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Felix in Europe Summer 2019

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SimonMc

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Messages
106
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 28 - Orléans

Again, I wish I had brought the bikes. So I hired one instead for €10 and pootled into the city. It was all on cycle paths and only about 30 minutes each way, and level. Orléans was very quiet and all the more beautiful for it. The cathedral is something else! Some of the stonework higher up looks too delicate and fragile but has stood the test of time.

I had a wander across to Joan of Arc square and the goddamn yanks descended on us. I assume it was marking their arrival back in WW2.


I made a detour to the indoor food market and was tempted to buy food for a picnic but was drawn instead to checking out the restaurants nearby. Ended up back by the cathedral for a long and leisurely oeuf mayonnaise followed by some average moules frites. Great view though!

After lunch I visited the cathedral interior and it was nearly on a par with Bourges cathedral from a couple of days ago.

The ride back to the campsite was hot but not too long then I showered and had a siesta.
Tomorrow, at long last, I’m picking Angela up from Charles de Gaulle airport then heading to a campsite on the west side of Paris for a couple of nights. I’ve been counting down the days!
Simon


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kave

kave

Messages
1,185
Location
Boras Sweden
Vehicle
T6 Beach 4Motion
Nice. It will be interesting to see your experience camping outside Paris since I have thought about it myself. Horrible traffic arround the airport and Paris.
 
S

SimonMc

VIP Member
Messages
106
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 29 - North to Paris

I had a morning to kill before meeting Angela later so I did the usual ‘look at the map and pick a couple of places’ approach which I love. I picked Pithiviers for the first stop, if only because I heard the name in Bake Off so there must be some treat I can get there. The weather was grim and grey. Thankfully there was a small damp market on, but little else doing. It was nice to see that they are celebrating the anniversary of their liberation by the British and USA troops next week.


I popped into a very busy boulangerie/pâtisserie and bought a Chausson aux Pommes, a fougasse aux lardons and a Pithiviers. Basicallly an apple turnover, a goats cheese and bacon toastie and a bake well tart. However, this being French bakers, they were each better that you would get in England. Sorry. I’ll look up the Pithiviers recipe when I’m home.

Next I headed to Fontainebleau but the heavens opened and most shops were shut. I ate my lunch à la Felix then pointed the van towards Paris.

Navigating through Charles de Gaulle airport was hairy, and I saw a couple of crashes. Sod’s law, the short stay parking I was aiming for at Terminal 2EF Parking but it had a 1.9m height barrier so I dropped into the drop-off which maxes out after an hour. Went down to arrivals and 10 mins later there she was. My long lost wife. X

We drove across to the Camping de Paris between the Bois de Boulogne and the River Seine. I’d prebooked 2 nights and it was pricey, over €55/night including a hefty ‘internet booking fee’ of €23!

Campsite is really well located and runs a shuttle buss every 30 minutes to the local metro stop for €2 a pop. Our pitch however was on a slope which meant ramps. Anyway, we’re in Paris so won’t be in van much.

We headed down to Hôtel de Ville then walked across via Notre Dame to the 5th arrondisement. I snapped a pic yesterday of the Airbnb we stayed at 5 years ago. I can highly recommend it...it has a private garden (the nearest one there is to Notre Dame). If anyone wants details just let me know.
. Here’s a pic from 5 years back...
A few (very very very pricey) beers later
we picked a Vietnamese restaurant near Boulevard St Germain
then metroed/bussed back. Constant drizzling rain throughout.

Simon, and now Angela.


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2haw

2haw

VIP Member
Messages
733
Location
Essex
Vehicle
T6 Beach 150
Day 29 - North to Paris

I had a morning to kill before meeting Angela later so I did the usual ‘look at the map and pick a couple of places’ approach which I love. I picked Pithiviers for the first stop, if only because I heard the name in Bake Off so there must be some treat I can get there. The weather was grim and grey. Thankfully there was a small damp market on, but little else doing. It was nice to see that they are celebrating the anniversary of their liberation by the British and USA troops next week.


