Visit to North Manche – 12th September 2018

Wednesday September 12th was unusually chilly and damp for this summer, but that did not spoil a very interesting Anglophone day out in the Val de Saire, in north-eastern Manche.

Le Moulin de Marie Ravenel, Réthouville

 

 

 

 

 

The day began at this 18th century watermill, which is still in working order, and we were treated to a view of its machinery in action

The excellent guide took us through the complex mechanism that converts water power into milled flour.

 

 

She also explained the background to the mill’s name – Marie Ravenel was the daughter of the miller and became a noted poet in later life.
The drizzle let off long enough for us to have a wander around the grounds and admire the beautifully thatched roof of the buildings.

Everyone was very impressed with the painstaking restoration of the mill,
which has been carried out by the local Communauté de Communes.

We then moved on to have lunch at the Auberge du
Grand Moulin in Fermanville, where a convivial time was had by all.

Château de Carneville  

Next it was to the Château de Carneville.

This is one of the small number of sites in France to have been allocated funds from the new Loto du Patrimoine. We were shown round by the owner, Guillaume – for whom this really is a labour of love – assisted by a member of the friends of the chateau who translated into English. The chateau requires full restoration, especially
as it has a serious problem with dry rot. The lottery funds of €390,000 will simply enable Guillaume to fix the roof. We were all astounded at someone having the vision, energy and enthusiasm to take on such a mammoth project.

He took us on a tour of the gardens, which combine English, Italian and French influences; explained how there were, in fact, three chateaux on the site from different eras and finally treated us to a glass of apple juice and some bread baked in the chateau’s own bakery – with the added treat of some of his
grandmother’s pear jam.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

Lunch and Mini Golf at La Baleine – 10th August 2018

Food and something crazy, the ingredients for a good day out, were what we could look forward to in August, as lunch and mini-golf at La Baleine had been organised for the 10th.

We met up at midday at Le Krill, one of my favourite restaurants in the area, located in a pretty setting and serving typical Normandy food with delicious sauces at a reasonable price. There were about twenty of us to enjoy a good meal and lively conversation.

Then, full of enthusiasm for burning off the calories, we went to the mini-golf park nearby.
The weather, after the recent heatwave and storms, was perfect for a game, keeping dry but not too hot. We were divided into groups of four to proceed around the course with varying degrees of skill.

Our balls flew along the straight, round corners, across diagonals, up levels, through tunnels, over bridges, through a windmill, into a bucket, round spirals, and finally, if we were lucky, into the whale’s mouth! Whether you could or couldn’t succeed in getting fewer than the upper limit of seven strokes per hole, it was fun trying. And might I say that Kay managed to get a hole in one at hole eight, no mean feat on crutches!

We finished up with drinks and crêpes while scores were tallied.

The winners were declared as Alan overall winner) for the men and Christine for the women. They received a nice box of chocolates each. But we were all winners and received, appropriately, a box of mini Smarties!

Thank you to the organisers, it was a great day.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

 

 

Walk and picnic at La Feuillie -25th June 2018

Another beautiful walk, on a perfect sunny day, not too strenuous, which was good for this time of year as it can get pretty hot. We strolled down some lovely country lanes and ended our walk by having a picnic overlooking the lake.

Dave and Louise always find the best walks and we are very grateful for all the research they do. If you enjoy walking, meeting and talking to people, we suggest you join us again in September.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

 

Tour of Pointe d’Agon, provided by le Pays d’art et d’histoire du Coutançais (PAHC)- 20th June 2018

The Association’s June guided tour was at the beautiful Pointe d’Agon. A group of seventeen met at the very tip of Pointe d’Agon, on a warm and eerily misty afternoon. Pointe d’Agon is located where the River la Sienne meets the Atlantic, between Regnéville-sur-mer and Agon Coutainville. We all listened very intently to our French guide, Christine. Her passion for the area was obvious, as she had been visiting the area since she was 13, and had witnessed first hand the physical land changes to the area. Christine first spoke about the general Pointe d’Agon area. She explained that over time, slowly but surely the peninsula was growing larger year on year, as the tides deposited more and more sand and soil, enlarging the environment. We all found it incredible that the lighthouse and a nearby small wood had been at one time, the shoreline, but were now 2-300 yards from the water’s edge. We then walked from the car park meeting point across the sand and soil towards the sea.

