A Travellerspoint blog

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Fougères and the castle in Brittany

Saturday, October 1, 2016


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Driving to Fougères - October 1, 2016

Driving to Fougères - October 1, 2016


Packed, cleaned and checked out of our wonderful thatched cottage this morning. M. And Mme. Cochet arrived right on time as cheerful as ever. They are such nice people. We have vowed to return to the area and their gite. We bade them farewell and set our GPS for Fougères. This took us through Herbignac and around Rennes arriving at Fougères in the rain after a brief two-hour drive.

*****

Market in front of Hotel Balzac in Fougères

Market in front of Hotel Balzac in Fougères

Saturday was market day so the hotel street was closed and full of market stands and busy shoppers. We drove to Place Carnet and parked to walk up to the hotel. We arrived to discover the hotel was closed until 14:30 so we walked back to check the parking lot. A kind lady gave Ed her parking disc so we were able to look for lunch. That is the second or third parking disc we've been given on this trip. The French are a most generous people.

Fougères Saturday Market on rue Nationale

Fougères Saturday Market on rue Nationale

*****

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We walked back up near the hotel and found Tante Suzette, a creperie that had real food too. We got the magret de canard and it was very well cooked and tender. It came with sauteed potatoes and a green salad so there was plenty to eat. For dessert, Ed got ice cream and I got a Chocolate Liégeois, both good. It’s not gourmet but good food in a very friendly atmosphere. [Tante Suzette, 2 Rue de la Pinterie, 35300 Fougères; tel: +33 (0)2 9999-8830; tante.suzette@hotmail.com; Tante Suzette Creperie on the Tourist Office web site]

*****

The Medieval Belfry

The Medieval Belfry


We walked back to the hotel and it was still closed even though the market was completely gone. Oops! I poked a few buttons on the door lock which lit up. Fairly soon, a lady bustled in and opened the door. She gave us our key and a map to their parking garage. Ed took off by himself to get the car from public parking and soon appeared in front of the hotel where he jumped out of the car, pulled the luggage out, hopped back in the car which had stopped all traffic on the narrow street. No one ever seems to get upset at this. Madame’s husband came out and helped me get the luggage into the hotel and on the elevator and I wrestled it into the room. Whew, glad we pack light! [Hotel Balzac, 15 rue National 35300 Fougères; tel: +33 (0)2 9999-4246 or +33 (0)2 9999-6543; balzachotel@wanadoo.fr; Hotel Balzac Hotel web site]

*****

Public Garden beside and below St. Léonard's Church

Public Garden beside and below St. Léonard's Church

Having stowed the car, Ed soon reappeared and we set off to find the château we had come to see. The hotel owner told us to walk up to Eglise St. Léonard and enter the park beside the church. There is a beautiful, though very steep, walk through a public garden down to the château. You pass plantings and fountains and are greeted with a wonderful view of the entire château. At the bottom we passed a very well-kept laverie on the stream. As we approached the château, I heard rushing water and looked through a doorway to see a waterfall so went through the door to find four water wheels in a row beside the waterfall, the castle waterworks. Wow!

Part-way down the path from church to château

Part-way down the path from church to château

Château de Fougères from the Public Garden

Château de Fougères from the Public Garden

Laverie at the exit of the Public Garden in Fougères

Laverie at the exit of the Public Garden in Fougères

Château de Fougères

Château de Fougères

4 working water wheels at Château de Fougères

4 working water wheels at Château de Fougères

*****

The Upper Town from inside the Château de Fougères

The Upper Town from inside the Château de Fougères

Continued on to the château entrance, got our tickets and entered to discover they were having some sort of heritage days and had activities with costumed docents. There was a dance group, a game center and an archery event where they were shooting at a man in armor (and lots of padding). It was great fun. We wandered all over the castle and watched a couple excellent animations about château history. We also discovered they have goats mowing their grass, inside the fortifications and outside them by the moat. Our town uses sheep and goats to mow public grass and we think it’s a great idea. We also saw goats doing the mowing in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris a couple years ago. Great idea.

Docent activity in the Château de Fougères

Docent activity in the Château de Fougères

Docents at the Château de Fougères

Docents at the Château de Fougères

The man who got shot by the archers -- well padded

The man who got shot by the archers -- well padded

Archers taking aim at the padded knight

Archers taking aim at the padded knight

Dancing activity enjoyed by all . . .

Dancing activity enjoyed by all . . .

