The spot where the abbey was built is really cool. I saw it in pictures for the first time, and I told myself I had to see it with my own eyes. When I actually visited the reality far exceeded any photo I had seen before. It was a magical place indeed. As you go through the door you enter the Middle Ages. Don't miss it for the world!
In May 2007 we decided to spend a week in a cottage in Percy in Lower Normandy. From there we took several trips to Saint Michel, Caen, Rouen and Couselles-Sur-Mer (famous for the beach landing). All were superb, but one stood out. This is the visit we made to the village of Etretat very close to Le Havre. As they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll post a few pictures.
If you like art, there is no better place to visit than this. In Normandy, along the Seine, near Paris, he arrives at Government House, which was the residence of Claude Monet from 1883. Faced with this, the impressionist painter built gardens where different plants combined to create one of the scenarios that will be represented in many of his works. The visitor goes deeper into a magical garden giving the impression of being sucked into one of the pictures hanging in the Museum D'Orsay, to be abstracted to mere reality. You can stroll through the green paths and get lost among different coloured flowers scattered at random. A lake divides the garden into two and you can cross over the famous Japanese bridge. The strong Japanese influence is reflected in the water which serves as a mirror for the hanging trees planted on the banks of the pond. This scene resembles a watercolor painting with floating water lilies. An afternoon spent outdoors walking through these gardens really brings you closer to the work of Monet. Depending on the time of year, this wonderful place will transport you to a different painting.
The beach you disembark on is Omaha Beach in Normandy (France). Setting foot on the red sand on the beach, I was thrilled. To know that where my feet trod, many soldiers had lost their lives, wow...... I went to visit the American Cemetery, still in Normandy. Here there are 9,000 graves of American soldiers, Jews ...it was very emotional. Above all because of the impressive number of small white crosses.
The cliffs located in this small town in Normandy are truly impressive. It's a must-see for all those landscape-fanatics who have the good fortune of passing through Normandy. Oh, and the Atlantic water is COLD.
The image sails crossing the sand , towing a small kind of tractor seemed like an unusual image. Later I found out that on the Normandy beach, they practice this sport that consists of traversing a sand using a kind of wind powered tricycle.
An overwhelming museum that objectively traces the experiences that led to World War II. The museum itself is divided into several exhibitions with the main exhibit being the most impressive and longest of all. A must for World War II enthusiasts, or for those ve want to learn from our past to avoid repeating the same mistakes for a better future.
The city of Caen is a destination rich in culture and history. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this town, especially the beautiful views from different parts of the city. Caen was founded around the eleventh century and since then has played an important role in many wars, battles and conflicts, like the Hundred Years War, during which the city was invaded by the British and occupied for 33 years. During this time the University was founded. Equally or even more notable was the impact of the Second World War. The Normandy landings took place a few kilometers from the city. The city suffered bombings which killed thousands of civilians and destructed 80% of the town. The reconstruction was slow but well planned, which resulted in an attractive and practical lay-out, with wide avenues, lots of light and properly prepared for the technological advances of later years. It was decided to make use of a calcareous stone extracted from quarries near Caen, which gave a uniform and pleasant feel and also serves as a regional symbol (it can be likened to the use of Salamanca's "Villamayor Stone"). Caen offers a wide range of cultural highlights like theater, concerts and museums. Bycicles provide the easiest mode of transport within the city. The tram is also very convenient, offering a good view at the same time.
This is a place where some famous people have been and have become popular. The Deauville Beach has beautiful coloured umbrellas planted there as if waiting for the start of a festival of movie stars. It's great to lie down and relax, feeling like a star!
During our visit to Etretat from Percy on the A-29 and shortly before arriving at Le H'avre, we stumbled upon this impressive suspension bridge where there is an imaginary line separating the Upper and Lower Normandy. The bridge length of 2143.21 meters of which 856 are located between the two pillars of it, serves as a bridge over the Seine estuary. They began building it in 1988 and it was finally opened ended officially on the 20th January, 1995. Its length then broke the record of Shanghai surpassing over 250 meters. However it lost its leading position in 1999, when the Tatara Bridge in Japan surpassed it by 34 meters. With regards to the record length of a cable-stayed bridge, it lost in 2004, when they built the Rio-Antirio in Greece. Its inverted pillars are Y-shaped and they measure 214.77 meters. The straps are made of steel filaments covered by a layer of wax and polyethylene sheath, with a length that varies between 95 and 450 meters.
