Christmas Luncheon at Le Tourne Bride – 8th December 2017

We were blessed with a bright and breezy day for our much anticipated celebration lunch, although latecomers were greeted with a hail storm. The log fire was most welcome and so was an aperitif, which was followed by a continuous selection of delicious warm and cold canapés. Starters of terrine or baked salmon were equally tasteful, but all were upstaged by a wonderfully rich sauce that accompanied the duckling main course. Green vegetables were something of a scarcity, it seemed, but I kept spooning up the sauce by way of recompense. The gourmande sweet was politely proportioned, reflecting a French reserve rather than English Gluttony, which will need to wait until the 25th of the month. Service was prompt and the conversation was lively.

The raffle was competently fixed with the Committee members winning several of the prizes. The raffle raised the princely sum of 173 € and the auction, which included table decorations by Stevie, raised 109 €. Profits will go to our charity, Parentibus.


The Craft Group’s Christmas wreath was greatly admired and secured with a generous bid, apparently by a man from Belgium, although I believe it will stay in the country.

Write up of the visit and photos courtesy of members.


Quiz and Buffet Lunch -18th November 2017

Quiz and Buffet Lunch chez Catherine and Jacques C’est 31 personnes qui se sont réunies le samedi 18 novembre 2017, chez Catherine et Jacques à Roncey à l’occasion du Quiz and Buffet Lunch.





Un accueil très chaleureux nous a été réservé par nos hôtes où un petit verre de l’amitié était servi. Un très joli et copieux buffet était dressé, où tous les participants ont pu apprécier les préparations culinaires des uns et des autres. En cette période de préfètes, les mince pies étaient bien évidemment à l’honneur. Une fois ce très bon déjeuner terminé, un quiz musical, basé sur de la musique française et anglaise ainsi qu’un questionnaire de culture gé- nérale nous ont été proposés par Dave et Louise Wilson. Des équipes étaient constituées et, chacun a fait appel à ses souvenirs et connaissances pour répondre le mieux possible. Après cette très sympathique et conviviale épreuve, chacun est reparti, non sans avoir remercié encore une fois Catherine et Jacques pour leur accueil.

Write up of the visit and photos courtesy of members.

The Last Walk of the Year along the River Soulles – 10th November 2017

The choice of route for November’s walk reflected the fact that autumn in Normandy can often be wet. Starting at the Yeti bowling and ice rink in Coutances, we followed the gentle contours of La Soulles river valley as we headed towards our destination, the ruined bridge at Pont de la Roque. Despite starting grey and slightly coldish, the morning brightened and, with the temperature rising, jackets and raincoats were carried rather than worn. The well constructed path proved fit for purpose, being solid and dry underfoot, even though the surrounding fields held a great deal of surface water. As we strolled by old river mill buildings, now redundant and silent, the many cows and horses happily ignored us and continued grazing. The path also seems popular with both leisure and more sporting runners, and we saw some of the more serious runners again as they returned apace to Coutances.

Eventually the path emerged onto the road near Pont de la Roque and very shortly we had arrived at the stone bridge.

We spent several minutes inspecting the three adjoining, destroyed arches and reading the commemorative plaques to the Allied servicemen who lost their lives when the bridge was bombed and then captured in the months of June and July 1944. The stone bridge dates from 1852 apparently replacing a wooden structure which existed before. A “Bailey” bridge was erected at the end of July 1944 and the current modern road bridge inaugurated in 1967.

We rounded off a sociable morning at La Taverne du Parvis, opposite the cathedral in Coutances, where members unable to attend the walk joined us for lunch.

Write up of the visit and photos courtesy of members.

Visit to Lucerne Abbey – 24 OCTOBER 2017

As new members of the association we were very pleased that our first outing would involve a visit to Lucerne Abbey, a place that has long been on our agenda. The well attended trip started with an opportunity to meet association members and enjoy a good lunch at L’Auberge du Thar in La Haye Pesnel.

After lunch we had a short drive through lovely countryside to the Abbey at Lucerne which is situated deep in the wooded valley of the river Thar in the centre of the triangle between Avranches, Granville and Villedieu-les-Poeles.

On arrival we were all met by our guide for the visit and as we gathered in front of the abbey it quickly became apparent that he was extremely knowledgeable and humorous. He delivered in perfect English a detailed and interesting account of the history of the abbey and he was more than happy to take numerous questions from the group.

