Entries Tagged as 'P&O Ferries'

Take to France this Winter with P&O Ferries


France

What’s the best way to beat those winter blues? Shake things up a bit, that’s how. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway with your partner or the family, want to celebrate Christmas somewhere new or hope to make 2015’s New Year’s celebrations the most exciting yet we thoroughly encourage you to choose a vacation in France as the answer.

When most people think of winter holidays to France their mind immediately springs to the slopes of the Alps or perhaps Pyrenees. Worthy holidays though they may be you can get more out of France if you don’t isolate yourself to the mountains. The city streets are where things really come alive. You may run the slight risk of having the weather work against you but bear in mind Paris is one of the cultural capitals of the world there’s much to see indoors. Since tourists are less likely to be holidaying during the festive season queues at the major locations – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral will be shortened considerably.

With Christmas on the horizon you won’t want to miss the seasonal markets that are popping up all over France. If you are just making a short trip to France before 2016 then the closest markets to Calais where P&O Ferries will be dropping you off and picking you are listed here.

France

As you may expect there is a huge Christmas market in Paris and the celebrations in Lille are also considered to be some of the grandest in France. You might also want to consider hopping the border to Belgium to take advantage of some the great markets in Brussels, Lieges or Bruges. Alternatively you could catch a P&O Ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge – it’s an overnight voyage but you’ll land straight in Belgium which will place you perfectly for day trips to both France and Holland.

If you wish to tour the northern coast of France the City of Caen is host to a sizeable Christmas market with upwards of 50 stalls, it opens late December running straight through to the new year. So you could make it a part of your New Year’s celebration and make a triumphant return to the UK for 2016. Caen is just a short way away from Mont St Michel, an historic strategic location that’ has been fortified, it has a long religious history and is listed as an UNESCO world heritage site. It’s well worth a visit and though there isn’t a Christmas market there’s plenty of shopping to be down there. It is decorated for the Christmas season though you’ll find that Mont St Michel is illuminated at night all year round.

The capital of Normandy, Rouen is also a holiday favourite for this time of year. Rouen is famous for being the site of Joan of Arc’s death in 1431 – they begin Christmas celebrations at the start of December with Christmas markets (Marche de Noel) opening in the shadow of the grand Cathedral Notre Dame of Rouen. It’s a perfect place to visit whether you wish to embrace the spiritual side of the holiday, want to do some Christmas shopping or hope to keep the kids entertained with the skating rinks.

France

The major christmas market to visit in north France is in Lille – there are around 3900 in this city, if you can’t find the perfect gift here then you simply aren’t trying hard enough. This city lights up in December with an 18m ferris wheel, ice-rink and dozens of specially erected Christmas chalets built up in the city centre. Each of these chalets is meticulously designed and laid out by the provender, the overall effect of this market will bring a smile to every face. The sights and smells of Christmas along with the copious amounts of carolling and festive feasting make Lille a true centre of the Christmas spirit.

If, however, your intention is to get to the beating heart of the season and sup deep of the good cheer that vibrates across us all then the place for you to be this Christmas is Strasbourg. The city is close on the border to Germany, and therefore has a fantastic cultural mesh, Christmas unites and at Strasbourg you’ll find it seamless.

This year the markets in Strasbourg open on November 27th and are open through to New Year’s Eve. It has the honour of being the traditional city of Christmas markets since it was the site of the very first seasonal event way back in 1570. It was then known as Christkindelsmärik or ‘Market of the infant Jesus’ and it has been growing ever since. As well as the traditional tree you’ll find it hard to miss the extensive light displays, ferris wheel three hundred square meter ice-rink. Entry is free for children and the market opens from 10AM to 8PM every day. This is one of the largest Christmas events in Europe with an anticipated footfall of 2 million people all in all, there are 300 chalets established for the sale of goods and they’re all in fierce competition with each other to be the most festival stalls at the market.

Weather this winter in France with P&O Ferries, the Dover to Calais service will get you their to celebrate Christmas on the continent!