This majestic castle is in the center of Caen, built on a hill with a great wall that surrounds it, wood initially, but eventually changed to a more durable and effective material, the "stone Caen ". The castle dates back to the Middle Ages, in the eleventh century. Within the walled area there are several other buildings and monuments of the castle. Today we find a large almost square tower of which little is left (much of which was destroyed during the French Industrial Revolution), the Normandy Museum (formerly the home of the governor), the Museum of Fine Arts, the Church of St Georges, "L'Échiquier de Normandie" is now a permanent exhibition hall, and finally a garden in which are still cultivated many vegetables and fruits that formerly served as sustenance for the inhabitants of the castle. In addition to these main elements, the entrances to the castle are also interesting. There are two entrances, the "Porte des Champs" and "Porte Saint-Pierre", the first is the door that replaces the old "north gate" that was destroyed. The "Porte Saint-Pierre" is a secondary door for the comings and goings from the village (then a town), both are equally spectacular, one for its size and the other for its mechanisms and views toward the center of Caen. The entrance to the castle grounds is free, though you are forced to pay in the museums. The remains of the tower necessitate the hire of a qualified guide. Renovations are occurring so check before you go, so as not to be disappointed.
As part of our trip traveling around France, we stopped at a place that was very picturesque, although I do not know if it was really a true reflection of what went on there. For those who like history, you can find the name of this site and find out why it's famous. It is also easy to take aerial photographs, even at the time, so you can get an idea of how the whole area was.
Like most markets in France, Caen markets surprise us by the large number and variety of products. In this city the markets are fairly distributed over the city, and there is one that is huge but others are distributed at various points. In general it is not open every day (except Sunday where many vendors are working), but each day is reserved for a particular area. In markets there are often vendors selling pottery or other crafts, as well as fast food outlets, the latter continually move from one region to another, so I would recommend ordering a local delicacy, as andwich (or whatever) typical of the region, in Caen order a Andouille sandwich a much sought-after ingredient that you want to try again. A market that impressed me was the Place Courtonne, which is open daily and specializes in vegetables and fruits, it is surprising to see such a variety of potatoes or apples. A visit is recommended either to enjoy the local cuisine or to learn more about customs and habits of the inhabitants of Caen. To learn more you can visit the website of the city of Caen which has information on times and locations.
The 16th century astronomical clock is one of Europe's oldest clocks that is still operational. The interior can be visited and also the curious history of the watch and its guardians. The place offers great views of the city (which is lovely, by the way). And you can also enjoy the best cheeses in the world.
The Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Rouen is located in a former convent built around 1640. It was created in 1828 by Felix-Archimede Pouchet. Within the museum you can follow the history of science, which has collections composed of 800,000 objects. This museum is the most diverse in France after that of París. It's main objectives are scientific and educational.
The church of Saint Peter has been a place of prayer in the city since the 11th Century, which is also the date that the castle was built, situated on a hill overlooking the city. Today, the oldest remains of the church date back to the 13th Century. Expansion work took place during the 16th Century, but the place has managed to retain a certain architectural harmony. The 14th Century façade features a giant pink stained glass window, and the bell tower, which was destroyed during bombing in the Second World War, was rebuilt in the same style that it previously had. The rest features a flamboyant style. Inside, the nave and arcades, which were also destroyed, were renovated during the 1950s. The center features Gothic arches, and it was completed in the mid-16th Century in a Renaissance style. The whole building was built in Caen stone, a gray stone that is found on most of the walls of the old houses in the center, and has a reputation for being very durable, and at the same time, easy to shape, to make statues and church decorations.
Bayeux Cathedral is one of the most impressive expressions of Gothic and French Romanesque architecture. It is situated in the center of the village, and you have to walk quite a bit to get there, because there is no public parking next to it. I recommend that you take a guided tour. It is definitely worth it if you truly want to learn about and enjoy all its treasures, such as the room where the famous Bayeux Tapestry was made, its splendid windows, or imposing facade. Everything makes it worth it.