14 July 2009


Last weekend we had a long weekend so we jumped into our trusty new car and drove to France. We woke up early and drove to Dover and caught a P & O Car ferry to Calais. Dover port was well run and had some nice places to eat. We also got to see some white cliffs, possibly not ’THE’ white cliffs but they were still impressive. We were visiting normandy for the weekend and were staying at a B&B in Bayeux, the town made famous by its tapestry depicting the invasion of England by William The Bastard of Normandy (real name before becoming the conqueror).
Dover Ferry Terminal

We drove down the coast line paying many tolls but the roads are great, there is no one around and you get to do 130-140km/hr most of the way - excellent. We stopped in Rouen for Lunch and visited the large cathedral as well as the old town and where Joan of Arc was roasted on her stake.
Rouen Main Street
Inside the Rouen Cathedral

The place of the Burning of Joan of Arc

We then drove onwards to Bayeux and found our B&B - Manoir Guerin de la Houssaye. The 13th century stone house was quite near the old centre and our room on the bottom level was pretty to begin with. We ended up having some serious issues with our room even though it was quite a good price (65€/night). Firstly there was Isobelle the all french speaking, pushy, annoying, obsessive compulsive food rationing little hag bag that ran the place with her husband. We were shown to our room and told where everything was like the shower and toilet which were obviously a shower and toilet and the bed too and also where we should put our luggage. We then got a long story in french of what we should do. We didn’t understand much of the story but then told her what we wanted to do and she told us, i think, that we would not be able to do it and bla blah blah. We had a snooze and discovered our reinforced concrete pillows and also a strange odour in our room, combining vinegar, sweaty underwear and wet towels. The smell mainly actually came from the wet towel smelling towels we found out later after our shower without any soap.
Isobelle’s Room of Weirdness

We went out to town and visited the Museum de Bayeux tapestry (not its real name) and saw the big fella. it is 70 m long and quite intricate and in good condition considering it is about 1000 years old. You even learn quite a bit of history in the short time you are there which is always good for ignorant people unlike us. We then walked around town and even came across the Bayeux centre for the education of losers - so thoughtful. Bayeux is very pretty with lots of very old stone houses, canals, water wheels, mills etc. The town seemed very quiet and most of the touristy looking people were actually french with a few loud Americans and us. We had a bottle of normandy cidre at a pub with some of the local pedophile inbreds and then went out to dinner. Dinner was great mostly, but to carry on with my negative tone i must tell you about our waitress. We were very excuted about the cider and wanted to get into the whole cider, cheese, calvados food niche, so we ordered a bottle of cidre with our meal. The waitress actually laughed at us in a rude oh my god you plebs, manor and then proceeded not to bring the cider anyway. In the end my steak came out cooked to cookedness and without any sauce and Corinne’s meal was excellent - Porc fillet with camembert and calvados sauce. We did get a lot of food and in the end were stuffed full of french food and rudeness. We wandered home to our smelly room without any ventilation and fell into a sleep dreaming of Rude English service but where at least you got your sauce and cider.
College for Losers
Cider - Excellent
Standing in front of the Musee de Tapestry

Next day we made our way to Mont Saint Michel off the french coast near Avranches. The Mont was spectacular and it was amazing to be driving through the wheat and maize fields and then suddenly have this enormous Mont of Saint Michelness jump our from behind a small mound or village. The area leading up to the Mont is marsh land and is very flat so the Mont can be seen for miles around. We spent a few hours at the Mont and checked out the touristy stuff as well as the abbaye at the top and all its chambers room and crypts. It is all quite spectacular and ha s along and interesting history. By the time we left there were beaucoup people around, most of whom looked lost and aimless, standing in doorways or stopping and staring into space - the start of the swine flu outbreak in France i suppose.

