By Miranda Plunkett
The seemingly cataclysmic vote two years ago by Britain to leave the EU has had little impact on the entente cordiale between England and France. Parisiennes continue to migrate to London, the English quaff ever increasing amounts of Provencal rosé and the Channel Tunnel facilitates easy access between the two countries. For the visitor who feels like a more restful yet equally satisfying cultural fill than the predictable London/Paris combo there are two enchanting coastal towns on either side of the Channel.
Rye on Britain’s south coast is under two hours by train from London. A member of the Cinque Ports confederation which was established in medieval times for military and trade purposes, it is a text book example of an English town. Positioned on a hill with ancient stones arches, no building matching the next and doorways built for hobbits it is best explored at dusk after the day visitors have packed-up. You can then retreat to The George Hotel which has raised the accommodation stakes and far outranks the more renowned 600 year-old Mermaid Inn. The American author, Henry James removed himself from the critics of the London stage to Lamb House which lies in the heart of the town and is open to visitors. And for the more energetic there are a number of excellent beach and hill walks.
From Rye, Ashford International is a 40 minute drive where The Eurostar train zips cars and passengers to Calais, northern France in less than an hour. After a fish and chip lunch in England you can be seated at a 2-star Michelin restaurant in the walled town of Montreuil-sur -Mer for dinner. Monsieur Tim, the English owner of Maison 76, an idyllic boutique hotel with only four bedrooms in a stunningly converted townhouse, will plan your culinary itinerary. Integral to the setting up of the town’s gastronomic status he goes out of his way to ensure his guests experience all the area has to offer. This might include a lunchtime visit to Le Crotoy on the coast for a bowl of moules frites. Victor Hugo was Montreuil’s literary notoriety. He chose the town for the setting of Les Miserables, no doubt inspired by its ramparts and cobbled alleyways.
Miranda runs a high-end travel consultancy business, mlpdestinations.com, and advises clients on all areas of travel from whom to travel with to preparing outline itineraries.