Le Grand Tour: Day 5 – Oye-Plage To Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont (91km)

CURRENT LOCATION: Camping L’Espace Vert des Trémières

A day to remember… Some of you may think that politics has no place on a website such as this. Yet I disagree. A head of government represents the country. He or she is not seen by those in other countries as a Tory or a socialist or a liberal or whatever. They are simply an embodiment of what the ‘majority’ are thinking. (Majority! Well, not in our archaic first-past-the-post system but that’s another argument.) So when I meet people and ask them what they think of our prime minister, it’s embarrassing to be told that he is thought of as an ‘idiot’ or ‘joker’ because in a small way they are saying that about me and you. We, collectively, gave him the power. I never voted for him but I am part of the system that did. I am glad that he will soon be gone. I watched him speak live on my phone this lunchtime. Just as he finished, I passed in front of a magnificent hotel in Le Touquet called… Le Westminster. Everyone, irrespective of the politics, should be glad that he will soon be replaced. 

I had set off earlier under a grey sky and northern wind. After a few days of cycling in the direct sun, I didn’t mind this at all. In fact much of today has been overcast, until this evening when that north wind blew the clouds south. And that very same wind has, in the main, been helping me today as to hindering me in previous days. Good cycling conditions and a good distance cycled: some 96km. My average is edging up…

From Oye-Plage village to Calais some serious investments have been made in upgrading the EuroVelo 4 / Vélomaritime route. Good surfaces, well-signposted. I bumped into a Belgian cyclist called Denis. He was cycling for a few days along the same route as me and it was good to chat at length for the first time of the trip to a fellow touring cyclist. It was also a good workout for my French. 

In Calais he continued to cycle. My plan, delayed from yesterday, was to take the train along the coast. As I had now cycled as far as Calais, instead of travelling as far as Boulogne, I travelled to Etaples-Le Touquet. Etaples- on the north of the estuary, is nothing special and neither is the gloriously ugly concrete bridge that takes you to the suburbs of Le Touquet. But what suburbs! Great mansions lurk behind the hedges and nestled into the undulating dune-inspired landscape. Admittedly it’s heyday has now past but back in the pre-war era it must have been an intriguing hotbed of activity amongst the upper classes. I then stumbled upon Le Westminster and smiled.

The seafront of Le Touquet was a little more standard and modern. As were the subsequent seaside towns of Berck and Fort-Mahon Plage. More Bridlington than Beverly Hills. I didn’t hang around for long as, in the back of my mind, accommodation options were beginning to nag. 5pm came and went without a solution, then 6pm. I cycled past one ‘campsite’ but when I asked in the bar if they had space for a small tent they looked at me bemused. ‘A tent?’ Most sites around here are dominated by static caravans. In my humble opinion, you shouldn’t be able to use the words ‘campsite’ or ‘camping’ in your name if you don’t accept people who are, you know… camping. 

I had more luck at around 6:30pm. Again, a site dominated by static cars and but a nice spacious area in the middle for tents. Wonderful! 

Tomorrow? I reckon Dieppe is on the cards. It’s pointless using Google to give me an accurate estimate of the distance. It says 74km but with a EuroVelo route that has more twists and turns than an average episode of Line of Duty, I suspect that might be as much as 100km if I do indeed stick to the route. And if I do get to Dieppe, it will probably be a night in a hotel and a day off to explore… 


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