26 June 2019

Up close in the vineyard

It's 22ºC on the front terrace this morning. The "historical average" low for the morning of June 26 here in Saint-Aignan is 12 degrees — and the historical average high is 23 degrees. So it's nearly as warm at dawn as we would usually expect it to be late in the afternoon.

This is the western wall of the grape-workers' shed out back, bathed in afternoon sun. Workers who came from their homes on foot could store tools here and even spend the night if need be.
I don't think the shed is used any more and I've never seen the shed door open in 16 years of living here. Nobody walks to work in the vineyard any more. Everybody drives.

I'm trying to spare you more toilet pictures. One of the building contractors came over and sanded the walls of the new little room and put a coat of primer on the sheetrock. Now we are getting an idea what the loft is going to look like once the work is finished.

These are some "macro" or close-up shots I took out in the vineyard last week. It was obviously a very sunny day, but I don't think it was a hot as it is now. On, I just looked and Accuweather says the high temperature that day was 24. That was nice.

The grapes were already starting to flower more than a week ago, as you can see in this shot. You can enlarge the images to see more detail by clicking on them or touching and then "unpinching" them.

It'll be my turn to walk the dog out in the vineyard late this afternoon. I think the walk will be brief. Neither I nor the dog could stand to go very far in this heat. Predictions are for a high between 32 and 37 degrees, depending on which weather service you believe.

25 June 2019

Reasonable heat and progress

Yesterday's high temperature on our outdoor thermometer was only 30.4ºC — see the temperature conversion table on the right for the ºF equivalent. This morning, the temperature outside is about 21ºC. I got up at 4 a.m. and started opening windows and shutters to let the cool air in. So far, sleeping is comfortable and the house isn't too hot (23.4ºC).

Meanwhile, progress continues on the new "facilities" upstairs in the loft. Detail work remains to be done up there — a shelf on the ledge over the sink and toilet, baseboards all around the inside and outside of the room, a toilet seat, the pocket door, a couple of coats of paint — but the focus is now shifting to the work needed in the downstairs bathroom and throne room. Pipes between the downstairs half-bath and the upstairs half-bath still need to be connected together.

Yesterday the building contractors boxed in the big drain pipe that runs from the new "loo" down through the floor and along a corner of the bathroom. The resulting column will be painted the same color as the walls. We'll be getting a new "wall-hung" toilet in the downstairs petit coin too. Both toilets will drain through the same pipe out to the sewer mains.

I happened upon a nice light fixture for the new W.C. on amazon.fr last week, and I ordered it. After I did, I got worried that at just 600 lumens of éclairage it was going to be too dim. Doesn't it look like something you'd see in the Starship Enterprise?

It came yesterday and the contractors installed it. Walt got up a few minutes ago — it was still pretty dark outside and in the loft — and switched on the new loo light. "It's almost blinding," he said. That means it's fine and bright enough for the space.

Here's that boxed-in pipe in the bathroom downstairs. Not much of it will be visible, because under the white cabinet we have a little brown wood cabinet that we moved out of the way for the duration of the construction project. We'll paint the column to match the walls. And yes, that's a bidet next to the sink. We've kept it because it's a nice French touch in the room.

I was just looking at the MétéoFrance web site, and they appear to have lowered temperature predictions for the rest of the week. They say we might have temps of 34, 35 or 36ºC, instead of 39 or 40 degrees. The other site we follow, MétéoCiel, actually has the highs Wednesday through Friday two or three degrees lower. That's significant, and better.

24 June 2019

Memories of the 2003 canicule

The weather we're predicted to have this week reminds me of our arrival in Saint-Aignan in 2003. Sixteen years ago, we flew into Paris from the U.S. on June 2 and spent five days in Rouen in Normandy. On June 7, we drove down to Saint-Aignan in our rented car to start cleaning our new house and yard. The place was a mess, and the grass in the yard was more than knee-high because the previous owner had canceled her gardening service when we became the new owners in late April. Having tall grass to deal with was not something we had thought about. It was really too hot to be doing the work of dealing with thoroughly cleaning the house and at the same time getting the yard under control.

Predicted temperatures in Saint-Aignan for the next two weeks — in ºC above, in ºF below.
Notice that I've added a temperature conversion table in the sidebar on the right.