Image Credit: Panoramas , LenDog64 , Mike Norton

P&O Ferries’ guide to the Festive Season in Belgium


Zeebrugge

The time is now to sort out your winter holiday. Accommodation starts to fill up fast the closer to Christmas and New Years’ we get so don’t delay! P&O Ferries run from Hull to the port city, Zeebrugge in Belgium for you to brighten up your winter.

An urban tour of Belgium is really best suited to the winter months. The streets are less hectic and if you are fortunate enough to have timed it right, a light dusting of snow in places like Bruges will get even the staunchest Grinch in the Christmas mood. The spirit of Belgian cities such as Antwerp and Brussels is communicated through its architecture. Places with such long histories and so many stories to tell have the ability to really make a holiday enticing, you can fall in love with such places simply by walking down the street. To help you arrange your getaway this winter here is our run down of some of the most scenic parts of Belgium to be admired whilst wrapped up warm, as well as some dates for the Christmas Markets this December.

Both Belgium and France are prime locations for Christmas shopping. Whether you want to spend the whole week gift shopping or intend on a quick weekend getaway then you’re sure to find that perfect something for your loved ones. In Belgium some of the Christmas Markets open in late November and they can remain focal points for tourist shoppers as well as locals in to the new year. Cities such as Bruges and Belgium have cobbled streets and narrow avenues that are perfect for window shopping. Chocolatiers and cafes do their best to outdo each other with tantalising window displays hoping to lure in travellers seeking succour. However with an open market you get to stand shoulder to shoulder with your fellow Christmas reveller, barter for heartwarming bric-a-brac, hear jaunty christmas music, with ringing bells in the distance. A city like Bruges has a truly magical atmosphere come the early evening, swaddled in scarf and gloves both kids and couples will be enthused with a sense of romantic wonder as you bask in glow of fairy lights explore the old town’s of Europe.

Winter Wonders

Brussels’ christmas begins with the opening of Winter Wonders which has its grand opening on November 27th, you are welcome to this Christmas fairly land right through to January 4th. Over this period shops stay open all weekend in the hope that the market stalls won’t draw away too much of their custom. The streets are really the place to be though, as the capital city of Belgium the display of Christmas lights is a sight to behold. You can get a sweeping panoramic view of the city by taking a ride on the specially set up ferris wheel which will probably help you find the ice skating rink set up at Place de la Monnaie so you can get a little time on the ice before retreating for hot chocolates or maybe something a bit more fortifying. The only true centrepiece of Winter Wonders is the Christmas tree, a gift donated by the city of Riga, the capital of Latvia, this magnificent fir tree takes pride of place and you’ll definitely need to see it when it’s lit up at night during the Christmas Parade.

Ghent is a less talked about attraction in Belgium, it is overshadowed by the fame of Bruges and the magnitude of Brussels. If you have, however, already seen Brussels at Christmas then it will be worthwhile to try a change of pace in a different city. It lies between Bruges and Brussels so consider a stopover especially since it will put you in good proximity to cross the border and give a French Christmas a try at the markets of Lille. In Ghent you can expect upwards of over 50 different market stalls spread across the city, they do a roaring trade in traditional gifts such as candles and decorations, but there will also be food vendors spreading good cheer with chocolate and waffles as well as a healthy supply of gin to keep things festive.

Ghent boasts some of the finest religious architecture in Belgium with Sint Baafs Cathedral and the Belfry which will be holding special Christmas masses this year. It would also be well worth your while to stop off at the major museums of the city which are holding late night openings as the sun starts to set a little earlier at this time of year. Then is also just a short drive from the P&O Ferry port at Calais, if you would prefer to have a shorter time on the water or just live closer to dover then take advantage of the dover Calais crossing and get to Ghent through the France.

Ghent

Your perfect Christmas is just a click away, book now for a Christmas like no other with P&O Ferries Hull to Zeebrugge service.
Image Credit: Rodrigue ROMON , Matt Barber , Darla Hueske

Holland is all aglow with Vincent Van Gogh


Keukenhoff

With winter just around the corner now is the time to plan your late holiday for 2015. P&O Ferries’ Hull to Rotterdam will keep your spirits lifted as the cold weather descends – take a look at our guide to vacationing in Holland this year.

