Pro's: "Culture, nature and great food."
Con's: "The more you come, the more you understand you've hardly yet seen anything."
In a nutshell: "The inexhaustible treasure trove of delights for culture vultures and gourmets."
England and France - two major world cultures so common yet so different that love and hate each other so much. The English may envy the hedonistic Gallic lifestyle and excellent healthcare system, the French - the successful Anglo-Saxon world expansionism and infinitely superior rock-n-roll music, but in reality the two nations share more than a centuries-long spirit of rivalry. In April-May 2008 we travelled 2,670 km to see where the twain meet, mix and, on occasion, mate: Normandy, Brittany and Jersey, exploring the best sites in the culturally rich area of Anglo-French contact.
Besides such lofty pursuits like visiting Claude Monet's garden in Giverny, Richard the Lionheart's castle in Les Andelys or Victor Hugo's place of exile on Jersey, we went to admire the natural wonders of Étretat and Côte Emeraude. Brought up on French literature, I derived a gigantic kick from following the footsteps of Flaubert, Maupassant and Verne. We also found a great delight in immersing ourselves in the lowly pleasures of gluttony, for besides numerous historical vestiges the region is justly famous for its abundance of prime quality seafood.
After so many trips to the Northwest of France last few years, I still have a sense of unfinished business. On the way back home, I, in my navigator's seat, am always busy drafting plans for another visit to cover what we had to skip this time. Floyd says it is a form of greed, which is a deadly sin. Mea culpa, but this year I walked to the Mont St. Michel so I'm sure it's been forgiven.
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Highlights of the trip:
- Lille - The Nearest Bit Of France
- Mer-les-Bains - Bourgeois Seaside Resort Par Excellence
- Dieppe - Maps, Ivory And Scallops
- Fécamp - Liqueur, Seafood & Norman Vestiges
- The Limestone Arches Of Étretat
- Rouen - The Duck, The Pots & The Cathedral
- Richard the Lionheart's Château Gaillard
- Monet's Japanese Garden in Giverny
- Honfleur - A Picture-Perfect Port
- Mont St.Michel - The Marvel Abbey
- Côte Emeraude - Brittany's Emerald Coast
- St. Malo - The Granite Jewel of Brittany
- Dinard & St. Lunaire - Hangouts Of The Rich
- Jersey - The Bulwark Of Englishness
Amsterdam - Lille - Mer-les-Bains - Dieppe - Miromesnil - Roeun - Le Mesnil-Esnard - Giverny - Les Andelys - Fécamp - Étretat - Pont de Normandie - Honfleur - Saint-Quentin-sur-le-Homme - Mont St. Michel - Roz-sur-Couesnon - St. Marcan - St. Broladre - Cherrueix - Mont-Dol - Le Vivier-sur-Mer - Saint-Benoît-des-Ondes - Cancale - Pointe-du-Grouin - St. Malo - Barrage de la Rance - Dinard - St. Lunaire - St. Helier - Grouveille - Gorey - Five Oaks - Amsterdam
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