Saint Meloir des Ondes to Bayeux to Paris, Saturday, September 26

Alas our last day together. Our breakfast was just as wonderful as the morning before although I still couldn’t quite face the raw oysters, Then we packed and loaded into the vans once last time to travel to Bayeux.

Leaving the Chateau. Notice the balcony in the upper right of the photo. That was my room.

Leaving the Chateau. Notice the balcony in the upper right of the photo. That was my room.

Lucie was especially excited to show us her hometown of Bayeux.

The Bayeux Tapestry is not really a tapestry but an embroidered cloth nearly 70 m (230 ft) long and 50 cm (20 in) tall, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings, in 1066.The tapestry consists of some fifty scenes with Latin titles, embroidered on linen with colored wool yarns. It is thought to have been commissioned by Bishop Odo, William’s half-brother, and made in England—not Bayeux—in the 1070s. In 1729 the tapestry was rediscovered by scholars. It had been displayed annually in the Bayeux Cathedral. According to Sylvette Lemagnen, conservator of the tapestry:

“The Bayeux tapestry is one of the supreme achievements of the Norman Romanesque … Its survival almost intact over nine centuries is little short of miraculous … Its exceptional length, the harmony and freshness of its colors, its exquisite workmanship, and the genius of its guiding spirit combine to make it endlessly fascinating.”

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Walking to see the tapestry.

Walking to see the tapestry.

We were not allowed to take any photos in the museum of the Tapestry but it really hard to explain how amazing it is to see something that was made of linen and wool almost 1000 years ago and see how great shape it is in and how bright the colors still are.

Normans_Bayeux

If you would like to see more of the tapestry I have a book at home that has blown up photos of the entire tapestry at almost full size although it hardly does it justice.

After a last lunch, we all said goodbye and hugged, some to continue on their journeys, some to the Bayeux train station, and a few of us to Paris. My last night in Paris was uneventful. I visited a wonderful little street market across from the hotel, had dinner with some of my friends I met on the trip in the hotel restaurant, and off to bed….to get up and transfer to the airport and home to Concord.

Barneville-Carteret to Saint Meloir des Ondes, Thursday, September 24

6:30 am came very early but we were up, fed, and on our way to hike across the Bay of Mont St Michel. At about 9 am we met up with our official guide, Ian, a “misplaced” Brit who came to Normandy years ago and never left. An licensed guide is required for walking over the bay due to the dangerous tides and “quicksands”. All of us were required to wear a warm hat and windbreaker/raincoat because of the winds blowing across the bay.  In addition, we all had to go barefoot and in shorts because of the mud and clay flats and crossing several streams. We began by walking through the sand dunes, shown below and onto the bed of the bay.

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Mont St Michel and Tomberlaine Island seen from the sand dunes of the bay.

The surface of the bay itself varied widely from compacted rippled sand to clayey sand where you would sink up to your ankles to almost greasy, highly organic muds and clays that squished through your toes and were so slippery that it threatened to throw you onto your back. This last mud is collected and used for highly expensive mud baths in local and far away spas. We saw lots of signs of the local flora and fauna including mermaid purses (egg pods), flat oyster shells, worm casings, etc. We could see the islands looking very close across the salt marshes and we gradually crossed the Selune, the See, and the Couesnon Rivers, the last being the border between Normandy and Brittany.

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I took very few photos because of all the mud and slipperiness but it was fascinating.  We only walked as far as Tomberlaine Island, which is now a protected sanctuary for nesting seabirds and is only about half the way across the bay to Mont St Michel.

We returned to our vans just as it started to pour. We had meant to have a picnic lunch on the sand dunes but Lucie found us a small shelter at a closed camping park where we shared the shelter with a boisterous group of high school students who had been picking up trash along the shoreline. We had four or five local cheeses (the Camembert was unbelievable!), unlimited baguettes, local garlic and other sausages, apple cider (of course), fruit, and apple tarts.

As the storm broke and the sun reappeared, we piled back into the vans and drove into Brittany to the Chateau Richeux in Saint Meloir des Ondes, our last hotel on the trip. This Chateau is a luxurious 1920s villa with antique and original furnishings directly overlooking the Cancale Bay with views of Mont St Michel. My room was not ready when we arrived so everyone else disappeared into their rooms to wash off the soils of the bay and rest before dinner. My wait was worth it. When shown to my room, I immediately noticed the balcony outside the room and walked directly to the French doors, opened them and stepped onto the balcony.