I popped into a very busy boulangerie/pâtisserie and bought a Chausson aux Pommes, a fougasse aux lardons and a Pithiviers. Basicallly an apple turnover, a goats cheese and bacon toastie and a bake well tart. However, this being French bakers, they were each better that you would get in England. Sorry. I’ll look up the Pithiviers recipe when I’m home.

Next I headed to Fontainebleau but the heavens opened and most shops were shut. I ate my lunch à la Felix then pointed the van towards Paris.

Navigating through Charles de Gaulle airport was hairy, and I saw a couple of crashes. Sod’s law, the short stay parking I was aiming for at Terminal 2EF Parking but it had a 1.9m height barrier so I dropped into the drop-off which maxes out after an hour. Went down to arrivals and 10 mins later there she was. My long lost wife. X

We drove across to the Camping de Paris between the Bois de Boulogne and the River Seine. I’d prebooked 2 nights and it was pricey, over €55/night including a hefty ‘internet booking fee’ of €23!

Campsite is really well located and runs a shuttle buss every 30 minutes to the local metro stop for €2 a pop. Our pitch however was on a slope which meant ramps. Anyway, we’re in Paris so won’t be in van much.

We headed down to Hôtel de Ville then walked across via Notre Dame to the 5th arrondisement. I snapped a pic yesterday of the Airbnb we stayed at 5 years ago. I can highly recommend it...it has a private garden (the nearest one there is to Notre Dame). If anyone wants details just let me know.
. Here’s a pic from 5 years back...
A few (very very very pricey) beers later
we picked a Vietnamese restaurant near Boulevard St Germain
then metroed/bussed back. Constant drizzling rain throughout.

Simon, and now Angela.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
We're heading to France this week (not sure where yet) and I am enjoying reading your updates.
 
S

SimonMc

VIP Member
Messages
106
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 30 - Paris

We woke up to heavy rain. Really? So put the legs on my shorts for the first time and packed a brolly. Bussed into Maillot Jayne from the campsite then wandered down past the Arc de Triomphe and along to Marais.

We visited Marais on the final day of our previous trip and wanted to explore more. Like all of the other tourists there we had falafel for lunch from L’As de falafel. I feel so sorry for their competition over the road.

We spent the afternoon just strolling and stopping for refreshments
, ended up back at the river so we walked along then through the Tuileries gardens (sp) then round Place de la Concorde. Crossed to the south side of the river and hey presto we ended up in another Relais de l’Entrecôte for dinner. Yum bloody yum.


Simon and Angela



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S

SimonMc

VIP Member
Messages
106
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 31 - The Somme

Our jaunt in Paris was deliberately short as we planned to head straight to the Somme region today to start a few days learning about World War One in France and Belgium. We grabbed breakfast en route, sticking to the local roads just to see more of French life. (Again there is none cos they are all on holiday).
The first cemetery we came across was a German on in a village called Morisel. There were over 2000 soldiers there, mostly killed during April 2018.

Our first planned stop was at the Australian National Memorial an it was stunning and respectful. If you ever plan to visit take headphones and download their app (we didn’t) as there looks to be some very well made interactive info in the rooms at the back. We did hear a few Aussie voices when we visited. The location is high on a ridge, and you can see the vastness of the plains around.

There were a few Menzies in there, so I may do some research on them.


Our next stop was the Australian Corps Memorial, a simple affair which leads to some German trenches, which catalogues the battle for the villages around and for the ridge itself. It’s notable also for the location where the Red Baron was eventually downed.


Our route next took us to the Lochnagar crater, produced when Allies undermines the German positions and filled them with explosives which were detonated at the outset of the Battle of the Somme. It was huge, but beautifully presented with plaques and memories of those who survived and for those who didn’t.

