Le Sacre De L’Empereur

Yesterday, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor in the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne, within the old walled town. A re-enactment of course, organised by the Association de la Grande Armée (with participation by de l’Association EMPIRE 1804) – whose members I suspect come from all over France. I assume (as one might) that this is a French version of the Sealed Knot (or LARP) and it made for a very interesting day. e.g. http://www.anb62.fr/forum/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=674

Sadly, Boulogne does not seem to have the ferry trade it once had, so the ‘Spectacle’ (which the French do so well, and so often) was perhaps a little low key. The weather may have had something to do with that though because it was cold – damn cold!

We decided to stay in Boulogne on Saturday to watch the parades, which went on all day.

We’ve become fond of calling across the road from the hotel for breakfast pastries and the eating them in a local bar, where the coffee is magnificent. It’s a good start to the day and we were well fortified then, when we went into the old town to see what was going on. Many of the different regiments were beginning to assemble (representations of the regiments of course – not whole regiments!) and were practicing their marches (see above). They had all slept; bivouacked on the old town ramparts and some looked a little worse for wear. It was fun to see all the different uniforms and the way in which the whole thing was play-acted. Well done France – despite the appalling weather.

The old town restaurants were all booked up with camp followers, weekend visitors and Saturday revellers, so we had to drop down the road to the lower town for dinner.

Sharon had a fabulous salad that purported to be Niçoise (!!) and I had that evening’s ‘suggestion’ – Scallops with Spinach and Asparagus. This was also magnificent. I was presented with nine perfectly seared king scallops and a fistful of white asparagus on a huge bed of wilted but flawlessly seasoned spinach. The fact that it looked good and tasted good made the cost (€€€) easier to bear.

Today was mother’s day (fete de meres).

We set off for Cayeaux sur le mer in heavy cloud and intermittently heavy rain. We had to have the heater on in the car and we felt thoroughly miserable as we made our way. We visited the town with Andrew and Debbie last year and though it quite pretty and somewhere to come again. But, as we pulled in it seemed deserted. The rain had stopped but it was bitterly cold as we walked from one end of the huts to the other – probably ¾ mile. As we walked back along the town’s streets the weather seemed to improve and we eventually decided to stay and have lunch there.

The weather continued to improve, so we put out our chairs and read for a while before beginning our meander back up the coast via all of the towns and villages at the mouth of the Somme. This far south, the poppies are much more in evidence and some fields looked truly beautiful.

By now, some of the Somme area towns (Le Crotoy, Quand plage les Pins, Fort Mahon Plage etc) were beginning to fill up and parking was impossible in some of the larger places.

We stopped eventually at Merlimont Plage Plage, which seemed a little run down compared to the others but which nevertheless had a superb beach and a nice outlook. It reminded me of Byron Bay in New South Wales, but without the hippies.

We’ve just finished a picnic tea in our bedroom – as we had not eaten to planned picnic at lunch time.


One response to this post.

  1. […] previously identified Vienna as my coffee homeland and just recently had my best ever coffee in France (the best French coffee that I’ve actually drunk in France) but neither venue is conveniently […]


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