Wow! I can’t believe that I have taken so long to continue with my travel posts about our latest trip through Amsterdam and France and Belgium! I could talk about how busy I am, and how my perfectly quiet hours available to me to work have been cut down from 12 to 4-8 per week since my daughter dropped her nap. (And I thought I was struggling to get everything done before!) But, instead, lets just treasure together the beautiful memories and stories from my trip! And I promise…I’ll try to not get too excited and fill up the page with exclamation points 😉
Anyways, in my last travel post I updated you on our overnight stay in Amsterdam. (Well, it was two nights, but still…) From Amsterdam my husband and daughter and I took about a 4 hour drive to Calais, France. During which time I actually was able to see a windmill!
I know it might seem a little silly….but that was one of the things I desperately wanted to see when we were in Amsterdam! Once we got to Calais (France), we were able to stay put for over a week! Which was really lovely. Especially since we have a toddler. And had grandparents with us. Plus….it was FRANCE!
While I love to talk and share…I am going to try to keep this succinct for YOU! So, here are my top 5 favorite things about Calais! (aka…the north eastern coast of France):
1). The Weather
Cold. Windy. Sunshine sprinkled with a smattering of rain.
You might think this sounds like a drawback to a vacation, this English-like weather, but I relished every second of it! You see, I had just left Dallas where it was 80 degrees and scorchingly sunny those last few days of September. So the chance to escape an Indian summer and indulge in some fall weather was delightful. Especially since we did have sun over half of the time.
2). The Beach
While windy, fall weather might not seem like perfect beach weather (and Calais was certainly no Southern California where you want to walk on the beach in shorts!), it was utterly fabulous. Especially on the beach of Dunkirk.
It was peaceful yet sobering as we stood in our boots and scarves on the sand, imagining the sick, cold, and terrified soldiers on that beach just a couple generations ago.
Where once there was so much pain and fear, there was now beauty and innocence (with my daughter walking along on the beach 😉 ). It is always good to have moments of reflection…and the beach is the perfect place for it! Especially Dunkirk. Well, if you aren’t running after a toddler who is saying “yuck! sand!” every other step.
3). The People
Yes, I did thoroughly enjoy everyone I got to meet in France! What I really want to emphasize right here, though, is how amazing it was to have family with us on our trip! To get to have both sets of grandparents playing with and spoiling Little Miss was bliss, for both us and our daughter!
I must say, I definitely recommend taking a vacation with grandparents. Not only do you get family time, but while they play with the grandbaby you get some alone time! 😉 And isn’t that what we all want when we are on a vacation? So, if my mom or mother-in-law are reading this…thank you! So much! And Little Miss is still asking for you ❤
4). The Romance
What do you think of when you think of a romantic European vacation? Warmth, sunshine, and water? That does seem to be the general viewpoint. However, I lean more towards cool, breezy, locations with medieval cities and castles. Which is exactly what we got to indulge in during our stay in Calais! Especially when we took a little excursion one day to Bologne-sur-Mer.
Don’t those fabulous cobblestone streets with the moss growing up in between the stones, the cafes’ tables drifting onto the walking-only street, conjure up thoughts of lingering in the morning over espresso with a journal and newspaper and creative thoughts tumbling over one another inside of you? Or images of tottering high heals and clingy black evening wear as you head into a fabulous, almost hidden, restaurant to meet up with someone special?
This is why I find old and beautiful cities to be romantic. It is the intrigue. The mystery. So many twists and turns, and little hidden gems of shops to discover! You never know what is around the next bend, quite literally!
5). The History
Coming from America, where everything is relatively fresh and new (I mean…our country as such didn’t even exist until 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed) and any ancient history of our continent is hard to decipher, the fact that Europe has such well-recorded ancient history has always intrigued me. There is a bit of a mystery, but a mystery that can be answered, in ancient history. Plus, the fact that so many of the ancient tales and legends have a grain of truth to them…and you can find bits of those tales woven through history… It is basically like one big, true, mystery story! Well, I digress. But I could keep going on and on about why I adore history!
And Calais, along with Bologne-sur-Mer, is packed full of amazing history! Did you know that Bologne was an important Roman port? I mean, Roman! The same civilization that built aquaducts and roads throughout much of Europe. They pioneered central heating and steam power and so much more! From that time on, Bologne-sur-Mer has been an important port and fishing city. Even today it is France’s largest fishing port (it specializes in herring).
In Bologne-sur-Mer, there is a 12th century belfry! Can you believe it?
Can you imagine all the stories of heartbrake and love and romance that this tower has seen? Including the staging of Napolean’s troops while he thought about invading England!
Oh, I do so hope that one day you will have the chance to visit the cool and beautiful northern coast of France!
What intrigues you about a place? Makes you long to travel there? Let me know in the comments below! And always take every chance you can to have adventure!
Have a beautiful week!