With the release of the new Disney/Pixar movie “Finding Dory” out on 29 July, a group of three 20/30something girls went to meet the real life characters. This was an opportunity to make a girl’s weekend of it and we decided to visit France’s national sea centre Nausicaá, swapping the big smoke for the lovely Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Day 1 – Friday
We took a half day off work to make our way to Dover. Setting off at 3pm helped us avoid heavy traffic and catch the P&O ferry at 5.35pm. After a very pleasant, and on-time boarding we were heading to Calais.
All aboard P&O Ferries. Crossing from £39 each way/ 90 mins journey.
After a couple of hours driving from North London to Dover, we were pleased to rest, charge our phones and soak up a bit of sun aboard the P&O ferry. The Dover-Calais was ‘plain sailing’ and within 90 mins we had arrived in Calais.
Boulogne-sur-Mer (or Boo-Boo as we called it) was only a 30 minute drive from Calais, and with the motorway (no toll fee either) we were there just in time to catch the sunset.
It was time for us to check-in to our home for the weekend and in keeping with the maritime theme we stayed at Xavier’s sailing boat, found on Airbnb. Granted, having to get on the boat was scary at first but you get the hang of it pretty quickly. Not your bog standard accommodation, and a great way to experience what it might be like to be a sailor. Also ideally located in the heart of Boulogne. Merci Xavier for your warm welcome. We will be back!
Xavier’s sailing boat – Our home for the weekend
Day 2 – Saturday
This was the day we would finally get to see the real Nemo & Dory and the excitement was palpable. As France’s largest national sea centre, Nausicaá is a unique place to discover the wonders of the sea. It is a not only an opportunity to see weird and wonderful creatures, but also to better understand the deep sea and how to protect it.
Nemo & Dory outside Nausicaá
After an amazing visit and 250 pictures later (perhaps even more), it was time for lunch. Just outside of Nausicaá sit a few Baraques à Frites (sort of chip shop on wheel) and we decided to pay Friterie Brigitte a visit and taste the Frite Fricandelle (local sausage and hand-made chips). Delicious!
With a belly full, it was siesta time for one of us and a trip to the supermarket to stock up on French goodies for the rest. Not all products on the picture below are specific to the region, but if you like smelly cheese, get yourself some Maroilles to make a delicious tarte. Word of advice though, avoid strong smells in your car by storing it in a lunchbox. #JustSaying
Tarte au Maroilles
Later that day, we took a trip to Cap Blanc Nez. Together with Cap Gris Nez, they are the closest points to the UK from where, on a clear day, the cliffs of Dover can be admired.
Cap Blanc Nez
We got back at 8pm, and it was time for dinner. We drove the car back to the port and walked to Boulogne old town. Restaurants were buzzing and we managed to find a table at the creperie La Petite Auberge 55 rue de Lille. If you are visiting this cosy restaurant, do try the Welsh (a bit like a Welsh Rarebit) made with a local cheese similar to cheddar. It was delicious! We shared it as a starter followed by pancake for our main and dessert. And, with a satisfied appetite, we wobbled back to our sailing boat.
La petite Auberge – 55 Rue de Lille
©La Petite Auberge
Boulogne Old Town – Rue de Lille
Day 3 – Sunday
Then came the morning of the char à voile (sand yachting)! This is a great activity for all to enjoy. Anyone can do it. Our guide was excellent at teaching us the ropes and, for those who aren’t comfortable with French, you are welcome to ask for an English speaking tutor before booking. This was a fantastic & fun day out. We recommend you spend the extra 3€ on waterproof equipment if you don’t fancy a wet bum at the end of it.
Land Sailing with Le Char à Voile Club de la Côte d’Opale (CVCCO)
Photo ©Office du Tourisme de Boulogne-sur-Mer
Once the fun was over, suitcases in the boot and the Eau de Maroilles perfuming the car, it was time to catch the ferry back home.
We would like to thank all the lovely and welcoming people we met along the way, and who made the weekend very special. Any family or group of friends looking for an affordable weekend away, don’t look any further! Bou-Bou all the way!