Normandy Diary September 2010


Wednesday 1st September.

Up at 5am for a 6am start. Mum is looking after the dog, and she woke up to see us off. We arrived at Folkestone at 7:10 in time to board our 7:50 crossing. Had a chat with the conductor who told us never to get in the same lane as a Eurolines coach, because the French immigration officials always check every passport as Eurolines have a reputation of not checking their customers. We arrived to sunny skies and 14 degrees which was better than the 6 degrees when we left East Grinstead! We used the motorways until Boulogne, when we moved to RN's all the way, passing through some lovely towns and villages. We arrived at Les Haute Coutures at 4:30 to be greeted by Cecile who had been so helpful with our booking. The chalet is perfect for our needs. We must have been travel weary because Di ordered a "French Stick" for the morning! (That was because it was written on the door.)
We were glad to walk in to town to get some provisions after the 302 miles from home.
After supper, we had a walk along the canal to the Pegasus Bridge. Then back for a game of Rummicub, then bed.

Rob on Pegasus Bridge

Rob on the new Pegasus bridge

Benouville Church at Sunset

Benouville Church at sunset



Thursday 2nd September
A good night sleep in our jig saw bed made up of several small duvets! We decided to let the bike, and our bums have a rest today and we walked along the canal to Ouisterham. It turned out to be a 12 km walk altogether but really worth it. The weather was beautiful with clear blue skies. At Ouisterham we walk along Sword Beach which is an immense length of golden sand. We found a tourisme office and saw a museum at the German Bunker which looked interesting, which it certainly turned out to be. It was built by the Nazis in a residential street as part of it camouflage. Five storeys high and packed with information and displays. After the museum we walked back along the canal for a light lunch. Not content with walking 7 miles, we decided to walk down to the Pegasus Bridge museum, about 1.5 kms away. Again a fantastic museum made better by the short guided tour of the original bridge and the Honsor Glider replica, so interesting. Afterwards we had a glass of Normandy cider in the first house to be liberated from the Nazis on 5th June 1944.
Back to base for a G&T and a salad tea. Then I got thrashed at Rummicub....again !

Head of the Caen Canal

Sword beach

Bunker museum




Friday 3rd September.
Another lovely day of weather. We decided to rent a couple of bikes and cycled 10kms into Caen.
On our way we followed a yacht to Caen who passed through the Pegasus bridge,we were able to watch the mechanism to let the boat pass. We cycled a further 5 k's to watch the same yacht pass through a pivot bridge and finally we watched it pass though a swingbridge. The mechanics were brilliant and it made a very interesting ride!
We chained the bikes at Le Port de Plaisannce and walked to the market at St Saveur. From there we walked a couple of kilometres to the Memorial Museum. A very modern place with an excellent tour through the years leading up to the second world war, followed by a very good film about the D Day landings and subsequent German retreat. It made me realise that all this happened just 8 years before I was born, a harrowing thought. The films also showed the destruction of towns in the area. The French must have wondered if it was worth it?
We relented and took the bus back to Centre Ville.
Note for future reference: base layer shirts are brilliant! We were quite pleased to hand the bikes back after 20 kms, there is nothing like your own saddle!
Then I got thrashed at Rummicub....again !

Pegasus Bridge




Saturday 4th September
Today we decided to have a tour of the Pays De Auge. This is a pretty, cider producing area with lots of Tudor style timbered houses. We started at Ranville to visit the British War graves which seemed a natural close to the information we have obtained over the past few days about D Day. We then moved south to Troarn, Putot en Auge, and then Beuvron en Auge which was a delightful village with some lovely buildings. We then rode through more villages on good roads, through Liseux, and stopped in Pont L'Eveque for lunch, our first hot food since arriving in France! From there we rode to Deaville with the aim to get a sticker for Alan's bike, but it was so busy with traffic and people, we decided to keep moving. We followed the coastline back to base, some lovely sandy beaches. How come we get the pebbles and the French get the sand? After picking up some provisions and fuel we headed back to base. A tiring day, but lovely weather and good roads. After a G&T, we decided to walk down to the Pegasus Bridge. Really pleased we did, for 2 reasons: 1 we saw a huge cargo ship being towed by tugs under Pegasus Bridge with little room to spare and 2, we got talking to the owner of the Gondree Café by the Bridge. Madame Arlette, whose parents owned the café in 1944 when she was 4 years old, can still remember the airborne division landing on 5th June, and she shared some stories with us...a living piece of history.

