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Trip Report: 3 Weeks in Northern France - Days 9 & 10

Day 9 – Honfleur & Etretat to Rouen: We had our GPS programmed for the fastest routes and it liked us to take shortcuts on very small roads rather than on the larger, seemingly more logical ones. At first it caused some consternation, but we became accustomed to it and really enjoyed the tiny villages and agricultural scenery we traveled through. I had hoped to see fields of sunflowers, and we did, they were just wilted and drooping, but hydrangeas were rampant and gorgeous in a wide variety of colors. The little towns were charming and we got a glimpse of what life in rural Brittany and Normandy looked like.

We left Manvieux and drove to Honfleur where we enjoyed the picturesque Vieux Bassin, complete with wonderful reflections, and the very old, wooden Ste. Catherine Church. We did a little browsing for sweets and purchased pots of caramel and cookies, as well as sampling macarons. Lunch was a sandwich and pastries. Parking here cost the most of anywhere we visited.

We crossed the Pont de Normandie on our way to Etretat, adding to my list of record breaking bridges. In Etretat we walked on the beach, which was made entirely of smooth stones about an inch in diameter. They made a very cool rattling sound as the waves washed in and out. We took pictures of the white chalk cliffs and arches from the shore and walked up the hill to view them from above as well. We bought some cute sailor clothing for the grandkids, stocked up on coke and ice and made the drive to Rouen.

We checked into our hotel after a bit of a snafu while locating the parking. Thank you GPS. We picked up a panini and some cookies for dinner and ate them on a bench at the cathedral while waiting for the sound and light show to begin. There were two shows, titled The Vikings and Impressionism, which were spectacular. I was really happy that we saw it before it ended for the season three days later.

Our tiny hotel room at Le Vieux Carre was on the third floor of a historic half-timber building in a good location for walking.

Day 10 – Rouen & Giverny to Reims: We followed part of the RS town walk and saw the very ornate Palace of Justice, the clock tower, covered market, the site where Joan of Arc was martyred, and the chocolate shop that sells her “tears”. We visited the cathedral, which was my favorite of the Very Many that we saw. We eventually suffered from cathedral overload syndrome. Then we took a quick look at the Plague Cemetery and half-timbered buildings before check out time.

On our drive to Giverny we took in the view and photographed Chateau Gaillard and the river from the top of a hill. We stopped in the little town of Fleury sur Andelle for lunch at Delices Pizza where we had a tasty beef panini with frites.

After some indecision we decided to visit Monet’s House and Gardens at Giverny, and surprisingly, there was no line for tickets. We really aren’t fans of Impressionism but it was enjoyable and gave a frame of reference for his paintings in Paris. The gardens were less formal than I expected and there were some lovely dahlias in bloom. The afternoon light on the water lily pond was nice and so was the gelato. We filled the gas tank at an aire on the auto route and headed for Reims.

It was Friday afternoon and I knew we would get into traffic near Paris but it was for a much longer distance than I had anticipated. It added an hour and a half additional drive time. In hindsight we probably could have taken the longer route on smaller roads and not spent much more time. Live and learn.

Dinner in Reims was at Fresh Burritos. We shared a huge burrito with everything accompanied by Jarritos Mango soda and Dr. Pepper, a rare find in Europe. Reims was very lively, with students packed into numerous cafes in the town center. We walked around and took a few photos before calling it a night. We stayed in the recommended Hotel Cecyl, a nice, small hotel with underground parking right next door.

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Thanks for these. I'm making a similar trip backwards next June and it's fun to hear what you liked. sue

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Thanks for the detailed and interesting report. I'm always in interested in reading reports of traveling in northern France since that is the area in France which is most familiar to me (I've done most of my French traveling there) and also it's off the American tourist radar.