The festival season my be drawing to close but there’s always a party somewhere in the Netherlands. This year the Dutch have been celebrating the life of their most famous artist Vincent Van Gogh to commemorate the 125th year since his death. Though we now approach the dying months of the year there are still plenty of events left for you to attend in order to pay tribute to one of the grand masters of the art world.

Witness the last bit of floral grandure for 2015 at Keukenhoff’s renowned flower gardens. This year’s theme is Van Gogh’s 125 years of inspiration. The last of the dutch tulips for the season can still be beheld, arrangements inspired by the Vincent’s impressionistic style melding motion with emotion, bright colours meshing the vibrancy of life with the sorrow of its inevitable decline. One of the most iconic Van Gogh pieces Sunflowers has been re-envisioned with the Dutch nations favourite flower the tulip.

For that last glimmer of lush plant life before the barren winter you would do well to visit the gardens of Appeltern. This is one of the biggest open gardens in Holland it has been open to the public since April but now is your last chance to get a look around before they close up for the off season.

Appeltern

There are over 200 model gardens on display, you’ll need more than a single day to fully appreciate them all but it would be a grand idea to look about for ideas for the coming spring. Appeltern is a great venue to bring the kids, especially if you want to encourage them to have green fingers, there’s also a hedge maze, gnome path and treehouse to explore. If you take your plant life seriously then the Whisper Tour, sign posts and audio recordings, allows you to find out all about the plants and offer you tips on how to grow them as well as navigate the expansive park.
As part of this year’s tribute to Van Gogh 10 garden designs have been specially arranged to commemorate the artist and his work after being specially selected from dozens of landscape architects. Appleton is due east of Rotterdam and just short from the country’s capital Amsterdam.

The final flower celebration of Van Gogh may is a little sooner than you’d think. If you’re trip to Holland is just around the corner then be sure to keep an eye out for the Zundert Flower Parade. The town of Zundert is near Antwerp, the hamlets there each try to build the best float and parade them through the streets. This year’s parade is on September 6, traditionally it is done on the first Sunday of September. Naturally the parade is Van Gogh themed, the whole of Zundert tends to make an appearance for the event and they pull out all the stops to be the very best of hosts with live entertainment and food and drink aplenty.

Eindhoven light festival

Our next event is set right in the heart of Holland, a bit of a drive but well worth it. The Eindhoven light festival GLOW is set to start on November 7th running for the entire seven day week. The city centre truly comes aglow this winter, as the days become shorter you’ll find that night becomes all the more vibrant. If you’re spending time in Holland this winter we can’t recommend highly enough that you take advantage of the winter light installations. For night time strolls they really can’t be beat, you’ll get to see the transformation of casual street during the day to an ethereal faery like place. The light displays are dreamed up by artisans from across the globe and they’re designed to really evoke a sense wonder at the urban world we live in. Each year GLOW is given a theme for its light displays and this year’s is, you guessed it, Vincent Van Gogh. So you know the designers behind these displays will have done there best to take you on a journey as you explore Eindhoven under the magnificent lights of GLOW.

If you can’t be in Holland for GLOW then don’t despair at the end of November from the 27th right through to February 2016 Amsterdam is holding its own Light Festival. Each year The old canals and rivers of Amsterdam are decorated with more than your casual christmas fairy lights. Light engineers and artists cooperate to transform the city each night in to a wondrous a plane of the imagination. These installations, as with the GLOW festival, make for memorable romantic twilight and midnight walks, you will want to be hand in hand with your loved ones strolling through the streets of Amsterdam to really make the most of this event. As a canal riven city Amsterdam offers boat tours at night so that you can drift by the installations and admire the craftsmanship and imagination that has gone in to making them.

The crossing from Hull to Rotterdam for you cultural tour of Holland is open for bookings, why delay?

Image Credit: Robert Lennon , Olga , Lennart Tange

Autumnal France with P&O Ferries: what to see, what to drink


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As the summer heat begins to abate now is your best chance to taste the delights of France. A country famous for its gastronomy is by far one of the best places to visit now that the season of plenty is upon us. P&O Ferries makes multiple crossings from Dover to Calais each day so come with us across the channel to taste the delights of France.