Then I got thrashed at Rummicub....again ! (I have copied and pasted this sentence 3 times now!)

Ranville cemetery

British War Cemetery, Ranville

Beuvron En Auge

Di at Pegasus

Di of the Resistance!


Sunday 5th September.
Again, we are lucky and wake up to blue skies and decide to ride to Bayeux via the beach road, calling in at Arromanches to see the Mulberry harbours. After a brief stop, we rode on to Bayeux on good roads. We found the tapestry fairly easily and parked close by. The exhibition was excellent and worth seeing. From there we walked to the cathedral which was also very impressive. We then rode back to base via Caen this time and relaxed for half an hour before I suggested a walk along the Caen Canal to Ouisterham beach. There we saw the cross channel ferry, Mont St Michel leave port for England and then we walked along the beach, watching some formation kite flying on the way to a paddle in the briney. A nice walk back (7kms) for a well earned G&T and another cold meal!
Then I got thrashed at Rummicub....again ! (I have copied and pasted this sentence 4 times now!)




Di Beach


Monday 6th September
Today we decided to take a run to Mont St Michel, some 90kms away. The forecast was not great but we packed our waterproofs and set off. Apart from a couple of spots on the way, it stayed dry. We used the motorway from Caen with one stop for coffee and a leg stretch. The road from the motorway to Mont St Michel was great, with some good bends and tantalising glimpses of the Abbey. It was surprisingly busy with lots of Japanese and Americans, a couple of which seemed to be well on the way to the divorce lawyers the way they were arguing! It was well worth the journey, as Mont St Michel is a wonderful site. We had a good run back and stopped off in Ouisterham for some wine for us and some Sans Plomb for the bike!
We had another cold meal! And then some rounds of Rummmicub tonight I do not have to cut and paste as I managed to reduce the deficit to a managable amount which will make the last night intresting! There was a fair amount of rain this evening and a great rainbow over the canal let's hope that is the end  of the rain although the forecast is not good for tomorrow. We have decided to let the bike  have  a rest and maybe get the bus  to Caen we will see.

Mont St Michel




Tuesday 7th September
Well, we woke up to blue skies this morning and to find the forecast had been revised to sunny periods. We tidied up, then decided to stay locally and walked into Ouisterham. I took the PDA as the WIFI on site has not been working. We walked to McDonald's for a coffee and frappe and to use their WIFI. I need to update the browser on the PDA to impove the screen resolution. I  couldn't be bothered to wade through 100 plus emails. We walked on and went to a Commando museum which was very interesting, focussing on  the French Commandos who were trained in Scotland, but  only
177 of them ! From there we walked on  the beach before retuning to base. We made a start on packing before tea, then had our last game of Rumicub which I  lost narrowly over the  whole week. But Di deserved to win as she had been in the lead most of the time.
We will be sorry to leave, it has been a great week. P.S. We had the obligitary French thunder storm this  evening !




Wednesday 8th September
Well, we woke up to pouring rain, and no likliehood of any improvement, so on with the waterproofs, and after checking out on the road. We elected to use the Motorways as the weather was so bad, the total tolls were about 11 euros.... bargain! We crossed the Pont De Normandie, a fantastic bridge, but in cloud, but at least it is free for bikes!

We arrived at the Eurotunnel at about 3:30 and were lucky enough to get on the 3:50, so no hanging around in the rain. Found dry roads in Kent!