So that June the weather was already extremely and abnormally hot in northern France. We had had outdoor lunches in Rouen and in Étretat up on the English channel. That's almost unheard of in damp, drizzly Normandy. We were wearing shorts and T-shirts. It was hot in Saint-Aignan too, and was going to get even hotter. We didn't expect that. All through June and July, we suffered from the heat. Remember, we had spent many years living through chilly, gray San Francisco "summers" before moving to France. (Mark Twain famously wrote that the coldest winter he had ever experienced was a month of August in San Francisco!)

Morning low temperatures in ºC recorded in France on Aug. 12, 2003.
Our low temperature this morning is about 19ºC — we would normally expect 12ºC.

This week's weather will be comparable to the weather we had in the first half of August 2003. The hottest day was August 12, with a high in Tours, for example, of 39.8ºC (103.8ºF). The low in Tours that day was 22.6ºC (72.7ºF). The weather station in the town of Romorantin, 20 miles east of us, recorded temperatures above 104ºF for six straight days around that time. Houses had time to heat up to uncomfortable levels, and mornings were much warmer than usual. Walt remembers that he actually suffered from the skin condition called "prickly heat" or "sweat rash" at the time. We had a rental car with no air-conditioning, and of course no AC in the house. On August 8, we bought and took possession of a little Peugeot 206 (we still have it) that did have good AC, so many days saw us put the dog in the car and go for long drives out in the countryside just to escape the unrelenting heat.

Afternoon high temperatures in France on August 12, 2003, during the canicule.
We'll see what today brings. Accuweather predicts 33ºC (91.4ºF).

Canicule means "dog days" — normally, canicules occur in July or August, so this one will be early and temperature records will fall. You can see from the charts I posted above that temperatures are predicted to be extraordinarily high by the end of the week. In August 2003, as many as 20,000 French people, mostly elderly, died from heat exhaustion and dehydration during the great heat wave. I'm now elderly, no matter how much I want to deny that reality, so I have to be careful. Drink lots of water, they say. Limit physical activity. Stay in the shade. And so on. We have a car with AC but still no in-house AC.

23 June 2019

Where we stand (and will sit, actually!)

The man who is building the room that will be our new half bath came over yesterday morning and put in the section of wall on which the new toilet will (appear to) hang, and on which the sink and the cabinet that holds it actually will hang. Here's the result. Now it just needs to be painted — along with the rest of the walls, inside and out.

The sink cabinet is not blue. That's just the peel-off plastic film that protects the door surface from scratches during installation. The actual surface is actually shiny white melamine. The room looks spacious in this photo

Let me step back in time and in distance. Here's the room before that back panel was put in yesterday. The toilet hangs on the blue frame that is bolted to the floor and back wall. The toilet tank is what you see inside the big square at the top of the blue frame. The sink and cabinet will hang on the wooden supports on the left, which will be behind the wall panel. We have a piece of furniture that we'll put in the room on the right side of the door. It's a storage cabinet that my father built for me in the 1950s.

Here's another view from a little farther back. We're going to have a new window put in on the right side. Right now it's a French window with panels that open into the room. It's really not practical in this location, and it's pretty old. In its place, we'll have a sliding window put in. We have a chest of drawers that we'll put under the window, and we'll be able to set the electric fan on top of it for the summer, when we leave the window open at night. A potted plant or two might be happy there too.

And here's another step back. We have a second chest of drawers to put along the exterior wall of the new loo next to the radiator. I can't wait for this all to be finished.

Meanwhile, we're supposed to have daytime temperatures well up into the 90s in ºF this week. Some weather services are predicting highs of 100ºF (39ºC). It's going to be miserable for the contractors to have to work in such heat, and for us sleeping will be miserable too.

22 June 2019

Quinze fleurs

This time of year, when the hours of daylight are so long, it's a lot easier for me to take photos on my early morning and early evening walks with Tasha. When it's not raining or threatening to rain, I take my camera with me. I took this set of 15 flower photos almost a week ago. Some of the flowers are in our yard, some in neighbors' yards, and some out on the edges of the Renaudière vineyard. You'll notice that we've had a major "bloom" of little black beetles over the past week or two.

The new bathroom upstairs is getting close to being finished. The contractors who are building out the room is coming back today to try to get the work done to the point where the plumber can actually install the WC and the sink. Both are wall-hung units, so the wall needs to be finished and painted before they go up. Walt posted photos yesterday, and I'll try to take some today and post them tomorrow.

21 June 2019

Choses vues chez la voisine...

We have a part-time neighbor who hasn't come to stay in the hamlet in a while now. She lives in the Paris area, and she has inherited her late husband's family home here. She hires a man to keep the yard mowed and her rose bushes in good shape. Here are some things I've seen on her property recently.

