Wimereux – 1st October 2019

This old fashioned, Hulot-esque town overlooks the sea on the north coast of France. I was introduced to it by my sister and her husband. Almost fifty years ago Mickey and his friend managed to cross the Channel in not much more than a leaky dinghy. They lost their way and finally landed somewhere in total darkness, not knowing if they were still in England or had made it to France. France it was and Wimereux welcomed them. Mickey came back regularly over many decades …

Sadly, he is no longer with us. Times have changed and luckily the Channel tunnel is more reliable than the dinghy. We arrived in good time to board, the sky like grey goose down, shedding a few heavy raindrops onto the windscreen.

Rain, steam and speed – entrance to Channel tunnel

We left England at 11.20am. The photo below will remind me to take the coast road to Wimereux rather than the autoroute. It is empty of cars and full of fresh sea air, the waves rolling in like white horses.

Take the coast road to Wimereux via Peuplingues

An hour later and we are settled in at ‘Les Oyats’ café by the sea, enjoying a ‘crêpe nature’ with salad and a ‘thé au citron’ – or maybe ‘un verre’. The sea is quite wild. ‘Oyats’ translates as marram (sea) grass. The café is busy, despite the weather.

Wild waves
At ‘Les Oyats’
A breath of fresh air

We walked along the ‘digue’ afterwards, feeling madly invigorated. Sun isn’t always a given for holidays – the force of the sea was pulsing through my veins, filling me with a new found energy.

Back at the hotel I noticed a couple at the reception desk and recognised the man straight away even though I hadn’t seen him for many years. Struggling through the cobwebs of my memory, I finally came up with it. A TV programme called ‘The Likely Lads’ – a series shown between 1964 – 66. He was James Bolam – his other half being played by Rodney Bewes.

Sun bursting through …

The clouds are breaking up this morning. The rain has moved on and we have a clear palette for the day ahead. I sometimes wish I could paint but taking photos captures the moment very well. We are off to Boulogne, fifteen minutes away – market day.

Boulogne – market day
Boulogne – la fromagerie roulante
Temptations galore

However, I’m even more interested in the notice above which is anti pesticides. It says pesticides are a tragedy for health – ‘nous voulons des coquelicots'(.org) (we want poppies). It has a message advertising a meeting about the environment on the first Friday of each month at the Place Gustave Charpentier. ‘Chapeau’ for the French!

It’s lunchtime and before we know it we’ve found ourselves in a ‘biker’ café, which is obviously very popular. We plump for a Flemish dish called ‘Flammekueche’ – roasted peppers, aubergines and courgettes on a base which resembles matzos. It’s super delicious, paired with a glass of red wine and a (glass) bottle of ‘Vittel’. There is quite a lot of Belgian influence on this north coast of France.

Biker café – lunchtime
Lunch companion …

The man sitting on the right must be a basketball player. When he stood up, he was over 6’6″!

Boulogne – entrance to fish market at the harbour

We decided to visit the aquarium in the afternoon. Got slightly sidetracked by the most delicious looking patisserie called ‘Fred’.

This box contains the most divine …
…Tartelette au citron …

The aquarium is on the seashore and contains 10 million litres of sea water and 58,000 sea creatures. The entry, through curtains, leading to a down escalator, is dramatic.


This photo didn’t come out well because I was persuading my sister onto the escalator, while this enormous video screen seemed to be enveloping us over and over in a giant wave with a suitably mega soundtrack.

Having descended into the depths, we were met with a huge metal cage and surrounded by roving sharks …

Face to face!

I feel very small – one tiny, tasty morsel …

Marine wonderland …
This is a great coastline for windpower
…and for ‘moules marinières’ …

Dinner time was at the delightful ‘Cap Nord’ – a restaurant/brasserie on the sea front. We were in for an extra treat – front seats to watch a wonderful sunset while eating our ‘moules’.

A lone runner …
A couple watching the sunset on the shoreline
Towards the end of the day …

At this point you could read Shakespeare’s sonnet number 73, which expresses some of the feelings going through my mind at this moment better than I could. It was such a fabulous show this evening. What will tomorrow bring?

