I'm just back from seven days and eight nights in Pont L'Eveque, Normandy, France on a trip out of Raleigh led by a Frenchman who owns a restaurant in Raleigh. My sister joined me in Atlanta for the flight to Paris. There were 24 Americans, British and Canadians on the trip plus the leader and we had a local bus driver and a guide, Corinne, from Caen. We had breakfasts and dinners at the hotel in Pont L'Eveque and traveled by Mercedes bus to Rouen, Giverny, Deauville, Bayeux, the D-Day beaches and American Cemetery, Honfleur, Mont-St.-Michel, Entretat, etc. Corinne was a great guide. The emphasis was more on food, architecture, and culture of Normandy that on wines and most of the wines we had at our dinners were mediocre. The best at the hotel I thought was a Domaine Durand Sancerre (which David B. would not care for since it was Sauvignon Blanc.) My favorite at the lunches was a Chateau du Coing de Saint-Fiacre Chardonnay from the Muscadet region and it is described as an unusual Chardonnay: "a cross between Chablis and Muscadet with a strong sea-influenced character." It was unoaked and quite refreshing with haddock at lunch at a golf course restaurant near Deauville. We had a number of rather undistinguished Bordeaux wines, a Syrah, an Alsatian Riesling, which unfortunately was sweet when I would have prefered dry, etc. We also had sparkling apple cider, Calvados, and visited the abbey and palace associated with Benedictine, where I tasted the B & B (brandy and Benedictine.) We had lunches with as many as six or seven courses including lobster, scallops, prawns, foie gras, pre sale lamb (pre-salted in the sense that the lambs graze on grass covered by the tides at times), macaroons, creme brulee, lemon tarts, etc. We had a cooking lesson on making Norman butter, and apple tarts. Our activities included driving a string of "Deux Chevaux" from Citroen which was a real hoot. My sister and I rode as backseat passengers while a couple from Raleigh were driver and front-seat passenger. It was good it didn't rain much that day as the wipers didn't work in most of the seven cars. We took some rough country roads from Pont L'Eveque and a cow path to a farm where we met the owner, a fourth-generation farmer. One storage structure on his farm dates from the 17th Century and has a thatched roof so I was able to see the roof close up. We rode in boats that are amphibious to an island used to quarantine ship's crews in the days of the plague and later as a marine laboratory. Another day we rode in horse-pulled carriages and one morning we spent at the horse racing track in Deauville seeing the horses exercised, the jockey room, stands, etc. The day we visited Entretat we were caught in a sudden rain storm with hail! It rained quite a bit, but we still had a good time and only a light drizzle while visiting Monet's garden and home at Giverny or doing a walking tour of Deauville.
We also had the somber experience of laying a floral bouquet at the grave of a airman killed in the summer of 1943. The father of one of our group was pilot of the plane. He survived but three of the gunners were killed. Two are buried in the USA, but one is in the American Cemetery and so we honored him while there.
We had some real characters among the group and developed a camaraderie. One of the men had served with 82nd Airborne Division and another was a general with Ranger and medical assignments. One lady from Raleigh was on the Provence trip that my sister and I took in 2008 and another one from near London was on the Tuscany trip I took in 2011. Next year Lil is leading a trip to Burgundy and I may have to go. My sister and brother-in-law may both go on that trip too. The day we left Normandy (Monday), I was up at 5:40 AM and we left by bus for Charles de Gaulle Airport at 7:30. My flight to Atlanta was at 1:35 PM and arrived about 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time (11:00 PM by French time zone). I didn't arrive at Raleigh-Durham Airport until about 8:40 PM (2:40 AM the next day by French time) so had arranged to stay overnight near the airport. Today I picked up my car from FastPark and drove back to Fayetteville to sleep in my own bed. Many memories and a fair number of photos which I may attempt to post on Facebook one of these days.
Last edited by JC (NC)
on Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.