Autumn in Normandy

We had booked into this cottage for the two weeks from Sat 20th, here on the map.

Here are the photos from Normandy

Saturday 20th September

This was our travel day, we left home at 10:30 am – headed for Dover, just over 400 miles away.  It was mostly motorway and the roads were not too busy so it wasn’t too difficult. The journey took us about 9 hours all up, we had booked into a hotel just outside Folkstone and we arrived just after 7:30 pm. We ate in the hotel restaurant (2 x lamb shanks) and had a good night’s sleep.

Sunday 21st September

The hotel is only about 10 miles from Dover so it was easy to get to Dover in time for our 9:30 am ferry from Dover to Calais.  On arrival in Calais it should have been about a 2 hour drive to our holiday cottage, but we got detoured (with about 15 miles to go)  by a “deviation” caused by some rally drivers, so it took about 3 hours by the time we’d traversed the local goat tracks to get back on the roads we wanted. We finally found Bailly-en-Riviere and the cottage, unpacked the car, then went in search of a supermarket to buy some provisions. Welcome to the 19th century, they’re all closed on Sundays, so we ended up buying a few items, including a frozen pizza for dinner, from a small grocer in nearby town of Envermeu – thanks goodness the patisserie was also open so we had a wee treat for dessert!

Back at the cottage, we made the bed, figured out how things worked, ate our pizza and had an early night.

Monday 22nd September

By the time we had a sleep-in, then showered and breakfasted, it wasn’t far off lunchtime, so we zipped over to the nearest supermarket to stock up before they closed for lunch. Got what we needed including some local cider and a chicken for dinner. Went for a bit for a drive round to explore the local area, some nice wee villages here.

Had a lazy afternoon, reading and snoozing before dinner and watched a DVD – Tell No One – good French thriller.

Tuesday 23rd September

Bit of a drizzly dreich morning and we slept in even more than yesterday, so decided to go for a bit more of a drive round. Headed over to Dieppe which is only 20 km away and is quite a nice looking town. Found the tourist office and got some useful info, then drove along the coast for a while ending up in St.Valery-en-Caux  which is a lovely seaside village west of Dieppe. Had a nice lunch of crepes and walked round the town which had a few grand Normandy half-timbered houses. Stopped at a local butcher shop and bought a couple of very well priced pork chops (Eu7 / Kg).

Headed home and had our pork chops for dinner and watched the satellite TV.

Wednesday 24th September

It had rained heavily overnight but luckily had stopped by the time we got up and ready to go out. Planned to do a walk today using the info obtained from the Dieppe tourist office. Headed over to a town Criel-sur-Mer which is by the coast east of Dieppe. Our walk started on the edge of town and took us out into forests and then into fields. We stopped for a picnic when we found a picnic table and carried on to the coast where we walked along the cliff for about an hour. Views were great, the locals call these the “Alabaster Cliffs”, their white colour we presume is caused by the same seam of limey soil that runs through Dover to London. It makes the water here hard as well (and gunges-up your kettle) and the seawater was a whitish-grey colour.

Headed home via a supermarket, having run out of red-wine! Bought a big can of Confit de Canard for dinner.

Thursday 25th September

Drove to la Chapelle du-Bourgay for another walk (due south of Dieppe).  This walk was about 2 hours mostly on the flat along small local roads between fields.  A pleasant if unspectacular walk. On a nice sunny day so it was quite warm by the time we’d finished. Probably driving through some of the pleasant little villages on the way there and back was more interesting than the walk. Back home, Morag rustled up an excellent French-style salad for dinner.

Friday 26th September

Got started fairly early by driving to Dieppe and parking at the station, caught the 10.49 train to Rouen (didn’t want to have to drive into and find a park in what is a fairly large town). Train tickets were a bit more expensive than we expected though – Euro 40 return (for 2). Anyway, the train journey was about 45 mins. and we landed in Rouen about 11.30am, found a map and started exploring the old town, which has a huge number of well-preserved old timber buildings, some 400 to 500 years old. Had a final look at the well preserved Eglise St. Maclou – a cemetery from the plague of 1348, and the surrounding buildings now the college of fine art, before racing back to the station for the 16.45 train home.

Headed home mid-afternoon and stopped at the local supermarket and bought a couple of wee chickens for dinner.

Saturday 27th  September

We had expected that the tourist office in the nearest larger village – Envermeu – would be open and we planned to get a map of walks round the town.  But the office wasn’t open, we knew that a couple of the walks started in the village – right next to the restaurant where we planned to have dinner, so we went there and made a reservation for that evening, had a good look at the layout of the 2-hour walk on the signpost, and then headed off following the “green dot” way-marks. This was a better walk than Thursday’s, we went up a small hill, through some forest, had nice views back over Envermeu, stopped by a field and had terrine and cheese baguette sandwiches for lunch, then walked back into town past some orchards where the locals were getting apples off the trees (basically by whacking the branches with long sticks). The walk took us nearly three hours with stops, so it was mid-afternoon and quite warm by the time we got back in to the centre of Envermeu, just in time to see a local wedding party troupe into the kirk, but not until the bride and everyone else had had time for a last fag out the front of the church.

