After a jog around the county lanes with microlights humming above its breakfast time for Our Bumble crew. Mac n Tosh savour a few dog biscuits drizzled in au natural yogurt which they munch in delight.
We fill Vin with fresh water and bumble down the coast to the historic resort of Boulogne-sur-Mer. As we arrive we crawl through the main centre as thousands of people line the streets. Its a very hot and sticky Sunday and everyone from miles around have arrived to enjoy the ocean breeze as well as the weekend festivities.
Shops, stores, hotels and endless restaurants line the Gambetta Quay on the bank of the river Liane. The quayside is huge and when you place Nausicaa, a massive aquarium and sea life centre in the middle, it seems even bigger. Large working jetties extend to the the open waters exposing a network of old wooden pier beams and supports. The area has a real mix of industrial, nautical and modern flair which has a certain look…but for whatever reason its not grabbing our attention.
We park behind the casino on a free carpark along with dozens of other campers. The dusty car park surrounded by scaffolding and repair work feels shabby and unloved. Combined with a few scrappy looking caravans, one of which is our neighbour. During lunch, we observe the car park activities. To our relief it is quiet with no untoward events or suspicious characters, so we decide to head in to town.
We cycle away from the city centre and head towards the walled, medieval quarters. Once inside it feels very different to the modern town and busy marina. Its feels abandoned with not a soul in sight. We cycle around the cobbled streets. A mixture of residential town house properties with handful of small shops and cafes.
Towards the main square Palais de Justice, library and Hotel de Ville. Further towards the rear of the village the 19th century Basilica Notre-Dame with a mighty impressive dome. I wait outside with Mac n Tosh whilst Craig ventures inside for a toot. He is not long and we swap guard duty. Once inside, I realise there is very little to see and clearly a church in need of TLC. The wooden statue of Notre-Dame de Boulogne wears a simple head dress, a soleil, worn by women during the annual village procession.
We head over to the moated 13th century chateau, which is now the village historical museum. Kids take pleasure at throwing stones in to the moat and then running to hide as stone splashes the water. At this point we cycle along the wall and all the way around the village. The elevated position provides great panoramic views of the coast as well as views of the village. From here the exterior of the basilica is far more appealing, which we appreciate when see the dome and all the architectural detail.
Back at the busy marina and we cycle along the promenade. It is lined with stalls, wine tents, food huts and plenty more. This morning, was Boulogne’s 10k run and everyone is out to celebrate their achievement or join in the celebration. Its a few hours or so passed lunchtime, so the party is in full swing. The wine is in full flow and its time to hit the stage. Small wood platforms offer a people a quick 5 minute window of fame. We smile as one lady takes to the stage and woo’s the audience as she belts out “its raining men”. Two men in jeans and bearing proud wine bellies waddle to the front, raise their arms and sway to the rhythm. We are not quite sure who is most entertaining but they all make us smile before we tootle back to Vin.
As we sit in the casino carpark we look around and feel like we’ve been dumped. A beautiful day to sit and look at scaffolding, we think not! We start up Vin and head to the coast. We drive through a number of purpose built residential towns until we arrive at huge white sand dunes at Stella Plage. Right at the side, a free aire with just one parking spot for Vin. Perfect. Located at the end of a dead end, so no passing traffic and very quiet and tranquil. It was meant to be.
The town of Stella Plage has very little to offer other than a handful of shops and bistros on the main street. What it lacks in high street it makes up for in residential properties. Stella is definitely the hip retirement place for the wealthy. The tree lined avenues are home to some rather larger properties with ornate gardens. Just a shame they’ve built a couple of apartment blocks right on the front, to block the beach views.
The next few days we stayed next to the dunes and let Mac n Tosh have their fun. They had hours and hours of running wild in the sand dunes and long runs on the beach chasing their ball. Each day we walked several hours down the beach just chatting and enjoying our time. This stretch of the coast is one of the most scenic stretches of the Cote d’Opale. Long, wide and white sandy beaches with hardly any tourists. To the north the windblown headlands of the cape and west breathtaking views across the Channel.
Sometimes simple is best and this place seems to be one of those places. Apart from walk, eat and sleep we did very little but it was a great few days and somewhere we will definitely come back to.
Our Bumble free aire at Stella Plate GPS position: N050.474449 E001.577390