Posted: 27 August 2013

Opal Coast Familiarisation Tour

At Halsbury we think it’s really important that our staff have travelled to our tour destinations themselves allowing them to share their own first-hand knowledge and experiences with our customers. During the summer holidays Emma Gray and Bev Ford, our French language tour specialists, travelled to The Opal Coast in Northern France, one of our most popular tour destinations. Read all about their experiences in their tour diary.

  • Sunday 4th August 2013 Early on Sunday morning, we set off on our trip to France. The drive down to Dover from Nottingham was fairly quiet and the beautiful weather made for a calm and swift ferry crossing. We were even able to sit out on the top deck without freezing! We arrived at our hostel, the FUAJ Boulogne at about 18.00. We were greeted by the friendly staff and shown to our rooms. Our rooms were basic but clean and comfortable with en-suite bathrooms. Downstairs there was a bar with a pool table and table football. In the evening we decided to take a walk into Boulogne and have something to eat at a nearby brasserie. We walked along the river and up to the beautiful Old Town where we found lots of little bars and restaurants along the cobbled streets. After a good meal, we headed back to the hostel, used the free WIFI to call home and got a good night’s sleep. Monday 5th August 2013 After a comfortable night’s sleep we headed to ‘Nausicaa’ Sea Life Centre. ‘Nausicaa’ is an interactive sea life centre aimed at teaching its visiotrs about the marine environment and man’s impact upon it, so as well as admiring the amazing array of different sea life including sharks, sea lions, clownfish and many more, we also learned about how modern day living can affect our planet. Next, we headed to Le Touquet for lunch. The weather was still warm and sunny so we took a walk along the sea front and then decided to buy lunch from a local boulangerie. In Le Touquet there is a compact area of shops and restaurants, perfect for students to practise their French. Right on the sea front is the local water park, ‘Aqualud’ which is very popular with our school groups. In the afternoon, our first stop was ‘Chocolats de Beussent’ where we were given a warm welcome by the owner, Alain, who gave us an interesting demonstration showing how the chocolates were made. He told us about the different cocoa beans used and how they are mixed with just the right amount of sugar to get the taste right. We were then shown how the chocolates were moulded and how they can be tattooed to leave pretty prints on them. Some of the moulds were amazing and included a huge church, a cow and a train! After the demonstration, we were given samples and were able to buy some treats for everybody back home. They were delicious!! Our final visit for the day was ‘Les Escargots du Bocage’. After a pretty drive through some lovely little French villages, we were given another warm welcome by the owners, Fabienne and Sylvain. The visit started off with a tour of the snail farm where we found out many fascinating facts about the snails, such as how many are eaten in France each year, how many the farm produces and how many teeth snails have! We were then able to hold a snail so that we could see them up close – they were surprisingly very cold! For the next part of the visit we were shown a slideshow of pictures and given an explanation about how the snails are farmed, prepared and cooked. Finally, we were able to try a snail ourselves. We had some lemonade and a small piece of bread with snail pate. It was actually really tasty and not what we expected. We then tried a snail in garlic butter which again was really nice! To finish our tasting we were given some homemade jam (fruits grown on the farm) with bread and then we were able to visit the shop to buy souvenirs. On our second night we stayed in the ‘Hotel les Sables D’Or’ in Stella Plage. Again the hotel was really clean and comfortable and we were made very welcome. For our evening meal we took a walk along the main street by the sea front and found a lovely little restaurant where we had a ‘Croque Monsieur’. Tuesday 6th August After another great night’s sleep we headed for Wierre-Effroy where we visited the ‘Boulangerie Le Fournil’. This traditional bakery is in a beautiful French village and sells home made artisan bread and pastries. We given a tour of the bakery and were able to see where the bread was made. When groups visit they are able to make their own bread and croissants and then eat what they have made. Next, we went on to Lille. Here, we had lunch booked at ‘Restaurant La Chicoree’. This is a restaurant we use often for our work experience students and they couldn’t have been more accommodating. We had some great food and were then shown around the restaurant. Just like all the places we visited, here they are passionate about what they do and love to welcome groups for evening meals. Whilst we were in Lille, we went to have a look at the recently refurbished ‘Misterbed Hotel’ and we were given a tour of some of the rooms which have had a real facelift! The hotel is central, perfect for groups visiting the Christmas Market. Our final visit of the day was to ‘La Gaufre du Pays Flamand’ where we were able to watch as a school group was given a demonstration ,showing how the traditional waffles are made, there were lots of opportunities to ask questions and most importantly, try some of the finished produce. The owner, Monsieur Brigand has won many awards for his famous waffles and is so keen to share his knowledge and expertise. Again we were able to buy some of the finished product to take back as gifts. He has quite a range of interesting fillings! After another very long day, we headed back to Calais where we spent the night in the ‘Centre Européen de Séjour’, really close to Calais beach. We could watch the ferries coming in and going out of the port. What is more, it takes only a matter of minutes to get from the Centre to the Car ferry Terminal.

    Our stay in this hostel really gave us a good end to the trip. We were well looked after by the staff and had another comfortable night’s sleep.

    Wednesday 7th August After a great few days, we headed back to the ferry port (see above)* and checked in for our return crossing. We arrived back at our office in Nottingham with the sun still shining brightly and lots to tell our colleagues.

    The Opal Coast region is the ideal destination for French language school trips and food technology school trips as students can practise their French at the local markets and learn about food production techniques in the many pâtisseries and chocolatiers in the region.

    To find out more about a school trip to the Opal Coast please contact us:

    0115 9404 303

    Fill out our online enquiry form

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