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Old 12-06-07, 10:34 AM   #1
stapfam
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Day off

Coming up for Christmas and I get invited to take a few friends to Calais (France) for a bit of Christmas shopping. Mainly because I speak the lingo and I have a car with a big boot (Trunk?). Well tomorrow is that day for this year. Booked last Weekend for the Ferry but realised that there was a problem with the boats yesterday. High winds in the channel mean that there is a delay in Docking the boats at Dover and there are now a couple of thousand trucks waiting for boats to get them to France. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse so have just rebooked the crossing to the "Chunnel". For the unititiated- this is the Channel Tunnel and is a train. Never been on it before and don't like the idea of it. I used to do rock climbing and had a go once at Pot Holing. Only tried it once and never again- I said then that you were never going to get me down a hole in the ground- and that is all this is. A BIG hole in the ground. I am not frightened but at least on a boat- there is something to do and something to see. All you do on the Chunnel is drive your car into a container and sit in it for the ride. No Scenery and no where to go.

Let you know what it is like when I get back but in the Hypermarket at Calais there is a bike shop- About the standard of Wallymart but at least it sells French bikes that are supposedly Superior- and they sell a lot of accessories. Then there is the wine. I play innocent at the wine store and ask for a taster. If I don't like the first bottle- then they keep offering till I find something I like- Wonder if I can still drive after a couple of hours in the Cellar. Then there is the Food- Moules Mariniere and fresh bread. I could live on that with creme broullee for desert and I dare say there will be a decent bottle of Plonk to wash it down with.

So providing the head and stomach are clear enough- I'll give a full report on the Bike shop when I get back. Mind you- Wonder if I can take pictures lying horizontally. Better do the wine shop after the bikes.


Edit---I know it does go against the grain but never found a decent pie in France- Couple of decent Fruit tarts available though but if Creme Broullee is on offer- Tarts do not stand a chance.
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Old 12-06-07, 11:00 AM   #2
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In my youth, I spent a week in Calais once, waiting for my bike to arrive. I had taken the train from Venice to Calais and my bike was supposed to accompany me in the baggage car. It was a good week, spent drawing, wandering the streets of Calais and just pondering my future. The sad part was going to the train station each day to see if the bike had arrived.

After a week I had to go on and took the train to Copenhagen. I ended up meeting a nice Swedish girl who invited me up to Stockholm.

A couple of months after I got back, I finally got notice that the SNCF had my bike in Boulougne. An ex girlfriend of mine was working for a customs agent and she spent 6 months trying to get the bike back.

The only reason that I could ever come up with to explain why this happened, was that my bike was a Peugeot and before starting on the trip, I had upgraded it to a Shimano groupo. I think that offended the SNCF and they confiscated the bike.
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Old 12-06-07, 12:47 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
Coming up for Christmas and I get invited to take a few friends to Calais (France) for a bit of Christmas shopping. Mainly because I speak the lingo and I have a car with a big boot (Trunk?). Well tomorrow is that day for this year. Booked last Weekend for the Ferry but realised that there was a problem with the boats yesterday. High winds in the channel mean that there is a delay in Docking the boats at Dover and there are now a couple of thousand trucks waiting for boats to get them to France. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse so have just rebooked the crossing to the "Chunnel". For the unititiated- this is the Channel Tunnel and is a train. Never been on it before and don't like the idea of it. I used to do rock climbing and had a go once at Pot Holing. Only tried it once and never again- I said then that you were never going to get me down a hole in the ground- and that is all this is. A BIG hole in the ground. I am not frightened but at least on a boat- there is something to do and something to see. All you do on the Chunnel is drive your car into a container and sit in it for the ride. No Scenery and no where to go.

