Normandy 2011

Discussion in 'France' started by Dancing Bear, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. This is my second attempt. Having spent an hour carefully detailing where we went what we did I pressed preview then lost everything! Doh!

    Here is the streamlined version. We were following our boys who were on a choir tour of Normandy staying in the city of Coutances.

    After a long spell of hot dry weather, the rains came as we were going on holiday. Having just overnighted at the docks with a wake up call from Brittany Ferries staff ( we were in the way!) we didn't care. It was Jan's first night in Adelaide ... and she loved it!


    This is the main square in Coutances. It is a mediaeval city built on a rocky outcrop so it is a bit cramped but there is always room to park Adelaide even with bikes on board. We had a lovely meal with the choir at the Brasserie du Parvis which is just out of shot. Three courses for 12.85 euros can't beat that


    Having slept like a log at the Camping Municipale ( basic, clean, cheap 70 euros for 2 for 6 days including electric, free use of the swimming pool at the sports centre next door and one use of the washer and drier we were happy) we headed off to Carentan where the choir were singing next. Rebuilt after the war when it was mostly destroyed it is a pretty town near the western coast. Once again easy to park for lunch and a cup of tea.


    The church is beautiful but a bit neglected. There was nobody here to listen to the choir unfortunately but the surroundings were quite inspiring on their own. There is a stained glass window here with depictions of parachutes giving thanks to the 101st Airborne who liberatedthe town ( you might remember it from Band of Brothers)

    We moved on to Barnville Carteret on the East coast where you look out towards the Channel Islands. This gives the added bonus of being able to get BBC radio so eating our tea listening to the Archers was the order of the day. Carteret is a small port for pleasure boats and trips to Jersey. there is an Aire there for camping cars where you can overnight for free as far as we could see, though it was full of huge six wheel behemoths with little relation to Adelaide when we were there. As ever we found a car parking place and slid in there. Mixing the contents of our fridge with locally bought produce we had a very Franglais meal bacon and egg buttys (french bread and butter of course) with tabouleh salad , not forgetting the brown sauce, followed by tarte aux pommes, creme fraiche and a french melon. Yummy when washed down with a cup of tea.


    Inside Coutances Cathedral. Outside it was raining hard. Our campsite had been invaded by about 50 teenaged German venture scouts, who sang when it rained. The more it rained the more they sang! We escaped into Coutances to listen to the choir and have a coffee. I had a hot chocolate which came freshly made in a teapot size jug. Beautiful, warm, sticky and sweet but too much for even a chocoholic like me to countenance.

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    This is the Church at St Marie du Mont allegedly the first village liberated in France. Close to Utah beach it has several 'musee' of the occupation and liberation. They arent very exciting but there are some interesting contemporary adverts from the time of Vichy France. There were also some recreations of life under the Germans , the one below reminding me of Herr Flick from Allo Allo. I wonder if they sang as much as the German scouts on our campsite.


    This is the very beautiful Abbaye de Lessaye back on the East coast. It was completely destroyed during the Second World War by the SS who blew it up whilst disputing ownership of the town with the Americans . It has been completely rebuilt in a way that is entirely faithful to the Norman original and looks fantastic. The accoustics were also brilliant for the choir.

    About 5 miles from the Abbaye at Lessay we found a series of beaches near the town of Creances. There are some immense sand dunes behind the beaches , with camp sites snuggling behind them. For surfers this would be paradise as it is almost empty,with some very big waves and strong onshore winds. Adelaide struggled a bit with crosswinds on this day.

    And finally to Mont St Michel. We had been there before in the spring and found it busy but were not prepared for how busy it was . We queued to get in, queued for the toilets (of which there were only 2 public toilets for the whole place!!!!!) queued to get anywhere then queued to get back to the car park. Guess what we did then? Oh and inbetween concerts we had to queue to get into a cafe where we paid 15 euros to have 3 lemonades so we could queue to use their toilets! The abbey and churches are beautiful as would the town be if it were not for the dedication of the store owners to seperate you from your money. Dont go in Summer it's simple. Pondering the queue to get out of the car park and the high temperature I left Adelaide's engine bay lid open as we crawled along. Fortunately every T25 in the queue let us in ( there were lots) and smiled and waved. We only saw one T2 there and he wasnt going anywhere!


