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Morzine - Calais ... What To Explore

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We are spending a couple of weeks in Morzine in late July and would like to extend our stay in France by 2-3 days by spending some time in a town halfway between the Alps and Calais. We are 2 adults and 2 teenage boys. We love culture and history, adventure, good food and wine and exploring. Any recommendations much appreciated. Thanks
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Reims springs to mind - Cathedral ; Nearby Verdun for the First World War battlefield ; Champagne area
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Its a diversion but still do-able - Strasbourg & Colmar then down via Switzerland to Morzine.
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How about Besançon? We spent a couple of nights there on the way back from Switzerland and enjoyed it. The centre of the city is semi-pedestrianised, so you need to choose your hotel with the understanding that the parking may be adjacent. It's a fortified town on the bend of a river and one of the Vauban citadels. There are also some river cruises available. Homeward-bound, you'd go across the Jura from Lake Geneva, I think, via Pontarlier, which would be pleasant drive. Outward-bound, you'd probably come off the Autoroute des Anglais after Dijon and then on the DC east to Besançon, or more cross country exiting a bit further north after Langres.

A nice day out from Morzine might be to drive down to the south side of Lake Geneva and park at Evian-les-Bains (we found the parking to be surprisingly cheap, although that was 3 years ago) and then take a CGN paddle-steamer on a tour of the east side of the lake, dropping-off at Château Chillion to see the castle there. Or take a CGN ferry over to Lausanne and spend a day there, or a ferry over to Geneva. There are various other excursions available. My recollection is that the ferry route tend to split between the western Geneva-Thonon side or the eastern Lausanne-Evian-Chillon side - anyway, the CGN site will make this clearer.

Remember to take your passports with you if you do enter Switzerland. It's unlikely to be a problem if you forget but it's easy to do that in a border area like Lake Geneva.

If you do a steamer tour of the eastern side of the lake, then be aware that the upper deck is 1st. class and costs more. Access is not restricted, but they do come 'round to check the tickets regularly and some people hadn't realised, to their cost/embarrassment.
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This certainly interested my teenage boys when we stopped on the way down...

https://www.amis-du-circuit-de-gueux.fr/

Only a couple of bits of it left, but the circuit was on a road so you can drive past the pits. I have read things about French Police enforcing a no-stopping rule by the pits on the main road but when we went you could pull in around the back in the car park by the restored building.
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Dijon has culture, wine and mustard or Beaune if you wanted smaller. Macon also nice and has plenty of wine.
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Dijon has culture, wine and mustard or Beaune if you wanted smaller. Macon also nice and has plenty of wine.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Dijon has culture, wine and mustard or Beaune if you wanted smaller. Macon also nice and has plenty of wine.
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Quote:

Dijon has culture, wine and mustard

Sadly, Dijon mustard is no longer manufactured and packaged in Dijon.

Normally we never stop on our way to and from the Apls, but this July we'll try a stop at Troyes. I'm told the old town is quite attractive.
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Another vote for Reims. Only negative being it is not halfway. Great place and book a champagne house tour and maybe a vineyard tour as well if you can.

I've been to the Mumm champagne house and it was interesting and had some great tasters at conclusion of stuff you will not find in supermarkets.
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Troyes. Lovely town (city?), not too large.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Matt1959, it is, we love Troyes. Also Beaune (they do have a mustard factory).
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Lovely Chagall stained windows in Reims Cathedral.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Lyon (fractionally out of your way), Laon is well worth a look when you pass it (tie it in with a Reims trip). Alsace - Strasbourg, or Colmar, or stay in a little town like Selestat - or anwhere that ends in a 'heim' or a 'willer' and explore wonderful Alsace.
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Fab, thanks very much for taking the time to reply all.

Really like the look of both Reims and Troyes and we will look at spending a couple of nights at each town combined with a champagne tasting / tour.

I also like the look of Evian (thanks @LaForet) and we will definitely head down for a wander.

Thanks again.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'd certainly second Alsace (having lived there for 20 years) if you're in any way into wine. I get the feeling that Alsace wines are still very much under-appreciated in the UK, so take the opportunity to learn more about them, and to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Vosges.

Lots of 'caves' in and around Colmar, on the Route des Vins d'Alsace, including the huge visitor/tasting centre of Wolfberger, the major producer for many of the smaller vineyards as well as their own labels. Spend a couple of hours there sampling however much you want, all for free (or it was the last time I visited), then get a taxi back to wherever you're staying the night.

https://www.wineroute.alsace/wine-tourism-in-the-city/wineries-and-estates-in-the-city/


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sun 12-06-22 9:56; edited 1 time in total
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Mmm. This thread makes me keen to go back to France. Planning a road trip in August- visiting family in Provence, and a trip to Les Saisies, and some of these suggestions will be nice diversions. Most of my many trips to the Alps in the past were "there and back" without much diversion - a more leisurely trip will be good. I have "free" accommodation in two places in Provence - might throw a small tent in the back of the car, strictly for use on nice calm sunny evenings, in simple campsites which guarantee no "entertainment". wink
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@pam w, the municipal campsites are probably a good option for that. @Chaletbeauroc, we're taking our campervan to Eguisheim at the end of the month.
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+1 for the Routes des Vin de Alsace and the wine. Colmar and Strasbourg are more than acceptable but it is the little villages like Riquewihr and Ribeauville, to name but two, that are so appealing all with their half timbered houses, surrounded by vineyards and plenty of caves du vin.

If you like it, and I do, the choucroute in all its various forms is amazing.

