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England
England

Across the Channel, a country so close, yet so different

England in short

On the other side of the Channel, the high limestone cliffs ofEngland seem to mirror those of northern France, but that's where the similarity ends! The Channel may not be very wide (some people have swum across it!), but this arm of the sea forms a veritable cultural frontier between the continent and the British Isles, at the centre of which sits England.

England's limestone cliffs

- © GlennV / Shutterstock

From the erection of the mysterious megalithic site of Stonehenge to the very recent Brexit, via the splendour of the British monarchy, the invention of football, the terrible Blitz of the Second World War and the emergence of the Beatles, England has never ceased to cultivate its differences and its particularism, its perseverance as much as its inventiveness.

As the cornerstone of the United Kingdom, at the centre of this former colonial empire where the sun never set, the country's cultural influence remains global.

Big Ben in London

- © ESB Professional / Shutterstock

Nowhere in England is this more true than in London. A world city and an ultra-connected megalopolis, always at the cutting edge of trends, the English capital draws on unfathomable resources for its constantly renewed creativity. From the venerable changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace to the bustling nights of Soho, all the contrasts of England are concentrated here!

The Cotswold region, ancestral England

- © LC_Captures / Shutterstock

London may be the focus of almost all the attention, but it would be a shame to overlook the many treasures to be found in the rest of the country. The rolling green countryside with its famous cottages, the unspoilt nature straight out of a fantasy setting, the coastline with its impressive cliffs - there's no doubt that England has something to charm those who love green spaces, peace and fresh air.

The prestigious Windsor Castle

- © Mistervlad / Shutterstock

The cities are never far away, however, and are just as much a feature of the itinerary of an English trip. There are the heritage cities, the legacy of England's rich medieval past, such as York, Windsor, Nottingham, Canterbury and Cambridge. Ports with seaside resort feel, such as Brighton, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Bournemouth. And there are the old industrial cities that are being revitalised, like Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

Centre-ville de Newcastle

- © Milosz Maslanka / Shutterstock

As well as visits to museums and prestigious historic sites, England is also a change of scenery that takes everyone by surprise, and delights the traveller with a host of surprises.

From the morning over an authentic English breakfast to the evening in the pubs where you can accompany your pale ale with fish and chips, from the deadpan humour to the exclamations in the British accent, from driving on the left to the cult of the Royal Family, from the country's great writers to its illustrious rock bands, there are many ways to immerse yourself in English culture, which is expressed in many facets throughout the journey.

To discover this surprising country, all you have to do is cross the Channel. Well, maybe not by swimming, but by train, plane, car or even boat, youcan reach England, our surprising neighbour!

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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

With its 4 airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted), widely served from all over France (many low-cost flights in particular) and its Eurostar train links to St Pancras station, London is the classic gateway to England.

But many other English cities are also linked to Paris and certain provincial airports, including Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, etc.

By boat, there are ferry services across the Channel from French ports to English ports such as Dover, Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth... For those who like to take their time travelling.

By car, go to Calais to take the Shuttle (Eurotunnel) through the Channel Tunnel to Dover.

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Where to stay?

🛎 English hotels cover a wide range, from modest establishments with basic services to luxurious 5-star establishments and other palaces. All the major international hotel chains can be found in the cities. If you're on a budget, you'll want to check out the Youth Hostels or campsites in fine weather.

Bed and Breakfasts, or original B&Bs, are also very popular and are rooted in local tradition: warmer than a traditional hotel, they will appeal to those looking for an English-style weekend.

Self-catering flats or houses are another option, especially for longer stays.

Practical information

When should you visit England?

  • London and England's major cities can be visited all year round.
  • Summers are mild and humid. The seaside resorts on the English Channel are very busy. July and August are the peak tourist season.
  • Spring and autumn are two pleasant seasons to explore England, but always bring rain gear.
  • Winters are rainy, but still fairly mild, and it gets dark early. An atmosphere that suits England so well...

🛂 Formalities for entering England

Following Brexit, you will need a passport to enter England. Please note: a simple identity card is no longer enough! Unaccompanied minors must also have an exit permit.

Money

The currency in England is the pound sterling (£).

Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) are widely accepted, and cash dispensers are available for withdrawals.

Cash and traveller's cheques in euros are easily exchanged. Bank opening hours: 9.30am to 4.30pm on weekdays.

🚌 Transport: how do you get around in England?

If you are travelling in England with your own car, remember to bring your driving licence, identity card or passport, vehicle papers, a European accident report, breakdown and accident cover, and your insurance certificate.

As long as you follow the local driving rules, a car is still the best option for travelling in complete freedom in England.

To hire a car, all you need is a national driving licence. You should compare the rates offered by the agencies carefully, and also be aware of any additional charges. It's also a good idea to bring your own GPS for a cross-country road-trip, as this bonus can quickly add to the cost of hire.

Other options are buses (cheaper and slower) and trains (more expensive and slower), which serve the whole of England well.

🚗 Driving in England

Driving is on the left, traffic on roundabouts follows the clockwise direction, and speed limits are expressed in miles, with a maximum of 30 mph (i.e. 48 km/h) in built-up areas, only 20 mph (i.e. 32 km/h) near schools, 60 mph (i.e. 97 km/h) on roads and 70 mph (i.e. 113 km/h) on motorways.

Before setting off, familiarise yourself with the road signs. Some are similar to those in France, while others are unique to England. Find out how to behave on the road and the basic rules of etiquette. And of course, seatbelts are compulsory!

👜 What to bring back?

You can bring back gourmet specialities: tea, shortbread, orange or lemon marmalade, liquorice sweets, various sauces and condiments.

🍽 What to eat?

English specialities are hearty. Breakfast is a real meal that includes eggs, bacon, beans in sauce and black pudding.

For lunch, try the daily specials on offer in the pubs. Try shepherds pie, fish and chips and meat or vegetablepies.

The beer is excellent and comes in several varieties: lager, ale and stout.

In London and other cosmopolitan cities, try Chinese, Indian and Pakistani restaurants, which are among the best places to eat.

🩺 Health

No vaccinations are required, but make sure you have your current vaccinations up to date. Take along your European Health Insurance Card (provided by your social security fund), which allows you to be covered locally.

Safety

Everywhere in the city, watch out for pickpockets.

⚡ Electricity

240 V. Sockets are 3-pin. An adapter (for British sockets) is therefore essential.

🪙 Taxes and tips

In restaurants, service may or may not be included. If not, leave around 15% of the amount as a tip.

📞 Telephone

To call England from France, dial 00 44 + the relevant city code without the 0. Examples: 207 (central London), 208 (suburbs of London), 121 (Birmingham), 113, (Leeds) 151 (Liverpool), 161 (Manchester) + the number of the correspondent.

From England to France: 00 33 + number without the initial 0.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

We tend to focus on London when we go to England, but the country is well worth a trip for its pretty countryside, its heritage towns, its beautiful coastline and its culture, which combines English phlegm, originality and humour.

Useful links
Website of the British Tourist Office

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