Shopping in Calais and Belgium
Ferry fares are cheap, so is the Shopping - you're the winner!
Taking a day trip to France or Belgium can save you pounds on most of your general shopping.
Obviously it helps if you live reasonably near a Port which serves Calais, Dunkerque, Ostende or further south in France in Normandy etc.
For the sake of this article, I shall assume you're taking the most popular route of Dover to Calais.
As of writing (October 2007), you can get a return price for a car plus driver plus passenger for as little as £18. This can be immediately offset by allowing the petrol to be quite low in the tank and filling up when you get over there. The average saving on Petrol in France is approx. 15 - 20p per litre.
As well as some of the products featured on the right, there are savings to be found such as
Pet Food (Dry), virtually all Dairy Products including Yogarts, Chocolate, Biscuits, Mineral Water (up to 60% less), Baby Food, Ground Coffee, Jams, Fish.....the list could go on and on and it's all the more reason that a car trip is far more a benefit than just going on a Coach Trip or as a Foot Passenger.
Electrical and other Household items can also be found cheaper, but you may need to shop around a bit to find them.
Where in Calais?
The most popular shopping centre nowadays has become Cite Europ. This is situated just outside the Channel Tunnel exit to the south west of the town, but quite an easy drive from the Port - about 15 minutes along the N16 and leaving at Junction 43. It's well signposted and you'll see it anyway. It's the huge Greenhouse Tunnel shaped building.
For 'those things which are not good for you', you should drive the 35/40 min trip straight up the A16 to the Belgium border. The first junction off the Motorway over the border enables you a two minute drive to the village of Andenkirke, where there are ample shops to choose from with savings of up to 70% off the UK prices!!
The beautiful and historical town of Ypres is just a
35 minute drive from the belgium border
If you don't mind a full day, here's an idea for your itinary
....... After arriving in Calais, take the trip straight up to Belgium and sort that out. If you fancy a more leisurely journey back, take the canal road back as far as Dunkerque, then join the motorway again and head for Cite Europ. Doing it in 'one go' it would take you about 2 hours to get this far, but I suggest a short detour to the Beach at Dunkirque for a brisk stroll amongst the Dunes and see the stage of the great wartime evacuation.
Depending on what you're buying in Cite Europ, you could wrap things up there in about 3 hours (it's BIG!!). If you're just doing general household shopping for food and other items, the two main stores are Carrefour and Tesco's, Carrefour being the biggest and having more variety.
If you then have a couple or more hours to spend, drive into the town centre and find one of the many friendly Restaurants to eat in (not too much if the sea's a bit choppy!).
Other towns within striking distance are Boulogne (much nicer and more character than Calais), Dunkerque, Bruges (about 60 minutes) and Ypres. But these places are well worth another day trip all on their own. The area is steeped in both ancient and modern history.