Vive La France!

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
La Napolean

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, August 5, 2011

We are sitting outside on the pavement, in the very French way, enjoying our first taste for this trip of the gastronomic delights of food and wine that is France.  

We have the set 3 course menu of delicate terrine for starters, a main course of very tender beef bourgeon, and picture perfect fruit tart for desert.The wine is superb and we feel the ambiance, even though in French terms this is not an ambient place, being opposite the  railway station, (very ornate and grand - but still a railway station) and with traffic going by, but we breathe in the "Frenchness" of it all and love it. Our accommodation is very basic and only 40 euros, but it is just above us, (well 4 flights up!) so we can just climb the stairs up to bed after wards.

It has been a long travel day involving a tube, 2 buses, the amazing Canterbury Cathedral and our first trip through the amazing tunnel between Britain and France nicknamed the Chunnel. We had left London reluctantly for the last time early in the morning on foot with our backpacks on, and waving goodbye to little Elliot and Evan watching from the upstairs window. It was a tube ride then into Victoria Station, then a 2 hour bus ride to the city of Canterbury where we walked to the cathedral. There has been a cathedral on this site since AD597 and it is renown as the head of the Church of England Church and is UNESCO World Heritage listed. We had a bit of time spare until our next bus, so also walked to St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church. Canterbury Cathedral through history has had quite a few connections to Australia and been the scene of a murder of a Archbishop. See the photo's attached for details.

After a quick lunch we waited at the designated stop for our Eurolines bus to take us to France but in vain. It became later and later, but eventually it arrived, albeit almost one hour late and we climbed aboard. It seemed like no time before we arrived at French customs and then our bus was driven onto a gigantic enclosed train carriage for our trip under the English Channel via one of The Seven Wonders Of The Modern World. The actual under water section took only 35 minutes – so much quicker than the ferry crossing.

Another couple of hours later and we arrived at our first French destination of Lille and walked to our booked accommodation. Abruptly we realized we had left the familiarity of the UK and language behind when the person on reception couldn't understand us and told us (in French) we had no booking. It soon got sorted however with another receptionist who could speak a little English and we were handed our room key. After settling in, we went for a walk to find the Avis Car Rental Office where we were to pick up our car the next day and confirmed that all was OK. Lucky we did, as they did not have recorded that we wanted a GPS! All was sorted with a lovely French girl who spoke English and then we headed back to the restaurant below our hotel for our first gourmet French meal.  

We are sad to have left the UK behind, but very happy to be back in France.

Footnote: Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church are UNESCO World Heritage listed. The Euro Tunnel is one of The Seven Wonders Of the Modern World.
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