Saturday, 2 June 2012

Back in France - The Drive Part 2

As we were about to leave the ferry at Calais, we saw this Citroen 2CV going on holiday! We thought it was a great idea; taking off in a camper van, with your classic vehicle trailered behind, ready to tour around in. Not good for the camper van's fuel economy though!!


Bon voyage!
I wonder why it is, as we drive onto French soil, we simply relax and feel laid-back, regardless of the weather?  It has a lot to do with the sparsity of traffic,  no driving nose to tail, nor waiting to hear on the radio that the road in front is closed  because of an accident.  On a trip last year, I did come across an accident in France (my first ever in 7 years), by taking a busier route than normal. I sat for an hour while they cleared the debris, but I still made it to the ferry on time, as I always give myself an hour or so to spare.  Usually I arrive early at the port, but the ferry people are great and always try to put me on an earlier sailing if they can.

This time we arrived to a cloudy sky, but with some blue patches peeking through; normal traffic flow, not heavy and without too many trucks. Oh, how I love French main roads; that is, of course, if we do not drive via Paris.  One trip on the Peripherique (Paris ring road) was enough!! Although it does have overhead signs telling you how long you will be held up for!
Fields of yellow rape seed
Here are just some of the many regional road signs seen en route on the motorway through northern France. The road broadly runs south-west, parallel with the northern French coast. For a change, we had decided to take things easier and break our longish journey south with a night's stay at Bourgtherould, a small town just south of Rouen.  All of these photos were taken while we were driving at 130kph (80 mph) - the speed limit on toll roads, so they are not the best quality!  You can see from the grey sky that the weather was not ideal.

Neufchâtel-Hardelot is a farming and tourist town in the department of Pas de Calais, just to the south of Boulogne. The name “ Neufchatel” has its origins in a castle built on the 150 metre (330 feet) high coastal sand dunes in the 12th century, but later engulfed by shifting sands.
In the early 20th century, an English developer started  the creation of a new resort and sporting centre at Hardelot, by building 20 large and exclusive villas. Louis Bleriot, the famous French cross-channel avaitor also lived here. Despite suffering damage in WW2, much rebuilding has taken place, and the developer’s vision of a resort has come to pass, with golf, tennis and horse riding facilities now available. Land yachting is also a popular pastime on the windswept beaches. 
Cote Picarde or Picardy coast forms part of a region much fought over in WW1. It is known as the least urbanized coast of France, and its hinterland is an exceptional environment for bird life, as can also be seen on the following sign.
Previously featured without further description in a late 2010 blog, this sign illustrates  Marquenterre beach and bird sanctuary; its 20 kilometres of fine sand, together with the estuary of the river Somme, form an exceptional site for wildlife, and it is said that two thirds of the bird species in Europe can be observed in the bird park established around the river estuary.
The valley of the Eaulne river, although only 46km (29 miles) long and a tributary of a larger river, is ecologically rich in fish species, salmon, trout and its adjoining marshes and wetlands are home to many bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species.

The château du Champ-de-Bataille, located in the Normandy  region is a baroque castle built in 17th century for the Maréchal de Créqui, who was exiled here. It took 12 years to build!! The French-style gardens were re-created starting in 1992 by the owner, a well-known interior designer, and the design was inspired by the original layout. The French Ministry of Culture list the gardens as one of the “Notable Gardens of France”, so must be worth a visit!!
This ruined castle was visible from the main road just before we turned off to Bourgtherould, our overnight destination. Unfortunately, the information sign is hidden by the trees, so its identity will have to remain a mystery!

The Drive will continue as and when I have time  in parts 3 and 4 but there are other posts that I would like to fit in between!!

