Monday, September 08, 2014

In defence of Northern France

As some of you know, I lived for a while in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais way back in 2007. When I mention this fact to French people, they normally get an expression on their faces like "why on earth would you do that?" And much of the time, I would agree. For the most part, I found the accents incomprehensible, the weather abysmal, and the landscape unremarkable. Most of the time I was there, we were traipsing about WWI sites or cleaning children's dormitories, which doesn't help I suppose. One thing I rarely got to do was to go to the coast - and if I had, the weather the spring/summer/autumn I was there wasn't often beach-worthy.

Still, when Jules suggested we spend a weekend at his family's beachfront apartment in the small town of Ambleteuse, I thought, why not? Might be fun to see the old stamping grounds. My heart sank a little as the forecast for the weekend predicted more and more rain, but hey, free weekend break can't be too bad.

You'll probably have divined from the title of the post that it actually turned out to be a great weekend. We turned up in the dark late on Friday night, the wind blowing so hard along the sea front that I could barely open my car door, and it continued to howl around the house all night until we woke up to a grey and extremely blustery day on Saturday morning.

Undaunted, I put on my best tramp's assemblage of Jules's mum's too-small tennis shoes, rolled-up leggings, a dress and a mismatched cardigan, and we headed out to the beach with Susi, Jules's dog, to clamber around on the rocks while it was low tide (the beach actually disappears altogether at high tide).

Jules and Susi on the rocks
I don't want to badmouth Susi, but she did a poo right behind us while we were taking selfies. Everyone's a critic

I have so many where I look like I'm doing awkward Russian mail-order bride poses, when I'm actually trying to keep my hair from flying everywhere

Little red riding Susi gets a cuddle after her beach trip
In the afternoon, we took a trip to nearby Wimereux, because the weather still wasn't great and I wanted to buy some photo frames (no luck). The sea was at its peak by now, dramatically pounding the sea wall and sending plumes of spray up into the air and washing on to the promenade.

That's the face of someone wondering if they're about to get drenched
High tide at Wimereux
Stopping at a pretty bay between Wimereux and Ambleteuse

Panorama of the bay

We finished the day off with a drive to Cap Gris Nez, the closest point between France and England. I remembered once taking a drive up the Côte d'Opale (as it's called) when I was living there, and how pretty it was. There wasn't quite as much coastal views as I remembered, but it still was very pretty.

View from Cap Gris-Nez to Cap Blanc-Nez (and sheep)

Somewhere on the way to Cap Griz-Nez

So, it might have lived up to its reputation for fairly inclement weather, but luckily it didn't rain, and the wind, while extremely strong, wasn't all that cold. And it turned out the next day would bring us blue skies and sunshine...


  1. Great photos, especially the one of you at the "Point aux oies" (that's the spot between Wimereux and Ambleteuse!), beautiful light and colours.

    1. ...says the guy who took it! There were two shots which were virtually identical, but for some reason the light was totally different #nofilter

  2. I've never actually been to the Cote d'Opale... I need to get on that! It looks like a beautiful place even if you had to battle with the wind!


    1. Definitely, although maybe you've missed your window this year. Part 2 will show what it looks like with a bit of sunshine, although I quite like the moody grey shots on the rocks.

  3. Love your vivid description of the weather. It must have been cozy to be inside with the howling wind at the door.

    1. Thanks! Bit annoying when you're trying to sleep though, ha ha.


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