On a whim we decided to do some Christmas shopping in France. The £60 Eurotunnel fee was no barrier to this and I more than recouped the cost by filling up with diesel at €1 a litre and by stocking up on wine and champers at £3 per bottle cheaper than in the UK. I am sure you will agree that it would have been rude not to in those circumstances!
We had booked the 9.40 train, but having sailed down the M25 & M23 in little over an hour, those lovely Eurotunnel people allowed us to take the 8.40. An hour extra in France hurrah!
We had decided to visit Boulogne-sur-Mer, France’s largest fishing port 30km south of le tunnel sous la Manche.
First stop Leclerc supermarket for a quick coffee and croissant before stocking up on cheese, beer, vinegar, mustard, spices and cookies all at well below home prices, plus that economy fill up.
Soon afterwards we were parking up just outside the old town ramparts of the Norman city, France’s 59th largest apparently.
It was lunchtime and we opted for a pleasant little bistro right opposite the hotel de ville, which looked fetchingly festive with all the white Christmas trees adorning its facade.
Les Ramperts served up a menu fixe at €15. I plumped for the pate, boeuf bourgignon and tarte tatin, augmented with a very nice red, Mrs Wilbur went for the same, whilst our travelling companion Chris had the mussels, steak and chocolate mousse. It was all very tasty stuff, again at a bargain price.
Suitably stuffed, we strolled the few metres to the cathedral Notre Dame with its strikingly unusual crypt. At 100 metres long it is the oldest crypt in France and was certainly unlike any other I have ever witnessed.
It only re-opened in May after years of careful restoration. Parts of the crypt were built in Roman times, but the most amazing features are all the frescos and other decorative art, created by unknown artists in the 19th century.
It was an unexpected treat indeed and a bargain at €5 entrance fee.
With time running short, we paid a quick visit to the main church upstairs. The climb up to the magnificent dome will have to wait for next time, along with a clamber around the ramparts.
There was just time to nip back to Calais to pick up our pre-ordered bargain wine, before catching the 18.20 shuttle back to the UK.
All in all a lovely day to be repeated soon.