Let you know what it is like when I get back but in the Hypermarket at Calais there is a bike shop- About the standard of Wallymart but at least it sells French bikes that are supposedly Superior- and they sell a lot of accessories. Then there is the wine. I play innocent at the wine store and ask for a taster. If I don't like the first bottle- then they keep offering till I find something I like- Wonder if I can still drive after a couple of hours in the Cellar. Then there is the Food- Moules Mariniere and fresh bread. I could live on that with creme broullee for desert and I dare say there will be a decent bottle of Plonk to wash it down with.

So providing the head and stomach are clear enough- I'll give a full report on the Bike shop when I get back. Mind you- Wonder if I can take pictures lying horizontally. Better do the wine shop after the bikes.


Edit---I know it does go against the grain but never found a decent pie in France- Couple of decent Fruit tarts available though but if Creme Broullee is on offer- Tarts do not stand a chance.
I took the train via the Chunnel from London to Paris. It was a nice trip but I was not in my car unable to see anything and I could walk around.
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Old 12-06-07, 01:06 PM   #4
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The English Channel can get a bit choppy!
Have crossed it from Oostende to Dover several times.
Grab a flight across to Brussels and enjoy some great Belgian beer and chocolat instead . . .
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Old 12-06-07, 02:00 PM   #5
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The English Channel can get a bit choppy!
Have crossed it from Oostende to Dover several times.
Grab a flight across to Brussels and enjoy some great Belgian beer and chocolat instead . . .
Only problem with that is Hand luggage- 100 bottles of wine would be expensive.

I once went to France in a force 11 gale. They chose me out of the line to be the first car onboard. Got me on the ramp and they said- "When we signal-Gun it and Go". Gave me the signal but they got it wrong and I got launched. They chose me as the trial as I had the cheapest looking vehicle in case they got it wrong. When they said go- The ramp went up with the swell.

I'll be on my way in a few hours. Only a couple of Hours to the terminal and looked at the weather forecast. Good job we are going by train as the Boats are not running till the weather calms down. No problem on the open sea- But docking at the harbour is very difficult with the Modern Big boats.
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Old 12-07-07, 12:45 PM   #6
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Just got back. Plenty of wine in the Trunk of the car and cheese and sausage and a few Biscuits and Cakes. Plenty of other non essential items like washing Powder and Packs of pickled gherkins and Olives- but That is the wifes department.

This was my first experience of Going to France by Train and it was nothing special- You literrally drive the car into the train and it is 1/2 mile? Long. Nothing to look at in the tunnel and it was not as smooth a ride as I expected. However got shopping over and Lunch was on the cards. I did have the Moules marinieres and they were beautiful. The wife wanted a change and had Boef Bourgignon and that looked almost as tasty. My mate just had the 1/2 chicken but then he is a bit boring in his tastes. Dessert though and no Pie- No Creme broullee so it was down to the Apple Tart. Not bad but Not as good as The Mystere Icecream the wife had.

Then to the Wine shop- Fantastic array of wines and the Shop owner approved of my selection. He should have done as $300 later I walked out of the shopwith only around 30 bottles. We did go to the bike shop but The standard of the bikes was not something I want to show. Had a good look for a bargain- but none to be had. Even on the Clothing side where I would have expected to pick up a bargain or two but They did not even have base layer T's for less than about $30 so did not even go for them.

One long day over with at last so time to sit down with the corkscrew and taste the quality of my Purchases.
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Old 12-07-07, 04:00 PM   #7
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Are they called French fries over there?



Just curious.
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Old 12-08-07, 12:57 AM   #8
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Are they called French fries over there?



Just curious.
Funnily enough- They just call them "Frites". But after many years of working and travelling to France- I have found the French are being influenced by more "Civilised" cultures. The chips are getting fatter- Probably to cope with the Heavier influence of the Obese brits and and krauts teaching them a thing about food. In the Mall where we were shopping- there were the good French Restaurants but a lot more eating places around too serving Snacks- And there was a McD's there aswell but this was mainly empty- Till a Ferry arrived and filled it up with the Brits.
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Old 12-08-07, 04:51 AM   #9
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Must be nice to pop over to a foreign country for lunch and a bit of shopping.
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