Showing posts with label honfleur. Show all posts
Showing posts with label honfleur. Show all posts

Monday 26 September 2022

Autumn arrives in Honfleur

Monday 26 September 2022

Nido's parked up on the very large aire in the fishing port of Honfleur.  There's probably over 100 motorhomes here.  It costs €12 for 24 hours which includes electricity.  It wasn't that busy when we arrived, so were able to grab a pitch in the front row with a view of the marina.  It was raining hard on the way here and when we arrived, but it brightened up into the afternoon although now, as the light starts to fade, the clouds still look threatening with the chance of more rain.  We can't complain; apart from this, we've only had a couple of days rain in five weeks away.

After leaving Écouché yesterday morning, we broke our journey with a stop at a basic aire by a road in Saint Julien le Faucon, which had a free service point, so we were able to fill and empty the tanks again.  This service point had one of the water fittings that, as soon as you attach a male connector, it starts gushing water at a huge rate of knots. I've been caught out by this on an aire in a previous trip, when my trousers and shoes took a right soaking!  On that occasion I stopped off at a Leroy Merlin (French equivalent of B&Q) to buy a double-male fitting with an on/off switch.  This meant next time I could plug into one of these weird fittings with the connector in the off position and not get soaked.  So this came in handy for this trip and we stayed dry!  This aire, although by the side of busy road, did have one redeeming feature - another pizza machine!  

Moving on, I had a small aire plugged in at Merville-Franceville plage which was right by a large sandy beach.  However, it being Sunday and as we were a bit late in the day, it was rammed, so instead I found a place a few minutes away at Sallenelles.  There were only two spaces available and one was already taken, so we bagged the other and had lunch looking out at the estuary.  The sun was shining and it felt warm so we all went for a walk around the estuary, which was now showing muddy sides as the tide receded.  We saw plenty of birdlife and listened to the curlews.  Although the aire was fairly quiet, it wasn't really a decent night stop, so we back-tracked about 17km and pulled into the aire in Beuvron-en-Auge, another 'beautiful village' of France.  We almost stayed here before in 2014, lunching in the lovely Creperie in the village square before moving on as we couldn't buy a token to pay for the aire.  This time a man came around later to collect the money.

We left Salty in the van and had a short walk around the old part of the village, buying a 'chicken roti', turning and cooking outside the boulangerie.  With this Cathy made a delicious Sunday chicken dinner, with boiled new potatoes, carrots, green beans and gravy - something we've been craving!  Salty had a good pile of chicken too and was soon fast asleep on the bed with a belly larger than it was about half an hour before!  Well fed and watered, I took him for a walk as the sun was setting.

The wind outside increased during the night and by morning we had the first spots of rain which became torrential as we drove towards Honfleur.  This is the first proper rain we've seen in months.  We stopped off at Deauville so I could do some shopping at the Le Clerc supermarket and Cathy could get online to do her Welsh language course homework.

Once settled at Honfleur, we took Salty for a walk along the quieter end of the harbour before dropping him off back at the van and wandering into the town, which is only about 10 minutes walk from the aire.  It hadn't changed all that much since our last visit (why would it - most of the buildings are hundreds of years old!), but it was certainly busier, with many more cars driving around and loads more people.  The vast majority of them were off a cruise ship berthed nearby (maybe Le Havre?) and almost all were English or Scottish.  After weeks of being the only UK van in most of the aires and campsites, it was very strange to be able to clearly understand what was being said; I had to be careful what I was saying too!  We mooched in and out of the tat shops just for something to do and looked at the menus of the various restaurants as we had hoped to have some moules-frites.  But the prices were much higher than some places we'd seen elsewhere and the crowds kind of put us off.  So we returned to the van to relax and people watch as the motorhome owners walked past the front of our van on the way into and back from town.  Our licence plate had the old GB and EU stars on the left-hand side and we've replaced with the the Welsh flag and the words 'CYMRU'.  All through France this has really confused people and they've struggled to understand where our van is from.  Honfleur was no different; nearly all the passers-by stopped and stared hard at our licence plate then up at the van, taking no notice of us sat in the cab seats looking right back at them!  

Tomorrow we're going to try and find a beach park-up for the day so Salty can have a well-needed run-out; we could do with a walk too after our massive chicken dinner yesterday!

Top tip - get one of these to avoid wet shoes!



We had lunch in this Creperie in October 2014

Beuvron-en-Auge aire

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

This is what a little dog full of chicken looks like!