Space in this article does not allow us to cover the vast and varied history of the Lucerne Abbey provided to us on the day, but for those members who were unable to attend or are considering a visit a short summary follows:

History and Reconstruction

The abbey was founded in 1143 and is a wonderful example of restored Cistercian architecture. The foundation stone of the permanent buildings was laid in 1164 and construction lasted until 1178. The Cistercian Order sought to return to the lifestyle of St Benedict and emphasis was upon manual labour and self-sufficiency. This was evidenced largely by working in the fields but extended to the well-known craft of brewing ale. Abbeys were often sited in isolation and the monks were thus able to concentrate on developing self -sufficiency. They maintained their forests and preserved their timber. Throughout the early centuries of the medieval period the Cistercians were the main source of the diffusion of technological knowledge throughout Europe in the fields of agriculture, hydraulic engineering and metallurgy. The Abbeys built by the order reflected their values. The architectural style is one of elegance and simplicity and those are the qualities that exude from the restoration project of the Lucerne Abbey. As is often the case in such projects, the early success is largely due, not to a formal body or committee but to the impetus and passion of one individual. Abbé Lélegard bought the Abbey in 1959, saving it from ruin. The ruins were classed as a historical monument in 1928 and in 1959 the enormous task was begun, which still continues under the “Fondation Abbaye de La Lucerne d’Outremer”, of the restoration of the abbey. The first phase of the work was the reconstruction of the abbey church, particularly the ogival crossing vaults and the west front with its Romanesque portal, continuing to the refectory and cellars. Work has continued since then and the tithe barn, the Romanesque lavatorium (the only one in Normandy), the medieval gatehouse (with its bakery and courtrooms), the dovecote, the park, the 18th century abbot’s lodgings and the ponds are all now restored. The chapel of Blessed Achard is in the process of restoration. One of the aims of the “Fondation Abbaye de La Lucerne d’Outremer” has been to re-establish a monastic community at La Lucerne, and the abbey is still being rebuilt with that intention. Abbé Lélegard commenced the work of restoring it to its original beauty and the work continues largely with contributions from overseas.

Much of the Abbey has been restored and some of it actually re-built, all in harmony with its original architectural style. Originally Romanesque in scale, with only occasional Gothic detail, the whole environment was created for the purpose of focusing on following the faith and the contemplative lifestyle.

Following the tour provided by our excellent guide in a style that brought the whole story to life we had the opportunity to spend more time at the abbey. We were able to go back over the areas covered in the tour and also wander the grounds taking in the viaduct, the dovecote and many other buildings. We thoroughly enjoyed this very well organised trip and highly recommend it. As a bonus the weather was kind to us and the rain held off. A very good day!

Write up of the visit and photos courtesy of members.

Mont Castre -10th October 2017

We gathered at a place called La Gare where there was no longer a station serving Lithaire. I presume that France had a Dr Beeching too. If you looked carefully you could see the old red tiled-roofed station building, which is now a gîte, and the old coal house as well as a long line where there is no longer the railway track that used to cross Route du Plessis but which has now become a very straight path through the woods.
We followed the track towards the hill of Mont Castre, past gardens with barking dogs. It was a long, long straight path which eventually provided us with a slow climb, steep in places, up to the top of the hill.

It had been a strategic vantage point for both the Romans and also, more recently, for the Germans in WW II. The hill was one of the US army’s most costly targets in June 1944 with more than 2,000 fatalities as their tanks with teen-aged drivers faltered in the mud and the incline.
It was now impossible to imagine that particular reality as we rambled up through the verdant, damp ferns to the top where teams of workers were busy strimming the path to keep it accessible.Eventually we were afforded a superb view south across Manche and, prettier still, a view of the lake, which revealed just how far we had climbed.

On our slow descent on the other side of the hill, we encountered the remains of prehistoric settlements and then a multitude of scattered masonry of what had once been a château. What a place to build one!

A long gentle return past a farm and a village school eventually brought us back to the long, straight former rail track. As you may imagine, we were very keen to find our way to Le Commerce restaurant in La Haye-du-Puits where we had what we thought was a well-deserved lunch. Only then did it rain.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

Walk at Rue d’Agon -September 2017

A small, intrepid group met on a damp September morning for our monthly walk.

