Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

VW T4 campervan, France

Slowing Down in Picardy

The First Kir of the Holiday LF23006The noise had disappeared so we had been able to relax. We had made good progress south down the A16 and clear of Boulogne we slowed down and started our real French journey. We picked up the D roads between the autoroute and the coast and as we continued south we were soon looking for somewhere to stop for lunch.

We drove through Merlimont Plage to the sea front and discovered our first challenge; the signs told us our campervan at nearly five metres was too long, and too tall, for the sea front parking in the centre of town. Then up to the hill to the North we spotted a couple of large motorhomes parked up by the sea wall. We joined them in an area reserved for larger vehicles; it was our first indication that France was accommodating of camping-cars, as they call motorhomes (RVs).

Although it was early July we soon discovered we needed jackets. It was overcast and the strong wind made it decidedly chilly. We decided not to go for a walk on the beach; we could taste it anyway as there was fine sand in the wind. We took a walk back along the promenade towards the town centre, such as it was – a pleasant enough but unremarkable modern French seaside town. There was a restaurant on the beach but the tide was out and we did not fancy a gritty meal so we headed into town away from the sea.

In the shelter of the town with the sun breaking through it was much more pleasant and having appraised most of the more obvious restaurants we settled on L’Escale. Although a bit early for lunch it was starting to fill, always a sign of a decent restaurant so we found ourselves a table on the screened terrace. Out of the wind it was now comfortably warm; Alison ordered her first Kir and as I was driving I had to limit myself to a small beer. As is our frequent practice the first lunch in France when by the sea was moules et frites (mussels and chips/ fries). The young waitress had the unfortunate task of coping with our very unpractised French on her first day in the job. Probably rather unfair but we were all very patient and we managed to raise a smile from her; whether it was at our French or our pleasantries did not really matter. Clearly they were getting prepared for the start of the holiday season.

After a nicely leisurely French lunch we got back on the road. Our aim was to spend our first night at the Aire de Camping-car at Saint Valery sur Somme, a pleasant fishing village at the mouth of the Somme estuary where have stayed before. As we drove south we were in a land of big skies. The roads run through flat, wide open landscapes that were once marshes but are now rich farmland. The rather indifferent weather had returned and the light did not lend itself to serious photography so we pottered on just enjoying the opportunity not to rush; we did not have any deadlines. After all, our object was slow travel and lunch had already been about slow food. We were slowing down and getting into the right frame of mind.

On to First Night in France

We travelled on gently and towards the mouth of the Somme where we spent our first night in a campervan on French soil  Read where we ended up.

Chateau de Noyelles LF23052

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