Saturday was forecast to be the last good day weather-wise, so we decided to make the most of it by doing next to nothing – for most of it anyway. Early evening we took a drive out passing the nearby Abbey down in the village at Jumiéges and winding our way around some lovely country lanes with the Seine occasionally coming in to view. More prosperous than a lot of France we’ve seen judging by the houses. We ended up at Duclair, a little town right on the banks of the Seine and opposite one of the ferry crossing points near to which a River Boat sat awaiting departure. We wanted to do one of the ferries but I was virtually out of cash. We zipped around, eventually finding a cash point, only to discover that the ferry was free. Thank you the French tax-payer.
A short drive along would bring us to another ferry that would take us back on to the right side for our short run back to the site.
Sunday brought with it the expect rain, but also a respite soon after 1pm so we fired up Rosie and headed into Rouen.
This is one of the few places in this trip that we’d actually been to before. Again on a cruise – although not the same one – this one travelling up the Seine to dock right beside the city centre. The cruise up and down the river was truly delightful but we didn’t get to see much of the city other than it’s hospital. You can read about the fun and games we had HERE.
Parking was easy – plenty of street parking and being Sunday it was free. The sun was out, but it was clear it wouldn’t last so we marched straight to the Notre-Dame Cathedral – one of the places on our list to see.
Impressive and massive, but something rather less imposing attracted our immediate attention – a little road train, offering all the main sites in Rouen in a 45 minute round trip. Perfect. It took in the Palais de Justice, the Gros Horloge (a very large clock), the old Abbey and weaved it’s way through some delightfully ancient streets to the Place Du Vieux Marche where dear old Joan of Arc met a rather hot and agonising end. It was well worth it and as soon as we arrived back we scurried off to see as much as possible before the weather turned. The cathedral was first and was mighty impressive. Sadly I couldn’t get far enough away from the facade for a decent photo but you’ll get an idea.
The gold leaf plated Gros Horloge was next on the way back to the Vieux Marche. Normally you can get inside an up to see the clock’s workings and some views over the city – yes, even on Sunday. But not today for some reason not offered by the hand written note on the door.
Dominating the Viuex Marche is a rather odd structure – some say it’s meant to represent an upturned boat. It rather impractically acts as a covered food market during the week – except Mondays - but a rather modern church nestles in it’s front.
Surrounding the Pláce are many of Rouen’s iconic wooden framed buildings now mostly given over to restaurant's and cafés.
It couldn’t last though and soon the heavens opened and we ducked into the nearest eatery for some sustenance before heading back to car.
The rain looked set for the rest of the afternoon, but, predictably the skies cleared on the way back so we decided to dart in to village of St Martin-de-Boscherville. We called here on our Saturday evening runabout but was glad to come back when the sun was out to get some photos. As you can see it’s very pretty.
The Abbaye looks equally impressive from a distance back on the road as it does closer up.
Monday morning was predicted to be reasonably dry so first port of call was the Abbaye de Jumiéges down in the village. Easily walkable – but we didn’t – the threat of rain giving a convenient excuse for our laziness.
Founded in 654 originally although development was disrupted by those pesky Vikings, most of what remains is from the 11th-13th centuries.
The Abbots lodge sits up the hill and gives a commanding view back towards the Abbey. There was some weird wooden stick sculpture in the grounds between, by whom, what and why I have no idea.
We went for another drive around, dodging the showers and finding ourselves back on the ferry across to Duclair. Another River Boat was tied up there.
Our last couple of days in France were a bit of a jumble. There was the inevitable packing up to do – and to divide up what would be staying in the ‘van once it went back in to storage. But we also wanted to get out and about when the weather allowed. Which wasn’t often.
For our last run out we headed north and back just past the Brotonnne bridge stopping at a pleasant little town called Caudebec-en-Caux for some lens clicking.
The church provided some opportunities for that – heavy on the gothic with 333 carved figures keeping watch outside, it is – according to the information board – one of the most beautiful churches in Normandy. Quite a statement but I’m not going to argue.
It had to come I guess – after seven and a half weeks it was time to head home. The journey to Dieppe was easy and despite getting there in good time there was still a sizable queue to check in. Security had a nose around inside the ‘van to ensure there were no extra ‘passengers’ and he even commented how nice it was.
With formalities completed it was time to board and Patsy took her rightful place right at the front of the boat.
Our departure from Dieppe was a little soggy as you can see, and a rather drizzly end to a great trip. A glimpse of a traveller encampment by the docks showed that some things don’t change wherever you are.
The crossing was a little lively at times be we still arrived in Newhaven on time, and we were first off once the doors opened.
So, our first trip abroad with Patsy is over. It was a great experience, though I admit it took a little while to get in the swing of it. Having not been abroad for three years it reminded us why we like travelling so much, seeing different countries and cultures – and France & the French are certainly different to the UK and us. Frustrating at times early on – mainly because of the language barrier, but it became a challenge to be embraced rather than shirked. I’ll definitely go better prepared next time.
It’s an easy country to get around because outside the major cities the roads are empty. As a tourist the one, two or sometimes three hour lunch breaks can be frustrating but you learn to go with the flow. The pace of life – certainly in the largely rural parts we visited – was much more relaxed and you can see why people retire here. Property being dirt cheap helps as well!
The food we’ve bought – mostly in shops but when we’ve occasionally eaten out, has been superb. Supermarkets are dominated with fresh French produce – the ready meals section is tiny. The wine. Ah yes. You certainly appear to get more for your money – we never spent more than five Euros on a bottle and were rarely disappointed.
A few facts and figures: Whilst in France we covered 2,756 miles, averaging 36.2 m.p.g. although Patsy – weighing in at about a tonne and a half – was only on the back for about 950 miles, when we averaged 28 m.p.g.
We were away for 54 nights – one of them on the ferry over – the 53 nights on the six sites averaged £18/night inclusive of water and electric. Wi-Fi was free on all sites except the last one where it was €15/week.
Right, that’s nearly it, but before you go quite a few videos:
And slide shows:
You’ve got a break now – until the end of October when we heading to the Midlands for the second Twittercamp of the year. So, until then – Get them legs down!