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On the corner table shown here there was a small bottle of Calvados, a small ceramic dish of dried fruits and light cookies, a plate with two apples and fruit from the grounds of the chateau, and a bottle of sparkling water, along with a welcome note from the family that owns the chateau.

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Little did I know that I had gotten the only room with a balcony. How I lucked out I do not know but it was lovely.

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We had dinner that night in the hotel. The chef, Olivier Roellinger, one of the few French chefs to have earned three Michelin stars. He developed a menu just for us from local and in-season produce, incorporating spices from all over the world. It was fabulous, especially the fish. But dessert was over the top! They brought out a platter of small desserts—enough for each of us to have seven or eight different desserts. Unbelievable! We all sat talking for several hours. And a few of us retired to the library to sip herb tea mixed on the property. I had a mixture of tea with ginger and fennel—just the thing to soothe an over-full stomach.

Barneville-Carteret, Wednesday, September 23

Unfortunately I was not feeling well when I woke up from a bad night. I skipped breakfast and the optional morning walk to the estuary. Upon realizing that I still felt off, I sadly passed on that day’s walk to La Hague (meaning “high cape” in French). This day was also one where we were going to have a picnic on the cliffs. Alas, I retired to my room with a book and fell asleep for about 5 hours. I awoke feeling much better and walked on the beach. Several lovely little (and not so little) beach homes.

I would gladly love in this lovely little cabin on the beach! Notice the little ceramic bird on the roof.

I would gladly love in this lovely little cabin on the beach! Notice the little ceramic bird on the roof.

Interesting

Interesting “castle” on the beach.

The Chateau de Chimay (the castle) was build by Clara Ward, an American who became Princess of Chimay (wherever that is). It is now an apartment house.  In the next photo I tried, rather unsuccessfully to show the “concrete” electric poles used in France. I forgot to take a photo of all the stop signs in Normandy that all say STOP, not arretez.

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This evening we ate at our hotel.  We were given a spread of local delicacies. I tried to be judicial in what I chose. The local seafood was particularly yummy.

The next day was the hike in the Bay of Mont St Michel. Because the bay has one of the highest tides in the world (up to 50 feet between low and high tide) the walk was highly dependent on the timing of the tides so we had to get up and be ready to go by 7:00 am (most days we left at around 9).

Honfleur to Barneville-Carteret, Tuesday, September 22

After a quick breakfast and packing up we all piled into the vans. Today’s focus was visiting the D-Day beaches and the American Military Cemetery. Early in the morning on June 6, 1944, about 156,000 Allied soldiers stormed five beaches along the coast of Normandy from north to south: Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah. These beaches cover about 50 miles of the coastline.

Location of the Normandy landing beaches of D-Day.

Location of the Normandy landing beaches of D-Day.

Our first stop was Arromanches near Gold beach. This town is a resort town with sandy beaches but no natural harbor. It was here that Winston Churchill’s idea of using prefabricated floating ports was implemented in order to deliver supplies and ammunition for the Battle of Normandy, until the existing deep-water ports of Cherbourg and Le Havre could be liberated from the Germans. The British built huge floating concrete caissons which, after being towed from England, then had to be assembled to form walls and piers forming and defining the artificial port called the Mulberry harbor. These comprised pontoons linked to the land by floating roadways. We climbed the cliffs overlooking the beach and could see the remains of the huge concrete blocks sitting on the sand and further out at sea.

Remains of the artificial harbor at Arromanches.

Remains of the artificial harbor at Arromanches.

Arromaches harbor

Then we visited the site of the German bunkers and original guns situated on the 200-foot-high cliffs used to defend the coast against the Allied Navy. These guns were designed to hit targets over 15 miles away, Omaha Beach among them. During these stops and short hikes, one of our guides, Lucie, was telling us the history of the battles here. Fascinating.

After a wonderful lunch at a little local restaurant, we then drove to Omaha Beach. Here Lucie provided the context about the battle, explaining why the casualties along Omaha Beach were far worse than at other locations along the D-Day beaches. As we walked along the sandy beach, the wind came up and rain started to pour down.  Somehow it felt very fitting for the location.The beach was so beautiful it was hard to imagine all those men dying here. From the beach we walked up the back entrance to the American Military Cemetery.

Looking back from the American military cemetery down to Omaha Beach.

Looking back from the American military cemetery down to Omaha Beach.

Here 9,387 American soldiers are buried, each marked with a white cross or Star of David. In a central location at the head of the cemetery is a large bronze statue of the “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves” and not far away, a visitor center and museum.  Very moving.

