France May 2014: Pt 3 Le Hourdel and Cayeux sur Mer

Sunday:

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up on the free aire at Le Hourdel which is just south of St Valery Sur Somme on the Baie of the Somme.

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On the pitch at the free aire at Le Hourdel

When we woke up this morning it was clear blue skies and we couldn’t believe our luck! Without further ado, we emptied, filled and headed to our next stop, situated on the seaside with plenty of cycle routes to try out. Perfect 🙂

We arrived 45 mins later, bagged the last space on the aire and enjoyed a cuppa in the sun before giving Jazz a little walk down to the beach. The beach here is stoney rather than the expanses of sand found further north or is it East, I’m confused!, but it’s equally pleasant to wander down, and there are lots of birds to watch if that’s your sort of thing. Across the bay you can see Le Crotoy and St. Valerie is to the right.

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View from the beach at Le Hourdel

On the beach there is a ruin of what we thought may be a WW2 Pill box, but there wasn’t any info about it so we aren’t sure; whatever it used to be on closer inspection it’s rather big, probably not in the same position as it used to be and now seems to be home to various wildlife.

We picked up our bikes from the van and cycled the easy 1.5Km to the village of Le Hourdel, where there were two restaurants, a small harbour and a not particularly pretty lighthouse. We then cycled back on ourselves and carried on beyond the aire on a special off road cycle/pedestrian track for 5km to the seaside resort of Cayeux Sur Mer. The weather by now was a mix of clouds and sunshine, and we enjoyed an hour or so looking round the souvenir shops, walking on the beach and eyeing up the pretty beach hits. The cycle ride was lovely and just the sort of thing we fancied doing today.

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The Lighthouse at Le Hourdel

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Think we may have took a wrong turn here?!

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Once back at Bluebell, it was chill time, so we’ve literally sat outside reading, listening to music, dozing and watching people come and go. The rain came about 6pm but it’s not dampened our spirits- we’ve been luckier than we could ever have dreamt of with the weather so far, considering that we are on the north coast of France and are both agreed if it changes from now, we won’t mind at all.

Until next time
Lx

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France May 2014: Pt 2 Fort Mahons Plage and Montreuil Sur Mer

Saturday:

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up on a large aire at Fort Mahons Plage, along with around 40 other European vans (and one other Brit!). We paid €9 Euro to stay here tonight, which includes unlimited water and disposals and whilst at first I thought this was slightly pricey, Keith seemed happy enough to stay here and make full use of the water tonight and before we leave tomorrow. Long showers all around!

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The aire at Fort Mahons Plage

I have to say, I’m pleased we did stay as we’ve had a great time here! But before I tell you about that, let’s skip back to this morning’s adventure! We awoke to sunshine peaking through the roof vents again, and although there were definitely more clouds on the scene, it didn’t dampen our spirits after such a great day yesterday. After breakfast we drove the 20 mins inland to Montreuil Sur Mer, described as “an incredibly pretty fortified town” in my “What to do and see within 90 mins of Calais” book that I got a few years ago off Amazon for about a quid! We soon found the motorhome aire, conveniently located 2 mins walk from the town centre, and even better- free! We soon found the market square, which was a hive of activity seeing as the market was in full swing, and naturally our priority was to find the saucisson stall. 5 mins later and €10 euros lighter we emerged happy as Larry that we’d got 6 new flavours of saucisson to get stuck into at lunchtime!

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The next two hours were spent exploring the town ramparts and the beautiful and oh so typically French streets thanks to the free town map from the Tourist Office. It really is a gorgeous place to visit- the town walls are well kept, enjoyable to walk round (free) and offer lovely views of the surrounding countryside; the cobbled streets are so enchanting that they inspired Victor Hugo to make the town the setting for a major part of Les Miserables after only half a day here back in 1837. We absolutely loved exploring Montreuil, in fact it’s made it’s way onto our favourite/most pretty French town list. Happily, the weather behaved during our time here too!

