Tag Archives: Montreuil Sur Mer

A to Z of Postcards – M is for Montreuil Sur Mer in France

Montreuil was once an important strategic town on the English Channel but by the nineteenth century after the sea had withdrawn over ten miles away which meant getting a boat in the water was becoming increasingly difficult it had become a sleepy medieval town of no real importance except for passengers on the coaching road from Calais to Paris.

The weather was accommodating and we enjoyed good views across the surrounding countryside.  Our stroll returned us to the centre of the classic French market town and we walked through its attractive streets with its lively fountains and vibrant floral displays, its  shops, restaurants and cafés  and we finished back in the town square right next to a convenient bar where we had a drink before moving on.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow Fields

Longvilliers Northern France

To get to Hardelot required a cross country journey through a succession of small towns and villages along narrow roads meandering through undulating countryside with golden fields of freshly cut hay contrasting with and harmonising perfectly against the rich green meadows with their herds of lazy grazing cattle.

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Northern France, Montreuil-Sur-Mer (Not Near The Sea)

Montreuil-Sur-Mer Post Card

Having abandoned plans to carry on south to the city of Amiens we now plotted our route back with the intention of stopping off for a short while in the town of Montreuil.

The pretty little town, which was one of the settings for the Victor Hugo book ‘Les Misérables’ about the turbulent years of the Napoleonic Empire and the 1830 revolution,  is officially called Montreuil-Sur-Mer but this now seems rather inappropriate as the sea is actually some considerable distance away from the town as it has retreated a few kilometres to the west.

Montreuil was once an important strategic town on the English Channel but by the nineteenth century after the sea had withdrawn over ten miles away which meant getting a boat in the water was becoming increasingly difficult it had become a sleepy medieval town of no real importance except for passengers on the coaching road from Calais to Paris.

It became important again during the First-World-War when Montreuil became the headquarters of the British Army in France.  Army bigwigs seem to have a talent for finding nice places for themselves and General Haig was no exception and quartered himself and his staff in the nearby Château de Beaurepaire. A statue commemorating his stay is outside the theatre on the Place Charles de Gaulle but it isn’t the original because during the German occupation of the town during the Second World War, the statue was taken down. It was never found and is thought to have been melted down for its metal content so it was rebuilt in the 1950s using the sculptor’s original mould, which had luckily survived.

Montreuil-Sur-Mer old town walls

We parked in the large attractive town square near the statue and went for a long raking walk around the walls and battlements that surround the town.  The weather was warm and we enjoyed good views across the surrounding countryside.  From the top of the ramparts which circle the town there are splendid vistas across the surrounding countryside.  A river meandered through the valley and fresh bales of golden hay shimmered in the distance as swallows swooped theatrically close to the vertical stone battlements.  An old man behind the wall attended his abundant allotment, stooped to pick a marrow the size of a rugby ball and families ambled at an appropriately slow pace along the top of the battlement walls.

The scene had a timeless grace that I remembered and I actually never tire of going back.

Eventually we turned away from the old defensive walls and strolled back into the town through the twisting uneven lanes. The walk returned us to the centre of the classic French market town and we walked through its attractive streets with its lively fountains and vibrant floral displays, its elegant shops, tempting chocolatiers and patisseries, the chattering customers in the pavement restaurants and cafés, its estate agents with properties that had prices way beyond my budget and we finished back in the town square right next to a convenient bar where we declared it time for a beer.

After half an hour or so sitting in the warm sunshine we took a scenic route back to the hotel through unremarkable but non-the-less quite beautiful countryside insisting first, and for no particular reason, on looking for the cottage that we had stayed at a couple of years previously at the village of Longvilliers.

It hadn’t changed and the neighbour who had befriended my granddaughter was working as usual in his vegetable patch.  I opened the window and shouted to him ‘Bonjour Camille’ but he didn’t recognise me of course and he probably spent the rest of the day wondering who the English strangers were who drove by his house and knew his name.

Camille Longvilliers France

Ignoring the motorway toll road we took a tortuously twisting route back to the hotel along precariously narrow roads and through unremarkable but non-the-less quite beautiful countryside.  I have grown to really appreciate this part of France and think it sad that most people roar past it as quickly as they can on the autoroute from Calais heading to the south. Here there were soaring wind turbines, quaint villages, sun-dappled fields, tranquil streams gliding at their own gentle pace, and fields full of immaculate dairy cows all plump and sleek and so obviously contented.

Back at the Chateaux de Tourelles we opened our own personal bar and had two or three aperitifs at supermarket prices before making our way down to the terrace for a final drink at hotel prices and then making our selections from the excellent menu and then enjoying a leisurely evening meal in the dining room.

It had been a good day, Abbeville had surprised me but Montreuil-Sur-Mer had been everything that I remembered and expected.  The weather had been good and prospects looked good for the next day when we planned to visit Boulogne-Sur-Mer which, unlike Montreuil, really is next to the sea.

Longvilliers Northern France

It’s Nice to Feel Useful (2)


It’s nice to feel useful…

Six months or so ago I took a look at my statistics and was baffled by some of the search questions that seemed to have brought web-surfers by to visit my site.  I have done it again looked at my statistics for the last month and selected my favourite  Search Engine terms that brought people to my blog.

I have set them out here together with a link to the appropriate page…

First off this time…

“do flights landing in Naples fly over Vesuvius?”

