How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

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How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby JC (NC) » Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:28 pm

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.
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Re: How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby Richard Fadeley » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:12 pm

Please send me a link to your pictures ( webwineman@hotmail.com ). I love traveling in France, it will keep you on your toes, mentally. I have never been to Normandy, though it is on my list. I would think that you will be blown away with Burgundy. By far the most enchanting wine region in the world. Do as much reading about it as you can before going. It will help with the information overload you will be confronted with. If Bordeaux is the most important, Burgundy is the most enchanting.
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Re: How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:15 pm

Sancerre and a Barry Manilow pun title. I think I just stepped into my own Sartre play.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby Tim York » Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:52 am

My daughter lives in Normandy and we know it quite well. We are at the moment investigating the possibility of buying a horse friendly property in Normandy. It is almost a wine desert, of course, as far as own production is concerned but cider and calvados can be excellent, the best of the latter rivalling cognac and armagnac costing up to 5 times as much. Traditional Norman cooking tends to be full of cream and unfashionably rich but I love it.
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Re: How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:24 am

Really Tim, that will be a big move eh.
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Re: How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby Rahsaan » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:59 am

Tim York wrote:It is almost a wine desert, of course, as far as own production is concerned but cider and calvados can be excellent...


Yes, the lack of local wine has always been a knock against Normandy and Brittany for travel in my mind. But of course in the end one doesn't go thirsty. And the seafood can be excellent, especially in Brittany.

And it sounds like Jane had a remarkable trip with all sorts of diverse pleasures. Good show!
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Re: How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby Thomas » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:27 am

My wife was in Normandy in July (I have yet to visit the region). She and her brother were researching for a book they are writing concerning their father's Stars and Stripes stories and letters home during the war. He landed in the second wave hauling a reporter's typewriter on his shoulders! He was on Eisenhower's information staff and was the first reporter in the room during treaty signing.

Anyway, my wife said the same thing about the lack of local wine, loved the fruit spirits, and raved heavenly over the oysters. Her favorite place was Bayeux.
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Re: How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby JC (NC) » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:40 pm

We were offered very fresh oysters on the island (Tatihou) but I don't care for raw oysters so passed. (I like fried clams, steamed mussels, etc. but can't take the raw molluscs.)
Despite the overload of multiple-course lunches, my scales show that I lost 1.4 pounds on the trip--probably due to all the walking, although I didn't make it to the top of Mont St. Michel (I have been there twice before) and napped on the bus during the walking tour of Honfleur. We had walked for two hours that morning and I was just too tired and sore to do another one-hour walk in the afternoon. We also had walking tours in Bayeux (plus viewing the tapestry), Deauville, Rouen, etc. and did some walking at the American Cemetery. It was less strenuous than the Tuscany tour but still a challenge for someone like me who is out-of-shape.
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Re: How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby Jon Peterson » Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:54 pm

Great narrative, JC. Looking forward to pics on FB, too. As ever, I'm impressed with your always being on the go! Forget Waldo - Where's JC?
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Re: How happy you made me, oh (Nor)MANDY...

Postby JC (NC) » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:02 pm

"Sancerre and a Barry Manilow pun title. I think I just stepped into my own Sartre play."--David Bueker

At least this was has an exit (or an escape key.)
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