    Overall we had a fantastic time. I cant speak highly enough of Brittany Ferries fast service. It costs more but worked out against petrol costs and the fatigue of long motorway drives it is excellent. Lovely clean ship, excellent food, helpful staff ( attaractive lady staff, even the cleaners looked good on the way back!!!) and it takes you straight to the relaxing part of France. Normandy was quiet , I had expected crowds but apart from Mont St Michel it was fine.

    And what about Adelaide? Our faithful kombi made the trip for us. We slept beautifully on our rock n roll bed, and carrying our stuff with us we lunched cheaply on local stuff wherever we went. We never failed to find a parking space in the centre of towns we visited or on the promenades at the sea side. She was admired wherever we went and has cemented her place as one of our family. Can't wait for the next trip in a couple of weeks time

  2. hailfrank

    hailfrank Admin esq.

    some great pics there :)
  3. Thanks for sharing - some lovely pics and one hell of a bike rack!
  4. The bike rack is a cool piece of kit. I bought it from Halfords and it was £140 which I think was pretty good value. It held our two bikes rock solid throughout the journey, I didn't feel it at all when I was driving and it was easy to fit once assembled. Of course you can see the handlebars wobbling in the mirror when you are driving but the wheels and frame are pretty solidly attached so i had no worries about it at all. I didn't know we would be going somewhere that was so hilly! Living in Cambridge we have definitely got out of the habit of cycling up hills, and unfortunately Coutances was all hills so they didn't get used much on this trip but on our next trip, which is to the Suffolk coast, its pretty flat again so it will be coming with us.
  5. For some reason these photos didn't make it into the main post. This was a Westy we spotted at Mont St Michel.


    and these were my favourite pictures of the whole trip taken at Barnville-Carteret. The clouds, sun and wind combine to create a lovely effect, a bit like the dementors in the Harry Potter films.

    First you can see my lovely wife with dementors over head


    and now they have obviously taken her!!!!

  6. Great pictures and obviously a good trip. I did the same area last year - its a great place to visit.
  7. bus


    great post, We know the area quite well, and have been there a few times - coutances is great, and Mont st Michel every bit as nuts as you describe in the Summer

    nice van too :)
  8. great piccies mate, the more euro road trips write ups that get posted up, the more I wanna head out that way
  9. Lovely pictures!!! Looks like you had a great time and once again I am super jealous of you "European" campers ;D
  10. looks like you had a great time
    looking forward to hearing more about it when we next meet up
  11. Nice to read with good pics. Makes me want my own even more.
  12. Lord Charles

    Lord Charles Day's Away Mod

    Nice pics makes us want to get on the ferry now.
  13. Do it now! I havent checked myself but I am told that you can get Eurotunnel tickets on your Tesco vouchers which will make it even more affordable. There are plenty of campsites just across the channel and just a few miles south of Calais you are in 'real' France.
  14. We've just come back from a week in Brittany. Went over in the crew cab. Yes Brittany ferries are a bit expensive but as you said it saves a lot of driving and petrol. If you book up a gite/ cottage with them at the same time it works out quite cheap. Worked out for an extra £150 we got our cottage included.
    Love driving in France the roads are so quiet. Theres not much litter on the floor everywhere looks clean except for dogs poo.
    Enjoyed it that much just booked to go back for the 1/2 term hols in oct.
  15. Terrordales

    Terrordales Nightshift Admin

    Lovely stuff! :)
    I'd forgotten how nice Normandy is, it's been a while since we were last there. :(
  17. Live and learn. I love the Ipad its a brilliant tool and pages is brilliant but it hadn't occurred to me to do posts on there and copy. I will try it thanks. By the way I can't update or post on Ipad at the moment does anyone else have this problem?
  19. Great pics ;D

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