81 comments:

  1. I love the signs that show images of what you can see.

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  2. Gaelyn there are so many lovely signs, but it is difficult getting reasonable photos when you are flying past at the speed limit! I have a lot more but they really are not good enough to publish :( Diane

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  3. Love this post and the signs Diane - but my fave, of course, is that beautiful white and maroon (?) baby in the first two pics ... :)

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  4. What a joy it is to travel with you! Was that really your camper, or someone else's?
    For a while early in our retirement we contemplated purchasing a camper. But, we are hotel people, needing way too many comforts in life.
    I guess, with a family of small children, a camper might just fit the bill.

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  5. Graham it was in really good condition and I would just have loved to pinched it off that trailer :)) I just cannot imagine Nigel at 193 metres curling himself up to fit in it LOL. Diane

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  6. Rosaria, no we were just following it but what a great way to go on holiday especially with small children. Diane

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  7. Thanks Horst, not easy taking photos with traffic in the way at maximum speed limit !! Diane

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  8. Hi, this is my first visit here. It looks like you have found a great place to travel and to live. I spent a total of 6 months in Paris and loved it.

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  9. Diane, the scenery is beautiful, esp. the field with the yellow rape seed. And the signs are interesting with the graphics showing the attractions in the towns. All the castles we saw throughout Europe amazed me; old and such great architecture! Have a good weekend! Pam

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  10. Terra thanks for the visit and the comment. France is a great place to live. We love it here, just wish my French was better!! Diane

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  11. Pam I said to Nigel that the photo of the rape fields almost looked like a painting, it was though taken from a fast moving vehicle....... Diane

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  12. Possibly the reason you saw the 2CV was that as we discovered on our travels in France this month, there was a 2CV gathering on and we came across groups of them.
    Most being in great condition therefore owned by enthusiasts. We came across a small group which also had a couple of camper vans with them.

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  13. Hi Diane,

    I am enjoying your road trip!

    Great photos I can never seem to take good ones from the car!

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  14. Hi Diane......I ALWAYS learn so much when I stop by here....I can tell you are glad to be back home.

    xo

    Jo

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  15. Lovely commentary to go with your photos. The the weather was overcast it was probably perfect for travelling. Happy weekend to you and Nigel.

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  16. Love,LOVE that car,doesn't Trish from "Trishes' Mediterranean Kitchen" fame drive around in a blue one similar to that in her program?

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  17. Leon and Sue, thanks for the comment, you may well have the answer to why we saw this 2CV in such good condition.

    Hope that all is well now that you are back home. Lots of rain here last night but it was getting to a stage we needed it again after the hot spell. Diane & Nigel

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  18. Cate if you see how many pictures get discarded...... Good job we have such things as digital cameras nowadays or non of these photos would get taken!! Diane

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  19. Jo I am glad that you enjoy these trips. We also learn from them as we seldom know what is behind the sign before looking them up and we rarely have time to stop over. Diane

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  20. Joyful the overcast weather was perfect for travel, but not for taking photos!! I feel a bit like a farmer here, never happy with the weather LOL. Diane

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  21. Liesl, I am not sure if she does drive a 2CV, I will have to check it out. Thanks for the visit. Diane

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  22. Those signs are really charming, and I love that 2CV!

    I look forward to more traveling posts!

    Ciao
    Alessandra

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  23. I've just lived a good part of your photostory - we drove down last night!

    We knew a couple who used to tow a little Smart car behind their camper van for little trips out from their camp site.

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  24. I'm with you regards to traffic! I know there are horrors here: the A6 heading in high season; but love the way the A28 is pretty empty even in July/August. It is imho much better than UK.

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  25. Alessandra I am glad that you are enjoying the drive. I just wish more of my photos had been good enough to publish!! Diane

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  26. Gaynor I am glad that you have arrived safely. See you on Wednesday :-) Diane

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  27. Glad you've arrived safely. It's always good to be back home. Love the little Citroen. Very retro.
    Sam

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  28. Oh, I really like that car.:-)
    Hugs Stina

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  29. Hi Diane, thank you for sharing all the lovely pictures. All look great.
    Love all the signage with picture attached. It sure look cute.

    Have a nice weekend, regards. Take care.

