Dunkerque has been highlighted again recently by the Hollywood movie. It was the location of a huge evacuation for British soldiers and some French soldiers to the shores of Britain. The city now has plaques everywhere that lead you down a historical walking tour.
The night we arrived, we stayed at a quaint hotel overlooking one of the many habours. We walked around town and had dinner at a nearby brasserie.
In the morning, we took a long walk through the beach area of Malo-les-bains, touted as the best beach in the north. We stopped for an omelet and a hot beverage before heading back to our car and further along the coast to Arras, near Vimy Ridge.
On the way to Arras, we stopped to visit one particular Commonwealth Grave site in Calais. It was very solemn and moving to see how respected the soldiers were. The graveyards have a registry where we look up the names we want to visit. The settings are usually very beautiful, sometimes with a view. As I took in the scenery around the cemetery, I noticed something white across the ocean. It turned out to be the White Cliffs of Dover. Amazing!
Arras, one of the many WW1 battle sites, was a beautiful old city with some reconstructed buildings. For instance, the Belfry and town hall (built between 1463 and 1554), symbol of French independence, were completely destroyed by the Germans in WW1. It was rebuilt to its original details a few years later and inaugurated in 1932.
That evening, we walked through the Grand Place and the Petite Place and settled on a quaint restaurant named the Petit Rat Porteur (the small carrier rat). I wasn’t too excited about having dinner in a restaurant named after a rat, but it turned out to be one of the best meals we had so far. My dinner featured huge scallops, a pilaf of white and wild rice and a ton of green beans on a bed of sautéed leeks. Oh yum!!!
The cemeteries are so moving and I remember being so impressed by how beautifully they were maintained. Truly a mark of respect.