To begin with it’s important to note that wine tours in France don’t have to be as expensive as they sound. Of course there are luxury tours and even cruises which may be what you are after but if you don’t won’t your trip to France to break the bank then there are some perfectly affordable options listed below.

Your best options when travelling with P&O Ferries are to stick to the Loire and Champagne regions, as they are most northerly; though you could reach Burgundy with just a little more time spent on the road. Depending on how long you intend to stay in France the other famous wine regions of France are further south such as Bordeaux,Cotes-du-Rhone and Savoie.

We would recommend you book ahead rather than show up at a winery hoping for the best, though it’s likely you’ll still be accommodated. You can book tours which pick you up from outside your hotel or selected locations and then bring you back. With the whole day planned out well in advance you have nothing more to do than enjoy it, especially if you’re going by coach and don’t have to worry about driving back.

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The Champagne region isn’t quite as closed off to the public as you might expect. The large international brands closely guard their secrets, in fact most wine producers have some closely guarded secrets. Some of these vineyards are centuries old and they all put out a fantastic product which you can sample with a tour of the facilities for a mere €20. Though there is plenty of competition in the sparkling wine industry with Prosecco growing in popularity from Italy and Cava in Spain the popularity of Champagne as a brand is undimmed. It can only truly be made in this region of France and therefore it’s a must see for anyone hoping to tour France for its produce.

The other major wine region in north France, the Loire valley ends its tour season towards the end of October since the busy season of harvesting bottling and exporting is just around the corner. You can take tours that vary in length from half days to four day tours with groups such as Loire Valley Tours . Who offer tours for groups of up to 8 people, these include tastings a show around the bottling facility and the vineyards themselves. Loire exports white, red and rose wines – you’ll be sure to find something to tantalise your palate and bring home to enjoy over the winter months.

September is an important time in France for the annual grape harvest. The internationally known brands are the namesake of most of the wine regions but actually you’d be hard pressed to find a part of France that doesn’t produce wine of some variety. A holiday to the french countryside is best done in Autumn, since grape picking can quickly become dull work the atmosphere whipped by local pickers is cheering indeed. In some towns the population grows vines on their own property compiling their harvest to create a local vintage. If you are touring the smaller villages late this September we highly recommend you stop by and try out the locals vintages.

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For a taste of something different one the largest beer festivals in Europe is taking place this year in Mulhouse. Right in the heart of Europe where France borders with Germany you can attend the beer event of the year this September from Thursday 17th right through the weekend ending Sunday 20th. For more information look up Mondial Beer of Mulhouse it is not just a large drinking event there will be exhibitions on the craft of beer making, award giving ceremonies to the best brews of the year and workshops on beer and cheese making.

The festival takes place at the Mulhouse Exhibition Park where over 100 breweries both national and international will proffer their wares and around 400 beers will be available. The close proximity to the German and Swiss border has some input on the event last year there were cooking demonstrations of sauerkraut in all its varieties as well as chocolate and cheese stands. Entry is free if you just wish to look about but a glass will cost you €4 giving you the option to taste whatever you please form the brewers for a €1 tasting coupon. Mondial is a weekend long event expect plenty of live entertainment and a lively atmosphere to go along with it. Accommodation for this festival will fill up fast but you’ll be in the heart of Europe so shop about to find the right place for you.

Book now for your get away to France this Autumn, P&O Ferries can get you there with its Dover-Calais crossing

Image Credit: Didriks , anne arnould , Hans Splinter

The lesser known side of Belgium


Belgium

We’ve come up with a brief guide to the less talked about locations of Belgium. Most people are familiar with the major cities of the country like Antwerp, Brussels, Charleroi and Bruges but there’s so much more to Belgium than that. Backpackers and almost anyone who’s spent time in Belgium will recommend you try out some of the less publicised locations.

As the summer heat lingers you’ll notice the crowds around the major attractions such as Brussels’ Grand Place tend to become somewhat of a tourist trap. Part of the attraction of Belgium is the atmosphere, how the locale can make you feel – it’s hard to build a real connection and make lasting evocative memories if your sweaty and bustling for elbow space to take a simple snapshot. So step off the beaten track – get your beer, chocolate and waffles elsewhere; Belgium has far more to offer!