Vesuvius the crater

Now, this seems to me to be an especially dumb question.  I am not an expert on aviation or air traffic control but it seems very unlikely to me that aeroplane carrying over three hundred passengers landing at an international airport in Italy would want to fly over the top of a 1,300 metre high active volcano because it sounds full of potential hazards to me.

The page they were directed to was probably my post about my visit to the mountain.


Now, I like to think that my posts are occasionally informative and the contents have some useful trivia but I really don’t see how I could possibly help with these two searches because it seems to me that someone is looking for a level of detail that I just can’t get down to:  Montreuil sur Mer allotments and the name of the street behind the Moulin Rouge?”.  I have posted on these two locations so perhaps this is where they were directed: 

Montreuil-Sur-Mer old town walls  

Montreuil-Sur-Mer                                      Moulin Rouge


This one cropped up before but it’s well worth repeating again here because I can’t believe anyone would google this – How big are Ryanair seat belts” – I dealt with flying with Ryanair in my post Travel Tips When Flying Budget Airlines – These people are going to be really disappointed when they get the answers!

Ryanair over the Alps


This is a really good one, I like it – committing suicide on p&o mini cruise”. Some people go to Switzerland to end their lives unnaturally whilst others look for a solution on line.

I have been on a P&O mini-cruse from Hull to Rotterdam and although it was not what you would describe as a luxury experience, the food was good and the bar prices reasonable so I can think of no really good reason to throw yourself overboard!


Another dumb historical question next – “how wealthy are the Romanovs?” and dumb because most people know that the entire Romanov family were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1917 during the Russian revolution.

There are some claimants to the titles of the Russian Tsars but even if they were confirmed to be true descendants they would be extremely unlikely to be wealthy because the Russian communist regime confiscated all their money and valuables.

I visited Russia in 2012 and posted about the fate of the Romanovs so I guess the enquirer might have ended up on my post about the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.

Russia St Petersburg


I rather liked this question and for once I can be certain that I have the answer:  Is it always raining in Wales” and the answer in my personal experience is YES!  I went to Wales in 2011 for a week and it rained so much that after four days I gave up, abandoned the holiday cottage and drove back home.  This is my account of the journey!

North Wales


I was also delighted to be able to help with this enquiry – “seagulls on my roof” because I have had exactly the same problem and posted about it last year when the fledgling chicks started to fly – I called it ‘The Seagull has Landed” because although Seagulls may well be a feature of the seaside when I moved to Grimsby I didn’t expect to get a pair nesting on my roof!


Whilst it is nice to think that sometimes my posts might have been useful I have saved my absolute favourites for last and to be honest I have no idea at all where this search led people to on my blog pages – First: “Bodrum handbag prices”, because anyone that reads my posts will know that I am not by any stretch of the imagination what you would call a shopper.

But here is my absolute favourite, probably of all time:

can pubic  hair grow more with regain?”

because I don’t think I have ever written a post about pubic hair!


I’d love to hear from you about weird search results on your sites!

France 2010, A Washout

Longvilliers France

This morning there was a disappointing grey sky with heavy clouds relentlessly rolling in from the west that, in a summer holiday sort of way, didn’t look especially promising.

Longvilliers is located in the Pays-de-Calais Department which is the coolest, wettest region of the country and that is a chance that you take when choosing this part of France for a vacation even in July and August.  The main influence on the climate is the North Atlantic Ocean and whilst this keeps the area free from extremes of temperature it also makes it quite windy and wet and the flat-low lying terrain prevalent in the west of France allows these weather systems to blow far inland.

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France 2010, The Beach at Hardelot Plage and a BBQ Accident

Camille Longvilliers France

There was much better weather the next morning so after breakfast we were in no particular rush to leave the cottage and stayed around the garden and entertained Molly before taking a slow walk along the village lanes to see the farm animals.

Camille spotted us and came outside to say bonjour and then insisted on a guided tour of his garden with its immaculate vegetable plot overflowing with plump ripe produce.  He couldn’t speak a word of English but he explained in great detail what everything was and how best to prepare, cook and eat it.  I could follow some of this by picking out the odd familiar schoolboy French word but to be honest most of it was just a rapid Gallic blur.

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France 2010, Montreuil Sur Mer and Berck Plage

Montreuil Sur Mer France

On Sunday morning the weather was rather mixed and it was difficult to predict with any real degree of confidence just how it might turn out later on.  Sally was up early with Molly and complained about the television channels all being in French (I’m not sure what she was expecting) and the others stayed in bed a while longer waiting for improvement.  Eventually Richard joined me and while we sat and had a cup of tea I thought how good it was to be on holiday again with the world early morning farting champion.

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Montreuil-Sur-Mer, Classic French Town and Les Miserables

Montreuil-Sur-Mer old town walls

There was not much of a chance of a lie in because Molly was up early and attracting attention with her persistent and annoying little machine gun cry (ack, ack, ack, ack, ack, ack, ack) which means she is ready to get up so I dragged myself out of bed and took over from Sally so that she could have a lie in and a rest.  Three hours later everyone else was still asleep so Molly and I went for a drive to Carrefour in Boulogne for something to do and to get the breakfast provisions and by the time we returned there were finally some belated signs of life and the others were beginning to crawl out from their bedrooms.

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