Northern France

Calais five must-see places

It’s easy to forget just how easy it is to get to Calais, whether by ferry, tunnel or train but most people just drive straight through on the way to somewhere else. That’s a shame because it makes a great weekend destination, perfect for stocking up on wine and other foods and enjoying excellent meals. The presence of the Jungle refugee camp certainly hasn’t helped but, in Calais, there’s no evidence of any trouble. Indeed the town centre seems completely unchanged since I first visited it thirty years ago. Here are my Calais five must-see places to visit.

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Hotel Shangri-La Paris

In a city awash with five-star hotels, a new entry with a slightly off-centre location needs an irresistible proposition to draw the well-heeled. Napoleon is not a bad name to throw around, nor is having the Eiffel Tower on your doorstep. Chinese owners of the Hotel Shangri-La Paris have done a good, if difficult job, of combining French grande luxe with Asian antiquities in this hotel built in 1896 as the private residence of Napoleon III’s great-nephew, Prince Roland.

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L’Abeille Restaurant. Hotel Shangri-La

What does it take to get the ultimate accolade from Michelin inspectors, and is that third star worth the extra cost of the meal to the diner? Not so long as you can eat at the two-star L’Abeille Restaurant in Paris, which offers a far more joyful and satisfying experience than two three-star hotel restaurants recently experienced by this particular Trip Reporter in the City of Light.

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Strasbourg

Little more than two hours from Paris by TGV, Strasbourg is an inspiring city with an age-old centre, a go-ahead culture, chic boutiques, High Street stores, and a wealth of fine dining and high-end restaurants serving imaginative offerings of regional and international dishes.

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Six secret Paris treats

Even if guided tours don’t appeal, there are secret treats for those prepared to hop a Metro to less-travelled parts of the city or bag a perch offering a ringside view of the most famous landmark in the world. Here are six secret ways to get the most out of la belle Paris:

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ALAIN DUCASSE AT THE PLAZA ATHENEE

Is Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee one of the best restaurants in Paris? Certainly, the man currently regarded as the god of French cooking has the prettiest room in the most glamorous hotel in town

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