This is a data file of hints, tips and useful addresses for those wine-lovers visiting the areas, or passing through, the French channel ports - a popular destination for holidaymakers and day trippers. It is complied from my own research, and information supplied by wine-pages visitors. My many thanks to all who have contributed.
Peter May: I came across via the chunnel in November 2001 and popped into some stores to check prices ready for my return journey. Well, first off the chunnel was busier than I have ever seen, and the Calais stores were heaving. No spaces at all in Eastenders car park (www.eastenders.fr). People taking everything that wasn't nailed down, the checkout queues were enormous. Everone's got their favourites and there is a huge choice. The UK stores Oddbins, Tesco and Sainsbury have operations there, so if you like something in the UK stores you can get it in Calais sans (as the French say) all that tax. Everyday Rhône? I usually get a case of Guigal Côtes du Rhône. Price at Eastenders was £45 for a case (12) = £3.75, half what it retails for in UK Oddbins. Next door is CPH La Grande Boutique du Vin (www.vinscph.com) which is strong in French wines, especially Champagnes and growers labels and had a good selection of Beaujolais on display when I visited. In between those two is The Wine & Beer Company (www.wineandbeer.co.uk - recently bought by Majestic), some interesting new world bargains there (Peller Estate Dry Riesling from Ontario at £2.79, buy 5 get one free - thats cheaper than they were selling it at the winery last month). All prices in UK pounds, Pérardel prices in FF but accepts GBP. Take plenty of UK cash, its cheapest way to buy.
|For the three stores named above take exit 18 of the E40, ie come out of chunnel towards Paris, stay on road and leave at exit 18, signed to
Channel Ferry port. Continue and take first exit. You should see a huge Eastender sign right at the roundabout exit.
Oddbins and Tescos is at Cité d'Europe, a huge shopping mall next to Le Shuttle entrance (west, not shown on map), follow signs. You need 10 franc coin to unlock a shopping trolley. But if you go to customer counter at Tescos they'll give you a token free of charge.
If you use a credit card the price is levied in Euros and converted to pounds at card companies exchange rate, if you use Euros then you have to pay commission on exchange.
I think all stores accept sterling cash, and many actually price in sterling (eg Wine & Beer Co. and Eastenders).
If you pay with credit card you need your passport available for ID. Its worth doing a recce to compare prices; there's a tempatation to load up with the first bargain you see, but in fact there's quite a price difference between stores. Take a pen and paper to note the prices of wines you're interested in. Remember that everything you buy MUST be for your own PERSONAL use - you're not buying for anyone else, you're not going to give to anyone else. Just in case anyone asks you.
Francis Boulard: Petit Caveau Sainte Catherine in Lille has a large choice of cheap wines and great wines, great names, domaines and Châteaux, and also great and rare wines at sweet prices. Alsace, Loire, Rhône, Languedoc, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Savoie, Provence, ... and more. (9 11, Rue de la Barre, Lille. Tel: 00 33 320 54 27 94). This is not a supermarket, this is an authentic artisanal wine-merchant in a rustic wine-shop. Very close to the nice, old and charming Vieux Lille ( the old city of Lille), so, usually the ladies agree for the shopping in the old Lille, the time we visit the large choice of wines in this cave. There is also very close to the wine-shop a good bistrot where they propose some menus with a glass of wine with each dishes ... Ask to Mr. Montagne in the Petit Caveau the name of this bistrot, because I do not remember. Sorry.
AJ: I find Calais Wine and Beer the best value if you are paying in Sterling. The only problem is that it is popular with the coachloads of Brits having a "who can buy the most Stella" competition so you have an hour or two wait getting through the cashdesk if you are unlucky. I have had good prices on Pol Roger Rosé 1990 and Winston Churchill 1990 this year (£23 and £43 respectively ). They are quite good for Veuve Clicquot also. Pérardel is especially good for Burgundies and Rhônes. The Champagnes are OK, but when you have been to the Reims branch of Pérardel it doesn't look so good.
Ian Beckett: in Calais, Pérardel is excellent but if you fancy a little drive then there is a good wine shop in Wimereux called Mille Vignes, run by an Englishman (90 Rue Carnot. Tel: 00 33 321 326 013, www.millevignes.com). In Boulogne visit Phillipe Olivier's cheese shop, or if in Etaples, there is a small market opposite the quay which sells his cheese. Happy shopping.
Russ Sainty: CPH La Grande Boutique in Calais is worth a visit and not out of the way if you come by ferry. The Rhône selection was great and there were some older vintages at good prices. There's a website called www.channelhoppers.net with telephone numbers, etc. Also remember there's an Oddbins in Cite d'Europe.
Tom Cannavan: in Caen, (confusingly, Caen is the name of the Port, but the Port is actually in the small town of Ouistreham, several miles north of the city) there are a couple of wine shops run by English owners, but mostly selling quite uninspiring wines. You can't miss them as you drive to the ferry terminal: Normandie Wine Warehouses. Caen itself has LeClerc, Carrefour and the usual big supermarkets, but there's nothing like that near the port.
Ian Beckett: In Wimereux, the Hotel du Centre will give you a good lunch or dinner. If you want to venture further then Aux Pecheurs d'Etaples, on the quay in Etaples (near Le Touquet - which is also very pleasant) or on Grande Rue in Boulogne will give you an excellent fishy meal with some good wine.
Russ Sainty: for food, Le Channel on the yacht basin in Calais was great with a brilliant wine list. You can contact them for lists/menus before you go via www.channelhoppers.net.
John Holland: I always pop into Restaurant Le Channel when in Calais, 3 bd Resistance (next to the Holiday Inn). Tel: 03 21 34 42 30. Closed Sunday nights and Mondays). I am not at the kissy-kissy level of familiarity with the owners that many of their British customers seem to be! It has a Michelin Bib Gourmand for good value meals, and there is always a three course menu on offer for around a tenner. The mammoth wine list is the size of a broadsheet (you'll get told off if you try to fold it). You would be well advised to book for dinner to avoid disappointment.
Tom Cannavan: in Ouistreham book ahead for dinner in the Normandie Hotel at 71, avenue Michel Cabieu if you want a final gourmetish experience before catching the night ferry. Tel: 02 31 97 19 57. The other restaurant choices are fast-foody, but the Normandie is always busy.