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Christmas shopping tips for day trippers and visitors to Calais, France – Opening times, Sunday openings, for supermarkets, chocolatiers, cheese shops, boulangeries, tobacco shops and Cite Europe for Xmas shopping – Day-tripper.net, the web magazine for channel shoppers.

xmas shopping France

Christmas Shopping in France

French Public holidays

France's first Xmas celebration was held in 476 in Reims.

You can save money by buying your presents and Christmas goodies in France and get something original to boot. Even where items are not cheaper, the range and quality is certainly better. If you can, travel during the week – Saturdays are very busy.

November 24th 2011 – Prices still much cheaper in Calais.

Arras – Xmas market (easy to get to from Calais and Dunkirk) from November 24th to December 24th 2011. www.northernfrance-tourism.com

2011 – Many shops start their Sunday openings from the 20th November and will be open every Sunday until the 18th December.

Boulogne. Saturday 10th and 11th December 2011. The annual Xmas market is held in the Old Town. Animiations and lots of regional foods.

Xmas market 3rd to 19th December (Place Gambetta) 2011. Sunday opening times now available. Video of Calais at Xmas.

Lille. Christmas market from 19th November to 30th December 2011 in Place Rihour. www.noel-a-lille.com

Good up to date listing (in French). www.nordmag.fr

Don't forget the Car Park Shopper ticket. For just £12, two people with a car can park on one of PO Ferries ships and during the four hour return journey and take advantage of offshore shopping on board.

This page is updated regularly as and when we get information nearer Xmas. If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see appear here please let us know.

Remember as long as you don't accept payment from someone else, you can buy tobacco as a gift for your friends.

Top tip – Pay by Credit card, we find they generally give the best rates. You can buy just about anything with a credit card in France. Debit cards are widely used in France. Other shopping tips

BUT . . . we suggest you ring your credit card company before shopping in France. Increased fraud means they are turning down shoppers cards if their spending deviates from the norm. Take your mobile, you can often sort the problem out over the phone.

cite europe calais carrefour in calais carrefour mivoix calais auchan in calais

Christmas Shopping Times (2012) – all closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day

Most of the shops are open on Sunday in the run up to Xmas. Here are the times for the main shops frequented by United Kingdom shoppers, which we have phoned around for ourselves;

Shop (open 9am to 8pm) Cite Europe

Centre L'Usine

Special opening days – www.usinechanneloutletstore.com

Cite Europe Centre Auchan Mi-voix
Carrefour Auchan Carrefour Mi-Voix

Sunday – Xmas Opening

1st January 2012 (Sunday) Closed Closed Closed Closed
November 25th Open Open Open -
December 2nd Open Open Open -
December 9th Open

Open

Open Open -
December 16th Open

Open

Open Open -
December 23rd Open

Open

Open - -
1st January 2013 (Tuesday) Closed Closed Closed Closed

Other shops – In the town centre many shops are open for the last three Sundays before Xmas.

L'Usine Cote d'Opale and Les Quatre Boulevards are open the 11th and 18th December 2011.

Notes;

Dunkirk Auchan – Open Sunday 27th November, 4th, 11th and 18th December 2011.

Nike Factory Shop; Sale begin January. Centre L'Usine Cote d'Opale.

Bruges

The Christmas market will be held from 25th November 2011 to 3rd January 2012 in Simon Stevin Square and Market Square. www.winterinbrugge.be

Adinkerke

Belgium (Adinkerke) – many of the shops will be closed between Xmas and the New Year. We suggest you ring before shopping in Adinkerke over the Xmas period. Tobacco in Belgium

Christmas Markets (Marchés de Noël)

In towns and villages in NORD / Pas de Calais

Christmas Markets are a good place to find presents, especially if you are looking for something hand made. www.calais-cotedopale.com

Useful website for information on Xmas Markets; www.brocabrac.fr

Le Channel Cultural Centre. Tel: 0033 321 96 62 40. www.lechannel.fr

French Traditions

Like most European countries France still has many traditional Christmas event and activities. Here a few things that are done;

In many homes a "creche" (Nativity scene) is set up using small clay figures called "santons" (little saints). Local Christmas fairs will usually have these figurines.

A Christmas cake shaped like a yule log, (bûche de Noël) is made and served.

You may decorate your Christmas tree with red ribbons and real white candles.

Prepare a late supper (le réveillon) and serve it on Christmas Eve following midnight Mass. Regional foods are preferred. In Paris for example, oysters and pâté de foie gras are served. In Alsace, goose is a popular selection, and in Burgundy, turkey is served with chestnuts.

