Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bon voyage encore - the journey home

I love French roads. The rural routes in Normandy are a close match to those in Suffolk, especially at this time of year, full of tractors and other agricultural machinery going about their business. The towns and villages en route are rather rustic, some might say shabby, but it is a style that looks quintessentially French for my liking.

The motorways, or rather autoroutes, are often quiet when we travel, with fewer lorries than those that seem to block up our motorways.

Of course, you will always find a coach full of British tourists taking over the service stations on the A16 to Calais. Suddenly all hands are at the helm for the bulk orders of "cafe au lait".

The approach to Calais is alway quiet if you follow the just in time arrival technique.

You know that you're close to the cusp of abandonment when at the check-in you get issued with a "ligne 902" card which means that all the other lanes are closed and boarding, so you are forced into the overflow queue. The other clue is that check-in closes once you're through the barrier!

If you're in a fairly average sized family car, a 902 card also means you beat the queue and end up somewhere at the front of the ferry.

Whilst on board, you can amuse the family with visits to the shop, restaurant, bar and children's area, or alternatively, try your hand at a few arty shots...

You can also study the map of the Tour de France and be completely bemused over why the famous cycle ride starts in London, or Londres as the French like to say. (BTW, I've never understood why places have different names in French, e.g. Dover is Douvres, England is Angleterre, etc ~ perhaps it was the English that changed the names in historic times?....)

Anyway, with that aside, it doesn't take long to arrive at the famous white cliffs...

..and to get ready to descend to the port ahead...

...If the force is with you, you can be at the Dartford Crossing in no time. However if the force of traffic is against you, it can take a bit longer. Now here's a top tip on a busy day: If you have the right toll money (£1 for a car), get in the outside lane as soon as you can because the auto-tolls which have fewer queues are located towards the right. As you can see, we were stuck towards the left - wrong move!

Once you're through the toll, hopefully it's plain sailing (excuse the pun) for the rest of the journey ahead.


Jo Beaufoix said...

Hope you had a wonderful time.
I will explore your postcards.
Welcome home.

21st Century Mummy said...

It was a really great time, thanks Jo. It has now left me wanting to explore France even more ;-)

picklesmum said...

You should have swum back across the channel like Hoffy!!

21st Century Mummy said...

Hi Picklesmum, I think I would still be swimming 3 days later, either that or washed up on shore I'm not that adventurous and I think I prefer to take the boat. However, whilst on the ferry I did see a small boat in the distance and wondered whether it was supporting another swimmer. Can you believe Hoffy's going for the double...Hoffy if you are looking in...not sure whether that's ambition or madness (and before anyone else mucks in with banter, I think that only those who have swum the channel have the right to say it's both) ;-D