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Published: August 15th 2013
Lac des Gaillands
One final photo before we leave Chamonix
We decided to make it an early start so that there were no worries about catching the ferry and we should also have some time for some shopping when we got to Calais. We left on time, which is very, very unusual for us, despite the fact that we had a check-list of things to sort-out in the apartment before we left; each of which had a designated fine, which would be taken out of our deposit if they were not completed. It was a fantastic apartment, with what must be one of the best views in Europe (and I don't think I'm exaggerating), but that took the shine off it a bit.
There what just one final photo opportunity as we passed a lake on the way out of Chamonix. Another photo of Mont Blanc to add to the vast collection that I'll be boring all my friends and family with when we get back.
The journey back to Calais seemed to take so much longer than the same journey to Chamonix, although in reality it didn't. Mile after mile after mile of motorway (autoroute or whatever), interrupted only by the unavoidable toll booths. We therefore had nine
The observation tower at the services we took a break at
hours to make numerous observations about the French roads.
Rather than the dull, functional icons on the signs in the UK, the signs for all the towns, areas, attractions, and other places in France are works of arts, tailored to what is unique or well known about each place or its history. They should definitely do the same in the UK, although I dread to think what they would use for Hemel Hempstead? Probably the magic roundabout, a pound shop and half a fuel depot.
There of course those 'mini-services' that we observed on the way to Chamonix, with their picnic areas and toilets (although some of the toilets are on the 'basic' side). The full-scale services beat ours hands-down when it comes to the food as you would expect. There are absolutely no plastic sandwiches.
One of the services we stopped at also had a mini art gallery and an observation tower. I am afraid to say that we have absolutely no idea where it was, given our total dependance on satnav. If you'd like to visit, I can tell you that it was nearer to Chamonix than it was to Calais, but that's about as accurate as I can be.
As we got nearer to Calais the mix of cars changed as you would expect. Loads of French obviously. Around Chamonix there are loads of Italians heading for the tunnel, and lots of Swiss. As we headed towards Calais there was a continual increase in the number of British cars, with some Dutch and Belgians thrown in. Obvious really, but it shows just how bored I was. The roads are so much emptier than the equivalent British roads, which makes them fast and easy to drive, but not very interesting.
There is that annoying habit that applies to French lorry drivers every bit as much as British. When they are going one mile per hour faster than the lorry in front of them, why do they insist in overtaking, causing a massive queue whilst they slowly crawl ahead.
We had a little bit of time for the shopping centre and something to eat, although we would have had more if we'd watched the signs and not ended-up in central Calais, stuck in traffic, going back the way that we had just came.
We left loads of time to get on the ferry, but we didn't allow for the slowest immigration official in the history of British bureaucracy. As is always our way, we got in the wrong queue and had to sit there crawling forward whilst all the other queues flew past us. When we eventually got to the front of the queue, we would love to have kicked-off with the Mr Bean who carefully and meticulously scanned each passport, but of course we were polite and smiled nicely.
We were literally the second to last on to the ferry, which, of course, meant that we were second to last off.
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