Spring is already here and I am sure you have already started thinking about your next family trip. No matter if you are planning a break for the upcoming bank holidays or your summer vacations, these road trips with kids are perfect for anyone living in the Netherlands. (This article is a part of a three-part series.)
Road trips from the Netherlands: where to go
One of the advantages of living in the Netherlands is being so close to three amazing countries: Belgium, France and Germany. Rich in History and Art, these destinations offer so many attractions that you will find quite difficult to make a choice. My recommended routes will drive you away from the best-known cities and landmarks to discover some of the most authentic regions. Follow your instincts and go for the one that you love the most.
These road trips are planned to take into account some basic requirements I always try to fulfil when I travel with kids:
-Every stage of these routes is less than 4 hours driving. Keeping children entertained for longer can be quite difficult.
-Since kids can get fussy in new places and packing and unpacking during the trip is so much work, these routes are planned to stay in only one city and do day trips by car.
-All the destinations are kid-friendly, but also enjoyable for mum and dad.
In part 1 of road trips, we will take a closer look at France.
North of France: Lille – Amiens – Opal Coast
The North of France is probably one of the most unexplored areas in the country. In fact, when I read a travel guide of France to plan the trip, this region wasn’t even included! Most of the tourists dream about Paris and the Cote d´Azur, and Bretagne and Normandy are the favourite northern parts of the country. Nevertheless, this area close to the Belgium border is well worth a visit.
Just 300 km away from Haarlem, Lille is the perfect base city to discover the North of France. Lille has different highways connecting the different stops of this road trip and many options for accommodation.
Our day in Lille started at the Grand Place, where we visited the Historic District with the Opera building, the Vieille Bourse (Stock Market), the cathedral, and the most beautiful neighbourhood in town, Le Vieux Lille. We also tried the best French patisseries, so if you have a sweet tooth don’t miss these spots:
–Meert. This patisserie has been bringing joy to the most demanding palates since 1677. Their Vanilla Gaufres are legendary, although I would also suggest trying the Millefeuille, just magnifique!
–Maison Georges Larnicol. Children will have a blast choosing among so many different sweets and chocolates. For adults, I highly recommend the Kouignetterie (caramel au beurre was my favourite, so yummy.)
–Aux Merveilleux de Fred. This is the perfect place to try Merveilleux cakes. Go for the mini versions to try more flavours. Their brioches are also delicious.
Roubaix and Arras
Two small cities in one day. First, we went to the museum La Piscine, in Roubaix, an indoor swimming pool built in the twenties and remodelled as a museum. The Art Deco interiors are just beautiful, and the idea of keeping the swimming pool as part of the art gallery simply clever. For lunch, we chose Pancook, where we tried one of the most typical dishes from this region, Welsh.
In the afternoon we drove to Arras, a small city in the south of Lille with a lovely historic district. We end the day at Wellington Tunnels, an underground museum opened in the tunnels dug by the British Army in WW1.
The cathedral of Amiens is without a doubt something you can’t miss. The Gothic building stands in the centre of the city, offering a lovely view from many of the streets that head into the church square. You can get in for free and enjoy the gorgeous stain glasses.
Another nice visit with kids is the Jules Verne Museum, opened at one of the writer’s house. Take into account strollers are not allowed, you will have to leave it at the entrance and carry your baby (don’t forget to bring a carrier with you).
On our way back to Lille we decided to make this WW1 tour and visit some of the most famous scenarios. Here you have the map:
Opal Coast and Boulogne-sur-mer
Driving along the coast was one of the most fun things about the trip. We stopped at Le Cap Gris-Nez and Le Cap Blanc-Nez, two cliffs with lovely views. This is the closest point between France and England and in a clear day, you can even see the cliffs of Dover. We stopped at Boulogne-sur-mer to have lunch at the harbour and visit the aquarium, the largest in Europe and a lovely visit with kids. Calais and Dunkirk are also two good cities to spend the day.
That’s the end of part 1! Let us know what road trips in France you would recommend with children? In part 2 we will look at Belguim.