Unbelievable to think that the now fertile area, capable of growing a type of grass, once would have been covered by sea. The grass was flourishing, with some beginning to flower, with tiny violet coloured petals, and would be a beautiful sight, when all is in full bloom. More than four hundred species of plants have been listed, some of which support the transient immersion of seawater. In the dunes live a large variety of birds, who find an abundance of food in the immense mudflat and sandbars.

We then moved away from the grass beds and dunes, towards the lighthouse (le Phare). The lighthouse constructed in the mid 1800’s, was built following discussions with mariners and Captains, who argued that the location at Pointe d’Agon was better than it being situated at Montmartin, and had requested for a permanent caretaker to be housed in an attached cottage. The first light was powered by oil, and as technology improved, was powered by gas in 1946, then by electricity in 1969 and is today supported with solar paneling.

The lighthouse was occupied until the 1980’s. Christine told the amusing story of the lady lighthouse keeper who in revenge for catching the postman “taking a leak” in her water supply, then subsequently placed an order for a daily newspaper to be delivered to the lighthouse by the naughty postman. This was not an easy delivery for the postman, as the route was from Regnéville-sur-mer to Pointe d’Agon via Pont de la Roque, quite some distance, back in the day! The lighthouse continues to alert boats, even though it is only 7 metres high.

Away from the lighthouse, we then walked to the top of the sand dunes to a stone monument, in the shape of a Viking long ship. The monument was erected in the 1970’s, and is dedicated to the memory of Fenand Lechanteur. The stones are carved with runic characters. The main stones located at the stern and the bow of the ship, with minor stones carved with the initials of the donors down each side.

The monument pays tribute to his work as a dialectologist and in particular the link with Vikings and the region. We then returned to the meeting point and thanked Christine for the very interesting guided tour. The peninsula is protected by La Manche Conseil General, so that people respect the environment, now and for future generations to enjoy.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

 

Afternoon Tea – 9th June 2018

Quelques beaux chapeaux et beaucoup de bonne humeur et d’ambiance dès les premières minutes.

La pluie est tombée le matin nous laissant un grand répit pour profiter du jardin d’Annette.

Celle ci nous a promenés dans son univers de rosiers tous éclatants de fleurs, sans oublier la multitude de plantes vivaces ordonnées dans des massifs bien dessinés à l’ombre d’arbres de toutes sortes marquant par leur belle allure cet espace enchanteur.

Avis aux amateurs : Annette nous propose de nombreuses boutures arguant que “son jardin est ouvert” ! Nous avons pu nous régaler de pâtisseries grâce au talent de quelques participantes qu’il est convenu de remercier.

Les conversations sont allées bon train et nous avons tous pu passer un excellent moment de convivialité en mixant quelques fois tant bien que mal nos langues maternelles.

Félicitations à Annette et à tous les participants!

Write up and photo courtesy of members.

Walk at Montmartin-sur-mer

On the last day of May around twenty of us met on a warm but cloudy morning for the monthly walk.

The circular walk around Montmartin was mainly on the lanes amid the beautiful countryside which was shown off to full advantage on the
late spring day.

 

We were sorely tempted by the kind offer of a drink by Danielle and Jean-Pierre, whose house we were passing, but time was pressing and we had to be ready for lunch at 1.15. To complete a lovely walk the sun came out for us.
We were all ready for that lunch and what good value for money we had at this busy restaurant (La Sienne). Four courses with wine or cider, all for 12 euros! The service was excellent and the meal seemed to be enjoyed by everyone. I’m all ready looking forward to the next walk on the 25th June.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

 

A Tour of Regnéville

For our May guided walk we renewed our acquaintance with
Simon whom we met at Lucerne Abbey last year. Firstly however, 14 members gathered outside ‘The Skipper’ restaurant at Hauteville-sur-mer for midday lunch. A leisurely
2 hours later and it was time to join Simon and 4 additional members at La Gare in Regnéville..

 

We started our afternoon in clear and sunny weather standing on the seafront behind La Gare overlooking the harbour and sand bar. We listened as Simon’s knowledge and enthusiasm brought Regnéville’s history to life while he outlined the origin and development of the town.

