Ah, the joys of a lie in. Yesterdays trip to Paris had been stunning. And tiring! We were all flat-out. Even the little man. It suited us as today was set aside for a rest day.
As each person got up though, the excitement of exploring had kicked in. So we decided to have a full day, but start it much later. That would mean we could pick a spot to watch the sun go down. But now for brunch.
There was a BBQ at the holiday home. It would be rude not to use it. So we gathered up the remnants of the coals left by the last residents, as much paper and cardboard as we could to get it lit and raided the fridge for meat products. Marcus was less impressed though – he had spent most of the morning wearing the beer helmet.
Our friend is king of the BBQ. Within a few minutes we realised that the coals were damp and would not light properly. But no panic, he managed to cook for the 8 of us on those damp coals and torn up pieces of cardboard beer boxes. That’s some skill. And it was very tasty!
After we had eaten our fill we fleshed out our plans – we were going to drive to Honfleur, a picturesque harbour / village and then stop off at Etretat on the coast on the return trip to see the sunset. One of my Top 3 activities.
On our way to Honfleur we passed over the Pont de Normandie – an impressive cable bridge. It’s over 2,000 meters long and not that long ago was the longest bridge of its type. I think the most impressive thing about it though is the incline that you drive to get over it. It was quite unnerving really, to be driving up what I would best describe as a hill over the river. I had to keep my wits about me though as the turning off to Honfleur is literally at the end of the bridge.
As we drove into the village we spotted a load of Storks flying above us. Not something you see every day. Not unless you are pregnant anyway 😉
Now, every where we had driven in the area had up to this point been quiet (with the exception of Sundays random market). Here, as we got closer to the car park, there were tons of people. Bus loads. Fortunately, since we had rocked up later in the day, they were all leaving. But in any event this meant that the place would be good. I mean, you don’t arrange for a bus load of tourist to go to boring places do you?
We parked up and almost instantly you could tell the area had a special charm to it. We headed for the centre where a large carousel beckoned the kids. As we reached it, the harbour opened up into a beautiful square lined with tall thin buildings, restaurants, shops, cobbled streets and little sailing boats. Perfect.
This place needed some serious wandering. So we set off to do it in some sort of logical order. Off to the sides streets at one end and then zig zag all the way round. Hopefully, we could eat somewhere at the end. The shops were interesting but not amazing. However, Charlotte and Chloe did manage to stuff their faces with a Kinder Chocolate Crepe. I wanted one, but I was still so full from my BBQ beer box burger.
It was great to wander. In a funny way it was like a continuation of the cobbled streets from Paris last night. But in a very different setting and style. The feel was the same. The streets were quite quiet now so we could browse freely and peacefully. Most of us bought something. I picked up a piece of art work for our ‘Holiday Hallway’ back at proper home. The kids bought 3D paper animals that you had to make up and could hang on the wall.
We took our time and stopped everywhere we wanted. I like those sort to trips. And each corner you turned you got another great look at the harbour. There was something familiar about the village – turns out that most of the Impressionist painters have had a go at painting here. So in a bizarre way, you’ve probably already seen it on a famous painting. Monet alone did 13 paintings here.
After we had our fill of shops, we browsed the restaurants for something to eat. But we were all feeling full from brunch (and maybe the odd ice cream, croissant, crepe and chocolate as we walked the village!) We decided that we would move on to Etretat, eat there and then catch the sunset.
Honfleur had been a great success and a beautiful little place to explore.
The road took us back over the bridge and then hugged the coast line on our way to Etretat. Although we did have a mental moment on the motor way where I think my sat nav was too clever for itself and kept taking me off and on the same section of road cause the slip-roads were obviously a few feet shorter than the road itself. Not the end of the world, but tricky when you are in convoy and it’s rush hour.
Still, we got to Etretat no problem and parked up. The sky was looking promising. But the restaurants weren’t. Everywhere was either shut or expensive. We struggled to find anywhere that looked good. In the end we stumbled across a mini supermarket and agreed to get picnic stuff, champagne and nibbles and head up to the view-point and eat there. As it happened, that was a stroke of genius. We all picked what we wanted, it was cheap and when we got to the viewpoint, was a better location than anywhere in the town.
I’d read about a little church on top of the hill. It had its own little car park and seat where you could look out over the sea, along the coast line and towards the setting sun. We took our food shopping with us, settled in and ate to our hearts content. The only downside was the temperature. It had been so hot earlier in the day and now we were exposed to the elements we were all feeling the chill. Still, we shared all the extra clothes that we had and toughed it out.
As the sun set, it wasn’t the most spectacular sky we had ever seen but I think it was what Wendy calls ‘a moment’. It was peaceful, beautiful and restful. You can travel for miles, spend tons of money and miss out on the simple things in life. We had hit it bang on. I think the bottle of Champagne helped the mood too!
We chatted a bit and were silent as well as we photo’d the sun and sky every few minutes. The girls ran up and down the cliff side. We nibbled and drank. Other people came and went.
This was also the mid-point in the holiday and I always get that really happy feeling that holidays are all about. I don’t worry about being half way through, it’s probably the high point of my trip.
The sun had all but gone now so we headed back to the holiday home. All happy with our day and ready for our bed. I was able to tick of one of my top 3 activities. And it was a good one. Ah, holidays……