Mechelen

This city is fairly central in Belgium, if you intend to see as much of the country as possible during your stay (and why wouldn’t you?) it would be a good idea to choose Mechelen for your accommodation. The area has been a site of civilisation since the age of Romans and one of it’s most notable features the Cathedral of St Rumbold dates back to the 13th Century. So if you’re hoping to find a hotel with a decent view of the city you shouldn’t be hard pressed, as with a lot of Belgium there are some fantastic examples of architecture to get you up in the morning ready to seek out more. There are over 300 listed heritage buildings in this small city alone.

Mechelen is a great city to visit for its atmosphere. Students of its Carillon School are often practicing bell ringing they also hold weekly one hour concerts. It is home to one of the oldest breweries in Belgium; Het Anker where Mechelsen Bruynen is made a beer said to be favoured by Charles V. The shops are spaced between cafes allowing you to while away your evenings in the dying sun sipping local beer listening to ringing bells in the distance.

Belgium

Each Saturday in Mechelen an open market is held, allowing you to buy local produce. At the end of August Maanrock a free music festival is to be held. This starts late in the day with DJs spinning from dusk till dawn on multiple stages. For a quieter time boat tours of the city are by far the most relaxing way to see the city and they only cost around €6. Mechelen is just a 25 minute train journey to Antwerp and Brussels so even using public transport you’ll be able to efficiently get around Belgium.

Spa

A favourite for some, if you’ve spent the summer in the sun then where better to rejuvenate your skin than the birthplace of all modern spas? This small town was originally host to royal clientele after Henry VIII attested to the curative powers of the natural springs just outside of Lieges.

Spa is famed for its waters and if you can’t wait to get there then you can buy bottles of it here in the UK. There are around 200 springs in the area, whilst we can’t assure you of their restorative nature the journey and environment will certainly do wonders for your soul.

The facilities available in Spa vary from the deluxe centres to more wallet friendly packages. They even have a mother-baby institute if you feel able to travel, they take children up to 6 months old for both parents and babies to get some cleansing relaxation in.

For a completely different experience of Spa this year’s Belgian Grand Prix will be racing in the small forest town late this August. You may also wish to visit the Casino at spa which could offer a bit of excitement in a place geared more towards relaxation.

Belgium

Namur

An hour journey from Brussels, Namur is well worth the journey. This once well fortified town may no longer have the strategic importance it once had but for tourists it is still a bastion of intrigue.

Namur is situated on the Meuse River, it’s battlements date back to the 13th century but originally it held one of the great European Citadels of the ancient world. The battlements are now open to the public and so don’t miss out on the chance to be afforded some of the best views in Belgium.

Namur boasts some great historical architecture and public art as well. Though the weather should still be with any holiday-makers you shouldn’t forgo the museums particularly the Museum of Ancient Art. This displays some truly breath-taking pieces including medieval stained-glass windows, baptismal fonts, textile and armour. Namur also has works from the renaissance period and the 19th Century a museum dedicated to Felicien Rops, contemporary of Baudelaire, who’s influences on the art world are not fully recognised.

There’s lots more to Belgium that we have yet to cover, but you can always go exploring for yourself with P&O Ferries!

Image Credit: Niels Broekzitter , Stephane Mignon , photophilde

P&O Ferries Party guide to Holland this summer


Unlimited Festival

Summer means party season in Holland. Book your passage from Hull to Rotterdam with P&O Ferries for a fun in the sun trip this summer.

This year’s Unlimited Festival starts July 18 and runs for 6 days. Taking its cues from King’s Day (formerly Queen’s Day) this is an opportunity to let loose in the streets and party from dusk till dawn in your wildest outfit. Unlimited Festival is a new tradition, only 2 years old, it is the result of combining the Summer Carnival parade with the the Dunya festival. This event takes place in Rotterdam, so you can get in to the swing of things straight off the boat, you just have to make it to the inner city to join the fun. The established traditions of this event include an election of the Summer Queen, votes are being cast on social media but you can make it there for the coronation on July 18th by clicking here .

