Notes from Normandy


Bonjour mes amis from La Belle France. Still having a wonderful time and still hating the driving. More on that later. Since my last missive we have been at a wonderful B&B in Brionne and visited Bernay, Le Bec Hellouin and Pont Audemer.

We can also report that the stallholders that run the markets in France have hacked into our itinerary and turned up at every town we’ve been to! Markets are a big thing here in the small towns. They obviously work on a kind of circuit. However none are in the same league as Salamanca. But their fresh fruit & veg are fantastic as they only sell what’s in season. Their tomatoes and strawberries are tres fantastique!

Am trying to get some sense out of C but I think she may have drunk a little too much French Blanc De Blancs which she claims I have foisted upon her! As if…. It’s mid afternoon and we have just returned from PA and have been trying to work out our route to Tours tomorrow where I finally surrender my 2 tonnes of mechanised death! Just read that out to C and she laughed a lot (actually she giggled, but I’m not allowed to say that!)

Actually I had other things to say, but have been sidetracked – may be the Blanc De Blanc! Had a Skype call from Rob Valentine in the midst of all of this, was great to hear from someone from home – even though he bared his chest to me…

A couple of English/French observations:

* it only takes the sun to break through the clouds momentarily for the English males to immediately rip off their shirts – not a pretty sight and it has been freaking C out big time! ‘It is not nice!’ (that’s a quote).

* we think of Aus as behind the times, but when it comes to health & OH&S laws we leave them for dead – think smoking & dogs.

* dogs. The Brits and the French love them and won’t go anywhere without them! I’ve seen people carrying them wrapped up in their jumpers and clutched to their bosoms! Now, the thing about dogs is that they shit. In France, do they clean it up? Non!

Now C who walks around without looking down has been rescued time upon time from going knee deep in a pile of dog shit. So, isn’t ironic that the one who should 1st go ankle deep c’est moi?

At least it can be said that finally the British are learning to clean up their shit after them!

At Le Bec Hellouin, which is a brilliant town and Abbey, built 10 Centuries ago, yes 10!!!! (why would you bother with Richmond?) I had a great conversation with a local guy who has his own garden. We discussed the vegetables he had planted and compared approaches. I had to pull him up on his grammar a few times, but otherwise he was quite fluent!

Okay, maybe not. My favorite phrases have been ‘Je ne parle pas Francais’ and ‘Ma femme parle Francais un peu.’

I have resisted the approach of my friend Rachel (the Doc) to speak louder but with an accent!

Now, some interesting stuff. Le Bec Hellouin was started in the 10th Century, the 1st 2 Archbishops of Canterbury were from Le Bec! The Abbotts were ejected from Le Bec in the French Revolution and they did not return until after the 2nd World War!

The photo above is the church at Le Bec, it is the simplest and yet most beautiful church we have visited thus far.

Le Bec is only 5 klm up the road from where we are. Still, we used JP to get there. However, feeling confident, we left him sleeping and optimistically made our own way back. All was fine until we hit the metropolis of Brionne. We discovered streets we never knew existed and it was only when we found ourselves on the highway back to St Malo that we succumbed and awakened JP from his slumber. In 2 turns we were back – I kid you not!

The B&B we are at is fantastic – The Coeur de Lion ( Not only is it a great place to stay and excellent base for the Normandy area, the hosts Steve & Karen are actually Scottish. So they speak English – well sort of! But they also cater for evening meals and understand gluten free! So, we’ve had 3 excellent, 4 course, hot meals that C can eat!

In addition they provide a laundry service at a reasonable cost. So, 2 weeks worth of washing went their way!

Off to Tours tomorrow, surrender the car and take some bus tours from Tours (you try Googling tours from Tours!) before we head into Paris for 7 days! Woohoo!

The photo below is C enjoying our picnic lunch in LBH – had just finished fresh strawberries et la creme fraiche – yummo.



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10 Responses to Notes from Normandy

  1. Aha, first again! We have just surrendered our car at Heathrow. Trouble with that is that you have to get all the @#$%! stuff back in the suitcases. Glad to hear Cheryl has ben able to eat at last! Keep them coming.

    • Jim Wilson says:

      You do have an unfair advantage Big A! C laughed out lud at your comment re luggage – haha, she said, I know exactly where he’s coming from! Gunna happen to us tomorrow…

  2. Gail Foster says:

    Bonjour Jacques!!
    Merci pour le mot!
    Vous laisser la mort mecanisee! C’est bien!
    Je vais eviter fumeurs et les chiens!
    Profiter de Paris!!!!!!


    • Jim Wilson says:

      Bonjour mon ami tu et une smartypants! Bonne chance avec les chiens et fumeurs….. J’espere les preparations pour La Grande Tour aller bien.

  3. BILL PERRY says:

    Dear Jim,
    I notice that Cheryl found a patch of grass poodle poo free. So it can’t be as bad as it used to be! Hey… that rhymes!

  4. Rob valentine says:

    You MUST visit the Musee d’Orsay in Paris my lovelies! Check out the Denys Puech sculptures on the ground floor I think it is – marble – but how many hours work!! Don’t get a hot flush though James, I’m not sure your heart will take it đŸ™‚

  5. Rob valentine says:

    Whistler’s Mother on the top floor and Telouse le Trec are worth a look, along with Degas (look at W/mother and think of Mr. Bean cleaning it – don’t laugh too loud though, and don’t take photos – they don’t like it). Moulin Rouge and Mont Matre are also interesting …. who’s JEALOUS!

    • Jim Wilson says:

      G’day Rob, the Musee d’Orsay is a definite on our list. We’ve considering the Moulin Rouge as so many people have recommended it. Did you actually go to a show, or just look at the outside?

      Jealousy is an appropriate reaction and one that is welcome!

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