A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Travel StoriesCochem And The Blue People 2019

Familiarity And Food

Ride Date 15 September 2019

By Ren Withnell

Today should be a much much better day. Hmmm, I keep on telling myself that. No, no really, it will be better. We have about 85 or 90 miles to cover so that's easy. We are heading to somewhere we know quite well which isn't very adventurous but it is comforting. 

I have looked at booking a cheap F1 hotel in Calais but I have concerns about security for the bikes. I have looked at other campsites in the area but none have stood out as ideal. So we are heading to Camping L'Eglantier in Ambleteuse where I have stopped 3 times before and Sharon's been twice. I think a little familiarity will be welcome.

With this in mind I don't bother to wake Sharon early, I take myself off for a walk. I'm hoping Sharon will feel better for a rest. 

Sun twinkling through the trees at the campsite in Arleux France
Ahhh, the sun is coming up. Today will be a good day.

There's a broad river or canal near the site complete with large "live aboard" working freight barges. I've seen these before in The Netherlands, I wonder what that lifestyle is like? I wonder what they transport? I wonder if they are owner operated or part of a corporate fleet? I try to look up answers online but my mobile is poop and so is the signal here.

Large broad canal boats on a calm stretch of water in Arleux
A slow and calm lifestyle or monotonous boredom?  

Oh my! Sharon is awake and dressed when I get back. However without far to go or much to do I don't push her to get ready and it's 1200 before the bikes are loaded. We don't want to be in Ambleteuse too early so we're good.

The tent, Sharon's bike, washing dring on a bungee all bathed in warm sun
Time to pack up. Slowly.

We'll drop into the Carrefour first for supplies and tonight's tea and tomorrow's breakfast. Erm, no, no we won't. This small Carrefour does open on a Sunday morning but closes at lunchtime. Cock. No, really, cock and poop! This could be a real issue. France is like England back when I where a lad. It shuts on Sunday. We won't actually starve to death over the next 24 hours but we could get a bit hungry.

Oh shut up Ren. There will be the odd small shops open and if the worst comes to the worst there must surely be the a restaurant of some kind somewhere. We'll be fine stop being so dramatic. Fool. The road rolls out ahead of us. Through each little village I look for a tabac or a mini market, a cafe or an eatery. Nothing is open. Through broad open flat fields with the sun high above us. It is lovely but we still have no supplies.

A perfectly ploughed field with trees in the distance in Northern France's sunshine
There ain't nothing to eat in the fields right now either.

A roadside stall! The sign suggests chips but that'll do us for now. We park and I slaver in anticipation. I step inside the tarpaulin cover only to find the shutters are down and no signs of life. Dagnammit! Right now I'd just settle for a brew. We press on to Ambleteuse. Each village reveals only closed shops.

As we get into Ambleteuse I have my eyes wide open and I spy a restaurant, I add it to my mental notes. We get to the site and ask if any of the shops are open? Nope. We throw up the tent, throw a quick brew down our necks and head out as soon as we can. It's only 1800 but I don't want to find that bloody restaurant closes at 1900.

With some trepidation we approach the restaurant, it is almost empty, but lo, there are a couple of diners! We enter, half expecting to hear "ferme", closed. No we are welcomed and seated. Oh sweet mercy, my wallet won't thank me but my stomach will.

2 hearty and very tasty pizzas later we head out for a walk. We have not solved the breakfast problem though. Then, as if by magic, we find a patisserie that is open! It is a truly strange place is France. Admittedly there's next to nothing left on the shelves but we manage to source 2 pastry things that will keep the hunger at bay first thing. 

Ren eating pizza and giving a thumbs up at the restaurant in Ambleteuse

It is cool this evening although the sun is shining and the air is calm. We take a walk around the now almost familiar town. Adventure and exploration, we love it, however it is also comforting and calming to be somewhere we know. It's a balance thing, dynamic and static values. I'm getting all Zen aren't I.

Trees and a path leading down to french houses in the small seaside town
There are worse places than Ambleteuse.
The sun low in a hazy sky over the sea and the beach at Ambleteuse
It'll be bedtime soon. 

Early to bed, I shall awake her ladyship at an ungodly hour to ensure our timely arrival at the chunnel. Sharon seems to have enjoyed this calmer day and our meal out, she is NOT looking forward to the early start though.

If you'd like to advertise on Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Prologue And Excuses It's the whys and the wherefores and the excuses for making this trip. You don't need a reason to travel, but it makes it easier to justify the expense and effort.
The Trouble With France Is It's Chunnel Time and Sharon's made a new friend. Finally in France Ren is finding the going frustratingly slow.
Kicking The Saddlebags Ren is having one of THOSE days. He's a very naughty boy and he needs to take a chill pill. It's them bloody foreigners fault.
Calmly Into Cochem After the previous day's temper tantrum and failure it would be fair to say this day is a better day.
Riding With Friends Cities aren't really Ren's things but with a little local knowledge he can cope. It's the countryside that gets him thinking.
A Long Day And Night A long day on the road then a night out in the town? That'll be two tired travellers then.
Trouble, Tired And Transport There's trouble this morning so it's not the best start. Throw in a grumpy Sharon and a scowling local and you have another day on the road.
Familiarity And Food As the end of the trip draws near the surroundings become familiar. But will the Dynamic Muppets survive without sustenance?
UK And The Epilogue After an early start the Muppets return to good old Blighty where they catch up with BAT reader Ross. Poor Ross, he doesn't know what he's gotten himself into.

Reader's Comments

Borsuk said :-
My wife and I stayed in an F1 hotel early this year. They were recommended by my sister in law who had used them years ago when touring.
Not impressed. Almost the same price as a cheap IBIS but the loos were at one end of the building and the showers at the other and the room was beyond basic, I don`t even remember it having a sink. I have stayed in better places in third world countries which Michelin would have given negative stars to.
I would rather sleep in the car to be honest than use one of them again.
04/11/2019 18:35:36 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Sleeping in the car wasn't an option Borsuk... I'm glad you shared your F1 experience. Do you know if they're all the same? I suspect they are.
05/11/2019 09:00:45 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Arh, familiarity, doesn't that breed contentment? Seems so. Something like that anyway.
Glad your last day in Francais was a good one. Plus a good pizza can't hurt.
Looks like Northern France has, well, looked up.
If Ian is reading this then I have to admit I've only touched on the Normandy area and I don't think I've encroached into Brittany. But yes we do drive and ride through areas because they are just a place to get through enroute to our dream (?) destination.
Recently France has become a three day slog to get to Italy or Spain and that can effect your opinion of a place. Last year was different because we took about a week to get from Blighty to Italy via the Somme, Dordogne, Lot, Midi Pyrenees and the Alps before riding over the Little St.Bernard to Aosta. That was definitely more pleasant.
Borsuk, thanks for the F1 warning, I have seen them many times but they seem to be in rubbish locations too.
Keep us posted Ed, did Sharon hit you with the frying pan after the early wake up call?
05/11/2019 16:56:44 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Over-familiarity breeds contempt. This is only my fourth visit in 6 years so I don't thing I'm spending too much time in Ambleteuse.

Regarding Sharon hitting me with the frying pan? You'll have to wait and see... (cue dramatic music)
07/11/2019 09:33:12 UTC

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