Headed home for a wee snooze before heading back into Envermeu (or Invermay as we have dubbed it) for dinner at Auberge des Caves Normandes We chose the 4-course “Gourmand” menu for Euro18 each, starting with some nice salads, excellent beef and chicken dishes, cheese courses and then dessert.
All-in-all a lovely meal and much cheaper than it would have been in Edinburgh.

Sunday 29th  September

Another early start saw us driving through a misty morning to the town of Blangy-sur-Bresle, about 30 minutes away. We knew there was a local market on (as we’d come across it on our arrival last Sunday morning) and there were some good food stalls amongst the cheap clothes. In the end though, we went to the butcher next to the market and bought some veal for tonight, sausages for Monday night and a couple of hunks of ham for Sunday lunch – ham & eggs.

Before leaving we’d put our towels into the washing machine and they were almost done by the time we got back so were soon out on the line in the sun. We’d decided to have a slow day today after a few days walking in a row and are planning a long day Monday.

Monday 30th  September

Early start driving to Etaples war cemetery (heading north to near Boulogne) to find the grave of Mal’s “Uncle Andrew”, eldest brother of his grandmother – Agnes Dunsire Mercer. This is the biggest British WWI military cemetery in France. 2n Lieut. Andrew Mercer of the Black Watch was injured at the battle for the Hohenzollern Redoubt which was part of the bigger Battle of Loos. He died at a military hospital in Le Touquet on 22/10/1915.

See the video – size 2.8mb from our visit to the cemetery.

Driving back along the coast, we stopped for lunch at the village of Rue, in a very busy restaurant opposite the Gothic bell tower.

Tuesday 31st September

Strong wind and rain all day, so had a quiet day indoors. Lucky we had a can of cassoulet and a couple of bottles of cider for emergencies.

Wednesday 1st  October

Wanted to visit the house and gardens of Claude Monet in the town of Giverny, about 180km south of here, so decided to make an overnight trip of it.  Still heavy rain and strong winds when we set off mid-morning.  We arrived in the town of Gisors about lunchtime and had an excellent omelette each for lunch as it poured rain outside. As we headed out to the tourist office it stopped raining – hoorah. We organised a “B & B”(chambre d’hote) in a town called Dangu on the way to Giverny, headed round there and dropped off our bag, then headed to Giverny arriving there before 4pm.

The house was nothing special but the gardens were spectacular, packed full of flowering plants everywhere and a lovely water garden, home of the famous water lilies. Many of the flowering plants were huge, sunflowers were 7 or 8 feet tall, though the flowers were pretty insipid – maybe they’ve had as bad a summer here as we’ve had in Edinburgh?

After leaving Monet’s house we found a wee garden at the “American Museum” down the road which was free to visit and also good, though nowhere near as big as Monet’s garden.  We had a wander round the village of Giverny before heading back to Dangu. Our hosts were Parisians who had retired into what had been their holiday home, which was a big creaky place full of old furniture and next to a fast-flowing stream.  As well as various birds flying round their garden they had numerous ducks living next door. We had time for a short nap before walking out to the town’s one and only eatery for dinner, where we were the only customers, and in fact he closed the front-door as soon as we arrived.

For dinner, Morag had salad with lardons then three nice lamb chops, while I had chef’s own terrine followed by a reasonable steak. We both had cheese to follow and a bottle of bordeaux to wash it down with.

Thursday 2nd October

Breakfast was croissants and jam, then a piece of fruitcake, while watching the birds and ducks thrash about around the feeding trays the owners put out. We headed off mid-morning to Les Andelys, where a nearby hill gave us a great view of a ruined chateau and Petit Andelys which nestles by the River Seine. Then we had a wander round the picturesque little town before heading off to Lyons-le-Foret which is so pretty it’s often used in period films, lots of timber houses in very good nick, and a covered market square right in the middle of town.

We went for a wander round then ducked into a creperie for lunch after it started raining again. Not only is the town picturesque, but the crepes were good too, as was the bottle of cider.

After lunch we decided to drive home, still windy and lots of heavy showers so we weren’t going to get much more sight-seeing done. Headed home via the supermarket for tonight’s dinner.

Friday 3rd October

We had set aside today for shopping and packing. Shopping at the supermarket near Dieppe wasn’t a great success – French wine is not so cheap anymore and there was no sign of Le Crueset cooking toys, so we ended up with a couple of dozen bottles of wine and some food (pates etc).

In the afternoon we packed and got ready for a swift exit the next morning.

Saturday 4th October

We were booked on the 11.05 ferry from Calais to Dover so left the cottage about 8am, the first part of the journey was a 2 hour trip on French motorways to Calais. The ferry trip took about 1:15 then we had a 9 hour drive from Dover to home, all on motorway. Though it was a long journey the only real problem was the torrential rain that hit us from Birmingham to the Borders. Home about 10pm.

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