…and happy first day of March! 🙂
Now, this post has been looong overdue, as it has somehow slipped my mind that I hadn’t talked about my trip to some parts of Normandy over December! :O
Perhaps it was due to the fact that I had went when it was very close to les vacances de Noël (literally, two days before it started) and that I didn’t have time to make a post about Normandy; in any case, I am going to catch up, so let’s begin!
Back in December, I spent an afternoon with one of my colleagues exploring the east side of Normandy; my colleague (let’s call her “Brenda”) had promised me a while back that she would take me to Villequier and Caudebec-en-Caux, two small towns by the Seine River, and so we finally were able to go one afternoon on both of our days off.
She picked me up around 13h45, and we were off! However, she first had to run a few errands, including picking up an elderly lady (around 93 years old) to take to a nursing home, where she was to visit a friend. We stopped by the lady’s house to pick her up. Along the way, I ended up having a small conversation with the lady, whose Patois accent was quite difficult to understand, but otherwise learned a lot about her (seriously, she gave me her whole life story!).
After Brenda had dropped her off at the nursing home, we went on to Caudebec-en-Caux, where we visited a few monuments and Brenda did a bit of Christmas shopping at the souvenir stores.
Caudebec-en-Caux is in itself a tiny town along the Seine. From what Brenda told me, it is actually quite touristy, as people stop by the place during river cruises between Paris and Le Havre. Besides having the souvenir shops and cafés that *sort of* cater to tourists, Caudebec also has a good amount of old buildings and nice architecture that date back as far as the thirteenth century. One includes la maison de templiers (“The Templars’ House”), which today is a museum for the history and archaeology of the Normandy region. Unfortunately, it was not opened when we went, but still, the exterior looks quite interesting (and of course, old!). 😛
Besides that, there was l’église de Notre-Dame de Caudebec-en-Caux, a towering church that seemed quite large for its presence in an otherwise very small town. Still magnificent, though!
There is also an ancient prison, as well as old, half-timbered houses that are very representative of those from Normandy centuries ago (incredible to see that they are still standing today!).
There wasn’t much to see after that, since it was such a small town, and so Brenda and I decided to hit a couple of even smaller towns (villages, you could call them) around the area, since Brenda had told me that there were some parts of them that were quite lovely. We drove a bit further down past Caudebec, where we arrived at Saint-Wandrille, a primarily farming and forestry village with a spectacular Benedictine monastery, the Abbey of Saint Wandrille, that dates all the way back to the seventh century- amazing! I was particularly struck by the towering arches outside of the monastery, which just like the church in Caudebec, seemed way too grand to fit in such a tiny town.
After visiting the abbey, Brenda and I drove back towards Caudebec-en-Caux, passing it for a brief stop at Villequier, a village known for having ties to Victor Hugo (one of the most famous French writers of the nineteenth century) and his family. History is that Hugo had a daughter, Léopoldine, who married Charles Vacquerie, the son of a family friend of Hugo; she, along with Charles, drowned in a boating accident near Villequier in 1843, and now is buried in the village, along with other family members of Hugo and Vacquerie. There is also the Victor Hugo Museum, which wasn’t open when we went (being that it is winter; it won’t be open until the spring, unfortunately). Otherwise, it is a very quiet town- quite picturesque.
That was about it for our afternoon then; Brenda had to go pick up the old lady from the nursing home before taking me back to my flat. We dropped the lady off at her house, but ended up going inside and having a bit of her homemade rice pudding, which was pretty good (and filling!). Brenda took me back afterwards, and before dropping me off at my place, gave me some chocolates and a mug as Christmas gifts, which I wasn’t expecting, but was touched. ❤
Overall, it was an easy afternoon in Normandy; I was able to see more of the region, as well as learn a bit more about its history and geography. Brenda said that we might end up going again later in the spring, when the Victor Hugo museum opens and when it is less cold. Who knows? We shall see! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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