In a fairly big windstorm last week, one of her trees fell down. Or at least half of it did. It's a willow. I wonder if she even knows about it. A neighbor who lives here full-time, as we do, told me yesterday he had gone to look at the big limb on the ground. He said the trunk of the willow tree seemed to be rotting from inside out. It couldn't stand up to the strong winds. I've seen at least two other big limbs broken off trees out around the edges of the vineyard.

With recent rains, the pond out behind the part-time neighbor's house has a good amount of water in it now. Sometimes it goes completely dry. In olden times, before there were so many people living on the land and sewage mains were put in, these ponds, called fosses, were used for waste water and sewage disposal. They are holes that were dug to contain that waste, along with rainwater. Now they just collect rainwater.

The other day, as I walked by with Tasha, I startled a big heron that was standing in the fosse. Now I know why. It was hunting frogs that have invaded the little pond. Not far away, there's a larger pond, called a mare, which is out behind our house, and it is full of frogs right now. They croak and chirp in a loud chorus on warm mornings. I guess some of them have crossed the dirt road and colonized the fosse. Maybe they make the land crossing when the weather is rainy.

20 June 2019

Le Mont St-Michel en 15 images

I don't think the Mont St-Michel needs any introduction. Here is a slideshow containing 15 photos that I took there in June 2006. It lasts less than two minutes and will "loop" endlessly if you let it. You can pause it using YouTube controls if you want to examine a particular image. Indluded are views both of and from the Mont, which is an island at high tide and surrounded by mud flats, marshes, and "salty meadows at low time. Normandy cows as well as sheep graze nearby, and the bay north of the Mont is famous for the mussels farmed there.

I've been lucky to go the Mont Saint-Michel many times over the decades, including several trips since we moved to Saint-Aignan in 2003. Here are some of my older blog posts about the Mont. See also this Normandy tourism site about it.

P.S. The work up in the loft space continues. Progress is being made, but we've got a way to go yet. I didn't really have a chance to take any photos yesterday. Everything seems really chaotic at certain moments, but I'm sure it's going to be great when it's done. À suivre...

19 June 2019

Work has started

The plumber came yesterday and started the work of installing the new bathroom (WC, or half-bath) that we are having built in our attic loft space. It's hard to describe how it will work, and I'm not much of a graphic artist. I'll try to show with words on a photo how it might be configured:

If you've spent much time in France, you know how small such bathroom spaces can be. I think this one will be about five feet by five feet — 25 sq. ft. That's all. It'll be just enough room for a small sink and a toilet. WC means "water closet" and this will be a closet — a convenience, not a luxury.

We had the attic of our house finished as new living space nine years ago. It's one big room, which is our bedroom, a family room with sofa and TV, and my desk and computer. We like the size of the space (about 650 square feet). As you can see in the photos above, there are closets under the eaves of the house, on two sides, that run the length of the room (behind the radiators). In the first photo here, you can see that we've taken the doors off the closet so the plumber can crawl around in there. I took the second photo before I took the doors off.

The closets are where the pipes go (for both the radiators and the new WC). You can see them here. The big drain pipe from the toilet is what the plumber put in yesterday. It runs about half the length of the room, in the back of the long closet. There will also be a smaller pipe to bring water up from downstairs, and a small water heater for the new sink so we won't have to wait so long for hot water to flow upstairs from the bigger water heater two stories down.

The new drain pipe drops down into the big bathroom downstairs, as you can see here. We don't know yet whether we'll have it boxed in using what we call "sheetrock" (plaster wall board) or whether we'll just paint the PVC pipe white. Either way, it will blend in to the decor, I think, and not be too noticeable. The fact that the new bathroom is not directly above the old one has complicated things, but that's just the way it is.

On the main level of the house, the WC is also separate from the bathroom. It's adjacent though. From the bathroom, the big drain pipe runs through the wall into the WC and will be connected to the existing pipe that runs from the existing toilet down to ground level and connects to the sewer mains. So the plumber had to drill big holes in the ceiling and the wall yesterday. He managed to make surprisingly little dust in the process.

I'm not sure any of that is clear, but I'm doing my best. I'll keep posting photos as the work progresses.

18 June 2019

Le pounti auvergnat

Changing regions and focus, from Normandy to Auvergne and from drink to food. You won't believe this, but I harvested some more Swiss chard this week. It was the last of it. After I cut down three of the plants, they re-sprouted a profusion of tender green leaves. I dug those three up a few days ago and picked off the new growth.

