The rest of Normandy proved to be a mix of impressions – Known for cows, cider, apple Calvados brandy and Camembert cheeses its combination of gentle fields, chalk-white cliffs, dune-lined beaches and quiet cities. Chic boutiques occupy half-timbered houses from the middle ages near Rouen’s famous Gothic cathedral; sheer cliffs meet the sea along the Côte d’Albâtre coast; fishing boats jostle with designer yachts in the harbours of Honfleur. ( follow the “read more” below or VIEW PHOTOS HERE )
The small beach village of Étretat is known for its twin cliffs: the Falaise d’Aval and the Falaise d’Amont, positioned on either side of the pebbly beach. The Falaise d’Aval is renowned for its freestanding arch – compared by French writer Maupassant to an elephant dipping its trunk in the sea – and the adjacent Aiguille, a 70m-high spire of chalk-white rock rising from the surface of the waves. Further along the cliff is a second impressive arch, known as La Manneporte, reached by a steep path up the cliff from the western end of Étretat’s beach. Calude Monet also painted this coast late in life. We could see why, the cliffs and the beach are beautiful in the setting sun.
With elegant spires, beautifully restored medieval quarter and soaring Gothic cathedral painted by Monet, the ancient city of Rouen is one of Normandy’s highlights. Rouen has had a turbulent history – it was devastated several times during the Middle Ages by fire and plague, and was occupied by the English during the Hundred Years’ War. Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) was tried for heresy and burned at the stake in the central square in 1431. We found the city to be fairly modern with a few medieval houses, and effectively deserted. Seems like everyone was on vacation, with every business presenting a closed sign till August 31st.
Long a favourite with painters but now more popular with the Parisian jet set, Honfleur is a charming seaside town and very toristy. Its heart is the Vieux Bassin (Old Harbour), from where explorers once set sail for the New World. Now filled with more yachts then fishing boats, this part of the port is surrounded brightly colored buildings.
Roma and Natalia are world travelers, photographers, and an all around fun couple. When they are not travelling far away continents or driving around USA in their trusted Highlander, they can be found in San Francisco, California.