Folkestone, Kent and driving to England

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Folkestone is a sleepy seaside fishing town one hour's high-speed train ride south-east of London, into the county of Kent. Once upon a time, as with most English seaside villages, it used to be a very popular resort town and boasted a grand amusement park right on the shoreline. Throughout its history, Folkestone, due to its proximity, played a significant role in England's defense against the constant threat of the invading French. Which strikes me as rather ironic as the town is now most renowned for being the first port of call for the Euro Tunnel train which in 35 minutes takes you and your car from Calais in the north of France to England.

A week ago friend of mine and Mr M's asked us to drive her and her little dog to London so they could experience life there for a little while. We jumped at the chance for the adventure, and took our little pup Daisy along to say goodbye to her best dog-friend. After a very delayed start - it's still beyond me how our friend thought leaving the morning after Australia Day was a good idea - a visit to the wrong hirecar office, a detour through Bastille for a forgotten passport and an hour of scenic-route driving because our GPS was kind enough to avoid the tolled roads, we were on our way.

Beautiful Art Nouveau shop fa├žades and weather-beaten houses fit for Miss Haveshim

As romantic as roadtripping through France may appear, unless you have a great deal of time to avoid the A roads it will be all motorway and truck stop stations. Every motor way in France is tolled, and quite heavily at that, so getting around the country can actually end up quite expensive. From Beauvais, where we finally got on the A16, to Calais, a two hour drive, cost us about 15€ in tolls. In saying that, a day trip from Paris to the Loire Valley or Champagne region, passing through all the small and quaint towns in between is well worth it. Especially for the brocantes along the way! But that's another post...

That, there, in the yellow crate is KALE! Was so so super excited to find it, Mr M thought I was having a fit!

Once we arrived at Calais the pups had to go through quarantine, then we all have to drive through customs - it is very bizarre handing over your passport as you would change at a 'Maccas' drive-thru - and then line up to be ferried onto the train. You then drive up and then down some ramps, onto a platform, next to it stationed a train with a gapping hole in the middle of its carriages, and drive onto and into the train, which looks likes like something from a Luc Besson film. They lock you in, four to a carriage, and about half an hour later you're in cheery ol' England.

 The Folkestone Leas Lift, servicing beach visitors on weekends only.

There was no way Mr M and I were going to make it back to Paris the same day so Mr M booked us into the most charming 'public house' situated close to the coast, with a pub downstairs and small but comfortably furnished rooms above.

 Castle Hotel, Saltwood

The next day, before our train back to the continent, and after a quick trip to Sainbury's - lavender earl grey tea for me, pork sausages for him, and Pimm's for summer - we got to explore picturesque Folkestone. And to see the ocean! I forget how much I miss and long for the sea until each time I see it again.

Before we knew it our jaunt across the pond was soon over but it made us realise, while long, how super easy it is to pop over by car, which we've already started planning to do again soon. And if you happen to be interested in viewing the trip back via train for yourselves (and meeting myself, Mr M and Daisy) I made a little video that I've posted on Vimeo here.


Euro Tunnel / Le Shuttle

Castle Hotel
The Green, Saltwood
Hythe, Kent 
CT21 4AJ
United Kingdom
+44 1303 266311

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