Statue of "Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves"

Statue of “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves”

military cemetery

American Military Cemetery above Omaha Beach.

After this visit we drove to the remote Cotentin Peninsula, named after the 4th century Roman Emperor Constantius Chlorus. In the charming seaside town of Barneville-Carteret, we stayed at the Hotel des Isles, a beach-side resort hotel with views of the English Channel with the island of Jersey just visible off the coast. My room was light, airy, and spacious directly overlooking the beach.

Hotel in Barneville-Carteret, my window was right of the blue sign on the second floor.

Hotel in Barneville-Carteret, my window was right of the blue sign on the second floor.

Bedroom in Barneville-Carteret overlooking the English Channel.

Bedroom in Barneville-Carteret overlooking the English Channel.

window view

Alas, I did not write down the name of the restaurant we went to that night. It was a one-star Michelin restaurant (maybe La Marine?). Very nice, lovely views and mouthwatering food. Unfortunately the food may have been too rich as I did not sleep well that night or felt very well in the morning.

Honfleur and Le Havre, Monday, September 21

Slept in, got up and washed out some clothes, showered, and ate croissants and fruit and yogurt in the dining room downstairs. French yogurt is whole milk and, in Honfleur, was served in a glass jar. So smooth and creamy that it doesn’t even need sweetening.

French yogurt is whole milk and served in glass jars very much like these with no added sweeteners.

French yogurt is whole milk and served in glass jars very much like these with no added sweeteners.

After breakfast, much of the group was taking a walking tour of Honfleur (but I hadn’t been ready in time) so I walked down to the old port to see the town and to purchase a warm hat for the crossing of the bay of Mont St Michel. The port is located on the southern bank of the Seine estuary across from Le Havre (which is the second busiest port in France behind Marseilles). The port is old and beautifully picturesque, and the area has been a favorite of artists from Claude Monet to Gustave Courbet.

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Honfleur port 4

Beautiful photo of Honfleur...not mine but gives a better idea of how beautiful it is there.

Beautiful photo of Honfleur…not mine but gives a better idea of how beautiful it is there.

One of Monet's paintings of Honfleur harbor.

One of Monet’s paintings of Honfleur harbor.

Monet painting of the streets of Honfleur. They haven't changed much.

Monet painting of the streets of Honfleur. They haven’t changed much.

Walking along the cobble-stoned streets of Honfleur, you notice that most store windows display either foodstuffs from the Normandy region or art. Here is a typical store window displaying fish products of the region.

Store window in Honfleur displaying fish products from Normandy.

Store window in Honfleur displaying fish products from Normandy.

Back at the hotel, directly across the square is the Sainte-Catherine church, which has a bell tower separate from the principal building, and is the largest church made out of wood in France.

St Catherine Church

Sainte-Catherine Church

Separate bell tower of the Sainte Catherine church

Separate bell tower of the Sainte-Catherine church.

Claude Monet painting of the Clock Tower of Sainte-Catherine church.

Claude Monet painting of the Clock Tower of Sainte-Catherine church.

The first nave (main area) of the Sainte-Catherine church “is the oldest part of the building, dating to the second half of the 15th century, constructed right after the Hundred Years War. It was built on the model of a market hall, using naval construction techniques, which gives the impression of an upside-down ship’s hull. Then the bell tower was built a good distance away, so that parishioners would not be burnt in case of a fire. In the 16th century, a second nave was added, whose vault was like the wooden vaults of modest Gothic churches. This second part was rather rounder, and did not look like a ship’s hull” (Wikipedia). The builders of the local naval yards created this building without using any saws, only axes, using techniques handed down from their Norman and Viking ancestors.

I especially enjoyed the many banners hanging inside, many richly embroidered and appliques.  The lighting was very low and the banner hung high so it was difficult to get photos.

Richly appliqued and embroidered banner.

Richly appliqued and embroidered banners.

Banner 3

At late morning we all gathered and climbed into the vans to drive to Le Havre for lunch and walking along the cliffs along the mouth of the Seine. We traveled to Le Havre, on the other side of the Seine, crossing on the Normandy Bridge, the second longest cable-stay bridge in the world.

The new Normandy Bridge spanning the mouth of the Seine River.

The new Normandy Bridge spanning the mouth of the Seine River.