Eglise Saint-Léonard on the opposite hill

Eglise Saint-Léonard on the opposite hill

Eglise Saint Sulpice beside the Château

Eglise Saint Sulpice beside the Château

Château de Fougères exhibit

Château de Fougères exhibit

Some of the goats mowing the grass at the Château de Fougères

Some of the goats mowing the grass at the Château de Fougères

Story-tellers at the Château de Fougères

Story-tellers at the Château de Fougères

Castle grounds from the tower

Castle grounds from the tower

*****

Food tent near the entrance of Château de Fougères

Food tent near the entrance of Château de Fougères


As we left, they were handing out medieval food and drink near the entrance so we joined them. We had a little cake and what tasted like Hypocras to drink. They had lemonade for all the kids. There was some sort of waffle we didn’t get and a good apple cream custard. Great fun! Château de Fougères web site

*****

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The lady at the hotel had told us there was a Mass at 6:30 so we walked back to St. Sulpice and entered. It is a very old church but the altar is quiite ornate baroque, obviously a renovation. The song leader and the organist were never on the same page, but we could follow most of the service.

Eglise Saint Sulpice in Fougères

Eglise Saint Sulpice in Fougères

*****

Hotel Balzac without the Market

Hotel Balzac without the Market


Took a walk around the upper town after we climbed back up the hill. Quite a hike! Ready to rest.

Eglise Saint-Léonard in Fougères

Eglise Saint-Léonard in Fougères

Posted by Beausoleil 10:25 Archived in France Tagged chateau fougeres Comments (0)

Driving to Honfleur, one of our favorite towns

Sunday, October 2, 2016


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Had breakfast at our hotel and then checked out. Ed went to retrieve the car and I waited in front of the hotel with the luggage. This worked well until it started to rain. Fortunately, there was a small awning and the rain was light. We loaded the car, set the GPS for our hotel in Honfleur and left Fougères. We were very impressed with their castle, their hospitality and the very picturesque town.

*****

Crossing from Brittany into Normandy

Crossing from Brittany into Normandy

Long, beautiful drive through Brittany into Normandy where we zipped past Avranches, Villedieu-les-Poêles and Caen to Honfleur. Our GPS took us through a parking lot but did get us to the hotel. We found the last parking place in a town overrun with tourists and paid the meter for an hour, walked to the hotel but were too early to check in although the kind lady at the desk gave us the parking remote and directions to hotel parking so we walked back, got our luggage, put it in the hotel storage room and then moved the car to hotel parking. This involved a rather long uphill drive through very narrow streets but was easy enough to find. The remote worked and we cheerfully parked the car and left it for the time we were in Honfleur.

Driving from Fougères to Honfleur on the A84

Driving from Fougères to Honfleur on the A84

Roundabout in Troarn

Roundabout in Troarn

Typical Norman house near Cresseveuille on the A13

Typical Norman house near Cresseveuille on the A13

Typical Norman house in Danestal

Typical Norman house in Danestal

The Pont de Normandie to Le Havre

The Pont de Normandie to Le Havre

Carnival set up on the Honfleur Harbor

Carnival set up on the Honfleur Harbor

Harbor scene in Honfleur

Harbor scene in Honfleur

*****

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Hiking back into town, we passed a restaurant with a good menu so we went in and got a nice table by the window where we could watch everyone walk past.

Despite the name Auberge du Vieux Clocher, the restaurant decor is based on cameras and they are displayed everywhere as are some wonderful photographs. Ed ordered the salmon and I got the quail and both were excellent. I started with a hot goat cheese salad but Ed skipped the starter although he did taste the amuse bouche of toasts with onion dip. He got crème brûlée for dessert and I got the Norman specialty of rice pudding, both excellent. Good lunch! [Auberge du Vieux Clocher, 9 Rue de l'Homme de Bois, 14600 Honfleur; tel: +33 (0)2 3189-1206; Auberge du Vieux Clocher web site]

*****

The Boudin Museum in Honfleur

The Boudin Museum in Honfleur


We walked up to the Musée Eugène Boudin, paid and entered. Many of the paintings are in San Francisco right now so they had a special exhibit of pre and post Impressionists and Impressionists that was very nice. Of course no photos were allowed since it was a temporary exhibit. Sigh . . . [Musée Eugène Boudin, Rue de l'Homme de Bois - Place Erik Satie, 14600 Honfleur; tel: +33 (0)2 3189-5400; Musée Eugène Boudin web site]

*****

Hotel Cheval Blanc (Best Western)

Hotel Cheval Blanc (Best Western)


