Normandy, August 2016

_1140683Continuing with my August holiday posts, I decided not to go for the standard format, that is, “on August 10 we did this, on August 11 we did that, blablabla,” which would turn out to be super boring, but rather jot _1140750down my thoughts about some of the places we visited…a bit similar to random diary entries.

So here goes…

_1140684When our friends arrived from Italy a few days later, we left Paris, and our Normandy adventure began.

The town of Giverny was our first stop. Giverny is famous for one of its inhabitants, Claude Monet, one of my favorite painters ever!!!, who lived and worked there from 1883 until his death in 1926. His house and gardens are absolutely fabulous. Lovely archways with climbing plants, beautiful flowers and plants everywhere, and of course the famous water lily pond…my photos don’t do it justice…

I should add that Monet’s house is also lovely…as are bthe paintings in Monet’s study. But the gardens and the ponds…mmmh, so pretty…well worth the visit…_1140822

The town of Vernon: stop there mainly to take a photo of the 16-century flour mill still hanging over the Seine river (photo no. 4, on the right). It was built on top of the first two piers of an ancient bridge. Before you leave, don’t forget to take some photos of the Medieval town center of Vernon, too.

The stop we made at the 12th century Moulin d’Andé, see, (photo on the left, below…and yes, the two mills look very similar, don’t they?) turned out to be one of the highlights of our entire trip. We arrived at this ancient mill in mid afternoon one day and happened to be very thirsty. So, in my rusty but, I hope!, cute French, I asked the ladies in the mill’s office if we could possibly have something to drink. _1140842They very kindly told me that normally only their paying guests are allowed access to the tea room but that they would make an exception for us (we left some money in one of the boxes before leaving).

It turned out, as you can see from the above link, that this is quite a lively cultural center. As luck had it, we had its quaint little tea room all to ourselves, and one of our friends, who is a jazz musician, was able to play the piano for us. Absolutely delightful. We also visited the mill…inside and outside. I would love to stay there someday, as a paying guest I mean…It was so peaceful…I could easily see myself lying on a lawn chair by the river, reading a book, as some guests were in fact doing…

If you ever plan on stopping at the town of Les Andelys, which was next on our itinerary, let me know. I can recommend an excellent bed & breakfast. The ruins of its castle, the Chateau Gaillard, are definitely worth checking out…plus, it offers a great view from above of the Seine River and valley._1150025

Lyons-la-Foret (photo on the right). A very pretty little town, worth a quick stop (my photo depicts its main square, dominated by the 18-century timber-framed covered market place)…Have a wander around…the town isn’t very big, and offers plenty of pretty photo opportunities.

The city of Rouen–the capital of the region of Normandy. Ahhhh. I fell in love with Rouen immediately, in spite of what happened to me the night we arrived (keep on reading! 😉 ). Rouen has a lovely cathedral (the Notre Dame cathedral, see photo on the left), and _1150071interesting ties both to Joan of Arc and Claude Monet, but no, I’m going to skip the history “lesson,” since you can easily find all that information online. 😉

My photo on the right, below, which I took the day we arrived in Rouen, shows the city’s 14th-century astronomical clock, the Gros Horologe. Lovely. But here we get to the point: I don’t have any truly amazing memories of Rouen, unfortunately, because that is where I became quite sick with my “familiar” 24-hour virus, a virus that I’ve already described here on the blog. This lovely virus normally goes into “attack mode” when/if I get overly tired and/or stressed out. It hadn’t hit me in a long time, though, so I wasn’t expecting it…_1150083

But, in retrospect, I should have been more careful. After all, we had been walking on average about ten kilometers per day. And it was also unusually hot this summer both in Paris and in Normandy. This is an important detail because I don’t do well at all in the heat…never have, never will…absolutely hate it. I’m a cold temperature person… 🙂

So yes, yes, yes, I should have rested a bit more instead of being on the go all the time. Easy to say now, after the fact. But, after all, I only missed one day. I mean, I was fine by the time we left Rouen, but that obviously means that I missed most of our planned tour of the city, which was a huge bummer. Of course, Stefano and our friends told me all about what they had seen and where they had gone, and I saw some of Stefano’s photos, and besides–once I felt a bit better–Stefano kept me well supplied with crunchy, buttery, delicious croissants. So, hey, it wasn’t all bad. 😉 Anyway, so much for Rouen…_1150204

Oh, I wanted to note that I’ll be skipping a few of our less interesting stops, such as a couple of abbeys we had a look at as we wound our way up from Rouen to the coast of Normandy. _1150191

We spent one night in Etretat, a small town right on the coast. It is best known for its “falaises,” that is, its famous white chalk cliffs and its three natural arches, which are quite a sight, including the one on the left, above, which Guy de Maupassant described as an elephant’s trunk, if I am not mistaken. We walked all around the falaises and took heaps of photos. Very pretty. Very crowded, though…

_1150275We also spent two nights near Dieppe, a bustling port up the coast from Etretat. I love my photo on the left of an illuminated sign on a building, “Tout Va Bien” (meaning: “Everything’s fine”). It’s actually the name of a restaurant located right on the port. We didn’t eat there, though… But, speaking of restaurants, we had a couple of our best meals in Dieppe…fish-based, of course. Dieppe’s most famous dish is called the “marmite dieppoise,” basically a fish stew. Not my cup of tea, to be honest, but I had other types of fish, which were excellent.

From Dieppe we went on to Le Havre just to visit the museum of modern art (André Malraux)…worth a stop, for sure. The rest of the city, well, can be skipped…just my opinion!

Okay, I think I’ll stop for today. I still have a lot of photos to go through, and it’s hard to pick the ones to publish on the blog, I must say. I have one more post to write, methinks, then I’m done with the holiday and can get on to other, more serious matters. 🙂

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