While Honfleur was largely unaffected by the two world wars, Le Havre was not so lucky. The city lost about 6,000 people, mostly soldiers, although the city was spared massive destruction as the front was much further north. During the Second World War however, the city was occupied from the spring of 1940.Le Havre suffered 132 bombings by the ‘Allies’ during the war. The Nazis also destroyed the port infrastructure and sank ships before leaving the city. The greatest destruction occurred on 5 and 6 September 1944 when the British Royal Air Force bombed the city center and the port. The results of the bombing campaign were appalling: 5,000 deaths, 75,000 to 80,000 injured, 150 hectares of land razed, 12,500 buildings destroyed.The port was also devastated and some 350 wrecks lie at the bottom of the sea. Le Havre was ‘liberated’ by Allied troops on 12 September 1944″ (Wikipedia).

Saint-Roch square in the Saint-Joseph quarter of Le Havre in the winter of 1944–1945

Saint-Roch square in the Saint-Joseph quarter of Le Havre in the winter of 1944–1945

in 1945, the decision was made to rebuild the city of Le Havre under the direction of the architect Auguste Perret. Perret was considered a “concrete poet” and an innovator. He supposedly pulled off the feat of taking classic tradition and combining it with modernity to reinvent the city center with architecture that is clear, airy, harmonious, and resolutely innovative. The project has been described as an outstanding post-war example of urban planning and architecture.The material  used for the building construction was concrete and the general plan was an orthogonal frame. Officially, the reconstruction was completed in the mid-1960s. The site was declared a World Heritage Site in 2005. One of our guides compared the architecture to Soviet-era apartment blocks, although supposedly the interior of the buildings were much better than the exteriors.  You can decide on the exteriors yourself.

Perret's concrete architecture in rebuilt Le Havre.

Perret’s concrete architecture in rebuilt Le Havre.

The weather had turned a bit so instead of the picnic lunch planned in the trip guide, we were taken to the Musée d’art moderne André Malraux or MuMa, containing one of the nation’s most extensive collections of impressionist paintings. As we parked across the street we gathered around a small sign by the side of the parking lot displaying a copy of Monet’s painting, Impression, Soleil Levant,  This painting is attributed to giving rise to the name of the Impressionist movement. The sign is supposedly located where it was painted. Le Havre has changed so much as to make this seem impossible.

Location of Soliel Levant

Sign showing location where Impression, Soleil Levant was painted by Monet.

Better photo of the Monet painting.

Better photo of the Monet painting.

Lunch was in the restaurant within the MuMa.  Unfortunately we did not get to go into the museum itself. Lunch was a choice of several salads and Croque Monsier. I opted for the classic Salad Nicoise and apple cider. Yummmmm!

After lunch we trundled off to hike the Etertat cliffs above the English Channel. The geology of this area is interesting. At one point in the distant past, the area was under the ocean. A thick layer of microscopic sea animal shells was deposited interspersed with sediments. These layers now make up the chalks and flints of the cliffs in the area. Erosion has caused the arches and needles that Monet later painted (like the painting below).

Monet's painting of the Cliffs at Etretat.

Monet’s painting of the Cliffs at Etretat.

Another Monet painting of the cliffs at Etertat.

Another Monet painting of the cliffs at Etertat.

We were walking on top of these cliff looking down on these beaches. It was incredibly windy and rather wet. Before we reached the end of the cliffs about half the group decided not to continue and returned to Honfleur. The rest of us climbed to the end of the cliffs. As we gazed around we noticed a quaint little fishing village just beyond the end of the path. Instead of retracing our path, we asked whether Arnaud, our guide, would allow us to climb down to the village for drinks while he got the van. In moments he agreed and off we went. He told us later that the path back had gotten quite muddy and slippery so we had made a wise decision. We found a outdoor bar with umbrellas and settled down to several bottles of cider. Wonderful afternoon!

Drinking cider in the rain after hiking the cliffs.

Drinking cider in the rain after hiking the cliffs.

Dinner that night was on our own. It was pouring so I ate a three-course dinner in our hotel. I couldn’t possibly describe but it was excellent.

Hotel menu from my room.

Hotel menu from my room.

Rouen to Honfleur, Sunday, September 20

“Mon dieu!” Or should I say, “Merde!!!”

The first thing I am aware of is the phone ringing in the pitch dark of my hotel room. Frantically tripping over furniture in the dark, I find the phone just as it stops ringing. What time is it? Find iPhone—-9:13 am! What happened to the 6:00 am wake-up call? What happened to the 6:00 am alarm on my phone?  Oh, I set it for 6 pm! What time was I supposed to meet everyone in the lobby? 9:00 am! Call down to front desk to tell them I will be there as quickly as possible. “Madam did not answer your phone and you are late. Everyone is waiting for you.” Nothing like stating the obvious.

