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It is the port less visited by British cross-Channel hoppers and all the better for it. Unlike hypermarket-heavy Calais, the joy of shopping at Boulogne-sur-Mer is its hundreds of specialty stores.

In the lower town, make for the Grande Rue, rue Thiers, rue Victor Hugo and rue Nationale for shops such as Philippe Olivier (43 rue Thiers), one of France's biggest cheese shops. Le Chais (49 rue des Deux Ponts and 30 rue Brequerecque) stores its 50,000 wines under the railway arches, while Charcuterie ED Bourgeois (1 Grand Rue) has everything to complete your picnic.

Look for foodie presents at Hediard (7 rue Porte Neuve) or just browse in the Wednesday and Saturday markets (until noon, Place Dalton).

Remember few shops open on Sunday and many are closed Monday mornings. Instead, visit the national centre for marine life in Nausicaa (Boulevard Gambetta, or the fish market. Try one of the seafood restaurants La Matelote (00 33 321 30 17 97, is Michelin starred.

SpeedFerries (0870 22 00 570, operates up to four return sailings a day from Dover Hoverport (50 minutes one way, from pound;20 for a car and up to five passengers).

Real France Real Close (0870 143 4646, has short breaks from pound;45 per person per night, based on one night's stay and including Channel crossings for a car and four passengers.

Going via Calais, SeaFrance ( offers three nights' BB at the four-star Hotel Matelote for pound;160 per person, based on two sharing and an October 26 departure from Dover. Find out more: www.tourisme

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