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

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Normandy – part 6

As mentioned in Tuesday’s post, I had found at the cottage a leaflet about the village of Veules-les-Roses, located between Dieppe and Saint-Valéry-en-Caux. It described ‘Le circuit du plus petit fleuve de France’ or Circuit of the ‘secret’ river, as the editor chose to translate it.

The English introduction of the leaflet reads as follows: “The Circuit of the ‘secret’ river allows one to discover the history and the heritage of the village in the course of a walk full of charm”.

On Tuesday morning we arrived in Veules shortly before 11 o’clock. We parked the car in the village centre, near the Saint Martin’s church. The square tower is all that remains of the original 12th-13th century building. The three naves, chancel and two chapels were rebuilt in the 16th century using the local sandstone. The church is now a ‘Monument historique’.

The village, which dates from the 4th century, was ‘discovered’ in 1826 by Anaïs Aubert, an actress of the Comédie Française. Soon the village became the favourite holiday destination of the rich and famous and Veules turned into a very desirable seaside resort. All through the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century sumptuous villas were erected in and around the village’s centre.

Last week, this villa was for sale. Anyone interested?

Eleven watermills are located along the mere 900 m long Veules River. In the past they were used for the production of rape seed oil. This activity strongly contributed to the wealth and fame of the village. The largest mill is called the ‘Moulin d’Anquetil’. Its wheel, which had been destroyed during the battle of Veules in June 1940, has been restored and today the mill is still in working order. This is more than can be said about the ‘Moulin de la Mer’ originally dating from the 12th century, which was situated at the mouth of the river, taking advantage of the energy produced by the incoming and outgoing tide. Today it has completely disappeared.

This is all that’s left of the Moulin de la Mer’!

In June 1940, at the beginning of the Second World War, Veules-les-Roses was the scene of the last battle in the Nazi offensive. In a final attempt to evacuate the last British, French and Belgian troops who had gathered on the beaches, several ships set out to pick up the stranded soldiers. One of the ships involved in the battle was ‘le Cérons’. Unfortunately, at low tide it got stuck in the sand. After a fierce battle the ship was sunk and captain and crew were captured by the enemy.

Later, two large guns from the ship were salvaged. They are now on display on the cliff overlooking the beach of Veules. On our way to Quiberville, where we had lunch, we stopped at the site to have a closer look at the guns and to enjoy the view.

We didn’t have enough time to take the complete tour described in the leaflet, but were nevertheless impressed and charmed by the many interesting things this tiny village has to offer. If ever you’re in Normandy, make sure to visit Veules-les-Roses as it is one of the most charming villages I’ve seen in this region.

(to be continued)



Carolyn said...

Martine, Veules-les-roses sounds so nice. I like the house that's for sale, but I'm not ready to make an offer for it just yet.

ladybird said...

Carolyn, Don't you think the villa looks a bit like the horror house from the Hitchcock movie 'Psycho'?

Carolyn said...

I have never dared see Psycho. Your comment has made up my mind for me--that house is officially off the list. So, Martine, please keep looking for a little place in France for us. Very low budget, of course!

ladybird said...

Carolyn, Your wish is my command :))!