I step off the elevator in my bare feet, boots and socks in hand, everything thrown into the suitcase willy nilly, to meet two leaders who I am sure were exasperated with me but tried not to show it. Sheepishly enter the meeting room to see every head snap around to see who was so late. I apologize, quickly sit down, and lace on my boots. Leaders give their spiel and we get in the vans and we are on our way (without breakfast I might add).

The countryside is beautiful. We are traveling along the Seine toward the sea but it is hidden in fog. This area is known for fruit orchards and dairy cows.

Finally we turn in the Manoir d’Apreval, a family-owned estate surrounded by an abundant apple orchard, specializing in several types of cider, Pays d’Auge Calvados, Pommeau de Normandie, cider vinegar and pure apple juice, and cultivating a total of 17 varieties of apples. The owner came out and described the whole process from picking the apples off the ground, washing and sorting, crushing and oxidizing the apple to get the color, to pressing, fermenting and bottling, or distilling and storing in kegs before bottling.

Owner on right showing where apples are washed prior to crushing. Lee on right, an 82-year-old walker who owns a small ranch of 8000 acres in Wyoming.

Owner on right showing where apples are washed prior to crushing. Lee on right, an 82-year-old walker who owns a small ranch of 8000 acres in Wyoming.

Did I mention that the orchard has been in family for generations? Love the thatched roof with the thick moss.

Did I mention that the orchard has been in family for generations? Love the thatched roof with the thick moss.

After the tour we were invited in for lunch. We started with an aperitif, the Pommeau, which is a blend  of two thirds of apple juice before fermentation and one third of young calvados which then ages in oak barrels for 18 to 24 months. It has an alcohol content of about 17.5%. Considering I had no breakfast I could feel it in my knees. Next we were served duck pate from the farm next door, tomatoes and lettuce from their garden dressed with their cider vinegar, cucumbers in creme fraiche, and roasted potatoes with herbs de Provence. All this was served with their naturally sparkling cider.  Refreshing and not too sweet. French cider is alcoholic, but only about 4%. Dessert was ginger bread with chocolate chips, caramels, and a digestive of a 15 year old Calvados (only 42% alcohol). Yummmmm.

Time for our first hike into Honfleur. Everyone grabs hats and sunscreen and walking sticks and finally ready to go. Up through the orchard, across a small road, and up into a nature “preservative”. (The guides’ English is pretty good—much better than my French, which doesn’t exist.) The preserve was originally an English estate. Unfortunately the British brought rhododendrons from India which, while pretty, are an invasive species here.

So we traipsed up and down through the forest and then along country roads of “small” manors worth upwards of one million euros. Thatching of the manor roofs is a rage, however very expensive. There are few craftsmen who still know how to construct them and they need a lot of maintenance. The ridge of the roof is finished with clay to waterproof them. Because clay cracks and shrinks when dry, they plant irises in the roof ridge. The rhizomes store water and prevent the clay from completely drying out.

Thatched roof with iris growing in the ridge.

Thatched roof with iris growing in the ridge.

Finally we arrive to the hill above the port of Honfleur on the estuary of the Seine. Here there is the old Chapelle de Grâce, honoring Notre Dame de Grâce, a patron saint of the fishermen of Honfleur. The original chapel was built by Rollo’s son after he felt that he had been saved by the Saint from a storm on the sea. That church was destroyed by a landslide and later rebuilt. Claude Monet also painted this chapel.

Côte de Notre Dame des Grâce

Chapellle de Grâce

Claude Monet painting of the Notre Dame de Grace chapel.

Claude Monet painting of the Notre Dame de Grace chapel.

While the outside is pretty ugly, the inside is more unusual. The walls are covered with marble tiles carved with pleas or thanks to the saint from fisherman or families of the fisherman. There are also paintings of boats offered by the crews asking for mercy and guidance. Most unusual and beautiful are the replicas of boats that hang from the ceiling.

Stained glass window showing Notre Dame de Grâce stilling the sea. Also note the marble plaques covering the walls.

Stained glass window showing Notre Dame de Grâce stilling the sea. Also note the marble plaques covering the walls.

Ceiling of Chapelle showing paintings and boat models.

Ceiling of Chapelle showing paintings and boat models.

Notre Dame de Grâce statue with cloth cape decorated with jewels and fresh flowers.