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  30. Sam it is good to be back home we are so much more relaxed here :) The Citroen was a special extra LOL Diane

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  31. Lilla it seems everyone is love with that car LOL Diane

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  32. Amelia the signage in France is very special. They make a lot of effort to let everyone know what is not far off the road. Diane

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  33. Niall & Antoinette you are so right, the A28 is almost always a pleasure to travel on even during the summer. The only time I have changed my route I have regretted it!! This is the first time we have travelled together both back and forth. It has always been me on my own and Nigel has flown over when he has managed some leave. Diane

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  34. A fun post, sounds like France is really home for you!

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  35. The Café Sucré Farine we have moved house so many times I have lost count..... I must say though this is the first house that to me has really felt like home :) Diane

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  36. what nice Diane and fun, here the citroen were soo popular years ago!
    and this look so nice!xxx

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  37. I love to travel with you in the passenger seat. You make it all sound like an adventure and since your in the driver's seat I'm finding the tour relaxing. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

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  38. Gloria the 2 CV was, and still is, very popular. This one was in excellent condition. Diane

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  39. Mary I am glad that you are relaxing and enjoying the trip. More to follow. Take care Diane

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  40. Diane, what a lovely ride you must have had. The traffic here in Rome is more than chaotic, and the highways are so busy these days, everyone is going to or coming from the beach. Any plans on coming to Italy?

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  41. Francesca I would love to see Italy but there is little chance of it happening in the near future. If we go in any direction other than the UK it would be to friends in Portugal, but that is also on hold for the time being. I will certainly let you know if we are heading in that direction. Keep well Diane

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  42. The fields of yellow rape seed remind me of our many trips to France. The header on my blog is a photo similar to yours. It has to be nice to be back home.

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  43. Oh that's a cute car, I think my SIL would love that one.

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  44. I have just been catching up with your posts. Sorry to hear the reason for your hasty trip to the UK. The weather looks atrocious I'm glad you made it to the ferry on time. It is a long drive home but you pass (whizz past) some very interesting places with nice signs. The old citroen is a beauty. It sure is fun meeting up with blogger friends.

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  45. backroadjournal thanks for the visit and the comment, I do appreciate it. I agree your photo is quite similar. I hope to see you back sometime. Take care Diane

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  46. chubskulit, those little cars are so popular here in France, some though look better than others and this one had been beautifully restored. Diane

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  47. I know what you mean by being totally relaxed as soon as you arrive in France. We feel exactly the same x

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  48. I also feel relaxed and comfortable when getting back on to French soil. I guess it is because France is in my soul.

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  49. Diane B we do pass some interesting places en route, but if we stopped off at everything of interest I doubt if we would get home for months!! There is just so much in France to visit.... Thanks for catching up with my posts. Take care Diane

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  50. Kerry that just goes to show that France is where you belong :) Keep well Diane

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  51. Vera I have to agree France in in my soul as well, I only wish French was also!!!! Diane

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  52. That's a cute car.

    Great photographs! I also like all the different signs--a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and those town signs seem to get across the major attractions.

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  53. Am sure you'll uncover the mystery son for that ruined castle. Thanks for always visiting.

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  54. Je suis bien contente que votre retour se soit bien passé.Merci de nous faire partager votre voyage entre Picardie et Normandie! C'est bien sûr le parc du Marquenterre et ses oiseaux qui ont retenu mon attention!

    Bonne journée à vous!

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  55. What's great about your blog Diane is that i always learn something from you and feel like i am on the road with you. As for that car - beautiful!

    Enjoy your travels.

    Red

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  56. I am a different person when I get to Provence. Life's worries seem to disappear so I know what you mean. You drove through a lot of interesting areas. Thanks for sharing.

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  57. That old car is really cool. I would love to explore the old ruined castle!

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  58. I have loved driving along with you and Nigel in this most interesting post. How I love "being on the road"!

