Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Normandy – part 2

Last Monday we left Brussels at half past six. It was still dark and very chilly. The weather people had warned about the Belgian and Northern French coast being in a ‘saddle’ position. This so-called ‘saddle’ is the area caught between two low pressure fronts moving in from the West and the East and two high pressure fronts moving in from the North and the South! Because of this precarious position, weather could turn both ways … cloudy or sunny … What were we to expect?

At sunrise the sky immediately turned milky and foggy. Some kilometres before reaching Amiens in the Somme, we listened to the weather forecast on the car radio and learned that the sun was shining in Amiens. This sounded more like it!

By the time we reached Amiens the sun was out, burning away the last traces of fog. We left the motorway at exit10, taking the ‘Nationale’ leading towards the port town of Dieppe. We wanted to buy some supplies for our supper. When we were in Dieppe last March, we had discovered a nice deli selling local cheeses and specialties. We also wanted to buy some fish soup, periwinkles and langoustines, as well as a baguette and some wine. The shops we had in mind were all open, which is quite unusual on a Monday … but I guess we were just lucky.

Dieppe harbour in March 2009

After a successful shopping trip, we put our supplies in the boot of the car and walked to the Café des Tribunaux, one of the town's oldest and best known establishments. We had pre-luncheon drinks, reminiscing the last time we were there having our drinks sitting on the sidewalk terrace enjoying the first sunshine in the spring of 2009. Time does fly!

Art deco interior of the Café des Tribunaux in Dieppe

We left Dieppe around 11.30 a.m. taking the coastal road to Veules-les-Roses where I had booked a table for lunch in a restaurant called ‘le Victor Hugo’ after the famous 19th century French writer, poet and statesman who during his lifetime frequently spent time in Normandy.

The restaurant overlooks the beach of Veules-les-Roses and looks like a real tourist trap. However, I had read some nice comments about it in the restaurant section of We therefore decided to give it a try, especially as tourist season was over and there were no large or loud crowds about. We arrived shortly after 12.15 and were given a nice table by the window, overlooking the beach, the cliffs and the ‘estuary’ of France’s shortest river: La Veules. This tiny river is only 900 m long and throws itself into the sea at this exact spot.

Victor Hugo restaurant in Veules-les-Roses

By one o’clock the restaurant had filled up nicely and we congratulated ourselves on having made a preliminary reservation. The food was excellent: the local A.O.C. ‘Moules de Bouchots’ for my friend and ‘Brandade or Parmentier de Morue’ (steamed cod fillet with garlicky mashed potatoes) for me. With it we had a chilled Touraine Sauvignon. Dessert was a typical warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

After lunch we took a short walk along the seawall watching the tide move in. A dozen of other people were doing the same. During our walk a small fishing boat came steaming towards the coast. To our surprise it beached itself on the pebbly shore where a tractor and trailer were waiting. They towed the boat, cargo and crew included, out of the shallow water and drove off, probably to go and sell the catch of the day in a nearby village.

(to be continued)



Jean said...

Your description brings back happy memories of our various trips to the Normandy coast. I can almost taste the sea air.

ladybird said...

Jean, Don't you just love it when the sea wind and air make the skin of your face tingle?

Ken Broadhurst said...

I've been to Veules and Dieppe and other places along the upper Normandy coast many times too, and I just love visiting there. Thanks for your descriptions, Martine.

ladybird said...

Hi Ken, You're welcome, and there is yet more to come as I have taken a special liking to Veules. I therefore would like to do a special post on this village. But first, I have some internet issues (which I refuse to call 'problems') to solve!