It’ll be hard for you to read all the text on my photos but if you don’t plan on a visit here, then read as much as you can.
We rocked up at a campsite very close to the Somme river/canal called Chateau de l’oseraie. Lovely place, pool, WiFi, bar and €20/night for the two of us. A world away from 100 years ago. I got the bbq and and cooked a couple of onglet steaks I’d bought earlier in the day. Delicious, and €7 for the pair. I’ll be hunting these out when I’m home but I do know that Charlotte does them at Charlotte’s Butchery in Gosforth, Newcastle, if anyone’s passing ;)



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S

SimonMc

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Messages
106
Location
Tyne and Wear
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T6 Ocean 150
Day 32 and 33 - Somme and Ypres

After a relaxing morning at the campsite and a swim in their lovely warm pool, we hit the road to Mons and visited the Saint-Symphorien Cemetery . It’s a beautiful place where both the first and last British casualties are buried, one opposite the other the picture here is a group of soldiers who all died on the same day in August, except for the last one which is a nineteen year old lad who died in the November. What
must have been going through his
mind during those three months?

Then we went up to Cambrai, and saw tank Deborah, one of only seven Mark IV tanks to survive out of 1200.
Somebody set the alarm off because he/she couldn’t resist touching it! (He)


We then drove up the Thiepval memorial- huge memorial to the missing of the Somme


Onwards to Ypres where we stayed at Camping Jeugdstadion- a small basic campsite only 10 minutes walk from the Menin gate. Mooched into town, sampled a couple of beers and found a lovely restaurant where we tried some Flemish dishes.

The next day we were up and out before breakfast. First stop was Essex Farm Cemetry which was an advanced dressing station and where John McCrae( author of In Flanders fields) worked and died. Some of the wards are still there, which were built from concrete, as were the sandbags, which we hadn’t realised till now.

On to Yorkshire trench- which is an intact trench that was only discovered in the 1990s

Visited the Harry Patch memorial, then onto the Langemark German Cemetery where there’s a huge mass gave of 44,000 unknown soldiers- mind blowing.


Onwards to the Tyne Cot Cemetery which is a beautiful place but shocking to see the extent of human loss.



After a quick snack a la Felix ( local bread that was just like a stottie!), we drove onto Hill 60 which was a much fought over strategic spot.

Then onto Poperinge to visit Talbot House, a hostel where soldiers stayed and their way to and from the Front.


Finally we went to Lijssenthoek Cemetery which was at the site of a Military Hospital, and the 2nd largest after Tynecot. Lots of airmen are buried there as airfield wasn’t far away. The visitor centre had lots of stories about them.
Back to campsite to have tea at Felix, before going to The Menin gate for the ceremony at 8pm.

Sampled a few more beers including a 12% stout!


Angela and Simon.

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S

SimonMc

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Messages
106
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 34 - The last of WW1 then Bruges

On the recommendation of a chap doing a questionnaire on us at the Langemark cemetery, we visited the Dodegang Trenches just north of Diksmuide (sp). These were Belgian and have been a museum of sorts since 1919 and they sit across a canal from the German trenches. When we arrived a sign said “typical visit 90 minutes “ and although at first that seems a stretch, the sign was right. There an indoor exhibit of artefacts from both sides, with loads of interactive screens showing photos and videos from the time. Then outside upstairs you have a panorama of the whole network, which was vast and was pretty much static throughout the war years. We then went to the trenches proper which were in great condition generally considering how many tourist fingers and feet will have been through in the last 100 years. I don’t know if there are any better preserved and complete trenches! These trenches were roomier and better engineered that others we’d seen but I won’t be volunteering to live down there.

This marked the end of our First World War tour and although we only scratched the surface it was very humbling. Many many thanks to @GrannyJen and others on the forum for their advice and suggestions.


So, next stop Bruges (Brugge). We turned up at the Camping Memling, set up, caught a bus into town then became bod standard tourists again. But what a great place!
The architecture is stunning throughout every street and alleyway. Each house is deferent to next door. Great buzz about the place and clearly lots of real locals love in the city too. Food ok, beer too strong, but so what.

After dinner we squeezed in Belgian waffles with strawberries, chocolate and Chantilly Cream oh then more beer so we called it a night and walked back to the campsite (about 35 minutes only!). Would love to return, and soon.