One idea I had for using those tender leaves was to make a savory cake called a pounti, which is an Auvergne specialty. I also see it called simply a gâteau de blettes (a chard cake) on some recipe sites on the web.

We first learned about and tasted pounti cake when we spent a view days in the Cantal (Auvergne) 10 years ago. I posted about it, including a recipe, back then.

The flavor ingredients are prunes, cheese, onions, and ham or other meat. Making pounti is a way to use up leftover meat like cooked pork or poultry. It's more a concept than a strict recipe, as are so many regional French dishes.

As usual, there are now a lot of recipes for pounti cakes on the internet, including quite a few in English. First you make a cake batter with flour, eggs, oil, and warm milk. Then you mix in grated cheese, sliced chard leaves, and pitted prunes. Walt says we should make a pounti-style cake with diced smoked chicken and dried cranberries, and that sounds like a good idea to me.

In this pounti, I used Emmental cheese and smoked pork lardons. If I'd had any Cantal cheese on hand, I would have used that, and I almost decided to make it with goat cheese. That will be for another day. You can also substitute fresh spinach leaves, tender kale leaves, or even lettuce for the chard.

17 June 2019

M. Breton, bouilleur

When I took those pictures of Normandy cows grazing in an apple orchard, the ones I posted yesterday, we were driving around on the east side of La Ferté-Macé looking for Monsieur Breton's house, where he sold calvados apple brandy to retail customers. We had driven right past it, it turned out. Breton is or was a bouilleur — a distiller or "boiler" of cider. We had seen him featured on a TV show about French regional products called Carte Postale Gourmande.

Breton's sign was almost hidden by vegetation. It looks like there were two other producers partnering with Monsieur Breton to make calvados and pommeau. Calvados can be single-distilled to about 60 proof (30% alcohol) or double distilled to 140 proof (70% alcohol) — it resembles cognac but is made with apples rather than grapes. Pommeau is a less powerful brew: it's an apéritif wine made by fortifying cider with calvados to about 30 proof (15% alcohol). Both calva and pommeau are to be consumed avec modération, bien sûr.

After finding the sign, we drove through the gate and parked in front of the house inside. There were no cars or people to be seen. I snapped the photos above and below, and we were getting ready to leave when Monsieur Breton drove in. He was friendly and didn't seem to be bothered to find us there.

In the photo above, you can see his still, with his name spray-painted on it in blue. This is obviously a working establishment, not a tourist site. If you want to read more about calvados, here's a link to a site written in English by a blogger in Normandy. I just read on Wikipédia that 50% of the region's production of calva is exported.

Above is a photo of the Bretons' house. He invited us in and pour us little snifters of the calvados he was selling. He told us his wife was off in the Loire Valley (if I remember correctly) spending a few weeks with her sister, so he had the place to himself. He was talkative and interesting, and was interested to meet two Americans who could speak French with him.

I believe Monsieur Breton's first name was or is Marcel. I've tried to find web sites that give more information about him, but without much luck. I did find this photo on one site, and i believe this is him. I wonder if he is still living. He told us the orchard where the cows were grazing belonged to his son, and maybe the son is now running the calvados business. Here's a site where you can buy a bottle or two, if you want. Some are more than 50 years old and sell for two or three hundred euros.

16 June 2019

Vaches et pommiers

I took these photos of cows grazing in an apple orchard in the Perche area of Lower Normandy in May 2005. We were trying to find the farm of an apple brandy producer near the town of La Ferté-Macé.

Cows and apples are two of the greatest symbols of the province of Normandy in France.

The cows produce milk, which is turned into cream, butter, and cheeses including Camembert, Livarot, and Pont-l'Éveque.

The apples are baked into pies, of course, but they are also turned into hard cider and the apple brandy called calvados.

15 June 2019

Maisons normandes (3)

This is the third and last set of photos of houses in Normandy that I put together and edited this week. These aren't on the Cotentin peninsula but south and west of there, between Domfront and Alençon. I took some of them in Domfront, and others in the spa town called Bagnoles-de-l'Orne as well as in Carrouges. Some of these houses are châteaux, or manoirs at least.

Here it is June 15 and we are still having mostly chilly, cloudy weather, with heavy downpours from storms featuring lightning and thunder. This weather makes me feel like it's March instead of June, though I admit it's a little bit warmer than March weather. We hardly had any real winter weather between November 2018 and April 2019, and now I'm worried we might not have any real summer weather. I'm trying not to be a pessimist...