This event is a showcase for international talent in the music and arts industry you’ll find everything from poetry slams and pop up theatre to live orchestras. One of the main events of the Unlimited Festival is the the Battle of the Drums. What was perhaps a way to ignite a party atmosphere has become a major part of the festival. Three steel drum bands begin a march from different points of Rotterdam and gather up a following as they dance their way to the Hofplein podium in the city centre. There the bands put on a show like no other but only one is elected the victor winning a coveted gold drum. If you’re planning to attend Unlimited Festival it’s this event that will truly get you caught up in the atmosphere.
The mission statement of this event is to celebrate cultural diversity; an atmosphere of collectivism is fostered that recognises the importance of each of us as individuals at the same time.

Make your bookings now the ferries making the crossing to Rotterdam for this festival are sure to be lively indeed and accommodation fills up fast! For more information on Rotterdam’s Unlimited Festival click here.

Gay Pride

The first weekend of August is dedicated to Gay Pride. Whether you’re a hanger on from Rotterdam’s Unlimited Festival or a pilgrim of the gay community; Amsterdam will be the beating heart of Europe early this August. Amsterdam is one of the most pioneering cities for tolerant and open-minded attitudes to the gay community. This weekend is a celebration of all that has been accomplished by the community and its strident steps forward in a sometimes less than embracing world.

Everyone is invited to the party, there will be exhibitions and movies as well as workshops and live performances. Above all it is a party; you can join the Canal parade along with an expected 500,000 other spectators to cheer the passing long boats at one of the biggest Gay Pride events of the year.

What’s summer without a good beach party? If you’re going to Holland this year then Bloemendaal’s beach parties are well worth the trip. Bloemendaal is on the coast near Amsterdam and you can get night buses for a woozy return to the capital after a hard night’s rave.

These beach parties began in late May and run each weekend with a different theme all the way through to mid September. For a list of all the different parties click here Take special note some of the themed parties will have strict dress codes and door policies.

The North Sea isn’t what you would normally think of for a beach holiday but the coastline of Holland makes for a fantastic getaway. If you’re staying in Amsterdam the coast is just a short drive away you’ll see the dunes that protect the flat mainland from flooding before the sea comes in to sight and then all you have to do is set up base camp before enjoying your day at the beach.

The coast of the Netherlands is divided in to three parts, Noord-Holland the more inhabited area where you’ll find the parties, bars, clubs and generally more vivacious atmosphere. It should be noted though that there’s also a quieter side of flower fields and picaresque Dutch villages.

Zeeland

Zeeland has to offer a more classical beach experience scenic views, and fantastic sunsets. It’s location has been used historically as a military position so you can explore some of the medieval forts. It’s also a good spot for kiting, surfing and wind surfing.

Finally the Wadden Islands are comprised of more natural beaches. This is an area of great importance to the wider ecosystem as the tide goes out a layer of fertile silt is left across the mudflats attracting wildlife from afar to come feast. You can cross the mudlfats on foot and take a close look at the abundance the sea has to offer. Take a hiking guide with you for added safety and they’ll be able to tell you in depth what it is that makes the Wadden Islands so important.

P&O Ferries offer a pet service if you can’t bear to be parted from your dog or cat. A beach holiday will be made all the more satisfying if you don’t have those nagging doubts about your prized pooch in a kennel back in the UK.

For £17 per trip you can bring your cat, dog or ferret with you on board the ferry. It will have to be in the kennel area for the voyage though you can go with staff to check on your pet, they are looked in on every 2 hours. Certain provisos must also be adhered to such as a pet passport and vaccinations – for more details click here .

Book now for P&O Ferries Hull to Rotterdam service and spend your summer at the beaches of Holland!

Image Credit: FaceMePLS , Jonny Green

Come to France this Summer and smell the Roses


paris

If you haven’t got plans for your summer holiday then look no further. France offers one of the best climates for fun lively atmospheres, interesting events to go to and just generally warmer weather than we tend to find here. The extended summer schedule means all the attractions of cities will be open later giving you more time to take in France at your leisure.

