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Published: July 18th 2017
At the beach.
Our hostess provided a wonderful breakfast. The best eggs in Europe are nicely poached and the yolks are a bright yellow. Fresh eggs that have travelled from the backyard to the kitchen are like that. Because of the eggs we ask if we can come back in a fortnight. All is well, the bed is chosen, the name is written down, only to be beaten by Booking.com, our go-to website. But! Maria has contacts. Her daughter and son-in-law run a guest house beside the castle and we are booked in with fresh eggs for breakfast. Before we leave we indulge in some French-English-French language lessons. We have had a wonderful stay. Perhaps we’ll catch up in a fortnight.
When planning our trip we thought an overnight stop in Saint-Quentin would be perfect, not because of its sights but its location. The accommodation wasn’t suitable so Maria got our business. We decide to see what Saint-Quentin has to offer. What a surprise. We park in an underground car park at Hotel de Ville and emerge in the middle of a beach with the sound of seagulls overhead and hordes of children playing on the beach and surrounding sand dunes. By now
Summer gardens in the square
you will be heading for Google Maps to find out where Saint-Quentin by the sea can be located. Also if you have been following us closely you’ll want to know how we got to the coast so quickly. The local council have brought in truck loads of sand and created a beach scene in the centre of the city. Children are having a ball. Paddling, building sand castles, playing beach games, sun bathing, parents on beach loungers and life guards on patrol looking after the children and supervising the activities. Loud speakers broadcast the sounds of the beach across the square. The city is alive, busy, happy.
We made a brief visit to the Cathedral. Over history this building has been damaged many times, the most recent during the 1914-18 war. It was about to be blown up when the Allies arrived. Today you can see the repairs to the building. Restoration will be an ongoing issue.
Our drive takes us north to the coast and the town of Tournehem for an overnight stop. We pass through Arras, a wonderful town we visited in 2015. On the outskirts we saw the remains of an abbey. This time the
Hotel de Ville
reason for its destruction is the French Revolution. The remains stand on a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside.
As we pass through the countryside to our destination we are amazed at the amount of grain being grown. Hopefully it will all be harvested while we are in the United Kingdom and the roads will be clear of farm machinery on our return. Probably not. There is too much to be harvested in a fortnight, even if the weather permits. We are not traveling along the main roads but it still amazes us seeing the number of sign posts pointing out war cemeteries. The area is dotted with these last resting places of soldiers, mainly from the 1914-18 campaigns.
We arrive in Tournehem to the sound of a carnival in full swing. Tomorrow is 14 July, Bastille Day, and the partying has started. Hopefully we’ll get a good sleep. In the morning we drive to the Eurotunnel for our train trip to England.
And so this chapter ends.
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