Friday, 11 May 2012

Normandy I

Over the past weekend I had the chance to go to Normandy and visit Rouen, Deauville, Trouville, and Honfleur over two busy days with the family friends who hosted me during my search for housing at the start of the semester. It was so nice to see another part of France, learn something of its history, and ride in a car (of course, I couldn't help but fall asleep and miss some scenery). We started out early on Saturday and drove to Rouen through cloudy skies and the threat of rain. Rouen is famous for its hand-painted faïence pottery, is the site of Joan of Arc's execution, and the birthplace of France's newest president, François Hollande.

After wandering the streets of Rouen, we drove to Trouville and Deauville on the coast. I became a little bit obsessed with Trouville, and I'm already saving for my future summer home... such a beautiful location, long pristine beaches, interesting architecture, lots of great restaurants around the harbour, and only a short drive from Paris.

The beach houses were amazing, all lined up along the coast with a mix of French and English architectural styles - I wish I could have spied inside them all to see the interior. Seriously, I'd take any one of these. Attainable, right?

These long, slender shells are called couteau (knife) in French. Michel told me that to catch them, you spot their breathing holes in the wet sand when the tide is out. Then you put a bunch of salt at the entrance of the hole, which makes the creature think that the tide is coming back in and it literally jumps out of the hole. I wanted to try it, but we didn't have salt. Also, they're apparently not that delicious. Walking on a big pile of their shells did, however, give a very satisfying crunch.

I think someone was planning to vote for Sarko.
The fresh seafood market was fantastic and filled with all sorts of interesting shell fish. Now I know what a scallop (coquille Saint-Jacques in French - what a great name!) really looks like. 
Fresh seafood at Les Vapeurs along the harbour. Fried river fish and mayonnaise to start (I don't really know what these are called), and then freshly caught sole in a whole lot of butter, and tarte tatin (a kind of caramelized upside down apple tart) with an entire pot of thick cream for dessert. Probably the most fattening meal of my life. But so delicious.

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