Saturday, 19 September 2009

Tour de France: Rouen and Bayeux

We landed in Paris at around 7 in the morning and waited a rather long time for the baggage, normal I suppose for a huge plane like that. I photographed the terminal's interior escalators until finally everything was gathered and we were able to head for our bus. It was much bigger than we had been told, so that we could spread out as we wanted.

The drive to Rouen began with excitement as we caught glimpses of La Grande Arche while leaving Paris. In Rouen, after some initial disorientation, we wandered through typical tiny streets and huge cathedrals. We ate fresh bread with lettuce and cheese, then had to head back to the bus.

Pics: Café in Rouen; Rouen cathedral; old houses in Rouen

Two hours later a very tired group disembarked in Bayeux to view the famed medieval tapestry. Despite its great age, the vivid colours and huge length are worth a close look. Then we checked into our gorgeous little hotel on the Place du Marché and visited the establishment next door for a three course meal - the first of many culinary challenges for our new travellers. We ate paté, grilled turkey with chips, and apple tart. And early to bed in lovely timbered rooms.

On Saturday morning we awoke early from jetlag and observed the vendors setting up their stalls for market day. A visit to the bakery provided an early snack, followed by a cup of tea in the café and finally breakfast in the hotel at nine.

We spent a good deal of time in the market, buying local cheese and fruit for lunch as well as some very French clothes. Time then for a wander through old Bayeux, with its coloured shop-fronts and yet another cathedral that seemed to glow yellow in the noonday sun. We lunched in a tree-shaded park and rejoined the group for a trip to the coast.

Haunting relics litter the cliffs far above those fateful beaches - mangled concrete bunkers and huge potholes, pocked with twisted rods and rolls of rusty barbed wire. Farther along at the military cemetary, we looked on as all the Americans present froze on the spot to sing their anthem. Along the road I noticed many houses bore metal decorations, some shaped like an S. Back at the local restaurant we ate crudités salad, roast ham, potato gratin, and pear custard tart.

Pics: café in Bayeux, hotel room ceiling, dogs viewed from hotel window, at the cemetary

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