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Old 02-05-2014, 02:33 AM   #1
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Shopping and sea life – a day out in Calais and Boulogne, France COMPLETED

Shopping and sea life – a day out in Calais and Boulogne, France

Dates: Tuesday 4 February
Adventurers: Me, Cheryl and Debbie, Mark’s cousin
Destinations: Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
Resorts: None
Meets: None
Celebration: Enjoying a day out in France!

I honestly wasn’t going to do a trip report about this, because well it was just a day out, although I guess in fairness, it was a trip report with a difference, as this involved passports and another country!

We live about half an hour’s drive from Folkestone, which is home to the Eurotunnel terminal. As those of you who’ve read my previous trip reports will know, the Eurotunnel is essentially a train service, where you drive on board the train in your own car, park up, stay in your car, and 35 minutes you’re in France or England – depending which way you’re going.

Debbie and I have been meeting up for lunch for about 18 months now, as she works in the same town as I do. Debbie is Mark’s cousin, and we’ve always got on great with her. She’s got such a wonderful sense of humour, and she absolutely adores Disney, which always help!



A few things came together for this day out:
  • I knew that Debbie been learning French for the last few months
  • I also knew that she didn’t have any holidays planned
  • I knew that I wanted to get back to France to stock up on my rose wine, as it’s so much cheaper over there
  • I had a lot of time owing to me at work, having worked a lot of hours, so I wanted to use those up, before I lost them, so I figured a day out would be perfect
Now, rather than go on my own, why not ask Debbie if she wanted to come with me? Well, she absolutely jumped on the idea. I knew she had Tuesdays off, so that was a logical day to go. We compared diaries and came up a date that we could both do, so I went ahead and booked it off, then booked the tunnel.

Tuesday 4 February – part one: this isn’t very smooth…

We were booked on the 9:20am train, which would get us there at 10:55am (France is an hour ahead of the UK), coming back on the 4:50pm train, arriving home at 4:25pm. We were set!

Debbie was due to arrive just before 8:00am, but she was a lot earlier than that, and made it to our house by about 7:40am, allowing her a chance to come in and have a look around, and admire my Eeyore collection. As we stood there, we heard a noise, and looked outside. It was hailing. Oy, where did that come from? It was supposed to be a nice day, which was a rare occurrence this winter, trust me!

Fortunately, as soon as it started, it was over again, and we loaded up the car, as Debbie had spotted the traditional scrapbook I was working on for London 2012. I’d shown her my digital scrapbooks, which she loves seeing, but now she wanted to see the traditional ones too, so I grabbed a couple, and threw them in the car, so she could look at them while we were in the tunnel.

We headed out a little before 8:00am, and made very good time, although we didn’t get there until after 8:20am. The reason this is important is that you usually need to be at the tunnel half an hour before your train is due to leave. Now this was fine, as we were booked on the 9:20am one, but I figured there wouldn’t be an earlier train that we could catch, especially as the signs said one departure an hour. Well, the signs were wrong. We got given the option of catching the 8:50am train. Debbie and I looked at each other, and decided to go for it!

We literally drove straight through, passing through British passport control, who waved us through, then presenting our passports for French passport control, and we were straight down to the train platform without stopping. What a pleasant change from recent visits.

It was so quiet that they weren’t even loading the top layer of the train, which worked for me, as sometimes I feel a bit sick up there. We were at the end of a carriage with no-one behind us, which was another nice change. Once we were parked up, I got out and took a few photos.



I have to say the train journey wasn’t the smoothest over. It was pretty fast, and a bit bumpy. How Debbie was able to carry on looking through the scrapbooks, I do not know!

We were soon in France, and headed off the train. I have to confess it was a bit odd for me to be driving, and although I haven’t driven in France since probably about 1996 and I haven’t driven in the US since our honeymoon, which was back in 1999 I adapted to it absolutely fine. When everyone else is driving in a particular way, you kind of just conform to that, rather than going against it. Anyway, we didn’t have far to go, as we were heading to Cite Europe, the shopping centre that’s literally right next door to the tunnel.

We parked up very close to one of the entrances, as the car park was deserted, and headed inside. It is lovely in here, and very airy. With the sunshine outside, it was bright in here as well, which made a pleasant change from our usual visits here.



Given how much we both love Disney, we headed first for the Disney Store…



I have to say that I was, as always happens, bitterly disappointed with this. There’s no merchandise local to this store, which I always think is a shame, and it’s just looking really tired and old, as you can probably see from the entrance. I suspect this store will probably end up being closed. We’ve got a friend who works at our local Disney Store at home, and she told us that they are closing a number of stores, both in the UK and around Europe. The one in Antwerp, which we took Wendy to when she visited us, has already closed, and apparently they’re closing down a bunch of the Spanish ones. I didn’t take any photos in here, as I just wasn’t impressed at all.

Our next stop wasn’t a planned one, but we happened to be walking past a store, and I glanced inside and realised it was a wine and beer store, so I had to have a look, as of course I wanted to get some wine today. Wow, this place had a massive selection of stuff, including some macaroons, but only in a gift set, and not available to buy separately. I was also on the lookout for some lovely Swiss wine I’d just enjoyed at home. It was the final of the bottles we’d bought on our visit there, and I’d fallen in love with that stuff, but sadly as is the case with Swiss wine, it’s not generally exported. I figured I might luck out in here, but again it wasn’t to be. Just to give you an idea, this was their selection for beer…



This was a seating area for wine tasting, although sadly there didn’t seem to be any on offer today