We walked back down and checked into our hotel and have a view of both the harbor and the Pont de Normandie. Great view and the room is quite nice. The fact that it was right on the harbor sold me on it. I can't believe it is so reasonable in such a great location. You really don't need a car here at all. Their private parking was another selling point . . . [Best Western Cheval Blanc, 2 Quai des Passagers, 14600 Honfleur; tel: +33 (0)2 3181-6500; web site: Cheval Blanc web site or Cheval Blanc through Booking.com]

*****

*****

*****

Evening on Honfleur Harbor

Evening on Honfleur Harbor


I transferred photos and wrote my journal while Ed took a short nap. I woke him about 6:30 and we left for a walk around town. We circled the harbor, went up the street toward St. Catherine and explored the back streets. We ended up on the harbor and I had a glass of wine and Ed a hot chocolate. We sat by a heater and it was cool enough that we appreciated it. It is starting to feel like October.

*****

Evening on Honfleur Harbor

Evening on Honfleur Harbor

Boutique lit at night in Honfleur

Boutique lit at night in Honfleur

Le Crystal Restaurant lit up at night

Le Crystal Restaurant lit up at night

Posted by Beausoleil 09:19 Archived in France Tagged honfleur boudin Comments (1)

Honfleur continued . . .

Monday, October 3, 2016


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Hotel breakfast this morning but it was fine and we were by a window overlooking the harbor so watched the morning fog lift to a beautiful day. I checked Virtual Tourist and e-mail and and had a message from someone asking if I had any good photos of Orchestre Philharmonique de Ste. Trinité (OPST) for a book their daughter is writing. Rudy gave her my name and e-mail. I never took any photos of the entire orchestra because I was always playing; therefore, I was sitting in the back of the orchestra which is not a great place to take photos. I referred her to several people who should be able to help, but I’m not sure if she’ll find “high resolution” photos from the 1970s. Cameras weren’t as good then, especially not the kind volunteers could afford.

*****

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We took off on foot for the Satie Museum with me snapping pictures and both of us trying to avoid huge tour groups. These are bus loads of people! Ed stopped at the pharmacie and got cough medicine and we wound our way to the Musée Satie to discover it doesn’t open until eleven o’clock. Sigh . . .

*****

The Old Lighthouse of Honfleur

The Old Lighthouse of Honfleur


Walked back to explore the town where we found the Old Lighthouse, fountains and Naturospace Honfleur with butterflies and plants. There’s a path beside Naturospace to a walk along the Seine, and further on was Le Jardin des Personnalités, a beautiful garden with an outdoor fitness center along with the statues, walks, trees and flowers. What a unique idea. We also watched fishing boats going out and found what looked like a marine control tower for the port. Le Jardin des Personnalités web site

Quai-side Garden in Honfleur, Le Jardin des Personnalities

Quai-side Garden in Honfleur, Le Jardin des Personnalities

Honfleur Harbor from the Carousel

Honfleur Harbor from the Carousel

*****

Carousel at Honfleur Harbor

Carousel at Honfleur Harbor


We worked our way back to the main harbor past our hotel and crossed to the other side of the harbor sightseeing our way to the local tourist office where we got a map of the town . . . a pretty bad map of only tourist attractions . . . but a little help. On the way, we checked restaurants and continued to do so as we wandered the town. We passed one of my favorite restaurants to look at although we've never eaten there. It is Le Chat qui Pêche which seems like a normal thing for a cat to do and the restaurant is very colorful. You have to keep looking up because many of the buildings have beautifully painted carvings up near the roof. I've taken photos in this area that I've painted and was looking for more. No problem finding things to paint in Honfleur . . .

Painted Carving near the roof of l'Absinthe Hôtel in Honfleur

Painted Carving near the roof of l'Absinthe Hôtel in Honfleur

Le Chat qui Pêche Restaurant

Le Chat qui Pêche Restaurant

*****

Lutetia Restaurant and Brasserie in Honfleur

Lutetia Restaurant and Brasserie in Honfleur

As noon approached, we decided on a restaurant nearly across from the Tourist Office so wandered slowly back in that direction. We found the Lutetia and it was chilly enough we decided to eat inside. There were a few special menus and we decided the 18 euro was our favorite. We started with a terrific salade Normande with chicken, apples, walnuts and cheese in it. Wow! We had the confit de canard with sauteed potatoes and greens and it was melt-in-your-mouth. Finished with ice cream that was perfect since we were stuffed. While we ate, a young American couple (baseball cap!) Came in and were seated. They were on their phones as they entered and never put them down. When the waitress asked for their choice, they each ordered a beer. The waitress brought the beers, gave them more time and asked what they wanted to eat. They seemed to speak no French but the waitress had a little English and finally figured out they weren’t going to eat. Oops! She very politely explained they needed to move to a table not set for dinner and helped them move. Through all this, he kept his baseball cap on and both kept phones in hand. Strange people but the waitress was very nice to them. [Lutetia Restaurant & Brasserie, 23 Place de la Porte de Rouen 14600 Honfleur; tel: +33 (0)2 3189-1352; Lutetia Restaurant & Brasserie web site]

