Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation

We've got a brief break from the heat this morning thanks to a massive thunderstorm that rolled through in the wee hours of the morning, so happily I can tell you a little bit about our vacation in Pas-de-Calais.

The gite itself was lovely... on the outside.


It was so humid and chilly and smelly on the inside that we lit a fire two nights in a row to ward off the chill!


We stayed at the very southern end of Pas-de-Calais, so that means that many of the sightseeing destinations we went to were actually in the next département south, which is the Somme, in the Picardie region. We visited the battlefield at Crécy, which launched the Hundred Years War.


(You can click on the picture and then "All sizes" to get a larger version if you'd like to read about the battle.)

We also visited the Abbaye de Valloires (link in French), which is an 18th century Cisterian abbey. The garden is extraordinary...

Abbaye de Valloires

...and huge, clocking in at something like 20 acres. We couldn't explore the whole garden, unfortunately, as I wanted to keep my energy up for the one hour guided tour of the abbey.

The abbey is only accessible through the tour, and in my opinion it is worth it. The tour guide really knew his stuff, was very personable, and was on the ball with answering questions that came out of left field. However, there are no English guides available, so if you don't understand French, you'll have to follow along with a written guide.

Abbaye de Valloires

Abbaye de Valloires

Abbaye de Valloires

Other highlights of our week included our pilgrimage to Berck-sur-Mer, where we ate moules frites, dipped our toes in the sea and ate enormous ice cream sundaes, and Stéph and his dad went fishing twice. They were both pretty successful, each pulling in eight trout each day they fished. Thanks to the week being super mellow with loads of downtime, I also got lots of crafty things done, but I'll write more about that on my crafty blog soon.

Finally, I have to mention this because if you know me well, it will make you laugh - I also got a bunch of Christmas present shopping done! Yes, me! I figured that I'm going to be a little busy come December, so we picked up some goodies for our nieces that will go well with some homemade projects (thanks Mia for the idea!!), plus my MIL took me to the most adorable store ever. This store was so amazing that I seriously wanted to pick up about 80% of the contents and bring it home with me. (The website is not super well put together but you can get an idea here.) I ended up with a couple of gifts for family, plus MIL bought us a gorgeous basket that I fell in love with that will be for French Fry's room. In any case, Christmas shopping isn't done by any means, but just the fact that I started in JULY completely cracks me up!

I know a lot of people think I'm insane because I so love Pas-de-Calais, while most people are climbing over each other to get to the Côte Azure. There is just so much to do and see, the beaches are stunning and really lovely to walk on, the people are wonderful, and they actually enjoy four seasons! To be completely honest, I would move to this region of France in a heartbeat, and Stéph knows it!

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