Chris and Helen had spent some time in Calais in 2019 due to Chris’s accident with his hand when trying to leave. He had a bit of an argument with one of those swinging buoys in the outer harbour and had to be taken off by the coastguard to go to hospital. They stayed about 6 weeks whilst he underwent treatment and then they waited for suitable weather into December. Sounds like he had amazing care and treatment throughout but not a pleasant interlude.
They had told us that they enjoyed Calais but we, like most people, had only ever driven in / out to the ferry terminal. What we saw in the couple of days we were there was really rather pleasant.
The mooring they found, thanks to another boater on the Somme, is very pleasant and within easy walking distance of the centre & Town Hall.
We saw the outer harbour in the sunshine on Tuesday with boats on the buoys, and the wall where we tied up in the distance.
But we had a couple of jobs to do with Chris and Helen before we left. Firstly Adrian found where they could buy a Free SIM card – amazing value you get around 200 GB for 20 euros a month. We went to a small shop hosting a Free SIM machine, bought said card and Adrian fitted everything up for them on board.
Secondly we needed to get through some form of passport control and customs check now we are no longer in the EU. Chris had hoisted a yellow flag before entering Calais which identifies vessels from foreign waters. Adrian had telephoned French border police beforehand and we were told to go to the Calais Marina and give them details of the boat & occupants. Since we weren’t in the marina itself we had to make sure that our mooring was clearly identified. They then email the police who decide whether or not they need to visit the boat. Within a couple of hours two policemen did indeed arrive. They checked & stamped our passports (a little bemused that we had just been in & out within days!) & asked about our visas. They decided there was no need to check anything on the boat so Chris was able to take down his yellow flag.
Bizarrely when we were at the marina office another yatch owner was registering and was amazed that we had come from Pin Mill – he explained that that is his winter mooring! He was leaving Calais having sailed around Brittany. Small world.
Town Hall and the Burgers of Calais
In 1885, Rodin was commissioned by the French city of Calais to create a sculpture that commemorated the heroism of Eustache de Saint-Pierre, a prominent citizen of Calais, during the dreadful Hundred Years’ War between England and France (begun in 1337).
President de Gaule married in Calais ……. preparations for the Tour de France
Some rather impressive wall art
We all went out for dinner together that evening and then on Thursday Adrian and I headed off to the train station to travel back to Valenciennes. A fairly easy change in Lille and we were back on board within a few hours. Nothing like as long or complicated as our trip to Pin Mill!
We both thoroughly enjoyed our sojourn with Chris and Helen on Vrouwe Olive. The Crossing was a real treat but definitely a one off! We won’t be taking Piedaleau across the channel.
Another item ticked off the old bucket list ……..
And a big thank you to Chris and Helen xxx