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The Charming Town of Calais

Lunch in Calais – September 2009
We like Calais. You can get a good lunch or dinner there.
We drove into Calais and were immediately struck by how clean and prosperous it looked. This was in marked contrast to almost everywhere else in France we’d seen recently, and it could just be that Calais is a very busy port so that the people actually are for the most part quite prosperous; places like Laon in particular (where we’d stayed the night before) probably don’t have much to offer by way of work.
We parked up and were spoiled for choice of what looked to be agreeable restaurants, settling upon a fish restaurant near to the seafront, which looked quite busy. We decided to sit outside in the smokers’ area, for there was only one other couple there and we could stay just about far enough away from them when they lit up, as they did quite frequently. The outside area was shielded from the wind by a transparent screen, and though it was a very blustery day and we had to make sure that nothing was left unweighted-down, it was sunny, and actually quite pleasant, and we could thus watch the world go by.
The restaurant was one where you could go for quite a grand dinner, but we chose from the menu the Formule Express at eleven euros – probably the waiters thought, these tightfisted Brits always go for the cheapest, but we’d decided we are old enough now to order what we want, and the Formule Express fitted our wants exactly; just one course and a glass of wine. Hilary had a giant saucepan of mussels and a plate of chips (moules frites, typical of the northern coast of France), and I had a rouget, which is red mullet, with tomato, on skewers, with a buttery saffron sauce. Hilary’s moules were done with lots of herbs, bay, thyme and rosemary, which was interesting. And that for us was perfect and most cheering. Service was traditionally French very slow, but we had just enough time after having eaten for, as is usual in France, an excellent coffee.
Calais is supposed to be awash with illegal immigrants trying to get across the channel to Britain, but we saw little or no evidence of them. There were two men who walked by that might have been such, that was all.
Then after lunch we went to the port, to watch, among other things Waberer’s Optimum Solution pass.


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