August 12, 2006
The Chunnel & Northern France
I finally feel like we really live in the British Isles. I'm wearing jeans, a turtleneck and a fleece vest, in mid-August. And I'm not warm. My hands are cold.
It's a grey, dreary, windy day, with the chilly fingers of the gusts of air whooshing, pushing, shoving all the leaves and needles of all the branches on every beech, redwood, cedar, fir, and hazelnut tree. This is excellent UK weather. And it's supposed to remain the same for the next ten days. It was a similar temperature in northern France, where we were yesterday, only fairly sunny. We wore three layers of shirts/sweaters/jackets at times, against the cold breeze!
Since our trip by air to Switzerland had to be cancelled (terrorism), we took about four hours at home to regroup, and decided to experience the Euro Tunnel and drive to the nearest international border. Did you know you can't actually drive through the Chunnel? I had no idea. I was picturing all these private cars zooming through the tunnel and suddenly switching to the other side of the road upon arriving in the other country. But no, actually you have to drive your car onto a huge car-carrier-train (having reserved a spot on their website), park, and sit in your car for 35 minutes whilst the train whisks you under the British Channel (or La Manche, francophonically speaking). It's a double-decker train and we were up on the higher level both directions. It's pretty cool. I didn't even have the sensation of going downwards, and we never saw the water at all, since the tunnel starts so far from the coast in order to descend gradually. There are actually three tunnels (two big ones - 7.6 metre diameter - with train tracks, one smaller one in between as a service/emergency tunnel), 50 km long and 45 metres below the seabed. It took four years to build, 1987-1991, for £9 Billion ($17 Billion). The best day of work yielded progress of 75 metres. More info on the structure/building of the Chunnel.
We had a lovely 24 hours in northern France, speaking and listening to French, eating crêpes, boulangerie goodies (croissants, chaussons aux pommes, etc.), and taking a two hour walk on the beautiful soft sandy beach at Le Touquet as the tide was rapidly coming in.
I can't get over the fact I can ride home in my car from Calais, France to my new house in England in two hours flat. Modern technology...
P.S. I took 123 photos on this one little overnight trip, I was so thrilled to be back in francophonia. And it was my first visit ever to the north of France. Never been north of Paris before.
August 12, 2006 | Permalink
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Never a dull moment for you in the recent past...no moss growing under your feet! Wiggling toes in white sand and wandering over new territory, in sweaters, no less! Not so in VA this week! Hot and dry, with the Japanese beetles still devouring whatever the groundhogs have left! Roses, and crape myrtle, mostly. Oh Happy Day! Your mother loves you! Great weather in Maine, though ;-)
Posted by: Patricia Taylor | Aug 12, 2006 6:46:33 PM
My husband and I have wondered before how that would work with having to drive on another side of the road once you're at the end of the chunnel. Thanks for the cool pictures and the explanation. Glad you had a good trip after the once to Switzerland had to be cancelled.
I'd LOVE to be wearing jeans and a turtleneck over here in West Texas, but I'll settle for the cloudy day we've had along with the first decent rain fall since we moved here exactly one month ago!
Posted by: Melene | Aug 13, 2006 3:11:11 AM
Thank you sooooo much for the pictures...I was trying to explain it to the boys and didn't get far without a visual....despite a search, nothing had photos....even went to google earth and I must've been looking around too close to the water....kept thinking I should see SOMETHING tho :-)
So it's just so fun we all get to learn by your experiences!!
Posted by: Angie | Aug 13, 2006 4:35:41 AM
By the way...do they even have some form of auto over there which would seat 6? Just curious as they all look so tiny. The boys love a photo I took on our honeymoon in France where a motorcycle is larger than the tiniest car we saw there. Anyway, I digress, have a great morning, or whenever you read this :-)
Posted by: Angie | Aug 13, 2006 4:37:31 AM
Yes, Angie, there are plenty of vehicles to fit 6 or 7. Our friends have a VW Caravelle, for example, which has 7 seats and a table in the middle! We have a Toyota Corolla Verso, whose hatchback trunk converts into two more seats to hold 7 (but not much luggage in that case). It's our first time with a car holding more than 5 people, and I'm so excited the kids can take along a friend each (or we can fit two grandparents in along with us when they visit). Thanks be to God, who is so kind.
12km (7 miles) of the Chunnel is underland, in addition to the undersea portion (which is 38km - 24 miles). If it's the same distance on either end, that would mean the tunnel starts 6km (3.5 miles) from the water.
Posted by: Katherine | Aug 13, 2006 3:47:25 PM
Posted by: jeffy | Aug 13, 2006 10:07:08 PM