Category Archives: France

Our Last Day in the UK

There was free parking provided in a carpark right next to the Chunnel entrance so we took advantage of that for our last night in France. We woke up early to see if we could get an earlier crossing in the Chunnel as our booking was for 10:55am. Gary and Dianne were ready early so we were off.

Free parking in Calais

When we checked in, we found that we could get on an 9:50 crossing so we were in.

The Chunnel train port

After checking underneath and see if any stowaways were hanging on, as requested by the British border man, we headed off to Starbucks in the duty free pavilion until our time for boarding.

Driving onto the Train
Driving up to our spot Gary and Dianne in front

It was all really easy. After spending 20 minutes or so in the carriage inside Ralph, we were in Folkstone, UK and drove straight out onto the the motorway towards the Dartmouth Crossing.

A bit of traffic on the M25 around London slowed us down but we by 2.30pm, we were in Milton Keynes picking up our suitcases from Ralphs home at Hireahymer.com.

The camp

After this, we followed the Gary’s  GPS settings to the Old Dairy Farm campground which is right by a canal. Just beautiful. A really small camp with about 15 powered sites on an old Farm.

Looking over towards Harry

We headed off in Ralph up to a pub about 3 k’s called the Three Locks Hotel which is as it says, right by 4 locks and by the canal.

A beautiful setting. We went with Dianne and Gary and shouted them  a meal out on our last night as a way of saying thank you for being in their hair for the previous month or so and being great tour guides, especially of their old home country of the Czech Republic. We wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it without you guys. Thanks heaps to you both.

We had a great night there. I think we were all pretty tired as starting out in France early and driving to where we were was all a bit hectic.

Water coming through the lock gates
Two narrow boats in the lock

It was a relatively early night but what a lovely spot to finish off the trip.

Through the hedge is the Canal

In the morning we were taking Ralph home and catching a coach to Heathrow Ibis for a night and then our flight home to NZ.

The Market Town

Making our way slowly back to Calais across Northern France, we stopped in a small village called Boiry Notre Dame. The area around here is loaded with War cemetaries and references to both wars where the Germans absolutely hammered the place and often for no reason apart from to destroy the culture.

Fiona puts a poppy down at an unknown Soldiers grave on the way to Arras

Click on the Images for Hi res or a Slideshow

Hymer caravans coming in to the camp.

The camp we were staying at was on the edge of the village with a Maize growing area which went for miles on the other side. From there we could also see about 40 odd giant Wind Turbines grinding away and they were earning their keep as it was blowing. They had really bright LED lights at the centre and at night these change red and they all blinked at the same time. Quite a sight!

Our park out of town

In the morning, we caught a cab into Arras which was about 17 odd k’s (30 euros in the cab) and headed for the main square where there was a huge market on. Arras has three big squares all linked together and there are stalls everywhere you looked.

Lovely Crepe lunch

We sat down and enjoyed a Crepe lunch which the area is famous for in the main square. The square is dominated by an amazing old building which is the town hall, which has been rebuilt after the Germans dealt to it during the war.

The Town Hall

The main square is called Place de Heros which gives you an idea of where the locals stand with the history.

Fiona, Gary and Dianne getting into the shopping

After checking out more shoe and dress shops, we worked our way towards an old Cathedral around the back of the old square.

There are photographs and the story behind the cathedral is posted to the railings of the Cathedral which the Germans destroyed during the war. The Cathedral like many others has been rebuilt and looks fantastic.

At The Markets

We were going to check out the Wellington Tunnels but the people who run would only let us go in at a time that was too late for us so unfortunately we couldn’t do it. The Wellington Caves are a series of Tunnels dug by Kiwi Soldiers during the war under the town to surprise the Germans. Now part of the towns history and named after the soldiers who dug it out who came from Wellington, NZ.

Great atmosphere

We caught a cab back to the camp and sat outside for a while before tea.

A great day out in Provincial France.

The Village Bike Run

One of the things that we’d decided to do when we left Luxembourg was to find a spot we could stay in that gave us close access to some french villages.

Click on the images for Hi Res

Ralph can be seen slightly behind the small tree in the middle

Dianne found a lovely community run campground in a little village area about 20 k’s west of Reims called Courmelois. There were two other villages close by within 10 minutes of biking and the fee at the camp was very reasonable. It was 20 euros for both of us with EHU (power or electric hook up) and nice showers, toilets and dumping facilities.

Harry and Ralph

It was all very relaxed and they basically gestured us to two power boxes and said we could park anywhere between them which gave us heaps of room. There were no sites marked out.

Pastries and Free Wifi. Dianne, Gary and Fiona.

We settled down on the first night and made loose plans to do the bike thing around the local villages.

The Village and the Campground. Canal along the bottom.

The next morning came around and it was time to get organised. I couldn’t find the key for the lock on the bikes. After an hour or so of stewing and turning the place upside down for the said key, we turned to plan B. I won’t say how we got the bikes down except to say it involved a toolbox and and the lock was useless afterwards but as Gary does, he had a spare 🙂 We could use it to secure the bikes until we got back to the UK. Fantastic!!

Gary checking the map on his phone by the Pastry shop – Thuisy

We set off and within 10 minutes or so, we were in a lovely little village called Thuisy and there was one shop only there.. a Bread and pastry shop. Just what we were looking for so after a few minutes, we were off again to another village called Wez. As we came in to the village, we found a neat wee Pub on a corner and popped in for a cup of Coffee.

Gary, Dianne and Fiona outside a closed champagne place in Wez around the corner from the Pub.

They had a nice attached Restaurant so we decided to go for a ride and come back for lunch and it was amazing. We ended up staying here for several hours.

Gary giving Fiona encouragement to get up the hill!
Stopping at the canal to watch someone going through the lock

Leaving there, Gary found another village a little further away by the canal so we headed off down there but the village was deserted. Lots of lovely homes but no action at all and no sign of any people apart from the odd farmer. This was on a weekday too.

Gary following Fiona up the canal tow path

With it all being quiet, we decided to head back to the camp and had an early tea with the stuff we got from the pastry shop. Yum .. A nice day out biking in the fresh air dodging showers. 🙂

Our route around the villages