France - Normandy and Brittany

Arrived in France we follow the coastline which is sometimes not so easy. The crossings are very narrow and often closed for more than 7,5to. We have to ignore this and hope for the best. South of Bologne-sur-mer a huge dune landscape begins where we look for a nice place for a few days directly in the dunes. The endless sandy beach becomes 500 meters wide at low tide and exposes the mussel beds which are laid out over a length of 3 km. Every day the mussels are picked from the trunks with tractors and a special grab arm. Everywhere you can still see the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall from the Second World War which the Germans left here. Here we enjoy the loneliness and a week of doing nothing. 

With a heavy heart we say goodbye to our beautiful place in the dunes and plunge into the high season turmoil in Berck sur mer. At Strand Boulevard there is hardly any way to get through and all restaurants are well frequented. As an attraction there is a seal colony on the beach, but there is not much more to see. 

Normandy begins in Le Tréport. We have a nice pitch above the cliffs with a great view and can easily walk down the steps to the old fishing village. For foot patients there is even a free funicular railroad, but because of Corona it only carries passengers one at a time. The queue is correspondingly long. We take an extended stroll through the city, eat tasty mussels á la Normand and sip oysters. 

We make a small detour inland to Jumiege. There you will find the remains of an old abbey from the eleventh century which is considered the most beautiful ruin in France.  

Then it goes back to the sea to Fécamp. Already in the 16th century, the place was the home port for numerous ships that set sail from there to the cod fishing grounds in Newfoundland. It is unimaginable under what conditions the fishermen covered this distance. The fish were then salted, dried and cooked or smoked in Fécamp. In 1987 fishing in Newfoundland was stopped for cost reasons.   

 

We follow the coast to Étretat. Here you will find the chalk cliffs that are immortalized on almost every guidebook of Normandy. We go for a few days to the campsite on the outskirts of the village and from there we explore the town and the surroundings. With the many stylish restaurants we also find something nice to celebrate Manfred's birthday. 

We drive around Le Havre and arrive in Honfleur. The old harbour basin is one of the most photographed places in Normandy. But the town with its narrow alleys and old half-timbered houses is also worth seeing.  On the camper site we get one of the last parking spaces at 10 in the morning. We haven't seen so many campmobiles in one pile for a long time.

We give up the following glamorous seaside resorts on the coast and make a detour into the Val d'Auge in the hope of less bustle. This is the home of Calvados and cheese. In L'Éveque we visit the weekly market and stock up on various types of cheese, as well as calvados and cider. But there is still the search for less tourist hype and in fact we find it near the small village Pont D'Oulli. Here, an almost deserted place is waiting for us, directly at the river Orne with a bathing place where we stay a few days and enjoy the silence. 

We arrive in Bayeux, a nice little town whose attraction is the cathedral and the tapestry. The carpet of Bayeux, occasionally called the tapestry of Queen Mathilda, is an embroidery made in the second half of the 11th century on a strip of cloth about 52 centimeters high. You must have seen it. We did our best, but already in the afternoon at 16:00 there was no more admission due to overcrowding. The next morning, shortly after the opening, we stood at the entrance again together with many others who already formed a queue of about 300m. We didn't want to do that to ourselves and rather look at the British military cemetery and the memorial for journalists killed all over the world since 1944. Then we continue south along the coast.  

At Omaha Beach, we are treading on ground steeped in history and blood-soaked. Here, on June 6, 1944, the Allies heralded the end of the Second World War with an unprecedented concerted action. More than 57,000 Allied and 200,000 German soldiers died here within a few days. More than 150,000 were wounded and over 18,000 are still missing today. As a result, there are many memorials and museums in which D-Day is worked up and explained in detail. Very impressive is also the American military cemetery at Collevile-sur mer with over 9000 white marble crosses on an evergreen lawn carpet. We spend the night above Omaha Beach on the steep coast with a fantastic view of Pointe du Hoc. 

In the German military cemetery in La Cambe, dark granite crosses and grave slabs mark the graves of 21,160 fallen soldiers. Many of them were not older than 18 years. In Utah Beach we visit a museum that shows in detail the landing of the allies. Then we get fed up with death and destruction and leave history behind.  

Barfleur, in the very north of the peninsula, is said to be one of the most beautiful villages of Normandy. Well, we can't quite understand that now. Since rain is predicted, we give up the north above Cherburg and the Cap de la Hague and take a few days to drive. Via Agon-Coutainville we continue down the coast to the monastery of Mont Saint Michel. The monastery is located on a small mountain in the middle of the Wadden Sea and is visited by three million people every year. Since 1969 it is part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage. In the small village below the monastery, people crowd together through the narrow streets, a rather dubious pleasure in Corona times. Once you have reached the top of the abbey, you can join the endless queue to visit the interior, or not. 

Shortly after Mont Saint Michel we leave Normandy and arrive in Brittany to Cancale. There the oysters are at home. In the mud flats you can see the big oyster parks and incessantly they are transported away in big bags by tractors. On the promenade they are then sold at the stalls. Where else can you get a dozen freshly caught oysters for 6 Euros? 

In the old corsair town of Saint Malo we have a look at the impressive city wall and then continue to Cap Fréhel. Here the sandstone cliffs are about 70 meters high and the cape is covered with heath and peat vegetation that changes its color depending on the season. We stay a few days on a nice camping site and from there we do a coastal hike and a bicycle tour into the hinterland. 

With a few overnight stops and some sightseeing, among other things of a menhir colony that Obelix probably created here, we drive a few hundred kilometers further via Quiberon to the Ile de Ré. Here we take a week's break and spend the time cycling, eating oysters and doing nothing. 

Meanwhile it is the end of August and the temperature drops below 14 degrees at night. We feel like a little warmer temperatures and so we decide to go to Sardinia. What we experience there we will tell you in the next blog.

Our route this year - 6000 Kilometer

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