On the Normandy coast

For some time now we have had a motorhome and had the intention of travelling in it in Europe. However, as is often the case, life has simply not worked out that way until October this year (2014) when we made our first trip to France. I hope this will be a first in a series of blogs on our travels in the motorhome. My intention is still to focus on the walks and photographs from the travels however there may also be comment on some of the sites we’ve stayed on on the grounds that we have found other similar blogs useful to us. I was going to say that we “went over the Channel” on the grounds that that is the way it has worked in the past however this time for a number of reasons we went under the Channel via Eurotunnel simply driving on on the UK side and off in France – effortless if not all that interesting. We decided not to attempt too much on our first day and simply stayed at a campsite in Dieppe. Again for a number of reasons we were not planning to go very far this time and with the exception of our first real destination had no route in mind.

In looking at where we might go I’d happened across two different articles about the cliffs at Étretat.  They looked like they would be worth a visit and, around the same time, I came across a recommendation for a campsite at Étretat. It was simply the local “municipal” site however, from past experience, I know they can be very good sites.  We arrived in the early afternoon and found the site was fine.  We got pitched up and then walked into the town which was barely 10 minutes down the road.

Arriving on the seafront we realised just how spectacular the cliffs actually were.  On the first day the weather left a little to be desired however we walked along the cliffs to the east of Étretat.  In either direction there is quite a steep climb to get to the top of the cliffs however the view makes it well worthwhile.  The town itself was pleasant with a reasonable range of shops, cafes and places to eat and we decided to stay for a few nights.  There are also some interesting historical issues connected with the town.  The image on the left is of the White Bird memorial which commemorates the fact that there was any early attempt to cross the Atlantic and the biplane was last seen close to Étretat.  The image on the right is of the old covered market at Étretat which was used as a hospital during World War 1.

One advantage of staying in Étretat meant that we were able to look at the cliffs at night quite easily.  The town seemed to have a fair influx of day trippers but was far quieter in the evenings.  The cliffs are illuminated at night and a combination of that and a lovely sunset one night made for some good photo opportunities.

By this time we had decided that an extra night to allow us to pop into the local market the next day would be an idea however sadly the site had to close after that night. As we had planned nothing else we had a look at the maps we had and the weather forecast and decided to head to Pontorson which is close the Mount Saint-Michel. While we aimed to avoid autoroutes and their tolls as much as possible taking the autoroute over the Pont Normande across the Seine seemed more than sensible and got us to Pontorson by mid afternoon.

I’ve actually been to Mount Saint-Michel a couple of times before so was not too bothered about visiting it again. However the campsite we stayed at was good and the weather further south still looked quite changeable so we stayed on for a few days and decided to visit Mount Saint-Michel again. We took the bus from Pontorson to Mount Saint-Michel which had the advantage that it took us along the new causeway now closed to other traffic. I have to be honest and say, while I find the setting of Mount Saint-Michel stunning, the actual place is so touristy that we didn’t stay long and I doubt I’d go back again in a hurry. The religious buildings there are lovely however much of the island consists of tourist shops selling largely the same “souvenirs” – the only difference is the varying prices, some quite significantly. The campsite at Pontorson was quite an easy walk back (around 8km) along the river (Couesnon) and saved waiting for the next bus.