Week 22 – Normandie

  • Friday we went to Gent. Its pedestrianized center, (with scarily silent bloody trams), is known for medieval architecture such as the 12th-century Gravensteen castle and the Graslei, a row of guildhalls beside the Leie river harbour. Adrienne managed to find the Zara store and buy some warm clothes – it was blowing a gale and we were rather cold, despite the sun.
Gravensteen Castle – it has the best audio tour I have ever heard – a funny Belgian – a total contradiction in terms!!  😊
The castle dunny – the hole is outside the wall to fall into the moat below – avant guarde design unless you happen to be fishing in the moat !!
Adrienne laughing at the audio guide – with lines such as “to fund the crusade the king raised taxes – which really pissed the peasants off”
Mid afternoon and we were caught in the tail of the UK’s first winter storm, but Gent is a lovely city so no bad vibe
  • We headed back to Bruges for a last wander around and a beer, but it was cold and we were a bit tired after a busy week, so did not stay out late.
  • Saturday – After another lovely breakfast with Bart and Anne we headed off to Honfleur in Normandie. We have another rural house near La Riviere Saint Sauveur. It’s a renovated barn but very comfortable. We checked in and then collected Gayle from the train station in Le Harve – luckily we had bought plenty of Italian primitivo because Gayle loved it and we did not need any other excuse to crack a few!!
Our Normandie house
  • Sunday was a cold and rainy day so we only ventured as far as Honfleur. We checked out the wooden church – most unusual in Europe.
Honfleur church
The organ was playing and with the cold and wind outside the feeling was quite different to the usual soaring medieval edifices
  • Monday dawned sunny so we headed for Caen and the excellent Memorial de Caen WW2 museum. There are many D-Day museums in Normandie but this one is special – it takes the WW2 timeline from the ashes of WW1 to show that WW2 was inevitable from before the end of WW1. The scary thing is that some of our current world leaders have learnt so little from the behaviours that created both wars.
Gayle and Adrienne
  • From Caen we went to Bayeux and visited the tapestry museum. It is 70 metres long and photos are not allowed. The image is one of the 55 “scenes” in the tapestry.
  • Image result for bayeux tapestry
  • The small town of Bayeux is well worth a visit – as well as the tapestry there is a stunning cathedral and another D-Day museum worth a visit.

    I know I show a lot of cathedrals but these buildings are stunningly beautiful. I lit a candle for my mum who passed away in April – she would have loved Bayeux.
  • Tuesday and the ladies were on a sightseeing roll – Monet’s garden in Giverny was on today’s agenda, so your faithful driver headed forth. I think the photos will show why you have to queue to get in!!
No wonder Monet found inspiration here!!
Every step is a photo or painting opportunity – for when too much is not enough!
The idiot American, (3rd from left), was wondering if the paintings were real …. a room full of genuine Monets and not a guard in sight!!
Monet’s house
  • We headed back to the cafe and had a nutella crepe, (yes, a real one), and a few pink wines – Carolyn – this was for you!!
  • Wednesday we went local – Deauville and Honfleur. In the 1920’s Deauville was the “Normandie Riviera” – play area of the rich and famous with beautiful houses lining the beach front. Unfortunately the “season” is over and most were shut down. We headed back to Honfleur and in the sun we found a charming town. We spent an easy afternoon in one of the restaurants and the ladies went shopping while I watched the tour groups steadfastly following the guide like a bunch of preschoolers.
Honfleur waterfront
  • Thursday and summer had returned. We headed for Mont-Saint-Michel and were not disappointed – this is a top 100 bucket list visit!!
    Mont-Saint-Michel – beyond stunning!!
    Inside the abbey – not as ornate as we expected but the Mont has had a chequered history including being a prison during the hundred years war – the tidal flats made it escape proof
    One of two fireplaces in the knight’s hall
    The tide was out, but when it comes in the slope of the tidal flats is so small it travels faster than a horse can gallop – many people have been caught and drowned
    We walked from the car park in the middle distance – the navettes, (buses), were packed. We then climbed the steps to this point in the abbey and it was about 31oC

    And we walked back to the car park – the Camino fitness made it a stroll for us – sorry, Gayle


One thought on “Week 22 – Normandie”

  1. Outstanding blogging Grant, we get a real feel for the sights reading it. I could have stayed a week and slept in Monet’s veggies patch, easy to fall in love with the place. Best I could do was to place prints on my walls. Also I note some very good photography ! All the best and safe travels.


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