Sunday, January 30, 2011

From Rouen to Cabourg

Our drive from Rouen made me realize why having a car is so fabulous. It also made me realize how tourists can have accidents on roads that are fairly straight and obvious. The views and towns were spectacular. Everything is quaint and lovely to a foreigner like me. There were so many little Snow White cottages with thatched rooves and Tudor siding. I hadn’t thought about how close France and England would be in architectural style so it was a surprise to see what looked like little English villages dotting the countryside. It makes sense, of course, given their intertwined history.

We stopped in a little town called Jumiege to see the ruins of an abbey. The ruins were so charming. We’ve seen a LOT of cathedrals, abbeys and churches but somehow seeing it in ruins was new and delightful. It was fun to identify where the chapels had been inside and how the transept crossed the nave. The last remains of the walls soared over our heads and without a ceiling on top made them seem even higher. They were somehow enchanting and magical in a way that all the intact cathedrals hadn’t been. There was a chess board on the ground and the kids played a game while Tom and I browsed the gift shop. We never buy anything but we all enjoy the browse. I think there is probably a documentary in there somewhere entitled, “Gift shops: a study of culture”.

From there we drove to Etretat, a small town on the Normandy coast to see the French version of the white cliffs of Dover. This place must be hopping in the summer but there was nary a soul around on our tour. We passed a slew of closed up restaurants and shops thereby reinforcing our belief that France is closed in January. It’s true. After several weeks of touring around we can attest to this. We found a place that was open and busy…probably because it was the ONLY place open but the food was good anyway. I had the Normandy special “Moules de la crème”. Although this sounds somewhat disgusting, it is actually mussels not moles and was absolutely delicious. I sent my mother the recipe so call her if you’d like to try it.

We climbed the cliffs after lunch and it was C O L D. The wind blows off the ocean and the clouds were gathering so a light rain was whipping around off and on. The wind was so strong we decided to stay well away from the edge of the trail closest to the cliffs lest one of us be smote. We saw German bunkers on the way up but they were sealed off so offered no respite. I was warm enough for once but Tom and Julia hadn’t brought a hat and both were getting headaches from the bite of the wind so we kept the walk short. The pictures are great but they still don’t do justice to the amazing sea-foam green colour of the water below.

We drove on towards Cabourg where our “home of the week” was situated. We got to cross the Pont de Normandie, the largest cable stayed bridge in Europe. The bridge was quite fantastic and reminded us of the Alex Fraser. It crosses the Seine river as it empties out into the Atlantic and it felt significant to see the end of this famous river. Our new Tom Tom, Pierre was very helpful guiding us along the way right to the door of our home away from home some time later.


maryanncart said...

Dear Daughter, I think you must give your Elementary Librarian Ship and either go into theatre, travellogues (send Rick your blogsite) or photography...totally delightful... How ever it makes me sick to think you were in Egypt a month ago...I wonder how your nice driver is doing...Love Mom