Northern France

Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
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Trip End Oct 08, 2010


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Flag of France  , Nord-Pas-de-Calais,
Sunday, September 19, 2010

I now find myself in the small town of Wimereux/Wimille, nestled along the north coast, I didn't realise how much history there is for this small town.
But firstly I shouldn't forget about Lille. From our amazing three days in Paris we caught the train to Lille, close to the Belgium border. Anna's best friend Lucie came and met us at the train station and we walked to her apartment where we were going to be staying for three nights.
We were pretty tired from a constant rate of travelling, so we were looking forward to relaxing for a few days. The first night we crammed in 5 people in to the tiny apartment with only two beds. The other three went out, but Anna and I were too tired.

The following day we visited the main square with a pretty impressive clock tower, bits of gold are spread around the buildings, and as I had been told when it's a beautiful sunny day the square is sparkling
We went for a walk around town, but it was raining for a couple of hours, pretty much our first raining period for our trip. Seeing as the day was tiresome and wet for all we camped in the apartment and played card games which eventually turned into drinking games in where we all ended up sampling the night life of Lille.  There are a few night pubs and clubs for the teens and students of Lille. A fun night which saw me tripping over some stairs.

Another fun activity in Lille that Anna and I did was cruising the parks on a Segway. So much fun!!
After a 5 min practice we were set free to cause havoc. It's hard to balance when going fast because you have to lean forward to go fast but the speed pushes you back and swings you back and forward. Haha good fun; afterwards you get a "Segway License", but we forgot to get one.
It was a nice few days in Lille. A real nice city with some great architecture including a style of church which is only specific to the north of France. Lille is also a university town, so there are quite a few "well dressed" guys in particular as Lille has one of the finest Business school in France.

Well again it was time to hit the road towards Wimereux where Anna's parents live. Here I was about to meet the family. Once again Mother Nature turned on a beautiful sunny day, and as we went to the beach side in Wimereux for a drink we had a lovely sunset to accompany us. 
Wimereux is a very nice little town that hugs the beach. We drove along the coast the following day to the Wissant Plage (beach) where the day was perfect for kite surfers, and I can tell you now it was packed. Probably over 100 kite and windsurfers made full use of the perfect conditions.
Kite and windsurfing is very popular here as the beach faces the English Channel. On a clear day you can see the white cliffs of Dover (England) and to the side you can see the constant stream of ferries coming back and forward between the channel.
During the night in Wimereux, and all throughout France on this particular day was a heritage day where old houses are open to the public to view. I think it's very popular in Paris. But here in Wimereux Anna and I tagged along a guided group which stopped at various houses throughout the town. Although it was in French! There was one big house which was the last one on the tour that was built in the late 1800's and was occupied by the English in the first world war and occupied by Germans the in the Second world war.

So a little history that surrounds this area; this is where Napoleon set up camp for his invasion of England. In the smaller town of Ambleteuse there is a small castle. Although Napoleon failed on his attempts to claim England, there is still a statue erected in where he has his back turned on England. Apparently on the other side in England there is another statue of someone keeping their eye on France.
Wimereux is was also involved in both wars. most specifically the second world war. Germans set up base here with the intention to invade England as well. Old bunkers line the cliffs which are quite amazing to see. Some of these bunkers have been change into war museums. WImereux was spared from much damage during the war.
We took a walk along the cliffs to the town of Boulogne sur Mer. A much bigger city with a bit of a industrial area for fishing, so unfortunately the nice looking beach is not for swimming with all of the pollutions entering the water. 
We grabbed some lunch in the town centre where there is an "Australian bar", well Australian themed, but the only Australian beer available is Fosters, and yet Australia doesn't sell Fosters.
We also took a walk to the old town of Boulogne which is out of the town centre onto of the hill.
Over the old years it has developed and is very nice to walk around although nothing too interesting to see except the church. It is surrounded by a fortress which gives it that medieval feel.

On one of the days, Anna, Simon and I went to a high ropes course in one of the surrounding forests. In French it's called Parcours Aventure. A great selection of challenges through the trees. I wasn't able to take my SLR camera but I took my digital but only got four shots.
It starts of easy but then gets harder as you make your way through the four levelled course. I wasn't as sore as I thought I would be the next day though, must have been the stretching.
Oh but I mustn't forget how Anna and I got to Simon's house; We didn't have access to a car and Simon lived in Ambleteuse which was over an hours walk away. So we decided to hitch-hike. Woo... we were happy after walking almost half the way when an older lady picked us up. Woo Hoo our first hitch-hiking adventure! 
On our final day in Wimereux we took a drive to some lookouts up along the coast between Wimereux and Calais. It had been raining the whole morning, and as we drove to the lookouts the weather cleared and as we finished and drove back the weather turned. Perfect timing.

I had had a real amazing time in this area for one week. It's an area which wouldn't see too many foreign backpackers instead a healthy stream of French,Belgium and English tourists, some with camper vans. This will be an area where I will enjoy coming back to.
It was a week which also made me feel at home and to take pride in encountering the French culture from the locals perspective which is what I love about travelling.
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