Boulogne is a lovely little town. The tall, mismatched houses with the aged, cracked windowframes and painted doubledoors leading to shaded courtyards puts you very much in the mood of a New Wave film. Men wandering around in sunglasses and tucked-in polo shirts, women in aprons stood in the doorways of cafés. Nothing much going on. The French know how to take it easy.

We sit at a little table on the sidewalk looking out on the town square. Workers are revitalising a garden, hauling ballast and compost hither and yon. We order a couple of jambon-beurres. We're nearly within viewing distance of England, but no one here seems to have any desire to speak English, forging ahead in unbothered French with me, even as I stumble over my vocabulary and my conjugation. No one makes me feel out of place: there a sort of grace to the French language that endures poor speaking. I decide that I will probably never visit Paris, with its snooty attitudes towards coffee and tourism, again.

The workers all down tools and head in for lunch. Peace overtakes the square. The waitress brings Ghyll a treat and a bowl of water with the bill.

France '24



Staying on the banks of the Semois and running over the hill to Les Hautes Rivières.


Battery Oldenburg

A morning walk through the abandoned remains of a Nazi artillery battery.