Tuesday, 31 July 2012

With the shores of England behind us we were looking forward to the next and more testing part of our journey.  With next to no French bar yes, no, cat, dog and thank you - we were hoping that either most people spoke or at least understood English or we could perform charades to explain what we meant.
We arrived after a fairly quick crossing and cycled out of the ferry terminal and into Calais where Dave added a Gold Coast touch to the Calais sign!!
The French countryside was really lovely, and we were graced with good weather - AT LAST - It was a pleasure to be cycling and we came across these two locals just outside some houses in a street, but they weren't very talkative:
The French Beaches were totally different to the Shingle beaches of the South coast of England, and this was our first view of them.
The buildings here, as in the UK are really something else.  It makes us really want to know the history behind them as you can't help wonder who has been there and how were they built so long ago to the exacting finishes and elaborate details!
We were lucky enough in some circumstances to be able to find the information in English so that was a bonus!!
We headed South from Calais and into 300 mile an hour headwinds - Well it felt like that!!
Maybe 50 miles an hour, but it was heavy going over this terrain.....
We stayed the night with a young French couple hosting us and checked out the forecasts.  They foretold of nothing but headwinds if we kept a southward path, so being the intrepid travelers we are we said "bugger that"" and decided that the North of France was the place to be, so it was with the wind that we headed off the next morning feeling pretty good. It's so nice to be free!
 As we were travelling we passed by what we thought might be a council type caravan park, as it seemed to be pretty crowded and with no specific order about it.  We later found out that it was a Gypsy encampment.  We had seen a few of these in the UK, where the Gypsies just arrive 'en masse' in a park or wherever and just set up camp.  Within a couple of hours they can populate whole parks etc and then the authorities have to go through their procedures to get them to move on which can take a few weeks.  But none of the English ones were like this!!
As we cycled we came across a lot of religious statues.  Both in the towns and even way out in the countryside where there is nothing for miles.  Typically in the country they seem to be erected on the tops of hills.
They also had some great street sculptures.  These were representing each country's flags and you would not even guess that anyone would come up with an idea quite so novel.
We also noticed that so many of the houses in the little villages had window boxes full of flowers in their windows and the larger towns had beautiful gardens in public areas like this one.
The beaches were typically  Cafe's then the obligatory beach boxes - not everywhere but in quite a few places, then vast flat sandy beaches.  We tried where possible to cycle along the waterfront, amongst all the hustle and bustle of the tourists, and getting all the wonderful smells from the different cafe's:
These two items were interesting so just thought i'd throw them in before I sign off from France......
They are displayed for posterity along the road and are remnants from the building of the channel tunnel.  This one is part of the machine that drilled out the service tunnel:
And this is one of the machines that drilled out the tunnel that the train now passes through from France to the UK.......pretty fascinating:
Then after we spent a couple of days relaxing and catching up with washing etc in Dunkirk it was off on our way again and heading for Country no 8 - Belgium.

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