France Revisited

To friends, family, and followers of Gary’s Beeretseq posts:

It’s Libby. Gary is taking a break from his blog posting and is once again allowing me the privilege to guest blog at Beeretseq.

After a too-long hiatus from travelling anywhere, we are back in France and I am reborn.

This time in the North again, headquartered in a small town of 18,000 souls called Saint-Omer, in the Pas de Calais region (detail follows from a local truck delivering drinks).

It is a town we visited briefly three years and a lifetime ago and promised ourselves we would return to. We loved it then and love it more now. It is 30 kilometres south of Calais and 68 kilometres west-northwest of Lille.

It is known for having one of the best outdoor markets anywhere in Europe, thanks no doubt to the more than 13,000 market gardeners in the vicinity. It burst to life this past Saturday morning in the elegant, cobbled grand square in front of the town hall with fabulous vegetables, grown in the nearby marshes known as the Audomarais, delectable roast chickens turning on their spits in front of us, and a stand selling cous-cous, paella and cassoulet. In addition, the market hosts a wide variety of vendors selling everything from jewelry to clothing, kitchen gadgets to bicycles, cheese to olives.

We are lucky to have found the perfect place in Saint Omer. We rented an apartment for the month of June via Booking.Com not too far from the Saint Omer train station. Our apartment has all the amenities: a new convection oven, a new induction stovetop, good dishwasher, fridge etc. It has a large living room/dining area, a separate kitchen, a bedroom with mock fireplace fittings and even a large back yard with picnic table. We call it “Chateau Gillman”.

The ruins of 12th century St. Bertin Abbey are located just behind our flat. Some neighbourhood!

After the vicissitudes of the pandemic, Gary and I were eager to resume our travels. We had been in the south of France in February, 2020, but we were unprepared for the post-pandemic procedures we had to endure. No laughing matter. Since our flight to Paris connected through Chicago, American regulations required us to produce a negative Antigen test taken the day prior to departure. This we did and then attempted to check-in online with our airline. No could do. The airline had engaged a third party service provider to verify that all identification, tests, attestations and other documents for each leg of the journey (separately) were in order before online check-in was available to us.

The completion of this process took the better part of 6 hours as one had to wait for the third party to process the documents before subsequent steps were permitted. Once checked-in online, however, the airport process was a breeze. Just an FYI for those contemplating travel through the U.S.

Once in Paris, the pandemic seems to have been all but forgotten. Hardly any masks despite the requirement to wear one on public transportation.

So the plan is to use Saint Omer as a base over the next several weeks to take a barge ride in the Marais, visit Arques (known for its glassware), and side trips to Le Touquet, Arras, Calais and maybe one or two other northern towns of interest (of which there are many). There’s lots to see and do and I know that the next few weeks will blow by. Pictured below are photos Gary took on one of his walks, of the barge ride in the marshes. We haven’t done that yet but it looks idyllic, n’est-ce pas?

Still trying to exercise and not gain a ton of weight. That may be easier said than done with tempting croissant aux amandes, pate de fois and a host of other culinary pleasures. Pictured below is a pate de fois fait a la maison with, what else, beer.

I’ll keep you posted on our trip exploits and hope you enjoy following our travels.

A bientot!

7 thoughts on “France Revisited”

  1. I was going to say it all looked lovely until I saw that photo of the pate. And I like pate!

    Although I bet it looked a lot better sliced and served on a platter. Sounds like a great trip.

    Reply
  2. Everything sounds amazing. I feel as
    Though I am on. Journey with you.
    We have many special memories from
    Paris and the south of dance. Enjoy every moment! 💕❤️

    Janis & sid

    Reply
  3. OMG! Thank-you for sharing your what appears to be the beginning of an incredible adventure. I will definitely think of you while eating a croissant from our neighbourhood patisserie. Enjoy every minute of your time away including the amazing delicacies. Looking forward to hearing from you again. Say hi to Gary.

    Reply
  4. Beautifully described !I feel like im travelling with you! Sounds like a wonderful adventure ! Enjoy!

    Reply

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