We set off along the footpath at the side of the Sienne estuary before turning left up through country lanes to the lovely old village of La Rue d’Agon. The view from the top of the lane was stunning, right across the estuary to Regneville-sur-Mer.

The village itself is a pretty old Normandy village containing a selection of lovely houses. There is also a cheese producer in the village, whose wares are regularly seen for sale at local markets in our area. Back down quiet country roads to re-join the footpath to return to our starting point.

The weather? There were two small showers which

stopped as soon as we put our waterproofs on and the sun warmed our backs for a good part of the walk. All in all we were very lucky.We were joined by two prospective members, Peter and Roxanne at l’Equinoxe in Le Passous, where we enjoyed a good lunch.

The Anglophone Association Banner -5th September 2017

You may already know that some of our craftier members have been busy creating a banner to help make the
Anglophone Association more visible at events, such as the annual fair at Les Unelles, where we had a stand to promote the Association. On Tuesday, 5 September, the Craft Group members gathered at Sharon and Alan’s home for lunch, after which, the finished banner was presented to our President.

The plans for the banner began late last year, with meetings over coffee and cake, and it was decided to have a large central panel along with two separate, narrower, side panels. The panels can then be hung together, or separately, depending on how much space the association is allocated at an event.


Golden-yellow was chosen for the background, with accents of red, white and blue to reflect the colours of the French and British flags.
At the start of this year work began in earnest, with all of the craft group members – helped along by more coffee and cake- embellishing squares, which depict the association’s various activities.

These squares were then sewn onto the side panels, whilst the central panel was decorated with the name of the Association and its logo, along with the Union and Tricolor flags
in miniature.
The end result is a striking banner, which, hopefully, will increase our visibility and give a positive impression of the Association.
A big thank you is due to Sharon and her group of crafters – Daniele, Catherine,
Yvonne, Karen, Ann and Judi.

1st French conversation group – 21st August 2017

Not wanting to wait for La Rentrée, 11 keen members got together on 21 August for the first of the French conversation groups.
Introductions (in French of course) were made and various aspects of the weather discussed and phrases learnt. Hopefully everyone gained from the discussion and learnt at least that it’s OK to open your mouth and see what French comes out!

Mini Golf at La Baleine – 10th August 2017

I woke to a fine day with some sunshine and only a 5% chance of rain. This was a promising start for attending my first event as a new member of the Anglophone Association of Coutances.   Lunch at Le Krill in La Baleine, followed by a game of Mini Golf.
I felt a little daunted by the prospect of lots of new faces but my fears were unfounded. Everyone I met was welcoming and very friendly.

The set menu of terrine or crudités, followed by grilled salmon or porc rôti and then fruit salad or fromage blanc was excellent and the company even more so.

Spirits weren’t dampened by the pouring rain that persisted throughout lunch, (not what the forecaster had predicted), but the gods made sure that the sun shone throughout a great game of Mini Golf.

I  I am very much looking forward to the next event, thanks to Alan and Sharon for organising our day.

The write and photos are courtesy of members.

Fete National – 14th July 2017

Louise and David welcomed sixty-two members of the Anglophone Association to the Annual Fête nationale.

The weather was, once again, kind to us and we were able to enjoy a delightful buffet lunch sitting under the Normandy sunshine.

 Many thanks to all the committee members who right royally provided such a feast.

The serious business of the day, The Boules and The Welly Wanging, then began. Almost everyone who attended the lunch took part in these events, and those who were not actually playing played their part by providing vocal support and encouragement to all competitors.


The hard fought Boules Competition was eventually won by Jerry and Peter. Jerry, of course, is the returning Champion and was partnered for the first time by Peter.

After much hilarity in the field of play, Sophie was crowned Ladies’ Welly Wanging Champion and Ray the Men’s Welly Wanging Champion. All Champions received awards to mark their achievement and we congratulate them.

A raffle was held with the monies going to Parentibus, our nominated charity.
All winners were duly photographed with their prizes.

The Lucky Dip Bin, which was excellent value, proved to be a great success as it guaranteed not only one prize but two all for the sum of one euro.
Soon it was time for us to say thank you to our Committee for all their hard work and take our leave. Stevie proposed a Vote of Thanks to the Committee, seconded by everyone.

 Write up and photos courtesy of members