Simon and Angela


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S

SimonMc

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106
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 35 - Ghent

Packed up early and had breakfast. Blasted across to Ghent, stopping on the way for some groceries. Interesting that half way between Bruges and Ghent the locals don’t seem interested in speaking English. The Ghent campsite (Blaarmeersen) was check in from 2pm but we chanced it and arrived before 12. They were kind enough to give us a spot. Huge campsite, but lovely with it. Bonus was that there’s a free shuttle bus from near the campsite straight into the city. So off we went.
It’s a much larger place than Bruges and we did the usual wander,beer,wander that works so well. Here are a few snaps. It was a very hot afternoon so lots of stopping needed. I imagine it’s a great place to be when the 70,000 students arrive next month!
Bar recommendation - the Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, Groentenmarkt. Lovely spot by the river, vast list of beers, and a lovely retired gent called Richard who we had a long chat with.
Later in the day we caught a boat tour then ribs for dinner. Loss of locals were congregated by the river. Great city!
Caught the 10pm bus back and somehow between the busy stop and the campsite he/she tripped on a tree root in the dark fell and because his/her wife/husband was holding his/her hand, he/she ended up breaking his/her fourth metacarpal. Sorry Angela, I was trying to save you! And thanks you Felix for providing us with a VW First Aid Kit.

A drop of wine and some painkillers helped.


Simon and a one-handed Angela


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TripleBee

TripleBee

Messages
965
Location
Belgium
Vehicle
T5 SE 140
Have been to almost all the places you have been to on this trip. Makes me want to go there all over again, and I have yet to see so much more places.

Oh, you were in Bruges and didn't even came over to say hello to me? It only took you a small detour to the beach.

Anyways, wonderful holidays you guys have, and good luck with the healing.
 
S

SimonMc

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Messages
106
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 36 - The trip is nearing the end.

Today’s entry will be the penultimate day by day blog, but I plan to do a follow-up at some point too.

Today went quickly. Packed up Felix in Ghent then took the motorways through to Ijmuiden. We left in plenty of time to allow a leisurely lunch. Temperatures on the way hit 29°C so it was great in the van at a cool 18°!
We parked in Ijmuiden town and bought some food for dinner (we didn’t plan to eat at the restaurants on the ferry on the way home), then we went to a fantastic little place that Angela managed to find one-handed on TripAdvisor. It’s about a quarter mile from the ferry terminal and is called Gerard Van Es Fiskrestaurant (fish restaurant). It had indoor and outside seating plus a wet (fresh, very fresh!) fish shop next door. We ate outside and the menu is wonderful. I chose Fish & Chips to see what the Dutch take on it is, and Angela has the whole plaice fried in butter. Both were 10/10 and a lovely end to our time on the mainland.


We boarded the ferry early, showered, joined the revellers up in the sky Bar, then back to the room for a siesta.

Later we watched the sun set beautifully and dined in style in our Commodore Room.

Thanks Felix

Simon & Angela

Tomorrow will include a great breakfast.


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S

SimonMc

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Messages
106
Location
Tyne and Wear
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T6 Ocean 150
Nice. It will be interesting to see your experience camping outside Paris since I have thought about it myself. Horrible traffic arround the airport and Paris.
Hi Kave, just noticed your post. The driving was fine really. I made a point of avoiding the city centre, but just let the satnav tell me what to do.
Simon
 
S

SimonMc

VIP Member
Messages
106
Location
Tyne and Wear
Vehicle
T6 Ocean 150
Day 37 - Home

Great breakfast (included in the Commodore room price) followed by looking at the sun over the sea, then the obligatory photos up the coast from Tynemouth.
Took ages queuing for passport check once we were off the boat, then dropped Angela off at the hospital before I returned home to see Katherine for the first time in three weeks!
Angela was ready after a couple of hours. They strapped it up and she has to go to have it ‘manipulated’ at 9 am tomorrow

Better to have done this at the end of the holidays rather than the start I suppose.

The weather here in the Northeast is glorious, so Angela, Katherine and I are going to rustle up a BBQ on Druridge Bay later today. A fitting end to a holiday when it’s all about the outdoors.

Simon & Angela


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