    I cannot wait until my hols in Britanny the first week of August when I go over to stay with friends. France is one of my favourite countries ever X

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  59. it's interesting to see those signboards that come with the pictures that tell about the place. Quite rare to find it here..not unless they ask you to beware of elephants then they put up a picture of an elephant!

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  60. Love the places but hate those signs... I am so old fashioned.. love the simple, old time signs with the words... no pictures.

    On the other hand I LOVE the old Citroen!!

    Does it feel good to be home?

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  61. Des photos magnifiques!

    Le Baiser de Nita.

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  62. Nice car, Diane! The weather is looking good and good for a long way drive. Bon voyage.
    Best wishes
    Kristy

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  63. The Golden Eagle the signs are very popular here and I personally think that it gives you a great idea of what you may be missing by driving straight past. Yea I agree great little car. Diane

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  64. chubskulit that castle will remain a mystery unless we drive that road again and it is not a route we normally take :( Diane

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  65. Lucie, Nous nous sommes arrêtés au parc en 2003. Les oiseaux sont beaux. Bonne journée. Diane

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  66. Boye By Red I am more than happy to read your comment. I am glad that you not only enjoy my posts but that you also learn something from them. Diane

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  67. Michel, it amazes me how we change when on French soil, it is a different world and we just love it. Diane

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  68. Pam you are right that car is very cool. I would also like to explore that castle, problem is I am not even sure what road we were on!!!! We were just following the Tom-tom to the hotel!! Diane

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  69. Dolly I wish Brittany was just a little closer. We have just had a big party in the Loire yesterday and I met so many great bloggers, the write up will follow soon. Glad that you enjoyed being on the road :-) Take care Diane xx

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  70. Lena that sounds a bit like Africa, beware of elephants or watch out for giraffe in the road:-) The signs are informative and as we try to look up the info we find out what we are missing by driving past!! Diane

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  71. lostpastremembered it is great to be home, but we have been frantic every day since out return with medicals, Drs and get togethers, we have never been so busy. Hopefully we now have a few days to relax and catch up.

    Re the signs, I have to disagree with you on these. I hate advertising billbords of which we do have any here, but these signs mean so much more than a name. Many of these places we would never bother to find out what they were if it were not for the paintings. It really does make the drive much more interesting. Everyone though to their own taste :-) Diane

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  72. Nita, Obrigado por sua visita. Bom dia. Diane

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  73. Kristy I hope that our long drives are over for a while we need to stay home and relax a bit now LOL. Diane

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  74. Hello Diane, I'm happy to hear that you're safely back in France. When are you starting your garden? Can't wait to see what you're planting this year. Have a great summer

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  75. Now that's one of the many things I enjoy about reading blogs such as yours Diane, Louis Bleriot is a name I haven't come across for many years but it took me right back. Great photos and blog post as ever. I hope all is well with you. x

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  76. I hate driving in traffic, and when I must, I drive the biggest car I have. It's a good thing you allotted extra time to get to the ferry (my oldest son has a terrible sense of direction, and always adds another 10 minutes per hour of driving for "Get Lost Time") It's often cloudy here, as in your photos, but the bright green foliage is worth that price to me!

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  77. Marco Pasha, the garden is far behind this year. The very cold winter set everything way back and then a frost while were in the UK in May finished things off. Almost no fruit this year, and my vegetable plants are way behind. I was picking beans by this time last year and now they are only just cmoing out of the ground. Only my potatoes and onions seem to be doing well. Also the flowers are now coming out, I will do a post on them very soon. Diane

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  78. Froggy we have had a pretty hectic time since we returned from the UK but I hope to start catching up with things (and posts) very soon. All is well other than the cough continues though not quite as bad. Keep well Diane xx

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  79. Marjie heavy traffic is horrible but in the lashing rain it is 100 times worse as it was in the UK. It is no wonder we relax in France where the traffic on our route is very sensible. Diane

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  80. Wow Diane, this was clearly an amazing gathering you had. And the food looks so, so delicious.
    So lovely to see that you had such wonderful time.

    Red

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