A Weekend Escape to Normandy

Living on the south coast gives us the chance to pop across the channel quite easily and cheaply.

Last weekend we did just that, a return crossing from Newhaven to Dieppe with our car was just £89, and as we live only half an hour from Newhaven it seemed rude not to make the effort to check out the beauty of Normandy.

Friday dawned bright and crisp as we hope all October mornings will be and we set off for the 10.00 crossing. Bacon sarnies from the café at the terminal passed the time nicely as we waited to board.

Everything ran to plan and we sailed on time. I didn’t have very high hopes of the ship, I am a loyal customer of Brittany Ferries whose standards are high, especially with their catering. But I was pleasantly surprised – the ship had plenty of seating and was clean and tidy. There was a bar serving drinks and snacks, a shop and a cafeteria type restaurant with freshly cooked hot meals and salads. The crossing takes about 4 hours so we settled down in one of the quiet lounges in comfy reclining seats and enjoyed the chance to just sit, relax and plan our weekend.

After a lunch of salad and cold meats and the inevitable (in my case) gateaux, we had arrived and for the first, and probably only time in our lives, were almost the first car off the ship. As it was Friday afternoon we opted for the motorway route to Honfleur and we arrived into town at about 5.00 pm. It was heaving with tourists but looked exceptionally pretty. We trusted our sat nav, despite being taken along impossibly narrow streets, and eventually found our hotel A l’Ecole Buissonniere. http://www.a-lecole-buissonniere.com/

Pretty courtyard garden at L’Ecole Buissonniere

 

The hotel is a converted girls school dating back to 1878 and is ideally placed in the centre of town and just a few minutes’ walk from Honfleur’s picturesque waterfront. Our room was spacious and very comfortable, breakfast was a delight served in a small room around an open fire. Flaky croissants, tasty tarts and freshly squeezed orange juice set us up for a few hours. 

 

There was time for a walk around the town before dinner to get our bearings. The day trippers began to disperse and the town slowly settled back into sleepy normality. We enjoyed reading the menus of the many restaurants and final decided on a meal at La Gambetta. Everywhere offered ‘set menus’ at differing prices and La Gambetta was no exception. Smoky fish pate pâté to start, a succulent steak with indulgent dauphinoise potatoes and finally homemade crème brûlée. France on a plate!

Tempting display of confectionary

Saturday dawned mild and calm with a hint of autumn mistiness in the air. We took a leisurely stroll around town and enjoyed the Saturday market that had appeared along the narrow streets.  After buying far too much local chocolate, nougat and caramels we set off along the promenade to the harbour entrance, stopping to watch boats come and go through the lock gates, and finally came to a deserted sandy beach. Walking back, we meandered through public parks still full of summer colour.

 

Lunch had to be a Normandy speciality – crepes! Washed down with another speciality – Cider.

The weather was closing in and rather foolishly we opted for a boat trip into the harbour. We battled through wind and rain to admire the Pont de Normandie, an impressive cable-stayed bridge spanning the River Seine.  Once we were back on dry land a hot chocolate was called for, yet another calorie laden Normandy speciality.

Dinner that evening was fish at the popular Le Bistro du Port. Great platters of shell fish seemed to be the order of the day, but we settled for simpler fare and enjoyed fresh cod and mussels.

Sunday dawned sunny and bright and after another enjoyable breakfast we said our goodbyes and set off to meander back to Dieppe via the coastal towns of Fécamp and Saint-Valery-en-Caux. The drive was pretty in parts along the coast road, but also took us through miles of very flat farming countryside.

Both towns are very pretty and well worth calling in to explore if you have a few hours to spare. They were bustling with Sunday strollers, all admiring the boats in the harbour, or enjoying a sunny spot on the prom.

But all too soon it was time to check in at Dieppe for our return crossing. As we sailed across the channel we watched a perfect sunset, who needs a Caribbean cruise?

Sunset over the English Channel

Check out special offer fares and sailing times at https://www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment
  1. I sailed with DFDS last month to Calais (from Dover) and spent the weekend exploring Haut-de-France including St Valery sur Somme and Amiens. So rustic and French. The crossing is only 90 minutes from Dover so we’ll be doing that more often.

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