/ Europe2011

Nous arrivons en France ...

... and other poorly remember schoolboy French phrases.

We knew that night one (nuit un) was always going to be the most fraught. Having carefully researched a municipal campsite not to far from the centre of Bethune (90 mins from the ferry) we discovered an internet post the day before we left England saying it was closed. Never mind, plan B the municipal site in Lillers not too far away. Now, sometimes making a mistake and getting the last digit of the postcode wrong is immediately obvious but when the campsite is off the, one in every hamlet/town/city, rue d'Eglise TomTom is quite happy to navigate you to a town no where near where you want to go! A 30 minute backtrack, checking with a local for directions (through the rapid gabble I distinctly heard 'a droit' twice so knew it was right and on the right, irrespective of all the other details being proffered) and we arrive at Camping Muncipal de Lillers. Now 'complet' is another barely remembered schoolboy French word (it was 40+ years ago after all). To those who never learned French at school or whose synapses haven't somehow clawed onto those long past lessons 'complet' means 'full'!

OK plan C, it was a good job that we researched one final site, La Paille Haute, Boiry Notre Dame, just east of Arras. Our third choice because of its rural location but as it turns out there is a large SuperU supermarket just 3 miles to the north. The site office and supermarket sell excellent, cheap, local artisanal beer, but beware it comes in large bottles and is up to 7.5% alcohol by volume. Wonderful!

This nice, quiet, rural site is visited by the local baker. We'll probably not be queueing for his 8am call but may make his return visit at 9:15 tomorrow.

Our first night and already we've noticed "Oh, it's different on the continent" as Liz found the shared-gender toilet and shower block and Brian experienced the joy of the barely cordonned off 'urinoirs'.