On our 11th day on the road, we visited the picturesque ruins of Jumièges Abbey, discovered WWII hasn’t ended in Normandy and saw lots of cows. We also invented potcorn.
The Ferme Vautier was a quiet spot. We could hear big ships passing during the night but it wasn’t overly loud, just a low rumble you feel rather than hear. We were up early to visit Jumièges Abbey as soon as it opened. (For us, getting up at 8 am and actually driving out of the site by just after 9 am is a new record!)
We got a bit lost heading to the abbey. This might seem odd if you just read yesterday’s adventure. From our overnight parking spot, we could see the Abbey’s towers across the river from us, maybe 2 kilometres away. The problem was the ferry. From the signs, the ferry could support Amelia’s weight, length and width. However, the ramp’s angle onto the ferry was far too steep for Amelia. She would have scraped hard getting on and off the deck of the ferry. So much for being ‘close’.
We ended up backtracking to a bridge we crossed the previous day, the Pont de Brotonne. The Pont de Brotonne is a stonking big bridge over the river Seine (apologies for my slang but ‘stonking’ seemed appropriate). When we crossed it yesterday I wondered why it was so big and vaulted so high above the river. After seeing some of those ships sail past yesterday, I now understand! We crossed back over and got a bit mixed up on what road to take. We ended up taking a short detour and wound our way back under the bridge before we got our bearings and made our way to the abbey.
We drove past Jumièges Abbey, parked Amelia next to a couple other motorhomes, in the dirt parking lot, and walked in. Founded in 654 Jumièges Abbey gained notoriety when William the Conqueror visited in 1067. It also underwent a period of power in the 17th century. However, after the French Revolution, the abbey was sold and converted into a stone quarry. It was bought by the state in 1946 and is being maintained as a ruin. You can read more about our visit to Jumièges Abbey on CheeseWeb.
The Abbey is a picturesque spot to wander. The soaring pillars and lofty towers still evoke a sense of the power held by this abbey. There are no roofs so you hope to visit on a sunny day. The grounds are quite open as well so you can get away from any crowds. The abbey is beautiful but not quite as spectacular as the ruins of Villers Abbey in Belgium. Villers Abbey just feels more unexplored. Plus there’s Belgian beer at the pub just outside the abbey. I might be a bit biased, though.
Inside the restored Abbot’s house at Jumièges Abbey was a photography exhibition of Beirut from 1991. Quite shocking to see the city still in ruins at that point. I think 1991 marked 15 years after the US barracks were blown up, but I could be wrong. It was amazing to see how life carried on amid the ruins, just like they did in places like Ypres in WWI. This sense of survival and continuing no matter the situation will likely be a theme for the next few days as we explore WWII and the D-Day beaches.
After the abbey, we headed out of Jumièges towards our next overnight stay at Ferme de la Croix Blanche in Vimoutiers, another France Passion site. On our way out of Jumièges, we stumbled upon a scene right out of 1944. For the whole weekend, hundreds of people had come together with period gear – vehicles, tents, uniforms, stoves, signs, and more – to reenact an encampment from WWII. The site featured a German, American, and Canadian camp. Sadly I didn’t have the cash on hand to pay the entrance fee or the time to visit but it looked like my cup of tea!
After the encampment, the drive to Vimoutiers was not particularly remarkable: one slight deviation, a couple of towns having yard sales, and cows. A lot of cows. As Alison said on the drive, “Normandy sure has a lot of apple trees and cows.” I guess that’s why they have lots of cider and cheese! We found our farm ok and parked up. Nobody was home when we arrived, but we’ll try again later. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, perfect for shorts! We opened all the windows (which have screens) and enjoyed the breeze. It is a lovely feeling to be able to work from a place like this.
Time to dump all our photos and try to organize my photos and videos a bit. And back them up. I must remember to keep things backed up since we can’t connect to the internet very frequently. I have devised several layers of backups which at this point confuse even me. I guess I need to simplify things.
That evening we relaxed and made our first batch of ‘potcorn’. No, it has nothing to do with marijuana. We both enjoy popcorn of an evening but there is no way we were going to bring a popcorn maker in the motorhome. So we fired up the gas stove and made popcorn in a pot using a few tablespoons of coconut oil. It wasn’t bad and I didn’t burn it. However, I might try cooking it in butter next time rather than the coconut oil.
That’s it for now. A bientôt from Vimoutiers!
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