Thursday, 27 February 2014


OK.  Back from France, wine cellar replenished, few extra pounds round the middle, silly grin on face.

We stayed at a former chateau (most rural hotels seem to be former chateaux)


in a little place south of Calais, not far from the Belgium border.  It was set in small but pleasant grounds.


When I say 'small', I mean a bit bigger than my garden, with only a small stream running through it.  It was perfect for a couple of days relaxing and of course we had chosen it for its renowned chef, who likes to surprise guests, rather than give them a menu.  Here's a starter - scallop soufflé on caramelised endive with seafood sauce and a crustacean foam.

Yes, it was stunning.  Main courses don't photograph so well, so here's a dessert - baba on a sort of crème with spiced pineapple and a little tube of rum (I'd already squeezed mine!).  There's a mulberry lurking round the back too.  Don't know what the red bits are; maybe the chef cut himself.

Even for someone who doesn't do desserts, this was heaven!

The hotel was used during the War as a hospital (for German soldiers).  There is still a bomb shelter in the grounds (which we didn't have to use).

We spent a day in Ardres, which has a nice public office (if you look closely, it is dated 1679.  Actually, it is dated 1679 even if you don't look closely.),

an interesting church,

 and a very nice wine shop.

But we also enjoyed driving through the French countryside, with one village seemingly piled on top of the next.

Though the roads in these parts were horribly congested.


I took this pic just because I liked the colours.

 Some nice brickwork.

On the way home, we stopped in Boulogne.  We always used to lunch in the old city, partly because it is historic and nice, and partly because it is nearly all restaurants.  But we've now found where the locals eat lunch . . .   This is the town hall in the old city.

 This is the town hall in Calais.


  1. I know I will never get to visit France so thank you Dear Heart for taking me there today and to all the other interesting places you share with me.

  2. Oh, Neil, I forgot how much I enjoy your blogs and how they make me long to travel in Europe again. Despite student loans I started a travel fund in the fall...we must meet up for a walk around Guildford and a decadent, wine-sodden meal.

    1. OK. It's a date. Well, not a date exactly - a proposal. Er . . . you know what I mean.