14 June 2019

Maisons normandes (2)

A few days ago, when I started looking for and processing photos of houses that I took in Normandy in the early years of this century (doesn't that sound funny?), I didn't realize how many I would find. I ended up with 42 images. That made a fairly long slide show, so I divided them into three 14-image shows. I'm always surprised by the good quality of images produced by digital cameras so long ago.

All these are houses in Lower Normandy, which is the western part of the province or region. (You might call some "buildings" because they have shops, restaurants, or cafés on the ground floor, but that's not unusual for houses in France.) If I started looking for photos of houses in Upper Normandy (la Haute Normandie) I'd find so many more, because I've spent so much more time there over the years. I lived and worked for a year in that area's capital city, Rouen, back in the 1970s.

13 June 2019

Maisons normandes (1)

Yesterday I spent another few hours going through sets of Normandy photos that I've taken over the years. I'm concentrating on the period from 2004 and 2005, when I made several trips to the Cotentin, which is a peninsula in western Normandy, north of the famous Mont Saint-Michel. Here are a few photos of houses grand and modest in Lower Normandy.

Meanwhile, life here in Saint-Aignan is just a waiting game. We're waiting for some nice weather to return. Enough with the chilly days — the afternoon high temperatures haven't barely hit 70ºF this week — and rain, rain go away. The vegetable garden and other plants need some warmth and sunshine.

The other waiting game has to do with the new bathroom we want to have built out and plumbed in up in our big loft space. The two artisans we have contracted with to do the work haven't shown up yet, even though they said they'd start working here around June 1. Major sigh. No news from them at all. We've cleared the space by moving furniture and emptying closets, and I'm getting tired of the house feeling like a jumble.

12 June 2019

Le pois mangetout

We're having snow peas, known in French as pois gourmands or pois mangetout ("eat-all"), for lunch today. They're growing in our 2019 vegetable garden and are the first thing we've harvested this spring (with the exception of the Swiss chard that I planted in 2018 and that over-wintered out there).

Walt was going to go out and harvest our third batch of snow peas yesterday afternoon when suddenly it started... get this... snowing! Well, not exactly snowing, but sleeting. There were two bolts of lightning, then a loud rumble of thunder. The bottom fell out. The rain was so hard that I had to go look, and what I saw was a mix of big raindrops and small ice pellets. The pellets were bouncing off the hood and roof of the Citroën, which I had left parked outdoors. No damage done, thankfully.

Wikipédia says people in France and in the Netherlands have been growing, cooking, and eating pois mangetout since at least the 16th century. They are mentioned in a book published in 1526. We'll be having a stir-fry of onion, garlic, carrot, snow peas, and chicken today. We've already had similar stir-fries of snow peas, one with beef and one with shrimp, this spring.

A few days ago Walt posted a photo of the second batch of snow peas he had harvested. He planted seeds we bought here in Saint-Aignan and that are described on the label as being a pois demi-nain 40 jours — semi-dwarf peas that start producing 40 days after planting. I took the photos in the slideshow above two weeks ago.

11 June 2019

Pommes de terre confites, etc.

 When I lived in Paris back in the mid-1970s, somebody gave me a cookbook that was published in association with the American Hospital as a fund-raising tool. Until then, I had lived in North Carolina, Illinois, and Normandy. One of the recipes in the book was for guacamole, and I remember it as being one of the most complicated concoctions ever, with 8 or 10 ingredients. At least it introduced me to the concept of avocado dip, which I made yesterday and is very simple.
Another recipe was for the potatoes you see above. I'm calling them pommes de terre confites, and I found several recipes for them on the internet when I decided I wanted to make them again. My American Hospital cookbook disappeared years ago; I don't know where it went. I wish I could find a copy of it today.

Anyway, I remember these potatoes well. I have a highly developed memory for foods that have pleased my palate. The potatoes are crispy on the outside and soft — moelleux — in the middle. The ones I cooked a few days ago were especially tasty because I cooked them in duck fat. I'm sure they would be good cooked in olive or canola oil too, but the duck fat has such good flavor.

I combined the pommes de terre confites (slow-cooked potatoes) with half a smoked chicken (purchased at the supermarket) and some garden-grown collard greens that I had in the freezer. It was an American-style meal made using French ingredients and techniques.

