Last weekend, Mr Hello and I spent some quality time together, and headed over to Calais for the day. Now, Calais is not known generally as the home of ‘cool’ in France, (let’s be honest, it’s no Paris), but the Mr and I quite like a bit of grunge, and Calais was an easy trip away for us.
We live in Kent, so getting over to France was a simple matter of hopping on a train, and then onto The Spirit of France, which happens to be the biggest ferry I’ve ever seen. I am just a country girl after all, you know.
I’ve only ever taken the Eurostar before, so while the trip did take longer than I’ve previously experienced, it is quite nice to be able to walk around, and hey, get a glass of wine if the mood struck me (it did).
First stop: Dover. The south east part of Kent gets a bad rap for being somewhat down at heel, which to a certain extent is true. From another perspective, these towns are glorious monuments to the age of the English Holiday. I am always struck by the wonderful architecture here, and each time I come to Dover I am greeted by more and more cute cafés and boutique hotels. There are so many pretty walks here, so I encourage you to put any preconceptions aside, and make the trip down, even just for the day.
And so, to Calais:
Home of theatre, and modern art.
We spent an hour or so getting lost and somewhat despondent in the suburbs of Calais, before stumbling right onto the Museum of Fine Arts, i.e. our favourite place. Mr H is a wonderful artist, and was really struck that this unassuming building was filled with so many treasures. We couldn’t help ourselves, and bought a poster to remind us of the visit.
Calais is home to a moving representation of the Les Bourgeois de Calais, four citizens of Calais who sacrificed themselves to Edward III during the Hundred Years War, to save the rest of their city. The statue was created by mother flippin’ RODIN guys. It’s pretty impressive, and its proportions are strangely captivating. Here’s a sneak peek:
It hardly does it justice really.
On a slightly more upbeat note, we also popped into the Continental wonderland that is Carrefour. Our mission? To obtain some delicious booze at knock down prices. At first I was like this:
and then I was like this:
Bliss, really. We came away with some orange bitters called Picon, and a little bottle of the aniseed pastis Ricard. We got about 1.5 litres in total for about 20 euros, which we both thought was quite reasonable indeed!
Over the day we ended up walking approximately 17 kilmetres, which Google leads me to believe is about 10.5 miles. I am absolutely appalled by that number, to tell you the truth. So. Much. Walking. We were in desperate need of refreshments, and luckily, these were presented to us via the gastronomical stylings of my new favourite French restaurant, Au Coq D’or (The Golden Rooster).
I did my absolute best to order in my gradually worsening French, and we enjoyed a beautiful starter of langoustines and fresh buttered baguette on the house. Mr H ordered the mussels and I had the steak. All this, with two glasses of Pinot Noir each, came to only 42 euros. For the quality of the food, it was an absolute steal. Please take my advice and go here if you are ever in Calais!
Stuffed to the gills, we waddled back to the Port, and I boarded the boat as an EU Citizen at last! The atmosphere on board was convivial, but that didn’t stop us catching a minute or two of open-mouthed shut eye. Forgive me, it was a very early start.
I really found Calais to be such an interesting city. I’m looking forward to getting to know it a little better and to find more of it’s authentic personality. It’s so easy to stick to the tried and true tourist path, but little treasures like great restaurants and lovely art galleries that make day trips abroad so enjoyable. We are really so lucky to live in this part of the world.