We discover a UNESCO-listed fort, one of France’s prettiest villages, and ‘Little Ireland’ in Normandy.
We had a quiet night at the Domaine Ostreicole LeJeune oyster farm, and it was one of our favourite France Passion overnight stops. Apparently, oysters don’t make a lot of noise! We were up early to let our ‘neighbour’ out because he was blocked in by some late arrivals. We took advantage of the early start and got going by 9:30 am ourselves, heading north along the coast.
We chose to continue along the coast because of a large fort-like structure across the water we had seen during our walk yesterday. Our route took us to St. Vaast-la-Hougue where we made a short stop to visit Fort de la Hougue which was one of two forts built (following the architectural planning of Vauban) to provide crossfire in the bay outside the town. The construction of the fortification was in response to the French fleet’s defeat to the English in the Battle of the Hougue in June 1692. It is an impressive fort which reminded me of the Fortress of Louisbourg back home in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Even the landscape was reminiscent of the area around Louisbourg with the marshes and rocks.
After a short walk around the outside of Fort de la Hougue, we continued north in Amelia and found ourselves in the town of Barfleur, one of France’s Plus Beaux Villages. Alison wanted to take some photos, so we parked in the main square alongside some other camping cars. Unlike many other seaside parking lots, there weren’t any signs telling camping cars to move along. I have come to expect this from our drive along the coast road. Obviously, previous motorhome users have abused the privilege too much and forced towns to take particularly drastic measures to keep camping cars away from the main beaches and sites. It is frustrating for us but having seen how many camping cars are on the road, even in the offseason, I understand the need.
Barfleur is a small fishing port, and around the harbour, there were a number of people set up to sell fish, crabs, and other shellfish. It was so great to see a fishing port with fresh seafood! We walked around the harbour to get a good photo, and on the way back, we caved in and bought a live spider crab (total cost: €2.30). It was just too hard to pass up. We could only fit one in our pot, so we didn’t go overboard, but the price was right, and we were excited to try it out. The lady told us to boil some water and then cook it for a good 10 minutes. Very much like lobster.
We toured around the rest of the harbour and the little church, then packed ‘Spike’ in the fridge and set off west, to the other side of the Cotentin peninsula.
To get to the other side of the Cotentin peninsula, we had to pass the port city of Cherbourg. Although I’d love to visit Cherbourg, it wasn’t in the plans for this part of the trip. We aimed Amelia around the city, passing a number of large WWII concrete bunkers along the way. One of the bunker systems was huge, and I could see at least ten large gun emplacements. The Germans definitely wanted to protect Cherbourg!
Arriving on the other side of the Cotentin, we found an “obligatory parking” for camping cars overlooking a stunning view of a lighthouse perched on a rock out beyond the edge of the land. It reminded us of the famous photo of a lighthouse with the keeper just as a wave was rolling around the corner (turns out that lighthouse is in Brittany). This lighthouse is the Phare du Cap de la Hague, and it made for an excellent view through our front windscreen.
Squared away in our obligatory parking, we pulled Spike out of the fridge, boiled some water, and got him cooking. Ten minutes later we sat down with a hammer, pliers, and some chopsticks and proceeded to devour Spike from head to toe. He was delicious! It was the first crab we’ve ever cooked and eaten whole, and we did a great job if I do say so myself. A tasty treat for only €2.30! And with a fabulous view. This is what I hope the rest of the year is like.
We cleaned up ourselves and Amelia after our crab-tastic meal, then set out for our next France Passion stay at a Foie Gras farm. But first, we had some green roads to find! This part of the Cotentin peninsula is known as Little Ireland, and we were excited to find out why.
Coming out of our parking spot, we quickly found the first side road that would take us out to the coast. The first section of this side road took us down a ridiculously steep incline along a cliff towards a beach. There was a beautiful view, and it was a fun drive, although Alison was holding on for dear life a few times. I guess we might have been a bit closer to the edge than I thought! We then headed out to Nez de Jobourg and took a look at the cliffs from there. It was a beautiful view.
Heading back to the main roads, we were following another camping car when the inevitable happened. At a spot where the road narrows to one lane between buildings, we encountered a school bus. And of course, there were cars parked on the side of the road thereby reducing the road down to one lane as well. The motorhome ahead of me squeezed into a small turn off, but I had nowhere to go. There were cars lined up behind me, but we needed to back up. I started backing up and squeezed as far to the right as I could (of course there was a stone wall on that side, just like there would be in Ireland). I pulled in my mirror and the bus squeezed by on the left, scraping through some trees as he went. It was the tightest encounter we’d had yet. But all was good in the end. We got a small scrape on the roof as we also squeezed beneath some trees to get around the traffic behind the bus, but all-in-all, not a bad result.
A few more narrow roads and we emerged onto a larger road which took us to our France Passion stay, La Fraserie, Foie Gras Farm in St-Martin-le-Hebert. This family-run farm has a few thousand ducks, geese, and other animals. We first stopped at the store which is a more modern building. We bought some foie gras, rillets with foie gras, and some more biscuit-type things (from the same biscuiterie as yesterday, Biscuiterie de Quinnville). Rations secured, we drove past the shop to the main house where the owners had built four somewhat level gravel pads for motorhomes. The gravel is still loose as it seems to have been added recently, but we weren’t too far off level.
Once we were parked, we did a bit of work in the last hours of the day, listening to the farm. In front of us were some chickens (and rooster) which weren’t too noisy. We expect to be rousted by the rooster in the morning, though. After our adventurous day, we had a quiet night: fried leftover risotto for dinner, a couple of drinks, and a Friday night watching the Top 10 perform on The Voice. Ahh the life, eh?
A final note that during the drive today we heard the engine start to cough again. It seems to happen at about 2000RPM when in 5th (going to 6th) gear. On an unrelated note, the heating seems to be working. I woke up in the middle of the night overheating.
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