Bake "Christ cakes," which are sugar cookies formed in the shape of the Christ child.

Remind your children to place their shoes (sabots) in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve so Père Noël (Father Christmas) can fill them with gifts.

Expect Père Noël to visit your house, accompanied by Père Fouettard, who keeps track of how well children have behaved in the past year.

Remember that in some parts of France, small gifts arrive on St. Nicholas' Eve (December 6) and bigger gifts on Christmas Day. In other places it is "le petit Jesus" who brings the gifts.

Making the most of your day

Go early.

Pay by credit card – Although all the shops and supermarkets are keen to get you to pay with sterling the rates are rarely to your advantage. More about credit cards

Fill up with diesel in the afternoon – you will save about 15% on United Kingdom prices.

Check our prices page before you go – print the page or make a note of the things you want which are cheaper.

Prepare your shopping list – if you know what you want to buy (nuts etc.) make a note of the United Kingdom price before you go.

Boulogne (Auchan) and Dunkirk (Auchan) are good places to go to avoid the crowds – just 25 minutes up and down the A16 autoroute (free).

Don't buy boxes of chocolates in the United Kingdom You get better quality and value in France. Even better go to Belgium (Adinkerke) and stock up on good value cheap chocolates. If you are buying tobacco in Adinkerke, Belgium we suggest you try Confiserie Dalipan in De Panne for chocolate treats.

Champagne is no longer such good value in France, average saving are about 20% on U.K. prices (at 1.14 euro). However the range is much greater than in United Kingdom supermarkets. For non-brand bubbly (if you are having lots of visitors go to the hypermarkets. For better quality stuff go to Le Chais, Boursot's

Markets are often good places to find unusual gifts.

Other shopping times

Monday to Friday – shops are open all day. Many shops close on Monday morning.

Saturday – shops close at 1.00pm. Cite Europe is open until 8.00pm.

Sunday – Quiet, check before going that the shop you wish to visit is open.

Other Christmas events – Markets and Braderie

Click on Town website to find out about Christmas markets this year.

Pas de Calais Tourist Offices / NORD Tourist Offices – if information is not listed here, we suggest you try the town web sites for the latest information.

This site has a lot of good information as well – brocabrac.fr

Air sur la Lys (62). Tel: 0033 321 39 65 66. www.ville-airesurlalys.fr

Allouagne. www.tourismelillerois.com

Amiens (80). www.amiens.fr / www.visit-amiens.com / www.marchedenoel.fr

Ardres (62) – Place d'Armes. Tel: 0033 321 46 50 20. www.ardres-tourisme.fr

Arleux (59). www.arleux.fr

Armentieres (59). Tel: 0033 320 10 18 57. www.ville-armentieres.fr

Arques (62). Tel: 0033 321 88 59 00. www.ville-arques.fr

Arras (62). Tel: 0033 321 51 26 95. www.ot-arras.fr / www.arras.fr

Audruicq (62). Tel: 0033 321 46 06 60. www.villorama.com

Bailleul (59). Tel: 0033 328 43 81 00. www.montsdeflandre.fr

Bapaume (62). Tel: 0033 321 59 89 84. www.si-sa.asso.fr

Bergues (59). Tel: 0033 328 68 71 06. www.bergues.fr

Béthune (62). Tel: 0033 321 57 25 47. www.ville-bethune.fr

Blangy sur Ternoise. www.tourisme7vallees.com

Boeschepe (59).

Bonningues les Ardres. www.villorama.com

Bonningues les Calais (62). Tel: 0033 321 96 62 40. www.ardres-tourisme.fr

Boulogne sur Mer (62). Tel: 0033 321 32 84 84.

At Saint Nicholas's Church, the oldest church in Boulogne, the festival of Saint Nicholas is celebrated on the first Saturday of December each year. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and children. There will be a firework display near the port afterwards.

Bourbourg (59).