Regnéville began with the arrival of Vikings in the 9th century.
The Sienne estuary provided a safe harbour and, in time, these Vikings encroached into the hinterland of Regnéville.
Eventually the French King conceded that they could “retain” this acquired territory on condition that they accepted the King as their sovereign and defended the harbour and surrounding area from any future Viking raids.
The Vikings have a reputation as raiders but they were also traders. Following the initial Viking trading, over time through the markets at Agon and Montmartin the economic importance of the area grew to a point where the King had to act to protect his interests.
The castle was built at the start of the 13th century to defend against attack from the sea and to safeguard the local markets and up river towns. The castle would not only be living quarters for the King’s bailiff and garrison but would enable the State to control and administer the area and collect all due taxes.
The port of Regnéville, along with many others throughout Normandy, become part of the French cod fishing industry that developed off the Newfoundland coast in the 16th century, this fleet providing a significant part of overall French fishery production. The exportation of lime manufactured in kilns adjacent to the castle generated an increase in port traffic in the 1850’s but this proved short lived.

 

Simon’s introductory talk over, it was time to walk the town. We viewed the ruins of the
castle and the keep which had been rebuilt as a tower by the English during the Hundred Years War. We wondered how the precarious top storey overhang of the keep did not crash down on the sheep grazing directly below.

 

The English Bailiff of Cotentin set up residence at Regnéville from 1435 until 1448 but once the Hundred Years War ended the castle lost its military importance. Eventually the tower was packed with gunpowder and blown up by the French King in 1637, however 2 of its 4 sides remain, exposing to view the 10 feet thick outer walls, spiral staircase and floor construction.
The neighbouring church was also built at the start of the 13th century. The stone spire,
for reasons open to speculation, was never built to full height and remains truncated.
The very low entrance door took us into the nave where we could see a number of alterations to the structure together with the more recent restoration of the timber barrel vault ceiling. In 1900, the very last year of the 19th century, the chancel was refurbished with new brightly stained glass windows, each one inscribed on the bottom panel with the date andname of the donor.
Leaving the church grounds, we turned into a narrow lane taking us through the old village of Regnéville with its compact houses snuggling together. Some of these have been altered or extended employing contemporary designs and modern materials which blend in surprisingly well with the original building style. We saw a horizontal rebate cut in a stone arch gateway that allowed protruding cartwheel axles to pass into the village and nearby a blocked in doorway possibly associated with tax collection.
Our tour complete and back outside La Gare, it was time to thank Simon and make our way home.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

Afternoon tea

Picture a lazy sunny afternoon in a tranquil rural setting spent with friends drinking tea, chatting, and eating home made scones, clotted cream, and strawberry jam plus various other delights baked by Normandy’s answer to Mary Berry.

This was the scene at Paul and Ann Packer’s on the 13th May. Twenty members and friends enjoyed a wonderful afternoon overindulging, (I swear some had missed their Sunday lunch in preparation) and chewing the fat over the weather (what chat would be complete without an in depth résumé of the weather), the weeds and the speed at which the grass grows in Normandy.

The Chocolate Marble Bundt cake was the star of the show for me.


Thank you Paul and Ann.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

The Charity selected for 2018 – 2019

The Charity selected by the Association for 2018 – 2019 is Les Sauveteurs en Mer (SNSM).
This Association exists to provide a free service of rescue at sea to both professional and leisure
sailors, to provide a life-guard service on beaches during the summer and to educate people on safety at the coast
and at sea. The Association covers a wide geographic area and we have chosen to support the Agon-Coutainville station
as it is the closest to Coutances. All the services are provided by volunteers.

 

Le Poulailler and the AGM at Les Unelles – 24th April 2018

Some thirty members met on Tuesday morning at Le Poulailler for coffee and viennoiseries prior to the AGM.  This was a chance to renew their membership and to meet with friends old and new for a chat. Our friendly host was busy preparing
drinks for the growing number of members arriving.
The business of the day was soon under way at Les Unelles. This year, there was a short presentation from our previous charity, Parentibus, who explained the organisation
and how the charity had grown recently. Our President presented Parentibus with a cheque for 650€.


Later in the meeting, Louise reported on the activities of the
Association during the previous year.

Three new members of the Committee were voted in, a charity was selected and a raffle won. Members stayed chatting after the meeting for some time before walking to
the La Taverene du Parvis for lunch.

Write up and photos courtesy of members