1976: August 27, Le Brevedent

After our quiet day yesterday, everyone felt much better and as it was cloudy and drizzling slightly, decided it would be a good day to go north and visit Etretat. Set off for Caudebec via Cormeilles and Audemer through pleasant agricultural country which was dotted with picturesque cottages and occasional splendid manors.

Reached the ferry at about 11.30 and were staggered by the force of the tidal flow upstream which was turning the ferry broadside on in its passage across the Seine. Some enormous ships moving on the river – you can see why the new bridge, which is being built a little way upstream is being built so high up in the air. We got on the ferry quite easily and then wandered round Caudebec and did our shopping. Some very nice shops – bought cooked turkey and lapin pâté, some rosé wine and mirabelles, and ate them on a seat over-looking the river near a spot where some people had been killed by the mascaret – the bore which comes in March and September is tremendous by the look of the photographs. A large passenger ship, the Argonaut, went downstream as we ate, and the ferry went to and fro, it was very interesting.

Drove on to Fécamp along very straight roads lined with poplars. Fécamp itself has a very shingly beach and chalk cliffs, the town is hemmed in by cliffs on both sides and obviously has a lot of windy weather, there were ominous glass screens around the cafés. Strong north wind was making large waves in the oncoming tide, so it was the weather for a brisk walk father than lounging around…

Continued to Yport which is a very small place in a cleft in the coast. Again powerful winds and tides and stony beach, some people were fishing off the pier but having no luck while we were there anyway.

Next stop was Etretat where we stopped for a while. Here the cliffs had become a more creamy colour and looked lovely, plunging into a deep turquoise sea. Beach was stony again, with lots of boats and some sweet little buildings in the form of boats with thatched roofs. Dragged a protesting Gareth up the cliffs on the eastern side and though the climb in the hot sun was pretty gruelling, the view from the top was superb. Coastline full of fascinating features – arches, caves and stacks, and sheer cliffs 200′-300′ high. A little chapel had been built on the cliff top, very small and simple, with beautiful stained glass done in Paris in 1965, in soft mauves, gold and white, with fairly heavy metal, giving it a chunky effect. On either side of the sanctuary steps were 2 projecting bits like the bows of a boat, it was all very pleasing. Outside was a strange slanting pointed object which turned out to be part of a war memorial.

Walked around the town, which had a lovely old wooden market hall and some nice shops, and bought some expensive but delicious lamb chops, as they apparently had no pork. Then walked up the cliffs on the western side in a blinding sandstorm, again the view was superb but the wine and sand were so unpleasant, we didn’t stay up there for long.

Set off for the ferry at Lillebonne, and drove through pleasant countryside again, with wooded dry valleys. Just outside Lillebonne was a large Champion store – it turned out to be a hypermarket so we were very glad we’d stopped there. A parade of shops, a furniture store, 2 restaurants, a large do-it-yourself shop and the food store – it was very interesting. Had a wander round the food, and bought various items, including some seafood pancakes, fruit, nice little rulers, wine vinegar and other things. Saw, for the first time, packs of food for the freezer (e.g. one of ham at 480 francs) and also saw for the first time some turkey legs with herbs in special packs for barbecuing. Eventually tore ourselves away and made for the ferry. This was twice the price of the other one (6.5 francs) and setting was less pleasant (oil refineries everywhere) but we got to Quilleboeuf safely and drove home quite fast.

Had a very nice tea – seafood pancakes first to assuage hunger pangs, the the lamb chops (absolutely delicious!) with potatoes, haricots verts and leeks, followed by melon and coffee. As it was the first good hot meal we’d had for a while, it went down exceedingly well including the gravy, which was red wine, pan juices and jelly from the lunch time cooked meat.

Did some washing so that it would not have to be done tomorrow, had a drink and retired to bed exhausted but feeling we’d had a very good day.


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