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France – Saturday: Honfleur and Our Arrival at Manoir de Laize

August 12, 2012

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We woke in Wimereux to another glorious day and despite our best intentions to set off reasonably early to explore the coastline between there and Honfleur – where we planned to have lunch – it was 11.30 before we set off. But then, it’s a holiday. We’re supposed to be relaxed and taking things slowly. We helped ourselves to breakfast from the buffet and sat talking in the pretty Hotel du Centre garden before heading off for another walk along the beach. Even I managed a paddle in the sea this time. The sea was miles out so the sand stretched far into the distance. Turning back from the water’s edge we enjoyed the wonderful view of Wimereux bathed in the warm glow of a sun slowly turning hot.

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We did a circular walk from the hotel so could look in the shops. It’s a bit of a girlie paradise as we wandered into bijou shops selling all kinds of beautiful ware for the home that we didn’t need but would love. However, Wimereux is also living town and people shop for normal living. So we bought some fruit – flat white peaches, deep orange-red fresh apricots, dark ripe figs.

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And then of course, how could we resist chocolates from Wimereux’s wonderful chocolatier? Well, could you?

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Finally we set off and joined the masses heading south – or, more accurately southwest. The motorways seemed pretty clear but there were miles long queues to come off or at interjections because of the tolls. The French were doing their best with all tills open but it added some time to our journey – as did finding ourselves heading in the wrong junction at one interchange and having to come off at next junction and head back again! We definitely weren’t going to make lunch in Honfleur. Filling up the car with petrol was another long stop. We considered food choices in the service station but the sandwiches looked dire so we started in on our fruit purchases. As we approached the Pont de Normandie which spans the mouth of the Seine, a sign warned of a 6km queue. But really there was no choice and I wanted to show Nicola this stunningly beautiful bridge so we stayed put. We at least got good views in the slow approach and actually we moved steadily forward, albeit at a snail’s pace, and it didn’t take too long.

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We drove into the centre of Honfleur. It was busy and crowded, full of tourists – like us!! But it’s such a pretty town, how could one be near and resist stopping. Again, Nicola hadn’t been there and I wanted her to see it too.

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We passed restaurants with mounds of fresh seafood in their windows or on their front.

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But as it was so late – 4pm – and we didn’t want to spend hours over a big meal, we opted to take pot luck at one of the many restaurants and cafes fronting the pretty harbour.

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Three courses for €13.90 seemed a bargain for a quick lunch so we sat down, ordered beers and food: salmon rillettes, moules mariniere.

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The food was OK but not worth writing about. It was a lovely spot to sit though and relax and fill our hungry bellies.

We now had about an hour or so’s drive to go. Fortunately, our destination, Manoir de Laize, near Falaise, birthplace of William the Conqueror, and deep in the heart of Normandy and Calvados, had sent wonderfully full and clear instructions to take us from the main N158 road through little villages and narrow country lanes. Finally, happily, we arrived. We received a warm welcome from Jean-Michel and were soon unpacking and settling into Le Pressoir, once a cider press and now a lovely holiday home.

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The views are spectacular, it’s wonderfully peaceful.

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We had a late supper in the garden. We weren’t very hungry after such a late lunch but I baked the figs we’d bought in Wimereux, stuffed them with slices of crottin – goat’s cheese – and then drizzled honey over them. I dressed gorgeous, slightly bitter frisée leaves with a simple dressing and cut up baby tomatoes and likewise dressed simply with some parsley too.

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We’d bought some local Pont L’Eveque cheese on our way and this with some fresh crunchy baguette made a perfect light meal. Oh, and with champagne of course. Well, we are in France!

5 Comments
  1. woke up sunday am . coffee and patchy cloud to read your super tale. Oh! how lovely….. xx

  2. Even though you dealt with holiday traffic, it sounds like a lovely day. I do love Honfleur…even when it is crowded with tourists.

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