Monday, October 14, 2013

September 5 Thursday in Normandy, France

Sept 5, 2013
Today was one long-assed day. We were picked up at our hotel on an 8 person tour bus. It was great getting out of the city and seeing the French countryside going towards Normandy, which became miles of farm land, some large modern cities, and many tiny villages. We whipped by lots of ancient stone houses I'd love to have got out and taken photos of. On the narrow streets where our small van barely got through, there were houses with doors and shuttered windows on those streets right next to us. I could just hear the residents inside shaking their fists at the damn cars racing through. We saw some cute little castles and stone churches, and manors hidden among the trees, or behind stone walls and gates. If I could just fit one in my suitcase.....
This was one place hubby really wanted to visit with his interest in WWII history. It was much cooler on the coast, and when we arrived at our stop near Omaha Beach, the fog was hanging in, and with the breeze, it was so much nicer than yesterday's heat.

These big pot holes were created by bombs. 

 Hubby was like a little boy climbing among the stone bunkers and going down into them. I might add MOST of the men there were doing the same. I did listen to the history our guide was telling us, and he was a very good story teller. Just don't ask me to take a test. I did learn some names of the coast that were given when the military attacked, like Utah, Omaha, Sword, Gold, etc. 


We stopped at the war memorial and cemetery and walked among the thousands of fallen soldiers, which brought tears to my eyes. The memorial is huge, covering hundreds of acres of land along the coast overlooking the beach.
















We drove by lots of military things displayed alongside the road, like tanks. I think the guys were getting whiplash when they saw those.
Our stop for lunch I think was the best part for me. Ferme de la Ranconniere in Crepon. It was at an old farmhouse where we went thru a stone entry into a courtyard that the farmhouse is built around. 


It had been turned into a restaurant and an inn. Lots of grey stone and flower boxes around the windows made it so quaint. 
And we had our first real French meal in the restaurant there.

Our starter was a hot local cheese and apple tart (that was delicious), fresh baked baguette and salad greens, a small cassis of raspberry Kir, followed by a chicken breast in a mushroom sauce, a cassoulet of beans & tomato base, and mini cheese & mushroom quiche, along with a bottle of French red and white wine (I took pictures of everything include the name on the wine bottle. I liked the Sauvignon Blanc, but not the Merlot.) I contacted the restaurant when I got home to see what I could find out about the cheese & apple tart, what it was called, what kind of cheese, and would they share the recipe. They could not because the chef does not share them & has been their specialty for 10 years, but said the cheese was Le Pave' d'lsigny. http://www.fromagerie-leterroir.com/la-boutique-en-ligne/fromages-normands/pav%C3%A9-d-isigny/   It doesn't help me find a possible recipe or what it was called, so I can only dream of how good it tasted now. 


Desserts were small pieces of a white & dark chocolate mousse, raspberry sorbet, and lemon cheesecake. I only had room to take a few bites of each, which made me sad.
Afterwards we stopped in a little coastal town of Gold Beach which was very touristy, but along the cove in the water were remnants of the war of barges left out there to create a protected harbor. It was eerie seeing them all lined up miles out in the water. You can see them just along the water line in the back of the photo here. 

This was one of the French Normandy houses with a thatched roof. 
The drive back was again nice but we were all falling asleep. I asked our guide if he knew of any brocantes (flea markets) or antique/fleas, and he said his father was a manager of one just near the outskirts of Paris, and easily accessible by Metro. Since Sat's tour doesn't start till 2:45, I've managed to convince hubby to go with me there. :D

We got back at 7:30 and minutes later we tucked ourselves in and fell asleep. I just woke up at 10pm, ate one of my croissants, and wrote this. At least our tour tomorrow doesn't start till 8:30am. I think its Versailles & the Trianons. This is a 9 hr tour, not as long. Maybe we'll be able to stay up and have dinner for once?

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