truly authentic maritime experience.


To connect with nature, head to the Jardin d’Agapanthe, a beautiful garden filled with a variety of plant species from around the world. Take a leisurely stroll through the meticulously landscaped gardens, relax in the peaceful surroundings, and enjoy the vibrant colors and aromas.


As the day winds down, treat yourself to a delicious dinner at one of Dieppe’s waterfront restaurants, savoring the coastal atmosphere and the fresh flavors of the local cuisine. Indulge in some Normandy cheeses and cider before bidding farewell to this charming coastal town.


With wonderful memories of Dieppe, it’s time to prepare for your final day of exploration in Northern France on Day 7.


Day 7: Departure and Ferry Guide

On your final day in Northern France, it’s time to bid adieu to this enchanting region and embark on your journey back home. But before you go, here’s a helpful ferry guide to ensure a smooth and seamless departure.


Start your day by checking out of your accommodation and making your way to the port from which you will depart. If you’re traveling with a car, be sure to arrive with ample time to check-in and go through the necessary security and customs procedures.


If you’re departing from Calais, one of the most popular ports, you’ll have a variety of ferry options to choose from. Major ferry operators, such as DFDS and P&O Ferries, provide regular crossings between Calais and Dover in England. Be sure to check the ferry schedules and book your tickets in advance to secure your preferred departure time.


Once onboard the ferry, sit back, relax, and enjoy the comfortable amenities it offers. Many ferries provide seating options, restaurants, duty-free shopping, and even entertainment facilities to keep you entertained throughout the journey.


The crossing from Calais to Dover typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on weather and sea conditions. Use this time to unwind, enjoy some refreshments, or soak up the stunning views of the English Channel.


Upon arrival in Dover, you’ll go through immigration and customs procedures before continuing your onward journey. If you’ve brought a car, follow the instructions provided to disembark safely and efficiently.


As you make your way back home, take some time to reflect on the wonderful experiences you had in Northern France. From the charming towns and historic sites to the delicious cuisine and breathtaking landscapes, this region has surely left a lasting impression.


Remember to check your route and plan any necessary rest stops or accommodations along the way. Take breaks whenever needed to ensure a comfortable and safe journey.


As you reach your final destination, take a moment to appreciate the memories you’ve made during your weekend in Northern France. Cherish the experiences and start planning your next adventure to this captivating region.


Safe travels, and until we meet again, au revoir!