Postcard from Folkestone
Most people who live in the south of England have probably been to Folkestone. Either to get on a ferry or take the Eurotunnel to France. But how many have ever actually stopped off to explore? And what are the best things to do in Folkestone?
There’s been a lot of investment in Folkestone in recent years, much of it from Saga founder Sir Roger De Haan who grew up in the area. He’s ploughed money into the regeneration of Folkestone Harbour, schools, housing and community projects as well as the town’s Creative Quarter and Creative Folkestone. The latter has transformed the town into a creative hub with the Folkestone Triennial inviting world-renowned artists to showcase their work, putting the town firmly on the map.
All of this means there’s also been an influx of out of towners, many of them London creatives, who are keen to invest in an up and coming seaside town on the Kent coast and open up shops and studios in the area.
Locals guide to Folkestone
Head to the Harbour Arm and you’ll discover a thriving food and drink scene made up of independent food traders. Under the arm you’ll find Anthony Gormley’s Another Time XVIII statue. Look out to sea and you’ll spot more modern art in the form of Richard Woods Holiday Home, a commentary on the social implications of second home ownership. Then there’s the regenerated seafront and thriving Creative Quarter full of independent shops and cafes.
The town centre itself is pretty standard in terms of the shops on offer but there are always hip bars, restaurants, pubs and indies springing up in some of the stunning buildings on the High Street.
Explore the quaint cobbled streets overlooking the English Channel or walk along the mile-long Leas Promenade with its grand mansions and crescents designed in the 1800s by Decimus Burton, who also worked on Kew Gardens. On a clear day you can see France and dream of holidays abroad.
Folkestone’s a friendly place that embraces newbies but not to the detriment of the locals. If you find yourself in the area take some time to explore the town and everything it has to offer. It might surprise you, it certainly surprised me.
Where to eat, drink and shop in Folkestone
For gorgeous interiors, linens and one-off finds head to The Potting Shed. There’s a speakeasy bar out the back too but shhhh, don’t tell everyone.
For lunch, walls of books (including a Cannon & Ball annual) and great coffee try Steep Street.
The Folkestone Wine Company is a family run restaurant serving excellent wines by the glass and seasonal dishes with a nod to classic French cooking.
The Folkestone Harbour Arm is the place to head if you’re feeling hungry. Independent food vendors jostle to tempt your tastebuds. You’ll also find the swish Rocksalt here if you prefer a more refined dining experience.
There are lots of great looking pubs in town but what’s the best pub in Folkestone? The British Lion is a proper boozer, one of the oldest pubs in Folkestone. The Bouverie Tap gets a lot of love too. Head here to refuel after all that exploring.