Arras & the kindness of strangers
Arras & the kindness of strangersApril
It is absolutely impossible to put into words how our time in Arras has made us feel.
It wouldn’t be right to say that I am surprised by the kindness of strangers because Stewart and I did not leave home expecting to find bad people we expected to find good people. Even so, with this in mind, I am still overwhelmed.
Let me tell you more…
Using warmshowers.org Stewart and I found our host, Arnaud. For those of you who don’t know warmshowers.org is a page specifically for bikepackers. Bikepackers agree to let other bikepackers stay in their home for free. Generally the “rules” are that you will eat together and the guest is hosted and no money will be exchanged. Instead the agreement is to enjoy good food, make memories and share stories together.
The day to Arras was a tough one. Stew hurt his ankle, nothing a rest won’t sort but this means no cycling. We had one night booked with Arnaud, and instead we stayed for 2. We feel like we have stayed with family.
Arnaud met us at 7pm on Friday and Stewart and I showered before we popped down to the local bar with Arnaud to meet his lovely friends. When I saw the 12 smiling faces in the pub I knew for certain Arnaud was a great person because people who attract good people are always good themselves.
After a couple of drinks we all went back to Arnaud’s for some very fine wine and delicious pizza. One of Arnaud’s friends, Nicolas told us about his sporting feats! He partakes in organised multi-sport events like triathlon…but bigger!! Swim, run, bike, kayak and our favourite – roller skate!!! Nicholas told us that a good skater can do as much as 35mph, and can easily rival a good road cyclist! Intrigued we watched videos on skating to see what can be done…see below!
The next day Stewart and I took a well needed break, we visited arras and walked around the French markets. Arnaud fed us well at breakfast and made sure we were okay. Later in the day we met up again. Stewart and I needed a train from arras to Paris so Arnaud came to the station with us and booked our tickets – thank goodness he was there because with my limited French I wouldn’t have managed without him especially with the bikes and times complicating manners. While we were there Arnaud also over heard a conversation with a group of struggling brits and he helped them too – acting as a wonderful translator! Needless to say they were grateful for his input.
We visited the most beautiful bookstore in town, owned by Arnaud’s friend, also called Arnaud! It was a library to die for! Upstairs was full of old books with ladders to reach the highest shelves. It was like a scene from a period drama! I had permission from the owner to open them so I could see how old they were but I daren’t touch them! I believe some were as old as 1600s!
Last night Stewart, Arnaud and I visited Arnaud’s friends again, Luc and Caroline. They cooked a meal and we all sat in their beautiful garden and home and ate together.
The plan on Saturday was to visit a sports shop to buy a cap and sleeves to wear on the bike, but we decided not to. Instead Luc has kindly given me some of his kit he no longer uses. I couldn’t be happier to take this with me, as a memory of the perfect 2 days spent in Arras with some of the kindest people. What is best about this kit…it is in my triathlon team colours!!! I didn’t even think about it until I got home! 🙂 what are the chances!
There is a part of me that thinks, surely even in 24,000 Miles we won’t find people so heartwarming and kind again, but deep down I think we will.
I can’t thank Arnaud, Luc, Caroline and friends enough. My heart is full. We will stay again when we come back to England.
I feel like we were hosted for 2 days by strangers, but we left Arras with friends 🙂
Merci mon amies!