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After lunch (fresh warm baguette, Camembert and saucisson!) we headed back to the seaside on a 20 min journey to Fort Mahon Plage. During our journey it tipped itself down, but luck seemed to be on our side as by the time we pulled up/topped up water/emptied etc, plus delved into the saucisson once more (rude not to, no?!) and cracked open and finished the €1.20 bottle of red we bought earlier as an experiment, the storm had passed and ever since the sun has been out!

Wanting to make the most of the sun, we took a wander through the resort to the beach, which is a huge stretch of Blue Flag beach, had an ice cream and sat and watched the world go by. On our walk back to Bluebell we passed a fishmongers selling fresh mussels for €3 a litre. I’ve always fancied cooking fresh mussels on one of our trips, so nipped in to grab a litre, and ask how best to cook them. The very French fishmonger slowly talked me through it patiently: (so impressed I understood him!) butter, onions, small glass of white wine, parsley and told me this is what’s known as Moules Marinaire- THE regional meal. I already knew this, having eaten it many a time here before in restaurants but having never cooked it for us myself, I was so excited I skipped all the way back to Bluebell (nerd alert!!)

After finishing off my wine sized bottle of cider we picked up for €1.80 (flipping love this country!!) I set to the Moules, and it was (even if I do say so myself!) AMAZING! Will definitely do this again- to think it cost less than €5 for a hearty and tasty main meal for us is extraordinary!

Oh and by the way- the €1.20 bottled of red experiment…. It’s no Pape but it’s certainly drinkable and dare I say…… Tasty! It complimented our mid afternoon cheese and saucisson feast admirably and we will definitely be picking up more!!

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Until next time
Lx

France, May 2014 Pt1 Le Touqet and Stella Plage

Friday: Bluebell the Motorhome is parked up on the coast behind a large sand dune on a free aire in France. But the question is, what coast are we on?! When we booked this trip, back in February, we booked with the intention of driving to the Mediterranean for a few beach days in the sun. But, given the fact the weather forcast was grim for pretty much the whole of France, and we are currently saving for our wedding day (exactly one year today to go!) we made the decision on our drive down to The Tunnel not to venture the 700 odd miles each way to the Med! This would save us at least £500 quid in fuel for the wedding fund, and with it being the 70th anniversary year of D Day, we thought Normandy would be a good place (and significantly cheaper!!) to head for, without feeling like we’ve compromised.

So, back to my opening statement: Bluebell the Motorhome is parked up in the blazing sunshine (not forecasted!!) on the Free aire at Stella Plage; just south of Le Touquet.

We arrived in France smoothly, quickly, (thanks Eurotunnel) and less stressed at the promise of saving some dosh, late last night and made the 2 minutes drive from train to Cite Europe aire, along with 10 or so other motorhomes for some serious shut eye. We must have needed it as we didn’t wake up til gone 10am!! Feeling heaps more positive, less knackered, and encouraged by the bright blue sky perking through our roof vents, we doned our shorts and picked a beach aire in our “All The Aires France” that was an hours drive away.

Our mission this week is to travel this stretch of coast without using toll roads, and we enjoyed our journey leaving the motorway at Bologne on the Route Nationale road towards Stella Plage. When we arrived, we were pleased to see there were plenty of spaces free, and enjoyed a walk over the sand dune and on to the beach. We narrowly averted a storm with a lunch break in Bluebell before off loading the bikes and cycling the 30 mins journey to ale Touquet. Most of the journey was on a special cycle path resulting in an enjoyable 10kms or so round trip.

We enjoyed visiting Le Touquet, it’s got lots of character, and has some interesting Art Deco buildings, some tasty looking fancy chocolatiers, designer clothing shops and a lovely stretch of sandy beach and promenade. The town of Stella Plage, where we are staying is also really nice- it’s got a handful of bars, cafés, patisseries, shops and a small supermarket where we stocked up on Camembert, wine, cider, and sausisson- which we then consumed whilst happily sat outside the van in the sun, reading, chilling and marvelling at how something as simple as wine, cheese and fresh bread can taste so damn fine!!!

Who needs the Med anyway?!

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the free aire at Stella Plage

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Le Touqet