We made a lovely excursion one day to Cap Gris Nez—just at the end of a wild bit of coast about twenty-five kilometres from Boulogne. The road was enchanting on the top of the cliff all along the sea. We passed through Vimereux, a small bathing-place four or five miles from Boulogne, and one or two other villages, then went through a wild desolate tract of sand-hills and plains and came upon the lighthouse, one of the most important of the coast—a very powerful light that all inward-bound boats are delighted to see. There are one or two villas near on the top of the cliff, then the road turns sharply down to the beach—a beautiful broad expanse of yellow sand, reaching very far out that day as it was dead low tide.
In the distance we saw figures; couldn’t distinguish what they were doing, but supposed they were fishing for shrimps, which was what our party meant to do. The auto was filled with nets, baskets, and clothes, as well as luncheon baskets. The hotel—a very good, simple one—with a broad piazza going all around it, was half-way down the cliff, and the woman was very “complaisante” and helpful—said there were plenty of shrimps, crabs, and lobsters and no one to fish. She and her husband had been out at four o’clock that morning and had brought back “quatre pintes” of shrimps. No one knew what she meant, but it was evidently a measure of some kind. I suppose an English pint. She gave us a cabin where the two young matrons dressed, or rather undressed, as they reappeared in their bathing trousers—which stopped some little distance above the knee—very short skirts, bare legs, “espadrilles” on their feet, and large Panama hats to protect them from the sun. The men had merely rolled up their trousers. They went out very far—I could just make them out—they seemed a part of the sea and sky, moving objects standing out against the horizon.
I made myself very comfortable with rugs and cushions under the cliff—I had my book as I knew it would be a long operation. It was enchanting—sitting there, such a beautiful afternoon. We saw the English coast quite distinctly. There was not a sound—no bathing cabins or tents, nobody on the shore, but a few fishermen were spreading nets on poles to catch the fish as the tide came up. The sea was quite blue, and as the afternoon lengthened there were lovely soft lights over everything; such warm tints it might almost have been the Mediterranean and the Riviera. A few fishing-boats passed in the distance, but there was nothing to break the great stillness—not even the ripple of the waves, as the sea was too far out. It was a curious sensation to be sitting there quite alone—the blue sea at my feet and the cliff rising straight up behind me.