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

Day out to Giverny – 20th April 2018

For our trip to Giverny, near Vernon, we were blessed with perhaps the
warmest day of the year. Due to an early start we arrived in Giverny
before it became very busy and we had a wonderful opportunity to see
the garden without crowds of other visitors.  After a cold spring the tulips were still glorious and the blossom was breathtakingly beautiful throughout the village.

Monet’s house has also been re-created in its original style using many of Monet’s own furniture, fittings and artefacts.

We had an enjoyable and memorable day.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.

Hambye walk – 18th April 2018

On Wednesday 18th April, 15 people and a couple of dogs enjoyed a walk in Hambye in glorious spring weather. As it seemed that we had had a long cold & wet winter it was nice to get out in such wonderful weather. Unfortunately because we had all got accustomed to dressing for winter some of us [particularly the writer] were not dressed for the good weather we had.

The walk started from adjacent Hambye Abbey

and progressed through the woods and meadows and crossed the river Sienne a number of times.







Don’t worry we crossed the river Sienne by bridge and not through the water, I have tried walking on water but it does not work.A lot of walking groups must have started from the car park adjacent the Abbey, a lot of people were down at the car park for walks. I didn’t know that so many people existed in France.
After the walk we had a very good meal at Hotel de la Gare in Gavray with plenty of drinks flowing.

Write up and photo’s courtesy of members.

Walk at Gouville sur Mer. – 27th March 2018

The walk on 27 March started from Gouville sur Mer. The morning rain stopped as we arrived in Gouville for the start (spring is still not here!). 13 people took part in the walk through the dunes. We took the Grande Randonnée path through Gouville’s famous multi-coloured beach huts.

Next we followed a sandy path through the fields and past some magnificent horses. After a few km, we discovered a Cabane Vauban surrounded by the dunes.

Cabanes Vauban ( Vauban is the name of the military architect) date from the 17th century, and were military look out posts to spot enemy ships ( often English!). Later they became used as customs posts to catch smugglers. They were often built on cliffs, eg at Carolles and St Jean le Thomas. Gouville’s Cabane Vauban was entirely covered by the sand over the years, then the sand was removed and it was restored.
Now we arrived at Gonneville, a small beach between Gouville and Blainville. We returned on the beach with views over the oyster beds and the oyster farmers hard at work.

For the whole of the walk there was not a drop of rain, but neither was there a hint of sun.
We finished in the ‘Le Pierrefeu’ restaurant in Anneville sur Mer, near the church. A few other Anglophones joined us at the restaurant where the lunch was both lovely and inexpensive.

Le départ de la marche du 27 mars (Walks Group) était à Gouville sur Mer. La pluie du matin s’est arrêtée en arrivant à Gouville au moment du départ (le printemps n’est pas encore tout à fait arrivé !!). 13 personnes ont participé à cette promenade à travers les dunes. Nous avons pris le sentier (GR) en passant devant les fameuses cabanes de plage multicolores de Gouville. Ensuite nous avons marché sur un chemin sablonneux dans la campagne avec des herbages et de magnifiques chevaux. Après quelques Kms nous avons découvert une cabane Vauban entourée de dunes.

Les cabanes Vauban (Vauban est le nom de l’architecte militaire) datent du 17ème siècle. Elles permettaient de surveiller la mer. C ‘étaient des postes de garde militaires pour guetter les navires ennemis (les anglais sans doute !!). Ensuite elles sont devenues des postes de garde douaniers pour surveiller les contrebandiers. Elles étaient souvent installées sur des falaises comme à Carolles, St Jean le Thomas. La cabane Vauban de Gouville a été entièrement recouverte par le sable au cours des ans puis le sable a été enlevé et elle a été restaurée.
Nous sommes alors arrivés à Gonneville, petite plage entre Gouville et Blainville. Le retour s’est fait sur la plage avec bien sûr la vue sur tous les parcs à huitres et le travail des ostréiculteurs. Toute cette marche s’est déroulée sans une goutte de pluie mais aussi sans un rayon de soleil.
La matinée s’est terminée dans le restaurant « Le Pierrefeu » à Anneville sur mer près de l’église. D’autres anglophones nous ont rejoint dans ce restaurant où le déjeuner était très bon et  inexpensive.

Write up and photos courtesy of members

Curry Lunch 23rd March – 2018

As expected last month’s curry lunch proved its popularity by being oversubscribed.

David and Louise house and garden had been transformed for a day into the Gouville Balti House restaurant and car park together with a neighbour’s gite being requisitioned for overflow parking. Polly and Donna, otherwise known as the Pop-Up Restaurant, provided the catering.

Members began arriving at 12 noon and, welcomed by a pre-lunch drink and nibbles, were soon mingling and exchanging news and banter. In what seemed no time at all luncheon was ready to be served.

Two long trestle tables and benches set up in the lounge with a table of eight in the dining room saw 32 sit down in readiness for some genuine Indian style cuisine, no doubt quite a few harking back and recalling past times of regular visits to their favourite local “Indian”.

Press-ganged into service, our affable and attentive waiting staff appeared carrying a starter of Punjabi samosa with raiti and pickles made by cleverly combining the right mix of turmeric, tomato, cucumber, potato and complementary spices.








Next, the main course, a choice of a chicken, a beef or a vegetable shamba dish, was brought to each table in separate large serving bowls allowing everyone to select their own preferences. The Murgh Makhani chicken, a spicy tandoori from the south of India, was cooked in cream and butter with fresh chilies, these chilies grown by Chris  generated a worm glow on the tongue and lips. The Kashmari beef rogan josh utilised a cut of bourguignon beef flavoured by yoghurt and chilies.

The vegetable shamba followed a traditional recipe given to Polly’s parents by locals they had met during their travels in India. This recipe was representative of the wide range of vegetables typically used in cooking across the Indian sub-continent and included green lentils, chickpeas, broccoli, aubergines, tomatoes and onions. These three main dishes were accompanied by tarka dahl, basmati rice and naan bread.

A dessert of either pistachio ice cream or mango sorbet cooled the palate and the lunch was rounded off with tea or coffee.



The spices used in the meal also came from India thereby adding to the authenticity Polly seeks in her menus. She very much prides herself that all her meat and vegetables are both fresh and locally sourced apart from specialist items such as the superb lime pickle.

Polly and Donna received an enthusiastic and well deserved vote of thanks for providing an excellent meal. It is no easy task to satisfy the varied appetites of a large group of diners.

Write up and photos courtesy of members.


Shrove Tuesday – 13th February 2018

Pancake Tales Rumour has it that the French Légion d’Honneur was awarded to a Belgian wizard for his legendary skills in the kitchen.

The story goes that some thirty pilgrims descended on his hostelry, babbling in English and all he was armed with was eggs, milk and flour. After calming them with some alarmingly cool cider he set about feeding them.

Suddenly a large plate of steaming pancakes arrived and the travellers lost the ability to speak. Then another steaming plate came, and the pancakes simply kept coming. Someone tried to count them but there were more than a hundred and then they lost count. They said that they were the best pancakes that they had ever tasted.

Eventually one of the pilgrims ventured into the kitchen to thank the host but all they could find was a man with a cheeky grin. Someone else said that they saw Gandalf somewhere and that he had been to the barber’s. You see, you really don’t know what to believe. That is the trouble with tales.

The pilgrims were extremely grateful and very lucky. Apparently, if they had been just one day later it would have been Lent and they would all have gone hungry. You can trust your editors to get the tallest tales.

Write up and photos courtesy of members