Sunday, October 5, 2008


Of course, in the end, it wasn’t three days at all it was five.

But there was good news as well as bad. La Vague isn’t entirely gone: it has just changed name and décor and menu, but the same folk are still there and still serving fine food. So I was able, as hoped, to indulge myself in a last (for now) delicious orgy of French eating and drinking at what is now ‘L’Auberge de Jules’.

But you can’t eat all day, even though I did try by having both a full midday meal and an evening one on most days. And – encouraged by the Borel’s hotel clerk -- I actually (when forced by a sudden closure Chez Jules because of a fridge failure) ventured further afield in search of culinary goodies. I had a delicious andouilette in a bistro, where I found myself surprisingly hugged into a huge and free-flowing family birthday party (ah! les français!), I discovered the Restaurant au Petit Pierre – Pierre Neuville is no longer petit but the 51-year-old owner of this delicious place – where I gorged myself on more fine food, and I even splashed out on a visit to the town’s poshest restaurant, L’Estouffade, where I had a nice but necessarily small meal and, reprehensibly, an entire bottle of Taittinger to myself. Oh yes, one eats extraordinarily well at Dunkerque.

In between the meals, I traipsed the streets of the city, and got to know it a little more intimately. I visited my favourite shoe shop and stocked up on espadrilles for the next twelve months (their entire stock of 44s), I, with difficulty, found a supermarket and stocked up on necessaries for the voyage, and I found a splendid clothing shop where I was able to buy at knock down price (20 euros) some excellent short shorts to replace my longtime favourite wear-every-day pair (an Xmas gift from Wendy from the days when we still did such things) which had finally exploded across the buttocks during one of my walks. But mostly I lurked round restaurant doors and menus, planning where and on what to eat at the next possible opportunity.

And when I could eat and walk no more, I dropped on to my hotel bed and glared glazedly at the tag end of the bloated Olympic Games.

And then, finally, after two false alarms, the day of departure came. And, as the rain came down, we climbed into taxis at the hotel door and I bid farewell to Dunkerque … to Chez Jules and to Petit Pierre … until the next time.

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