Bray Dunes (59). Tel: 0033 328 26 61 09. www.ville-bray-dunes.com

Bruay la Buissiere (62). Tel: 0033 391 80 44 45. www.bruaysis.fr

Buire le Sec. Tel: 0033 321 81 83 94. www.tourisme7vallees.com

Bully les Mines (62). Tel: 0033 321 67 66 66. www.villorama.com/bully-les-mines.htm

Burbure (62). www.tourismelillerois.com / www.villorama.com/burbure.htm

Calais (62). More

Cambrai (59). Tel: 0033 327 88 26 79. www.villedecambrai.com

Clenleu (62). www.villorama.com/clenleu.htm

Couture (le) (62). Tel: 0033 321 26 79 23. www.villorama.com/la-couture-62252.htm

Croisilles (62). Tel: 0033 327 27 75 80. www.villorama.com/croisilles-62259.htm

Desvres (62). Tel: 0033 321 91 61 21. www.paysfaiencedesvres.fr

Douai (59). Tel: 0033 327 88 26 79. www.ville-douai.fr

Dunkirk (59). Tel: 0033 328 29 26 56.

Elnes (62). Tel: 0033 321 39 61 80. www.villorama.com/elnes.htm

Eperlecques (62). Tel: 0033 321 93 11 93. www.villorama.com/eperlecques.htm

Epernay (Champagne-Ardenne) 12th to 14th December 2009. "Habits de Lumiere" (Christmas Lights), The Christmas Lights in Epernay attract over 300 000 visitors each year. This year, the town has a programme of illuminations, orchestras and a cooking and tasting show by 12 Chefs in partnership with 12 local country food producers and several Champagne Houses. Tel: 0033 326 53 33 00. www.epernay.fr / www.ot-epernay.fr

Étaples-sur-Mer (62). Tel: 0033 321 09 56 94. www.etaples-tourisme.com

Ferques (62). Tel: 0033 321 10 23 70. www.villorama.com/ferques.htm

Fourmies (59). Tel: 0033 327 59 69 97. www.mairie-fourmies.fr

Frévent (62). Tel: 0033 321 41 23 40. www.villorama.com

Fruges (62) . Tel: 0033 321 04 02 65. www.tourisme7vallees.com

Gonnehem (62). Tel: 0033 321 57 32 43. www.villorama.com

Gravelines (59). Tel: 0033 28 51 94 00. www.ville-gravelines.fr

Grenay (62). Tel: 0033 321 45 69 99. www.villorama.com/grenay-62386.htm

Guînes.(62). Tel: 0033 321 85 53 70. www.mairie-guines.fr

Hardelot (62). Tel: 0033 321 99 95 31. www.hardelotplage.com

Harnes (62). Tel: 0033 321 67 66 66. www.ville-harnes.fr

Hesdin (62). Regional products galore at this market. Tel: 0033 321 86 07 37. www.tourisme7vallees.com

Jeumont (59). Tel: 0033 327 63 96 63. www.mairie-jeumont.fr

Lapugnoy (62). Tel: 0033 321 01 73 14. www.ville-lapugnoy.fr

Laventie (62). www.ville-laventie.fr

Lens (62). Tel: 0033 321 69 86 09. www.ville-lens.fr

Laon (02). www.ville-laon.fr

Licques (62). Tel: 0033 321 35 00 19. This small town in northern France Licques and has been renowned for its turkeys since the xxth century. there is a festival every year which consists of a market selling regional produce as well as a turkey procession on the Sunday morning. Spectators are given a glass of the local liqueur, licquoise, and then have the chance to buy a turkey. www.licques-volailles.fr

Liévin (62). Tel: 0033 321 44 02 44. www.ville-lievin.fr

Lille (59). Place Rihour. The largest Christmas market in France. At Euralille and rue Léon Gambetta near the Grand Place, there will be 70 chalets. Tel: 0033 320 49 50 34. www.lilletourism.com / www.noel-a-lille.com

Lillers (62). www.mairie-lillers.fr / www.tourismelillerois.com

Lomme (59). Tel: 0033 320 93 37 19. www.ville-lomme.fr

Loon Plage (59). Tel: 0033 328 27 30 99. www.ville-loonplage.org

Lumbres (62). Tel: 0033 321 93 45 46. www.pays-de-lumbres.com

Marchiennes (59). Tel: 0033 327 90 58 54. www.ot-marchiennes.fr

Marconelles. www.tourisme7vallees.com

Marck (62). Tel: 0033 321 46 22 00. www.ville-marck.fr

Marquise (62). Tel: 0033 321 10 65 65. www.ville-marquise.com

Mont Berchenchon (62). www.tourismelillerois.com

Montreuil (62). Tel: 0033 321 90 48 14. www.montreuil62.net

Orchies (59). Tel: 0033 320 64 86 32. www.orchies.com

Outrea (62). www.villorama.com

Oye Plage (62). Tel: 0033 321 46 43 43.

