A Life in the Slow Lane

A long and tedious drive

8th October 2017 published 9th October 2017

When you look at a map of Europe Luxembourg doesn’t look very far from Calais, but that is just an illusion brought about by the size of the European continent. It is in fact more than 250 miles.

We had breakfast with Joe, Beatrice, Lula and Noah in their mobile home and then it was time to say our goodbyes. Normally we get together with them once a year but it is usually for three of four days, so this meeting seemed very short. We will no doubt see them again next year, especially since we will be travelling over to Calais twice a year from now on.

Once we had bid them farewell we set off on the journey. I think 250 miles would make this either the longest drive on this trip or very close. Luckily the journey was entirely on free motorways. We were quickly into Belgium, which was the 19th country of our trip. Ironically SatNav routed us via Brussels and as we navigated the Ring around Brussels and passed Zaventem airport, we were only about 3 miles from my brother’s house!

As anyone who has travelled in this part of Europe will know, once you get north of the Ardennes, the countryside is flat and dull and the fact that I have driven the route from Brussels to Calais dozens of times, does not make it any more interesting.

Our intention was to overnight on the nice little aire at Dunkirk where we had spent the first night of our trip. The aire is right next to a huge beach, which the dogs would enjoy and it would bring the whole trip a satisfying circle. Unfortunately in the seven months we have been away they have put up a height barrier and a no motorhomes sign.

Basil on the Gravelines Aire

We therefore had to turn around and head up the coast to the more welcoming town of Graveline, which still has a huge aire (50.987764, 2.122146), nicely set along a tidal river and an associated marina. At this time of year the overnight cost is only €4, a final bargain from motorhome friendly France before we get back to Europe’s most motorhome unfriendly country – Britain.