*****

Honfleur Harbor

Honfleur Harbor

We walked back across town to the Satie museum and there was no one at the ticket counter. We had to “allo” a few times to get our tickets, but did get them and ear phones in English. You go from exhibit to exhibit and the ear phones work automatically. Finally, there is a piano lesson (player piano) and you are done with the ear phones. You go through a couple more exhibits and one is a merry-go-round of sorts where you sit on something like a basketball and pedal a couple bicycle pedals in recumbent style that makes the machine go round and plays music. I think this was an Erik Satie invention. There were two American women going through with us so the four of us hopped on and pedaled around a few times laughing and playing the crazy music, Satie’s piece "Le Picadilly." Such excitement! Next there was a movie and when it ended, I looked around and Ed had disappeared. I looked inside and out and asked the ticket lady if she’d seen him . . . no Ed. Finally checked outside again and spotted him out front. He’d started coughing in the movie so had left to avoid bothering anyone. [Erik Satie Museum, 14600 Honfleur; tel: +33 (0)2 3189-1111; Erik Satie Museum web site]

Half-timbered house in Honfleur

Half-timbered house in Honfleur

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*****

La Maison du Caramel in Honfleur

La Maison du Caramel in Honfleur

We walked back to the center of town and visited quite a few art galleries which was fun. We visited Eglise Sainte-Catherine, the marvelous wood church in Honfleur. Wilting a little, we stopped on the harbor for hot chocolate and limonade, watching ducks grabbing baguette crumbs. There was also a girl on roller blades feeding sparrows who would eat from her hand. Fun.

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Eglise Sainte-Catherine, Honfleur

Eglise Sainte-Catherine, Honfleur

Eglise Sainte-Catherine, Honfleur

Eglise Sainte-Catherine, Honfleur

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Eglise Sainte-Catherine

Eglise Sainte-Catherine

A feathered friend on the Honfleur harbor

A feathered friend on the Honfleur harbor

*****

Tall Ship in Honfleur for a visit

Tall Ship in Honfleur for a visit


Gave up for the day and walked around the harbor and back to our hotel. I did find a soap for Carol Lynn although I got it at L’Occitane which we have at home but it was made in Marseille and it was verveine and we did buy it in France. We walked just past the hotel to get photos of a gorgeous two-masted schooner that appeared in the harbor around noon. It’s gorgeous . . . one of the old-fashioned tall ships.

Posted by Beausoleil 10:16 Archived in France Tagged ships honfleur harbors satie Comments (0)

Lyons-la-Forêt, another Most Beautiful Village in France

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


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Another very nice hotel breakfast at our Honfleur hotel and then we checked out. Ed got the car and parked on the sidewalk in front of the hotel (like everyone else) so we could load the luggage. It worked and we were soon on our way.

*****

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We zipped through the French countryside, around Rouen where we saw the cathedral towers in the distance, and on to Lyons-la-Fôret where we parked and walked around taking pictures until our restaurant opened. We fell in love with the Plus Beau Village of Lyons-la-Forêt years ago and can understand why many movies have been made here. It looked prosperous and there have been improvements since our last visit. Thankfully, Les Lions de Beauclerc hasn’t changed much and all changes are for the better. It was lovely. We were greeted at the door as we approached. I think he’d seen us checking the menu earlier as we were sightseeing. We got a table near the French door to the terrace which thankfully he closed because it was chilly outside.

On the road between Rouen and Lyons-la-Forêt

On the road between Rouen and Lyons-la-Forêt

On the road between Rouen and Lyons-la-Forêt

On the road between Rouen and Lyons-la-Forêt

Market Square in Lyons-la-Forêt

Market Square in Lyons-la-Forêt

Santons in Lyons-la-Forêt

Santons in Lyons-la-Forêt

Mairie (Village Hall) in Lyons-la-Forêt

Mairie (Village Hall) in Lyons-la-Forêt

Place Benserade in Lyons-la-Forêt

Place Benserade in Lyons-la-Forêt

*****

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We’d already decided on the 19.90 euro menu and both of us got the paté compagne which was delicious and we thought had the best vinaigrette of the trip. We both got pintade (guinea hen) with mushrooms, salad and vegetables . . . all excellent. We ended with fondant au chocolat and a caramel sauce that was perfect. Great lunch and fitting farewell to France for this year. [Les Lions de Beauclerc, 7 rue de l’Hotel de Ville, 27480 Lyons-la-Forêt, +33 (0)2 3249-1890; Les Lions de Beauclerc web site]