The Mont in the Background

We drove back north again and visited the D day landing beaches along the coast. We started at point du hoc which has been left in its original condition since the war. The area is a peninsula where army rangers invaded via scaling high cliffs and attacking concrete pill boxes and heavy guns. The area was bombed and shelled before the attack by aircraft and ships and is pattered with large deep holes in the ground, 10 metres long in some cases and 2-3 people deep. The old barb wire and some concrete gun emplacements are still there. The concrete was about 2 meters thick and housed large 155mm guns to protect German Occupied France from the nosey Brits. We then drove on up the coast north through lots of famous towns and visited the Longues Gun Batteries where the 155m guns are still in the concrete pill boxes and also omaha beach where the main US forces landed. Omaha was a tough beach to land on and many noisy American soldiers died there. There is a large American Cemetery there housing some 10 000 or so Soldiers as well as a museum/memorial building with some good history pics and movies. The cemetery looks out over Omaha Beach and beautifully layed out with white marble head stones perfectly symmetrical from every angle. We then visited Arromanches where the Brits landed at Gold Beach. This is where they built an amazing floating harbour to land all their tanks and trucks, fuel, ammunition and supplies for the ongoing battle of Normandy/France. There are still parts of the harbour remaining.



That night we got home to find that Isobelle the Nazi Sympathiser had packed up our luggage and moved it around to suit her chemical imbalances. Corinne’s luggage had been moved under the stairs and my messy pile had been piled up on or into my bag. Some of corinnes makeup etc had ben put away in cupboards and our toiletries had been moved around - The feng shui in the room was much improved. We searched the cupboards and shelves and got our stuff back and i threw some clothes on the floor in rebellion. Later that night at dinner Isobelle’s plan of revenge ripened when a happy little french waiter reminded us to take our small blue G string with us that was on the floor by my foot. We don’t know how long it had been there but it must have been put into my jeans whilst Isobelle was rearranging our stuff. It then traveled with me in my jeans, through town and finally made its appearance at the restaurant. Corinne was very embarrassed and went a bright red and we left quickly. Our meal and the Restaurant that night were very good, we had too much food and the service was excellent. It was across the road from the previous nights place so we glared that way from time to time.

On our last day we drove to the Pays D’Auge region which is famous for Cheese and Cidre production. The area has famous towns like Camembert, Livarot, Neufchatel and Pont L’Eveque. We visited camembert and Livarot and bought a selection of cheeses. The area is very beautiful made up of Green pastures, corn and wheat fields, brown and white normandy cows and apples groves for the cidre. We purchased about 22 champagne size bottles of home made cidre over the weekend as well as a cidre drinking set and brought them back to Essex in the trusty nissan. The cidre is made by individual farms and is very tasty with a huge variety of flavours. We had a brilliant time over the weekend, even with a few crazies thrown in.
Some heavy weather approaching the Pays D’Auge

A pretty little town - Beuvron en Auge

One last story about Isobelle the B&B owner. On our first morning at the House we were having our very meagre breakfast when She cam in an started babbling away in french. Luckily Corinne picks us some words and we discovered that we had left a light on in our room. We told her we would turn it off. She stood there and watched us and then picked up our keys from the table and gave them to Corinne and asked her to do it immediately. She then followed Corinne downstairs to the room and made sure she did it right, off, then on then off, just to be sure, even with the medication. Sometimes there can be language difficulties but this was just plain rude stupidity and weirdness. Au Revoir


Nise said...

I love the photo of the inside of the Rouen Cathedral. Ben your beard looks pretty good too.

Looks like it was fun.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a weekend. The area looks beautiful. I remember visiting some of those places with the kids on our way to our fab summer holiday in England in 1990. You certainly packed in heaps. - it's a pity that the French are not so nice to tourists. What a country it would be with a bit of politeness.
You both look great. Corinne just as beautiful as ever. BTW I like that beard, Ben. Looks very good:) xxx

Anonymous said...

How hysterical! What an excellent and entertaining story you have written on your French sojourn! I'm still laughing over the g-string episode! What a great weekend you've had!
Love to you both, Lal x

The Pettet Co. said...

Great blog, love your B&B woman, she sounds awesome. Will have to be sure to book a night at her smelly establishment some time in the future just to see what craziness she can entertain me with. Would like to experiment with leaving all the lights on and a piece of my clothing draped over every object in the room.

Anonymous said...

The G-String story gave me my first belly laugh of the day!! You guys look fantastic. Keep up the good work :) Siân xxx