So, last weekend we finally went to Normandie! It almost didn’t happen as I had some kind of stomach flu last week, and I could only eat oat meal (havregrynsgröt or gachas in Spanish – I’m slowly expanding my Spanish vocabulary!) for a few days. When I finally felt better, O was feeling weak and dizzy. I was worried that we would have to cancel the trip, which we had planned for so long. Anyway, we woke up on Saturday morning feeling both great so I shouldn’t have worried!
It took around 3,5 hours to drive to our destination, which is somewhere close to the town called Eu (us Brussels-people are so focused on the EU that we got completely confused and wondered why it said Eu on every road sign, not even thinking that of course in French it would be UE…), the seaside town of Le Treport and a village called Criel-sur-mer! Our hostess, our friend’s mother, lives in a huge house on a cliff overlooking the sea. O thought that the house looked like a haunted one, it has lots of balconies and windows in all directions. It was beautifully furnished with lots of antique furniture and decorated with old interesting looking objects – it was like staying in a museum, but without the furniture being too fragile. We loved it!!
We had a really nice lunch when we arrived, very simple and yummy – salad, cold cuts, cheese and wine (very French I would say!). Afterwards we went for a walk on the beach, the tide was quite low and our Greek friend Y was trying to fly his kite with the help of O – apparently a man’s job (they didn’t do a very good job though, or maybe there just wasn’t enough wind!). Us girls picked beautiful pebbles – we found lots, our pockets became very quickly full and heavy! I love picking beautiful stones when I’m on a beach, and I have a nice collection now.
I had imagined that our weekend was going to be about relaxing and just spending time together, and it was PERFECT! Y started teaching O to play the piano, while the rest of us drank lots and lots of tea (I had brought some great marzipan-tea that we got from a German friend, it’s so tasty!), read Paris Match (a classy (??) French gossip magazine if that is not a contradiction in terms; classy and gossip.. anyway, I don’t know half of the people mentioned in the articles!) and enjoyed the fire place.
Our dinner had been prepared by a real chef and consisted of a blanquette de veau, a traditional French veal stew. We had an interesting discussion about what kinds of meat we would eat – O thinks that I am extremely picky because I don’t like intestines, testicles and brain etc (well, I’m sure that you get the picture) and claims that I would eat it if I didn’t know what it was… I had veal kidneys a few years ago and did not know what it was, and did not like it one bit!
The next morning we slept late, when we finally crept downstairs to prepare breakfast we found a whole bag full of newly baked croissants and pains au chocolat (in Belgium they are called couques au chocolat!) on the table, our early-riser hosts had of course been up for hours!
Sunday was the day of the riding lessons, so we drove off to the stables, in the rain. I was not too excited about the idea of riding, but I had promised O to do it with him… but I know myself, I hate not knowing how to do something (in order words, I hate being a beginner!) and I was hesitating more and more, while the horses were being prepared and everybody started chosing their helmets… My friends were trying to convince me that it would be ok and the riding instructor would lead us around le manège… but actually it turned out that we were riding on our own, the four of us, while the instructor stood in the middle and gave us instructions! Arrggh, at first I felt ok but after 5 minutes I panicked and I just wanted to get off the horse! It was not that I didn’t trust the horse but I didn’t trust my own balance and it felt like I could fall off at any moment. The instructor’s wife took care of me though by leading the horse around so that I could relax a little. Afterwards, I can admit that I’m happy that I did stay on the horse, but I didn’t really enjoy it at the time… Of course O was a natural born rider, which made me even more annoyed! I managed to twist my ankle (la cheville) on the uneven stable floor five minutes after getting off the horse, which convinced me that riding is dangerous 😉
The landscape along the coast in Normandie is very special, with white limestone cliffs that fall into the sea (there is a huge continued erosion) and along with the big difference in the tide, the coast changes look every few hours. On Monday we took a walk on top of la falaise (i.e the cliff), there was a narrow path along the cliff – not too close because of the dangerous erosion. We walked the 5 km to Le Treport, where we had a nice seaside lunch – the moules frites (mussels and fries) were definitely smaller than in Belgium! It started raining just when we arrived but it didn’t stop us from walking back, and as the tide was low, our energetic hostess suggested to walk on the beach, which meant walking under the cliff. It was quite scary, because it was not too easy to stay away from the cliff since the beach was full of big rocks, smaller pebbles and puddles of water. It was an amazing experience though, it was almost a moon-like landscape with the sea looming at the horizon. We knew that the tide wouldn’t come in until around 20.00 but it was still a bit disconcerting to know that in a few hours the beach would be covered in water.
All in all it was a wonderful, relaxing and cosy weekend! It didn’t matter at all that the weather was rainy and windy, it was part of the Normandie experience as a friend said!