Notre Dame de Grâce statue with cloth cape decorated with jewels and fresh flowers.

Another altar to another local patron saint. I missed her name.

Another altar to another local patron saint. I missed her name.

The bells outside the Notre Dame de Grâce Chapelle. Incredibly loud. I have a video if you want to her them.

The bells outside the Notre Dame de Grâce Chapelle. Incredibly loud. I have a video if you want to hear them.

Finally we stroll down into the harbor and our hotel. Our hotel is so close to the center of town that the only way we could be closer is to sleep in the church. We stayed at Les Maisons de Lea which is composed of a restored salt warehouse and three 16th-century houses. This means that the place is a collections of odd little staircases and hallways that is so confusing that the staff must show you to your room because no one could explain how to get there. My room was up a narrow staircase under the eaves. Outside my window was a small black cat on the chimney.

Les Maisons de Lea in Honfleur

Les Maisons de Lea in Honfleur

My hotel room under the eaves.

My hotel room under the eaves.

View out the window above my bed...cat on the chimney.

View out the window above my bed…cat on the chimney.

That evening we walked down to the old port along original cobblestone streets and narrow sidewalks (two people cannot walk side by side) to a little restaurant where we took over the second floor, climbing up a curved stairway so steep that you had to pull yourself up a rope. There we had a pear aperitif, a kind of “shepherd’s pie” of ground beef and veal covered with mashed white and sweet potatoes and cheese melted on top. This was served with pear cider and the whole meal topped off with an apple tart with creme fraiche and the pear equivalent of Calvados.

Bacaretto Restaurant

Bacaretto Restaurant

Boston to Rouen, France – September 18-19, 2015

I thought I might try to blog a little about this Normandy-Brittany walking tour I am on. As most of you know, my husband has been riding his bike (bicycle, not motorcycle) across the USA. He turns 60 next year (as do I) and he decided to “repeat his feat” (he rode cross country after graduating college). I figured while he was challenging himself I would also challenge myself by going on a walking trip.

After asking around I settled on Country Walkers. Now where did I want to go? My first instinct was Great Britain but quickly thought better of it. May be too rainy/foggy. So I added Spain, France, and Italy. Wasn’t sure how hard a trip I wanted so selected easy to moderate. (I’ve been working out three days a week, I should be able to handle that.) Finally I read over the descriptions of each trip still in the running. Many looked good but when I got to the Normandy-Brittany tour, things stared to click. On the coast, ocean and cliffs…yes! Visit Mont St. Michel…yes!

Mont St Michele

Mont St Michele

Normandy beaches (Omaha Beach) from WWII….yes! Bayeux Tapestry….yes!

Bayeaux Tapestry and, oh look!, isn't that Mont St Michele in the background?

Bayeux Tapestry and, oh look!, isn’t that Mont St Michele in the background?

One of the guides is a geologist….clinched it!

So yesterday (Friday) I finally got on the Air France flight…rather uneventful though uncomfortably crowded…until I realized that I had lost the Monster water bottle I had borrowed from David. A quick visit to the crew and it was recovered. Finally I landed at the airport around 9:45 this am but the folks who were supposed to meet me and get me to Rouen never showed up. After a bunch of expensive phone calls back to the states I finally took a taxi and 315€ later I got here around 4. Supposedly I am being reimbursed for that and they sent me a small bottle of wine to my room. Which I am drinking now with a wonderful sandwich I got around the corner. I went out and walked around and went into the beautiful cathedral here.

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen Cathedral

Some of you may recognize this cathedral as painted by a French artist named Monet.

One of Monet's painting of Rouen Cathedral

One of Monet’s painting of Rouen Cathedral

Scale Model of Rouen Cathedral

Scale Model of Rouen Cathedral

Alas I missed both Mass and Confession. However I did stop by to visit one of the saints, St Jude, patron saint of lost causes.

St Jude looking the worse for wear.

St Jude looking the worse for wear.

Next door is where Joan of Arc was tried and a couple of blocks away she was burned at the stake. Her ashes were unceremoniously dumped in the Seine. Rollo Rognvaldsson, first Duke of Normandy, is buried in the cathedral. He was one of the most powerful “North Man” in Normandy.

The first Duke of Normandy Rollo's grave in Rouen Cathedral.

The first Duke of Normandy Rollo’s grave in Rouen Cathedral. I 

Also saw the famous Gros Horloge or Clock Tower.

Gros Horloge

Gros Horloge

Tomorrow I meet up with the group and shuttle and walk to Honfleur France.