Our hotel has been in the same family for at least three generations. It has preserved its traditional French atmosphere downstairs in the hallway and restaurant. A modern addition however has been added at the back, overlooking the garden. Having breakfast with a Fornasetti vase examining your credentials is a sight to behold. I think we passed muster.

Tessellated entrance hall
Glimpse of the traditional hotel dining room
The Fornasetti vase with its uncompromising gaze

It’s worth looking up the Milanese designer, Piero Fornasetti (1913 – 1988). His designs are witty and surreal and continue to be popular.

The sky was becoming bluer by the moment and we headed for the beach, where the tide was out, passing some traditional buildings along the way.

House with traditional ‘oeil de boeuf’ windows …
Paul et Virginie – erstwhile stables made into holiday apartments
Wimereux – an especially ‘grande maison’
Extraordinary companions

This building is on the main street. I find it bizarre that Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Christophe seem to be advertising ‘Express Cars’ and ‘Automobiles’ ! But 100% preferable to having a flimsy, tacky, garage advertising burgers. In fact, the non sequitur arrangement very much appeals!

Wimereux – panorama

In the summer, Wimereux is known for its kite surfing, sand yachting and hot air ballooning. On the beach, there are still a few hardy souls riding the waves from dawn until dusk.

Wimereux – kite surfing

This photo somewhat reminds me of Eugène Boudin, who was one of the first artists to paint ‘en plein air’ and was a mentor to the young Claude Monet, who was brought up in Le Havre. Boudin, (1824 – 1898), was born in Honfleur, the son of a sailor. He met Monet in 1858. Boudin is especially well known for his beach scenes.

On the beach – big sky …
The lone and level sands stretch far away …

… and we had them almost exclusively to ourselves save for a few dog walkers. Magnifique. This is just the place to clear your head and make a fresh start.

On a more sombre note there have been a lot of landslides – the cliffs are friable and several pillboxes and blockhouses left from the Second World War are victims, hurled down onto the rocks below.

WW2 fallen pillbox covered in surreal graffiti

Maybe the eye is a reminder. ‘Lest we forget’. There are still many pillboxes dotted along this coast and also a huge, sinister looking blockhouse containing a small museum of memorabilia near Wissant. Worth a visit.

We retraced our steps and were soon striding back along the ‘digue’ with the wind in our hair.

Back at ‘Les Oyats’, writing a few postcards

Nowadays with email, many fewer postcards are sent, which is a pity. I hope the two I sent will be enjoyed!

I wonder what will have happened at the end of this month. Will Brexit have isolated us from the rest of Europe? Since the end of WW2 people have forgotten that an enormous effort was made to work out a structure of international agreements to prevent another war. The risk now looms again, ever larger, forces that seem to be out of our control.

A great percentage of the population know little about history in general. And some have no wish to learn or remember. I include here a lot of politicians, which is a disastrous situation. I am looking around in vain for a visionary with an addition of common sense.

However, there are a lot of good people doing great things out there and I am positive that at some point the tide will turn in their favour. There are natural cycles in our history, just as in nature.

A second cup for contemplation …

The Channel is looking cold.

Dinner at the hotel is in the offing after a quick visit to the Carrefour supermarket and some of the exclusive looking delicatessens and wine shops in the rue Carnot.

Rose garlic
Côte D’Orgood quality chocolate

A delicious box of biscuits with Snowy – Milo en français – on the lid. I have always been a fan of Tintin books and obviously he is as popular here. The author, Hergé, hailed from Belgium.

And thinking of things being delicious, here is our last dish in France coming up.

Slightly out of focus – nice wine!

Time to leave but it’s not far to drive to the Channel tunnel. I always think just three or four days away from normal daily life gives a great boost to morale. Speaking another language, enveloping yourself in another culture, welcomed with delicious food and drink and a comfortable place to lay your head.

Au revoir, Wimereux et à bientôt
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.