View at Honfleur

Still a working fishing port

Friday 17 October 2014

Day 14 - Grandcamp Maisy to Honfleur

Thursday 16 October 2014
Wall art in Arromanche
It rained hard in the night but it was dry and bright come morning and quite warm.  I walked down towards the sea and into the village and bought us a banette. The gas played up last night and the fridge alarm woke me at 0210 (after years in the Navy my hearing's tuned for alarms) so I switched it off.  Back at the van Cathy was up and I boiled a couple of eggs each.  We took the opportunity to have a good scrub out  inside of the van - everything out, shaken outside, floors brushed and cleaned, including the cabin.  We and the van felt much better for it although the outside is very dirty.  I removed the fridge filters and gave them a bit of a brush and a good talking to.  That seemed to do the trick as when I switched the fridge on to gas and cancelled the alarm, this time it stayed on. Breakfast done and everything stowed we hit the road.

Our first stop was Pointe de Hoc.  On D-Day on 6 June 1944 US Rangers landed on the beach and scaled the cliffs, using rocket propelled grappling hooks and ropes.  This was strategically important as the German artillery based there could bombard the allied ships off the coast, but could also be turned east and west to bomb Utah and Omaha beaches.  This position was therefore heavily defended and it's incredibly humbling to note that, despite terrible losses (nearly half the 225 rangers were killed or injured in that short assault), the first Ranger was on top of the cliff within 5 minutes of the landing and the position was taken 15 minutes later.  On arrival at the top they found the artillery pieces had been moved but some Rangers found them hidden behind a hedgerow near a wall and disabled them with thermite grenades.  As we walked around, looking down into the huge shell holes and wandered inside the reinforced bunkers, some now a twisted mess of concrete and metal, it was difficult to understand how it would have been just over 70 years ago.

Moving along the coast we stopped at Port en Bessin. There was a good motorhome parking area - only €3.50 per night but no services (but they were just down the road at the Super U). This is a working fishing port and was a bit touristy.  We carried on to Arromanche, parked above the town and walked down to the waterfront.  I wanted to see the remains of the Mulberry Harbour, built in secrecy in England then sunk to prevent them being spotted by German spy planes.  They were then towed across the channel, refloated and used to disembark thousands of tons of equipment and troops; at the time it was the biggest man-made harbour in the world.  It also has the D-Day Disembarkation museum on the waterfront, so has many tourist restaurants and shops to support all the visitors.  As we walked down a group of French of teenagers walked past and a young girl asked us (in French) if she may ask a question  and where could they buy a kebab!  Very formal and polite and again we were taken for French people - I think it's because I look a lot like Sacha Distel Cathy like the bed-ridden mother-in-law in 'Allo 'Allo.

We stopped off at the Commonwealth War Cemetery just outside Ryes in the village of Bazenville.  It was poorly signposted so difficult to find. This cemetery has 630 British graves, plus some Canadian and Polish.  It also had a large number of German graves.  The British graves were personalised with family notes engraved on the bottom, giving a stronger personal feel to those who laid beneath our feet.  The average age was about 22 and most were killed between D-Day and the end of September 1944. There were also a large number of Royal Navy sailors buried here, 'Known only unto God'. As with all these cemeteries, it was immaculately kept, peaceful and a sombre reminder of the futility of war.  I signed the visitors book and, as we slowly walked back to the van I stopped, turned and saluted these brave men.

So it was onwards to our overnight stop in Honfleur.  This is a large Aire and comes with electricity and water, so we made the most of both - we now smell nice and clean! Parking payment is via a meter and the water and electricity is 'free' - ie no additional code or payment required - so worth noting in the future for free fresh water top up. We finally had our meal out in a small restaurant off the Main Street.  It was quiet, just another English couple and a very drunk old French man sat in the corner, who mumbled, sneezed and farted through his meal!  We found out his name was Didier and he had a little dance in his chair later on! Cathy had hot spicy crab to start and I had foie gras. For main Cathy had duck with a foie gras sauce.  I had Marmite Pecheur, a pot of mussels, clams, whelks, prawns, langoustines and various kinds of fish in a light creamy sauce.  I had some taste today and it was delicious.  Having said that, the chef came out after service and looked like a toothless, dirty crack-head - had we seen him first we might have moved on!  It started to spit with rain as we walked back and rained hard later as we sat in our comfy clothes, watching '12 Years a Slave' on the Mac, via the Passport HDD that Nicola bought her Mum for her birthday.  This was a late night for us, normally we're in bed by 2100, but we enjoyed watching the film in the warm and dry of the van while it tipped it down outside.

Shell hole at Pointe du Hoc
US Rangers' Memorial

Well built - still dry inside this bunker

Mulberry Harbour at Arromanche

CWG cemetery at Bazenville

Well kept as always

These matelots lie together, 'Known only unto God'