Living in South London, it only takes us about an hour and half to get down to Dover, half an hour on the Eurotunnel and whoosh! You are on the continent. We also discovered that the beautiful city of Bruges is only an hour up the motorway from Calais. This made Bruges an appealing day trip. Therefore, one cold February day we decided to put the day trip theory to the test – was it doable, with kids?
In one word: YES!
An early start from London, but we boarded the eurotunnel at 730, so by 9am (local time) we were in Calais. By 1030, we had driven and parked up in Bruges and we were ready to explore!
The beauty about Bruges is that it is relatively small (and flat!) so easy to navigate your way around. The architecture is stunning, and the kids enjoyed looking for the Golden Soldiers at the Basilica of Holy Blood! There are two main squares, which are bustling with life.
But what they enjoyed looking at the most was the chocolate shops! They felt like they were in Willy Wonka’s town. For ever more, Bruges was renamed in our house as the ‘Chocolate Town’.
Most of the restaurants in town are set up for families, so my husband and I could enjoy mussels whilst there was a more child-appealing option! We ate off the main town square, but there are plenty of places.
After lunch, we wondered into the main town square, and hired a horse and trap to explore the city further. Although freezing cold, we were wrapped up in blankets and off we trotted over the wonderful small bridges, and over the picturesque canals. The guide gives you a little history and points out some of the sights. There is a brief stop half way, so the horse can refresh by the lake of Love and the almshouses.
Alternatively, you can take a canal barge around the canals.
To warm up, we headed to The Old Chocolate House (just off The Markt) which advertised that it served the best hot chocolate in the city! Indeed, we were not let down! You could choose from a range of flavours: dark, milk, white etc. It was served as a mug of hot milk, with a chocolate cup filled with chocolate buttons. You put the whole lot in your milk and let it melt! The children thought this was wonderful and they certainly thought it was the best hot chocolate ever!
After a little more strolling, buying of chocolate and shopping, it was time to drive back to Calais. By 8pm, we were back in London. We were exhausted, but it was a fabulous day out, and well worth it. I feel we only touched the surface – there is plenty more to see and do there, maybe we’ll stay the night as well next time …