We could have set our sights on Paris, or Reims. The Loire Valley, maybe. But no. The weather forecast was too nice to stay in the car. Instead we drove just ten minutes west from Calais, to a little fishing village on the Opal Coast called Wissant.
On a sunny day, as we were lucky to enjoy, Wissant has everything a young family needs: expansive, clean, sandy beach. Informal cafés, friteries and restaurants serving delicious moules frites, croque monsieurs and "gaufres" (freshly made sweet waffles that are as light as air). A couple of shops selling the essentials. And not much more. When we have a warm day, a natural playground and good food there's not much else our little family needs!
With a little assistance from the local tourist information point, and some googling by The Husband, we found accommodation just a few miles outside Wissant ("Villages Vacances Le Cap d'Opale" in nearby Ambleteuse) - http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g1051952-d1913668-Reviews-Village_Vacances_Le_Cap_d_Opale-Ambleteuse_Pas_de_Calais_Nord_Pas_de_Calais.html
We chose this place primarily because it had a pool (quite a rare amenity for French hotels). On arrival, it did have the austere feel (and layout) of a military barracks - but actually it was clean, well kept and ideal for us. Our large "apartment" allowed The Boy to sleep in his own room upstairs, and the pool was brilliant. It had a long sloping entrance into an L-shaped shallow end, which allowed The Boy to really test out his new-found water confidence by running headlong in! A pleasant stroll along a footpath took us to the slightly larger village of Audreselles, which had several great eating options at night. We have both discovered a taste for the region's ice cold blonde beers.
So, for less than three hours in the car door-to-door, this is a really manageable, really accessible, getaway. The kind of short break you could easily take at the last minute, after consulting the local weather forecast (we both agreed Wissant in the rain would be a LOT less appealing!).