Next: “a little something”
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Old 02-05-2014, 11:40 AM   #2
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I saw some pictures on FB and wondered if you'd be writing a TR for this day out. I have to say, I am so impressed that you are writing THREE TRs at the same time!!
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Old 02-05-2014, 01:19 PM   #3
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I saw some pictures on FB and wondered if you'd be writing a TR for this day out. I have to say, I am so impressed that you are writing THREE TRs at the same time!!
I have to confess I am beginning to wonder about my sanity in doing three at the same time. However, given what we ended up doing yesterday (can't believe it was only yesterday! ), I felt I had to do a trip report, as it was so amazing and so much fun.
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Old 02-05-2014, 04:39 PM   #4
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I too, saw your pictures on FB and was pleased to see a TR today. Sorry the Disney Store was disappointing. It looks very much like the ones we use to have here in the States.
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Old 02-05-2014, 06:48 PM   #5
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I too wondered when I saw the pics on Facebook if there's be a trip report to follow. Nice start to the day, so far.
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Old 02-05-2014, 07:48 PM   #6
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Great start to your day! Congrats on getting on the earlier train! Great pics so far!
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:55 AM   #7
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I too, saw your pictures on FB and was pleased to see a TR today. Sorry the Disney Store was disappointing. It looks very much like the ones we use to have here in the States.
That's what I thought as well - it reminded me of the old style Disney Stores we had in the UK and if they haven't revamped it, I'm sure it will be closed at some point...
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:57 AM   #8
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Tuesday 4 February – part two: “a little something”

We headed out and had a browse in a couple of clothes shops that we’re familiar with from home. There have been a couple of chains that closed in the UK that are still open in continental Europe. Having been to the C&A store in Palma, when we visited Mallorca, I had a look at their store here, and you guessed it – I managed to find something in there, a nice red sweater for a reasonable price.

We had a look in another store that closed down a few years ago in the UK, and wow, what a shock we got in there! I remember this place being reasonably priced. Well, either my memory is shot (it’s possible ) or they’ve totally changed their emphasis, because I can tell you that it’s not cheap now. The average top we looked at was €40 ($54)!

Once we were done in there, we headed towards Carrefour, the hypermarket in here. We took our time wandering around, looking at various things, but not buying anything – at least not until we got to the patisserie section that was. Oh my! We were blown away by the selection here. How yummy does all this look?



They even had this on display, which I thought was really neat.



Well, of course we couldn’t resist, and had to get some things here. We both got some pain au chocolate, Debbie got some gauffre (waffles), and she managed to find me a packet of macaroons! There were only two packs left, and ironically, we ended up in line at the cash tills behind an older British couple who had picked up the other one! We also decided to get ourselves a snack, but more of that shortly…

We walked through the produce section, and my goodness, look at the size of some of the vegetables:



We had a look in the wine section, and I was able to find the rose wine that I’ve got previously, after Hazel introduced me to it, so score, that was six bottles bought! We then hit the chocolate section, and this is Debbie’s real weakness. We spent ages pondering what to get, and got a fair bit between us.

When we got to the checkout, Debbie told me that she was going to pay for the whole lot, and wouldn’t hear of me paying anything for it. so much!

As we stood there, waiting to pay, we realised that we had a bit of an issue. How were we going to get this all back to the car? We’d picked up a basket as we entered the store, but now with all our purchases, we really needed a shopping trolley. Debbie headed off to get one, so that we could use it to take everything back, as over here, they charge for plastic shopping bags, and carrying the box of wine back would not have been fun.

Once back in the car, the next stop was to get some fuel for the car, as it’s a lot cheaper over here. It’s only €1.31 ($1.76) per litre for diesel, whereas at home, it’s £1.37 ($2.23) per litre, so as you can see, it’s a pretty big saving.

That done, we had a chat about how hungry we both were. It was about 11:30am French time, which meant about 10:30am UK time, and we both agreed that we could do with a “little something” as a certain bear might say but that a full lunch wasn’t something we were interested in. So we decided to have our little snack. I headed to the upper level of the car park, and we parked up. Here’s what was in the trunk of the car:



And here was “our little snack” – not so little really…



Oh wow, these things were divine! You can see the size of them, and they were completely filled with chocolate cream, so my goodness, they were filling. They were called religieuse chocolat or religious chocolate to translate it literally, and I’d never heard of them before, but when I looked them up when I got back, apparently they are a specific type of pastry. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about them…

Once we’d finished stuffing our faces, we discussed what to do. Debbie left it 100% to me, as I was driving, and I eventually decided to head over to Boulogne-sur-mer, which was further along the coast, and about a 20 minute drive away. We headed out on the motorway, but when it came to coming off the roundabout, the GPS wasn’t exactly clear, and I went a bit wrong. However, it all worked out well, as we ended up driving along the coastline, which was just beautiful. I stopped a couple of times to get out and take some photos:



I saw these guys and couldn’t resist getting some photos.



Next: do you think it’s open?
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:11 AM   #9
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Wow, what wonderful, delicious things they had at the Patisserie section! I'd be in heaven!
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:04 AM   #10
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You all did very well at Carrefour! Your "little something" looked totally delicious.
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:26 AM   #11
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So many delicious goodies in the Patisserie!! Love the windmill made with cream puffs. The not so little snack looked really yummy!!
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:58 AM   #12
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You got some great stuff in Carrefour!
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Old 02-06-2014, 12:16 PM   #13
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Wow!!! You ladies are having a grand oil' time shopping!!! Love it!!!
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Old 02-06-2014, 12:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MayraLR View Post
Wow, what wonderful, delicious things they had at the Patisserie section! I'd be in heaven!
We certainly were!
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:54 PM   #15
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Oh wow, your "little something" looked amazing! It's different to see you behind the wheel of the car... that's where we're used to seeing Mark!
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