Here's what lunch looked like on the plate. The smokiness of the chicken, crispiness of the potatoes, and "meatiness" of the collard greens all complemented each other. Sprinkle some hot-pepper vinegar on the collards and, if you like, on the chicken. Some Dijon mustard would be good with the chicken and with the potatoes. I'll have to make all of this again soon. It's comfort food on a gray, chilly, damp day, and that's the kind of weather we're having now.

10 June 2019

Autour du phare de Gatteville en Normandie

The Gatteville lighthouse stands on the Pointe de Barfleur and guides boats into Barfleur harbor. It's 25 meters (82 ft.) tall and was built in the 1830s. The day we were there, May 13, 2005, was really windy, cloudy, and downright cold— kind of like the weather we're having today in Saint-Aignan.

The slideshow is made up of a set of photos in the order in which I took them. In one photo, you can see Barfleur on the horizon across the water. In another there's the lighthouse guard dog staring us down. In others are tide pools and views of the rocky coast. It was so cold and windy that we were too frigorifiés to stop and take photos in Barfleur that day. I had been there 6 or 8 months earlier, so we just continued south after a quick drive around the harbor.

I'm late posting this morning because I got too involved in organizing and editing photos. And then I remembered that I needed to cook some black beans for today's lunch, so getting them going slowed me down even more. In all of yesterday's excitement — the neighbors had a huge party that we were invited to, and then there was the men's final at Roland Garros to watch — today's food plans were almost forgotten. We'll be making burritos.

09 June 2019

Osso-bucco de veau

The supermarket had what they call osso-bucco de veau — slices of veal shank — on sale for 9.90€ per kilogram this past week — that's only $4.50/lb. I couldn't get over there to buy some until Friday, and of course, despite huge signs advertising the product, there were no veal shanks to be found. As you can see, however, they did have veal shanks on display, but in bulk in the cut-to-order glass case instead of in self-serve plastic-wrapped trays. And they were priced at 15.60€/kg.
The man I assume to be the manager of the meat department happened to be out front, not behind the glass case, having a conversation with another shopper. I waited around, browsing through the other meats in the refrigerated cases, until the conversation ended. As the butcher walked by, my shouted Bonjour, monsieur ! got his attention. I asked him if he had any veal shanks at the lower price. Seeming not to have heard me on the price question, he pointed out the more expensive veal shanks in the display case.
Oui, mais c'est beaucoup plus cher, I told him. I'm kind of used to this happening, since I've been shopping in the local supermarkets for 16 years now. Oh, okay, I'll give them to you at the sale price, he said. I was flabbergasted. How many do you want? Four, I said. He weighed out four shank slices, looked at me, and asked if that would be enough. There are just two of us, I told him, so we'll have leftovers with just those four.

With osso bucco, he said, plus c'est réchauffé, meilleur c'est — veal shank benefits from being re-heated. I agree with that. To make osso-bucco, first I browned the slices of veal in duck fat (butter or olive oil would also be good). As they browned, I diced up a big carrot, an onion, and two celery stalks. I took the veal out of the pan and lightly browned the diced vegetables. I deglazed the pan with white wine and a secret ingredient: a splash of Triple Sec (a liqueur flavored with dried orange peels).

Then I put the veal back into the pan and added enough tomates concassées (crushed tomatoes, out of a can) to cover the meat, along with 2 bay leaves and some thyme, salt, and pepper. I also put in big spoonful of powdered veal stock, which contains some potato starch that thickens the tomato sauce. The veal and vegetables cooked on very low heat for 3 hours, covered. We served the osso-bucco with potato gnocchi, which seem suddenly to be widely available these days.

08 June 2019

From Carteret to Barfleur

About 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Carteret, which I've been blogging about for a few days, is the village of Barfleur (pop. approx. 600). It's on the opposite coast from Barneville-Carteret. Barfleur is officially one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. It's built around a beautiful harbor.

Here's a map:

As you can see, this area of Normandy, historically called le Cotentin and administratively le département de la Manche (la Manche  or "the sleeve" being the French name for what we call the English Channel), is a peninsula that juts out into the sea and is the western part of Normandy. The largest town in the area is Cherbourg, where ocean liners dock.

Above is a stitched-together panorama of the north shore of the Barfleur harbor. I took this set of photos in September 2004, the first time I ever visited the village. You can enlarge the image and scroll across it to see it at full size. Barfleur is famous as the port from which William the Conqueror, who was the Duke of Normandy, sailed to England in 1066. Richard Cœur de Lion (Richard the Lion-Heart) also sailed out of Barfleur when left France to take the throne of England.