This weekend, I headed over to France with my work's annual day trip. I hadn't been the previous years but this time I decided to go for it. As it turns out, there were some extra seats available so I was able to take Marie with me for a day of shopping, sleeping and attempting to speak French.
The coach was leaving from my workplace at 5:45, so Marie picked me up at 5am. I didn't even know that time existed on a Saturday! After a 4 hour journey, we finally arrived in Calais where we had a couple of hours to spend.
First Marie and I made a beeline for the beautiful town hall as we'd seen a huge Mickey Mouse figure and sparkling Mickey and Minnie silhouettes in the grounds. It turns out he was part of a Disney Christmas event but it wasn't starting until a week later, unfortunately!
Although I'd estimated the building to have been built in the 18th Century, it was actually constructed in 1911. The architecture was truly beautiful, especially the wonderfully ornate clocktower that could be seen for miles.
By now we were feeling thirsty so we went in search of a cafe. On the way, we passed my friend who recommended a pub she had just visited with her sister. To my delight, we were served Coke bottles with names on, so I had an awesome French name label (I was Garcon).
After having a little rest in the pub, Marie and I decided to explore the area. It was an absolutely beautiful day with a blue sky that looked glorious against the quaint French architecture.
Having not eaten since 6:30am, we stopped off in a patisserie where I bought a pain au chocolat and communicated with the worker in only French. Having not studied French since I was in year 9 (a whopping 12 years ago!), my linguistic abilities are severely limited. However, I managed to communicate with "Bonjour. Pain au chocolat s'il vous plait" and then, when she started asking me a bunch of questions, "Parlez vous Anglais?" She just laughed (kindly!) and didn't repeat what she'd said, so it can't have been important. Then it was just a matter of "Merci! Au revoir!" I was so proud of myself!
Hard-earned pastry in hand, we popped across the road to Parc Saint Pierre in search of somewhere to sit and snack.
This fountain was the perfect place! Doesn't it look like something out of Beauty and the Beast? It was so peaceful and serene!
Oh, and the pain au chocolat was glorious!
After a couple of hours, we all boarded the coach and headed over to Cité Europe. By this point, we were pretty hungry so we headed to a pub for lunch. Since I was in France and all, I knew what I had to eat...
Yes, I ate snails! Or escargot, as they're officially known. I'd never eaten them before and had no idea that they would come out still in their shells! I was a bit confused at first with all the implements but Marie helped me out. They were delicious, with the texture of squid and a garlic sauce. Yum!
Once we'd filled our tummies, we had a little browse around the shops. This wasn't the most exciting part of the day as the shopping centre just looks like The Oracle in Reading. It's not particularly big or cheap, and most of the shops are exactly the same as those we get in the UK: New Look, H&M, The Disney Store, Zara. However, I did make a sneaky little trip to Sephora!
It also had these beautiful Christmas decorations with an Alice in Wonderland theme, featuring animatronic rabbits and clocks everywhere.
I eventually got home at 10pm, so it was a very long day but I had a fantastic time!