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

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Normandy – part 5

On the second day of our stay in Normandy we decided to visit the town of Fécamp, some 35 km further down the coast. We had been there last March and had liked the fishing activity, the long ‘Quai Bérigny’ with its numerous shops and restaurants, as well as the ‘Palais Bénédictine’, a sumptuous late 19th- early 20th century ‘Palace’, where the famous French liqueur ‘Bénédictine’ is being distilled. This liqueur was invented in 1510 by a Bénédictine monk from the Abbey of Fécamp: Dom Bernardo Vincelli.

Nothing much happened with it until the end of the 19th century, when a wine merchant Alexandre Le Grand (what’s in a name??) took the old recipe and by adding some exotic spices that had been unknown in Europe in the 15th century, created a new liqueur that would become France’s ‘Ambassadeur du bon goût’ all over the world.

Palais Bénédictine - Fécamp

For a while we considered visiting the Palais Bénédictine again, as we had really liked it in March. The sumptuous Palace hosts several impressive and interesting exhibitions. You can take the guided tour, which will keep you occupied for about an hour and fifteen minutes, or wander around on your own, guided by a small yet very informative leaflet. The visit ends in the tasting hall where your entrance ticket entitles you to a free tasting of the Bénédictine or a cocktail using the liqueur as an ingredient. Before leaving the Palace, there is, of course, the mandatory stop at the gift shop. Personally, I am not a big fan of Bénédictine or any other liqueur for that matter, so during our visit in March I only bought a small bag of bonbons with a Bénédictine filling for my mother.

No legend required!

Finally we decided against a second visit and set out for the ‘Museum Terre-Neuvas’, depicting the lives of the adventurous and fearless mariners who, in extremely bad weather conditions, sail all the way to the boundaries of the ‘Grand Nord’ to fish for cod. Unfortunately, the museum is closed on Tuesdays and I only managed to shoot a few photos from the outside, as well as a picture of this curious statue of a faceless fisherman’s wife looking out over the sea, waiting for her husband to return from his dangerous journey.

Faceless fisherman's wife on the seafront in Fécamp

The museum being closed, we agreed on returning to Veules-les-Roses, where we had had lunch the day before and of which we had only seen the seafront. Earlier that morning, at the cottage, I had found a leaflet about the village. It contained a detailed itinerary leading you along the most important sites. It looked like an interesting way to explore the village.

(to be continued)


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