Shopping near our French ports
Something which has always drawn British tourists to France in particular is the ease and low cost of purchasing wonderful French produce which you can’t get back home. Head across the Channel and you can stock up on wine, beer and excellent food, or visit some of the excellent shopping cities on the continent for some retail therapy.
Lille is the biggest city in northern France. Famous for its range of museums, temporary exhibitions and major events especially over the summer, Lille is also a perfect place for a shopping trip thanks to the thousands of shops situated in the heart of the city. Visit shopping streets such as Rue de Béthune, with its wide, paved walkway. Alternatively, try Rue Neuve, Rue des Tanneurs or Rue Esquermoise, all with a great selection of shops to discover, or markets such as Wazemmes Market, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Aside from Calais’s famous hypermarkets, which have been popular with English tourists for years now, there are several great outlets and retail parks near the port of Calais. The biggest of these is Cité Europe, which is home to over 120 stores and more than 20 food and drink outlets too. Also near our Calais port is La Coquelles, a designer outlet selling the likes of Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger and more at fantastic prices. In the city, Marques Avenue and Rue Royale for an excellent choice of shops, from big brands to boutiques.
Dunkirk is home to the largest hypermarket in northern France, Auchan in Grande Synthe, which has attracted tourists for a long period of time due to its fantastic prices on French produce. Dunkirk is also home to some fantastic food fairs and markets, such as the annual Dunkirk Oyster Fair, where all the best freshly-caught oysters are sold to visitors. There are more than 400 shops in the city centre, including the The Pôle Marine centre which has a cinema and food outlets too. Close to the port there is Pidou, the famous hypermarket which sells a range of French wine and beer at low prices.
Head to Bruges, just a short drive across the border from Dunkirk or Calais, and you can wander the fairy tale streets of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, discovering all of the great shops and market in the gorgeous city squares. There are food markets every Wednesday and Sunday, as well as a larger, general market on Saturday. Bruges is also home to a number of chocolate shops which are recommended by the Guild of Chocolatiers, making it the perfect place to stock up on your favourite sweet treats.
The largest city in the Nord-pas-de-Calais region, Arras has a mixture of Flemish and Spanish style architecture due to its history, making it a great place to lose yourself as you shop ‘til you drop. Les Places, a number of squares spread around the city, are home to a number of markets each Saturday, as well as wonderful shops, boutiques and cafes, where you can wind down following your retail therapy.
Ghent is a wonderful Flemish city with beautiful buildings, streets and market squares, the ideal destination for a shopping break. Head to Henegouwenstraat for luxury and designer brand stores, or Vlaanderenstraat, where stylish menswear and women’s fashion meet. Jan Breydelstraat and Burgstraat are best if you’re an arty sort, or if you love handmade ornaments and gifts or antiques. The main pedestrian shopping street is Veldstraat, home to the brands you would expect to find on any big European high street.
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