Train to Calais

Rodin’s Burghers of Calais in front of the Hotel de Ville

A hair-raising ride along the cycle lanes of Paris brought us to Gard du Nord in plenty of time for the train, and we bought pain du seigle and tarte aux pommes from a nearby boulongerie. The city has made a good effort to reverse engineer cycle infrastructure into the road network and it’s well used with anarchic Parisian panache. Elegant young women in summer dresses were weaving between slower pedallers, a man in a white suit came storming through and a lycra clad warrior zipped past alarmingly close to the edge of the kerb.

We were checking the departure board every few minutes and walked over to platform 18 as soon as it showed, so we were surprised to find the train already well filled. It’s lucky there were three sets of bike spaces, each taking three. The first was full, the second had one bike whose owner was waiting for a friend and the third had one bike so we gratefully added our two. Nine bike spaces is more than any British train is equipped for but only just enough for us.

It was a sociable three hour journey as we swapped travellers tales with the other cyclist who was returning to London after a solo ride in France. It’s always good to do it person to person despite the usefulness of blogs. I was slightly envious as he continued to the ferry while we rode to the Ibis hotel but we couldn’t have got back home and considered an overnight in Calais preferable to brexity Dover. Staying in England should have got us home a bit earlier but Calais eliminated the risk of train trouble causing us to miss the ferry. Also in the back of my mind was the knowledge that post brexit, border officials were entitled to demand proof of a return ticket. Annoyingly, DFDS messaged us to advise arriving two hours before sailing time to check in, rather than one, so we’ll have to be up at six rather than seven. And I’ll be very surprised if it turns out to be necessary.

After checking in to the rather tired Ibis, we lunched on the Paris bread and cheese, checked out the route to the ferry and looked round the town. The most appealing of the dining options was another Poke Bowl place, this time takeaway only so we took it back.

The journey home