Monday April 21 (part 2)
This time we have a diesel Citroen C4 for the next four days. Leaving the train station was straight-forward. We easily found the ring road around Lille and the motorway towards Paris that took us to our destination of Arras. As we had spent time on the Internet the night before we quickly found the hotel area and were booked into the Mercure Hotel by 1:30. We changed and walked to the square in Arras where the local tourist office is found in the historic Bellfroi (bellfrey).
Arras is a lovely town. We bought tickets to go up the Bellfroi for a view of the town as well as tickets to the underground garden beneath the Town Hall known as Les Boves. Les Boves are a series of underground limestone quarries that were first dug in the 10th century. Every spring they host the "Jardin des Boves" a series of gardens created underground in the extensive area of caves. The guided tour lasted a good hour and it was interesting to see the interpretation of gardens from around the world.
We emerged and took a walk around the unique squares of Arras. In the 16th century, King Phillip II forbade "building within the town of Arras unless the walls were of stone or brick and with no overhang over the streets". The resulting 155 facades of Flemish Baroque style surround two squares in the town centre. We strolled these squares during the late afternoon, and returned in the evening when both squares were lit up -- very attractive! Bearing in mind that Arras was flattened during WWI, the present day squares are an authentic reconstruction of the previous architecture.
In the evening we ate at a restaurant called Le Bateau Ch'ti. We were both looking forward to having mussels which were a highlight of the menu, but after we had ordered drinks we were told that there were no mussels because it was Easter Monday and they would not be getting any fresh until Tuesday. Gary had salmon and Heather had a hot shrimps, scallops and mushroom appetizer done in a really tasty sauce, along with a plate of frites! We had a chocolate mousse for dessert (quelle surprise!)
By the time we returned to the hotel it was past 10:00 p.m. and we were both quite tired. Nevertheless, Gary did work on the travel log for an hour or two before retiring. Now that we have picked up the necessary device for transferring photos from the camera to the iPad, we are all set to complete our daily blog, however, there is a bit of a backlog to catch up on.