In May 2019, we drove from our Camper Park in Honfleur, Normandy to our next camp-ground near Rouen which would have given us the opportunity to see this lovely old city, famous for its associations with Joan of Arc, in the afternoon. Unfortunately for the first time on our 30 day tour of France, the facilities at our destination were below par and so we drove on to the next camping park further out of the Rouen. This left us no time to visit the old centre of this city so we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and headed off in the morning to our next home in St Armand les Aux, a small town midway between the cities of Lille and Valenciennes in the region of Nord Pas de Calais.
We had various deadlines to meet that meant we had to keep heading north to Camping Mont des Bruyeres at St Amand les Eaux on Friday 7th May. We had tickets to go the World Cup women’s soccer match between Australia and Italy in Valenciennes on Sunday and we were due to be on the ferry from Calais to Dover by Wednesday. So much to see and so little time.
The Saturday morning we had set aside to visit Lille, the major city of this region of France. On Sunday we were in Valenciennes but because we were part of a parents and relatives supporters group for the Australian Team, the Matildas, we returned with this group to Lille on Sunday night and had a bit more time in this lovely city. The only thing that spoiled this section of our trip was the Matilda’s loss to Italy 2-1.
On Monday we were back to St Armand, packed the Campervans and on to our final camping ground in France for our trip to the small village outside Arras, Boiry-Notre-Dame. Over these two days we explored two cities famous for their involvement in the trench warfare of 1914-18, Arras and Cambrai. Wednesday was the day of our crossing by ferry from Calais to Dover and our last night in our Campervans near the beautiful, ancient city of Canterbury.
Appendix 1: St Armand Les Eaux
Just 16km from Valenciennes is the town of St Armand les Eaux that hosts a lovely campervan park called Camping Mont des Bruyeres. It is on the outskirts of the town on the edge of Scarpe-Escaut Regional Natural Park. It is most famous for being the site of an ancient abbey founded in the 7th century which lasted for a thousand years before it encountered the destructive juggernaut that was the Revolution. Unlike the belfry of Valenciennes that didn’t survive the twentieth century, the tower of the old abbey survived and still stands proudly in Saint Armand Les Eaux and can be seen from a long distance away. It is well worth a visit.