Oh, and the Vosges mountains are half decent as well. They even have the odd ski resort there
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@pam w, Look for "camping municipal"
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countryman wrote:


If you like it, and I do, the choucroute in all its various forms is amazing.


TBH the Alsace cuisine isn't one of the things I like about the area. Choucroute is an acquired taste that I re-lost at some point in childhood, and the fatty pork-heavy version popular there is not to my taste at all. In the south (Sundgau) the local speciality is Carpes Frites, basically farmed carp pieces coated in breadcrumbs and served with chips and mayo/tartar sauce. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. Strasbourg has a rather interesting 3-meat pie, and the Tartes Flambées / Flammenküchen (or various dialect spellings thereof) can be very good all through the area, but have become almost ubiquitous across France and Switzerland in more recent years.

OTOH it's also the home of one of my favourite indulgences, Foie Gras (wartime evacuees took it with them to the SW of France) and has absolutely the best wine to drink with it, in the form of Gewürztramer, preferably the Graines Nobles, which is spicy, rich and honeyed but not as sugary sweet as the sweet wines they tend to serve with it in the Bordeaux area.
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@franga, Evian is a bit dull - take the boat over to Lausanne. Olympics museum, mooching and pedalos. Much more interesting
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@James the Last, love Laon! And off the beaten track. Maison Seraphine there is superb
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Another recommendation for Alsace villages. Amazingly, since wars were fought over them almost continually, they have survived. Possibly both sides respected the wineries.

Which leads on to agreeing with @Chaletbeauroc, the wines are really good. You get really decent ones for modest prices - the wines that escape to the UK aren't the best and are massively over priced.
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franga,
I think you should not miss a trip to Arras and a visit to Wellington quarry. You can can visit the site where 24,000 british troops hid underground before launching a surprise attack on the Germans in WW1. It is incredible and very moving.

Standing at the spots (sets of steps, dug into chalk) where the lads ran up onto the front line at 7am, when the whistle blew will move you to tears.

And Arras is a lovely town - well worth a visit in its own right.

Or you could call at Vimy Ridge and stand in the preserved WW1 trenches - with the German and Canadian front line trenches only 100 metres apart...

Both sites have to be seen to be believed.

Alternatively, Troyes is a beautiful town to visit. It's like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - stunning!
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We have enjoyed Evian and Annecy but obviously they are not far from Morzine. Reims is ok if you enjoy vineyard tours. However the stop overs my two enjoyed the most were Paris and Disney although they were 9 and 12 the year we stopped at Disney so maybe that has less appeal for older teens.
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@j b, on our last trip to Alsace we brought home a lof of very decent Crémant at just 8€ a bottle. It served as the Christmas fizz without any question of it being inferior to Champagne. Looking forward to plenty of it on our next trip. We'll probably just stock up the cave in Monetier though and bring whatever we are allowed to bring back to the UK post-Brexit.
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Hells Bells wrote:
@j b, on our last trip to Alsace we brought home a lof of very decent Crémant at just 8€ a bottle.


Hint: The own brand Crémants at both Lidl and Aldi are excellent, and under eu5 per bottle. Definitely at least on a par with the ordinary Wolfberger at 7.95 or so. Other supermarket sub 5 euro stuff, e.g. at E Leclerc or Géant (Casino) is not quite so good.

We've quite frequently done blind tastings, including against budget Champagnes, and have concluded that those two are the best as well as the cheapest. They're not always available in all shops outside the Alsace area, but they do usually have it at our closest (to Morgins) French Lidl down in Thonon. Swiss Lidl charge almost twice as much for the same product.
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Nadenoodlee wrote:
@franga, Evian is a bit dull - take the boat over to Lausanne. Olympics museum, mooching and pedalos. Much more interesting

Noted, thank you!
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Bergmeister wrote:
franga,
I think you should not miss a trip to Arras and a visit to Wellington quarry. You can can visit the site where 24,000 british troops hid underground before launching a surprise attack on the Germans in WW1. It is incredible and very moving.

Standing at the spots (sets of steps, dug into chalk) where the lads ran up onto the front line at 7am, when the whistle blew will move you to tears.

And Arras is a lovely town - well worth a visit in its own right.

Or you could call at Vimy Ridge and stand in the preserved WW1 trenches - with the German and Canadian front line trenches only 100 metres apart...

Both sites have to be seen to be believed.

Alternatively, Troyes is a beautiful town to visit. It's like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - stunning!

Our 14Y old has chosen History as one of his GCSE options having been intrigued by learning about WW1 in Y9 this year. And I love history / Mrs F’s grandad was a captain in the navy during the Normandy landings. This will be a great experience for us all. I’ll look up the other trench sites / battlefields that others have also mentioned. Thanks, much appreciated.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@franga, There is WWII stuff you could go to see in northern France as well, places like La Cupole and Le Blockhaus near St Omer.
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One that I think should be a must when it comes to WW1 cemeteries is the Neuville-Saint-Vaast German cemetery, just north of Arras on the D937. A very different experience to the various allied ones - but being in a single field with the remains of 45,000 men and boys.
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rjs wrote:
@franga, There is WWII stuff you could go to see in northern France as well, places like La Cupole and Le Blockhaus near St Omer.

Thank you for this - just read about both sites and their respective histories. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for the recommendation.
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rjs wrote:
@franga, There is WWII stuff you could go to see in northern France as well, places like La Cupole and Le Blockhaus near St Omer.


Agreed. La Cupole is excellent and well worth a visit.
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