*****

Covered Market with flowers in Lyons-la-Forêt

Covered Market with flowers in Lyons-la-Forêt


We walked around town taking pictures and had a bit of trouble finding the three water mills we had photographed years ago. They were still there; we had just taken a different street and the town has put in a lovely park you can walk through to get there. I even got a photo of the cormorants we saw years ago . . . well, maybe two different cormorants. Took a few more pictures before getting in the car for the long trip to the Château de Maffliers.

Peogeot 208 on display at Hotel de la Licorne

Peogeot 208 on display at Hotel de la Licorne

From inside the covered market

From inside the covered market

Walking to the three mills

Walking to the three mills

Steps down to the three mills are by this house.

Steps down to the three mills are by this house.

Rue des Trois Moulins

Rue des Trois Moulins

The stone lion on the stone bridge . . . or is it a sheep?

The stone lion on the stone bridge . . . or is it a sheep?

Cormorants seen from the stone bridge

Cormorants seen from the stone bridge

Park going back up to the village

Park going back up to the village

Les Lions de Beauclerc

Les Lions de Beauclerc

*****


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The Novotel in Maffliers is a bit hard to find but we did it. Our first room was not what we had reserved so we went down to the desk and changed it. I had ordered a triple so we’d have room to put our suitcases to repack them for the plane trip home. They were very nice about it but the clerk seemed surprised that the original room wasn’t a triple. Don’t they know which room is which?

We’re now settled in and repacked for the trip tomorrow. I can’t connect my phone to the Internet so can’t set up an LFM account. Annoying . . . but I checked my balance and we’re okay until the next trip so I'm not going to worry about it. I’ll try again next time. I'm sure it's a problem with a very old cell phone, not the SIM card because it's worked well for years. Santa is seriously thinking about bringing me a new cell phone next Christmas so I can set up the account next year when we're here.

*****

Les Poneys d'Or at Château de Maffliers

Les Poneys d'Or at Château de Maffliers


We walked up to the château and took a few pictures. Then walked to the equestrian center and watched some riding lessons. Fun. Then back to relax, transfer pictures and check in for our flight tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll sleep well because tomorrow will be tiring . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 12:36 Archived in France Tagged france lyons-la-forêt Comments (0)

Getting Home . . . always an adventure

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

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Up at 6:45 to get ready for the big trip home. We skipped breakfast . . . probably not a great idea because I didn’t have the Peugeot return address so we spent a lot of time messing with the GPS and finally had to call Peugeot to get their address. Then we ran into standstill traffic as all France headed to the airport. We finally got to the airport and the road to Peugeot return was blocked with traffic cones and there were a million taxis aiming at us as they headed into a car wash. We couldn’t find any other way onto the blocked street. Couldn’t get through so called Peugeot again and they said they’d send someone. No one came and we saw another car go through the cones so we decided to try it . . . not very cheerfully. It worked! We returned the car and they drove us to Terminal 1 for our flight.

We checked in last night but needed to get our boarding passes and check our bags. No problem. We headed to the gate and ended up in a line that stretched forever. We stood in line and finally got our passports stamped. United only had one and then finally two passport check stations open despite a very high volume of passengers. Next, we were directed upstairs to another very long line for security. It was so bad people were missing flights. We were really glad we'd allowed extra time. Even at that, we knew it would be close. Finally got through security and to our gate . . . exhausted. United charges for a second bag so people were carrying on huge amounts of stuff. I've often wondered what they do with all that stuff on vacation. We did find a place for our bags that are conveniently small, moved a lady out of my seat and got settled for a long flight to Dulles. I changed my phone back to my USA SIM card on the plane.

Dulles had a long hike to passport check but everything went pretty smoothly. Now waiting for the next long flight.

The second flight was shorter but seemed longer because we were tired. However, it did end; we did arrive in San Francisco and did get the BART to Pleasant Hill station where Peg met us, took us home and tucked us in. What a long day! Good to be back.

If you have questions about traveling in France, you may find some answers here. Check the table of contents. FeeI free to ask questions in the comment section and I'll see if I can answer them. Click here: Questions about France

We spent a month in Paris for our 50th Anniversary. If you want to follow that trip, go to Paris in the Springtime

Posted by Beausoleil 09:52 Archived in France Tagged cdg Comments (0)

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