Festival season is now in full swing so whether you intend to partake or not you’ll be able to take advantage of the abundance of street performances food vendors and live music that resonates through city streets. The warm evenings make it a perfect time for taking in a late dinner or enjoying a bottle with your loved ones at a terrace cafe, essentially calling to mind what every non-Frenchman imagines when they think of Paris, perhaps there’ll event someone playing an accordion?

If you’d like to get a proper taste of French pride then there is no greater celebration then Bastille Day on July 14th. This commemorates the storming of the Bastille, a prison in Paris, which marked the major opening of the French Revolution in 1789. The revolution is a defining moment in western history when aristocratic chains were thrown off and the people of France seized freedom, yeah there was a lot of murder but modern France was born.

This is a great event to take children to, military parades in Paris go on all day you’ll get to see mounted troops as well as infantry and motorised units as they proceed under l’Arc de Triomphe. France’s allies also march in the parade but if you can’t get through the crowd then looking up will suffice during the day highly choreographed aerobatic displays from the airforce will keep you amazed and once night falls a colossal firework display is put on.

Since Bastille Day takes place in mid-July there’s a very good chance the weather will be on your side. The French populace make the most of this national holiday by spending time with family and friends outdoors picnicking, though many of the restaurants in Paris put on their own special menus in honour of Bastille Day.

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Just weeks before Bastille Day, Paris celebrates its diversity with their Tropical Carnival. This procession marches through the streets of Paris on July 4th; a colourful conga line like something you would expect to find in Brazil. The Tropical Carnival however has more of a Caribbean slant to it, with steel bands, singers and dancers all fully bedecked in vibrant exotic outfits partying in the streets of Paris, what’s not to like. The carnival goes on for three days from July 4th to 7th. You don’t have to go further than France to get a sampling of island culture.

For something a bit different you could head south the Art of Flying; hot air balloon festival in Annonay. This town is known as the birthplace of hot air balloon flight and marks its heritage each year from June 6th to 8th by celebrating the Montgolfier brothers’ maiden flight in 1783. It’s not just ballooning enthusiasts that like to attend, a huge crowd visits to take in the sights. This isn’t just a spectator event though, people are encouraged to take their first flights, you know you’ll be in safe hands with foremost experts in balloon flights taking control of the event. There will also be talks from fliers as well as historic reconstructions of early balloons.

France is famous for its perfume and summer is great time to get down to Provence to see (and smell) the lavender fields before they are harvested. Lavender has been a valuable crop throughout the ages for its medicinal use as well as perfume and dyes. The lavender festival begins on July 1st and runs through to September, so you’ll have plenty of time to arrange your trip. Perhaps you could even stop off in wine country on your way down or maybe have an extended road trip all the way to the beaches of south France.

Lavendar is a symbol of the region is used today to flavour foods, as part of aromatherapy and much more. The crafts fair on will certainly be worth your time and you’ll get to discover the many uses of Lavendar.

Pays de la Loire

The magnificent Rose Days held in Pays de la Loire

in west France is definitely something not to miss for any flower enthusiast with a weakness for roses. This is no standard rose garden on July 15th 100,000 blooms are cut from the near 7 million bushes that grow in Doue la Fontaine. These specimens are then expertly arranged in the cave gallery that boasts natural crystal formations as well as professional lighting and water features. The showcase opens at 9:30AM and remains open until 7:30 in the evening. The landscape architects are planning to put on a full display using inspirations from French, British and Japanese garden styles. It’s only a 100m meter walk through the Rose Day spectacular but we guarantee it will be fantastic stop on your holiday to France this summer. The rose displays at Doue-la-Fontaine have been a tradition since 1959 and have only grown in popularity as gardeners have found more and more ways to make this exhibition a true wonder.

Paris is calling for you to make the trip there this summer with P&O Ferries!

Image Credit: irene. , Jody Roberts , Joe Shlabotnik

Make Amsterdam the destination for your Summer 2015


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The major events in Holland this year seem to be geared towards getting you outdoors and eating some fine food. That certainly doesn’t seem like too bad an idea, let P&O Ferries’ Hull to Rotterdam ferry take you there this summer to attend some of the fabulous exhibitions and finest foods.

