So. We’ve just had the final bank holiday until Christmas. Which is about 50% scary and 40% exciting – the rest is a weird combination of disbelief, panic and exhaustion. Because that’s an awful lot of months without a cheeky extra day off. So hopefully you made the most of it.
Tradition has it that bank holiday weekends in England are routinely a bit grey and drizzly. Not so this past weekend – apparently it was the hottest August BH on record (although tbh I’m never reeeaally sure what that actually means), which meant any outdoor space would be rammo. So we decided to take a day trip to France, on the basis that it wasn’t a public holiday over there, and with schools about to go back it was likely to be pretty chill.
Which it was. We gathered at Elstree airfield around 10am with a view to hopping over the channel to Le Touquet on a friend’s plane. One slight false start later (pilot had forgotten his passport. I mean..) and we were cruising around 2000 feet in a single-engine 4-seater. Which was next level cool.
Rohan (captain) explained that the bumpiness would be caused by areas of land heating at different rates and therefore sending up different pockets of air. I didn’t really understand tbh, but the going was certainly smoother over the water, which seemed to quantify his hypothesis.
We landed at Le Touquet, jumped in a cab, and headed into town. Le Touquet is a funny little town – lots of 70s builds next to restored traditional architecture, some of which looks almost Disney-esque. I was struggling to understand until our driver explained that the majority of the town had to be re-built after WWII. As we cruised past the ‘best hotel in town’ (The Westminster), the driver pointed out the window: “Nazi HQ”. Oh. Right. Then we passed a mass of police officers chilling outside what turned out to be President Emmanuel Macron’s holiday home. It all felt a bit surreal.
The main touristy bit of Le Touquet (aka Centre Ville. One of the guys we were with is French and he INSISTED we at least attempt the language) is pedestrianised, so we went sans driver, down some of the prettiest streets I’ve ever seen. Lots of chocolate shops and gelato outlets, with a load of high-fashion brands interspersed throughout. I was coo-ing over how many of my favourite French brands there just so happened to be here (Sandro, Maje, Comptoir des Cotonniers), until Pandora reminded me we were in France. So actually it made sense.
S H O P T H E L E T O U Q U E T H I G H S T R E E T
Pilot Rohan is something of a regular to Le Touquet, since it’s one of the shorter flights to a new country (flying to Ireland would take twice as long. Who knew?!). So he lead us to one of his favourite restaurants, just up from the coast.
We had what I think was probably the most typically French meal basically ever. Mussels (there was an entire mussels menu – garlic-rich, cheesy, wine sauce, et al.), foie gras, steak tatare… And then chocolate fondue to finish.
Lots of Rose too, obv.
Then. Finally. The beach. Sand, people, and sun lounger spread bascially as far as I could see both left and right. I think there were mutterings of a three km stretch, but frankly I wasn’t listening. I was too busy preparing my sprint down to the waterline. Which was further than I’d been expecting, since the tide was out…
A day trip to France is one of the best things I’ve done this year – I think we forget sometimes just how many different cultures and experiences we have on our doorstep (for now, anyway). If you don’t have a friend’s plane at your disposal, or just fancy a comfier ride, try Air France. They fly to 168 international destinations, and flights from London go via France. Which means you could always do a French day trip en route to somewhere else… Just saying. Good idea, right?!