Portel (le) (62). Tel: 0033 321 87 73 77. www.ot-leportel-plage.com / www.ville-leportel.fr

Rang du Fliers (62). Tel: 0033 321 84 23 65. www.ot-rangdufliers.com / www.opale-sud.com

Reims (51). Reims first had a Xmas celebration in 496, Every year, the Christmas Village is held with street entertainment, magicians, carol singers and market stalls selling festive decorations, gifts and delicious traditional local food and drink. www.reims-tourisme.com

Réty (62). Tel: 0033 321 92 89 75. www.villorama.com

Roubaix (59). Tel: 0033 320 65 31 90. www.roubaixtourisme.com

Saint Omer (62). Tel: 0033 321 98 40 88. www.ville-saint-omer.fr

Saint Quentin (02). www.saint-quentin-tourisme.fr

Saint Tricat (62).

Saint-Venant (62). www.villorama.com/saint-venant.htm / www.tourismelillerois.com

Sallaumines (62). Tel: 0033 321 67 66 66. www.ville-sallaumines.fr

Samer (62). Xmas market, regional products. Tel: 0033 321 87 10 42. www.ville-samer.fr

Senlis (60). The picturesque town of Senlis hosts a Christmas market in the old St Peirre's Church. Goodies and specialities from the Picardie region are on sale. www.ville-senlis.fr

Steenvoorde (59). Place Norbert Ségard. Tel: 0033 328 42 97 98. www.mairie-steenvoorde.fr

Tilques (62). Tel: 0033 321 95 13 08. www.villorama.com

Touquet Paris Plage (62). Tel: 0033 321 06 72 00. www.letouquet.com

Tourcoing (59). Tel: 0033 320 26 89 03. www.tourcoing.fr

Valenciennes (59). Tel: 0033 327 40 01 62. www.ville-valenciennes.fr

Villeneuve d'Ascq (59). Tel: 0033 320 43 55 75. www.mairie-villeneuvedascq.fr

Vimy (62). Tel: 0033 321 07 72 90. www.villorama.com

Vitry en Artois (62). Tel: 0033 327 27 75 80. www.vitryenartois.fr

Wattrelos (59). Tel: 0033 320 81 64 25. www.ville-wattrelos.fr

Westrehem – Delettes (62).

Wimereux (62). Place de Wimereux and at the salle des fêtes. Tel: 0033 321 83 27 17. www.wimereux-tourisme.fr / www.ville-wimereux.fr

Wimille (62). l'Espace Culturel. Tel: 0033 321 83 36 60. www.villorama.com

Wissant (62). Salle des Fêtes. 10.00am to 7.00pm. Tel: 0033 321 35 95 82. www.ville-wissant.fr

Wizernes (62). Tel: 0033 321 93 69 09. www.wizernes.fr

Wormhout (59). Tel: 0033 328 62 81 23. www.villorama.com

Zutkerque (62). Salle Communale. zutkerque.free.f

Public Holidays

Public Holidays see most shops closed. However as in Britain, many of the larger hypermarkets are now opening. More

Remember that French time is one hour ahead of British time. Summer time starts on the last Sunday in March at 2.00am, and ends on the last Sunday in October at 3.00am.

Suggested gifts

Perfumes and skin care products (prices) are good value. Giving tobacco as a present will save you even more (prices).

Sunday Shopping

The following Supermarkets are sometimes open on Sunday (usually in the summer); Match, Simply

Allowances

Don't lose your car! Follow our advice!

Allowances – no actual limit but Customs will just assume you are smuggler if you are over the limit. Remember they only have to assume you are a smuggler to seize your car – evidence is not needed. HM Revenue and Customs guidelines suggest the following quantities;

HM Revenue and Customs guidelines suggest the following quantities;

Alcohol; Wine OR Champagne – 90 litres (120 bottles), Spirits – 10 litres, Fortified wines – 20 litres, Beer – 110 litres (just over 10 cases).

Tobacco; Cigarettes – Now (2011) 800 (was 3,200), Cigarillos – 400, Cigars – 200, Now (2011) Smoking tobacco – 1 kg (was 3 kg) – OLD guidelines in Brackets.

Calais Douanes (Customs); 0033 321 34 75 40.

Don't overload! – a case of beer weights 17kg, a case (12) of wine weighs 15kg, and a case of champagne 22 kg. In France on the spot fines of £100 are levied for overloaded vehicles, in England the penalty is £40 plus 3 penalty points. In addition the Police will issue a PG9 notice which prohibits you from moving the vehicle until the excess weight is removed. You also must have a new MOT done before the PG9 is lifted.

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