Plan your holiday early and get to Amsterdam for the Tulip Festival. The city itself seems to bloom but if you’d like to get out and see them grow then there are areas surrounding the city with tours in place. In particular it will be worth visiting the Keukenhoff gardens, one of the more famous sites to see tulips grow. While the sun shines you can take a bike tour of the country. The flat landscape makes it easy to get about by bicycle, in fact it is encouraged with handy maps for sale that’ll take you through the landscape from charming local villages through fairytale like scenes of nature. Keukenhoff closes on May 17th so time is running out for you to get there.

They are hosting a family event on the first weekend of the month with picnics in the meadows, a Sesame Street theme Elmo’s birthday and there will also be falconry displays later in the afternoon. For more information Click Here .

The following weekend Keukenhoff will be extending invitations to all the lovers out there. The Romance Weekend promises to be a idyllic setting for any couple to look back on with bliss. Stages are being set up to provide performances of romantic classical music and live dance, you’ll have the chance to take boat trips in the pond and picnic amongst the blooming flowers.

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For more outdoor fun visiting Vondelpark is always a great destination for anyone spending time Amsterdam during the summer. Vondelpark is situated in the heart of Holland’s capital near the Van Gogh museum. During the summer months it hosts an open air theatre which is free for everyone, though it’s only polite to make a donation. The showcase will be running from May all the way through to August and shows are put on each weekend starting Friday night. It’s essentially a party every weekend of the summer for all who come strolling in to the park. Live music in all its varieties from classical to jazz and operetta – over the weekend the stages will also show live comedy and children’s theatre too.

For the foodies out there a P&O Ferry to Holland will absolutely be worth your time, there’s food festivals aplenty this summer. To begin with the ever popular Alkmaar Cheese Market is now open, you can attend every Friday right up until September. This market is one of the major attractions to Alkmaar, a city just north of Amsterdam. The cheese market dates back to the 1300s and these days is as much about pageantry as there is cheese. Be warned these people take their cheeses seriously though. This is a serious operation happening once a week, the staff of market and scales masters, throwers, placers and traders are responsible for over 22,000 cheeses – a heavy burden indeed.

This is an event heavy on tradition so to witness some of the ceremonial formalities head to Waagplein, the weighing square, to see folkloric guild pomp at its very best. If don’t delight in being baffled by native customs there are tour guides available to take you through the market to help offer some explanations.

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From June 4th-7th Taste of Amsterdam 2015 will have armies of people smacking their lips in delight. If you take pleasure in food, wine and music you will have reached your promise land. The seven day event will be punctuated by live performances of jazz and soul music. Chefs from around the world will be serving up the very finest of cuisines in mini dishes so you’ll be able to make the rounds. Taste of Amsterdam has also invited professional sommeliers to hold talks in the Wine Club helping you to pair vintages with different dishes so you’ll be just a bit wiser the next time you host a dinner party. For fun there will also be a Ready, Steady Cook competition and kids’ entertainment from cupcake and chef hat decorating to foodie quizzes.
If it all gets a bit inspiring then a food market is in place for you to buy all that’s needed for you to try and whip up a meal of your very own. You’ll need to purchase tickets €9,50 per day for more information Click Here .

The days of May and June are reserved for the Holland Festival in Amsterdam. This is one of the largest international artistic festivals to be held in the country and promises to be one of the high points of the calendar year. The Holland Festival has been running annually since 1947 and displays the broadest possible spectrum of art forms. What makes this event so unique is that it’s a paradigm breaker, blurring the lines between high and low art. The program reads ‘The future is with impure art’ there’s no aesthetic elitism here. Though the highest quality performances are sure to be seen you won’t be walking amongst a crowd of ready to sneer critics. The price of entry is just €7,50 and events are being hosted in theatres across Amsterdam.

Let P&O Ferries take you from Hull to Rotterdam this summer and be at the heart of it all in Holland 2015.

Image Credit: suzie tremmel , Barbara Walsh , Rene

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