France 2017, Seine, (Day 29)

Les Andelys

Thursday, 31.08.2017

lots of km

Today we face the last day of our holidays, save the trip home. Thus we are committed to enjoy it. The weather helps and yesterdays rain is forgotten. First stop is the Château Gaillard overlooking Les Andelys and the surrounding area. It was build in just two years from 1196 by Richard the Lionhardt, who at the time was not only King of England, but also Duke of Normandy.  The castle has a long and very interesting history. As so often Wikipedia is a good start.

It is a mighty fine castle.

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And it offers some fine views over the Seine valley.

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Spot ARGO.
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There is a second castle on the list, alas a much posher one. The Château de La Roche-Guyon  has got a history full of changes. Started at the same time as Château Gaillard it didn’t end up as ruin, but rather as a nice example of a proper representative chateau of the Ancien Regime. With a few interesting quirks. This has to do with the fact, that the castle is build half way into the cliff side.

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On top of the cliff you can see the old keep. The remains of the original castle.

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But before we get to that, a few pictures of the interior.
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In order to get up to the keep you have to climb several steep flights of stairs, that have been hewn into the rock.
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Halfway up they added a pigeonry right into the rock. Just because they could.
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Finally reaching the top of the keep, commanding views over the Seine valley open up.
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Back down to the valley floor, we tend to the chateau’s garden.
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The garden also offers some nice boat spotting opportunities.
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Next stop are the 4 ecluses near Gaillon. As the name suggests, these are 4 parallel locks of various sizes, from Freycinet size to outright huge.
Unfortunately the site is quiet inaccessible. And the pictures not great.
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After the cultural part, its back to the chores and we go shopping. Wine, good flour and other things that are hard to get or very expensive in Ireland. We like to believe that the holiday pays for itself, if only we drink enough cheap wine over the winter. You can’t see a flaw? We neither.

Back to the camp  for a swim in the pool and then off to town for a special treat. We have booked a table at the Les Saveurs du Liban et de l’Orient. A Lebanese restaurant, with Meze being a speciality. Truly amazing, spectacular food, great chef. Cosy restaurant. Go there.

And that’s really it. Next morning we hitch up the boat and get on the way to the ferry at Cherbourg.  We park the boat at the ferry harbour and do a little detour to the fishing village of Barfleur. Beautiful spot.

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A short spin to the beach.
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And that’s really it . Thanks for bearing with me.  The plan for 2018 includes a revisit of the Loire as well as the Pyrenees.  Please stay all tuned and have a great summer.

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France 2017, Seine, (Day 28)

Les Andelys

Wednesday, 30.08.2017

lots of km

Today it is sightseeing with the help of the car. First stop on a rather dull day is Vernon.
Its main fame seems to be the remains of the medieval bridge. On top of the bridge a row of flour mills was housed. Apparently the vibration of the works made the bridge collapse.

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Nearby we find a pimp my vintage car place. The lad of course, is well delighted.

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Then it was off to the mayor  tourist attraction around here, and time to fall for this years tourist trap, which we have carefully avoided so far.

The famous house and garden of the rather famous Claude Monet in Giverny.  Between the Three of us we had to pay more than a weeks worth on Petrol, just to get in.  You get to see a museum with some guy on exhibition with a name I cannot remember. After that you get to see his garden, the house and the famous Lilly pond. And 83 busloadsselfie sticks.
Do go to Giverny, there is one of the most fantastic places you possibly dream up. But avoid the Monet thing like hell.
Just a few pictures for reference.

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And a bloke weeding the famous pond.

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Walking back to the car we notice a wee little sign reading “Musée de Mécanique Naturelle”. This slightly strange combination of words instils the notion, that it is either something crazy esoteric or something really unique.
The proprietor is a quintessential lively French Gentleman, fallen out of a Louis de Funes movie. He has collected all kinds of old machinery, steam engines, petrol driven washing machines, outboards, a machine that fully automatically produces clogs, since over a century.
And all works from the biggest to smallest engine.

No entrance fee (also we left a good donation) and we are exclusively shown around for about an hour. Nerd heaven.

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Eventually he susses out that we are from Britain (in a very wide sense of the word) and we have to follow him to his banger of a car. He delivers us to the local park, were volunteers are just erecting the infrastructure for a steam rally coming up on the weekend. He we are introduced to the Yorkshireman and his partner. They have come all the way from Anson with their truck, in order to represent the Anson Engine Museum, with a restored Blackstone stationary engine. Not long after, I am pressed into installing the lighting in the beer tent. So we all have a jolly afternoon. But unfortunately we can’t make it for the actual steam rally.

Back to the camp, we go an a stroll along the river and in order to suss out an eatery for our last holiday tomorrow.

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France 2017, Seine, (Day 27)

St-Jean-de-Losne – Les Andelys

Tuesday, 29.08.2017

lots of km

 

Today we are making our first move back towards Ireland. But its not all that grim with still a few holidays left. In keeping with tradition I have booked three nights on a campsite.  But this time not by the seaside (the Île-de-Normoutier trauma still sticks from last year) but on the Seine half way between Paris and Rouen. But first there is the small matter of getting there.
We get up at six in the morning to make the most of the day and to avoid the biggest heat.

Getting the boat onto the trailer is a bit of a problem. The slipways in St-Jean is on a weird angle to the water and we take several attempts to get the boat sorted. Still it might be quite handy for a trip on the Saône. There is campsite just next door and the railway station makes for easy one-way trips. I forgot to  take pictures. Thus here is one from Google.

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Having had the inner city traffic incident in Paris, we decide to give the French capital a wide berth and instead take a left onto the A19 across to Orleans. This really would not deserve a mention, hadn’t we not come across this:

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“What is this?”, you might not ask. Rather obviously not waterway related. And in fact I had no idea, but was immediately electrified, that this must be something weird. A straight line of pillars all the way to the horizon in either direction. With just a short piece hacked out rather crudely for the motorway to pass. Finding the location on Google maps reveals it has been the test track for the Aerotrain. A 1960s hovertrain, propelled by a jet engine. Madness, from a past with a brighter future, a on quite a grand scale. Wikipedia sheds some light on it. There are also several interesting videos on Youtube.  Check it out.

After more hot and along some D roads, still avoiding Paris, we finally make it to Les Andelys. More specifically to the Camping de l’Ile des 3 Rois. Not too bad for a camp site, nothing too special either. What really annoys me: The camping is on a Seine island. Ideal for boat spotting you would think. But they went to a great length to have a five meter high hedge around the whole camp. Thus you can hear all the shipping going on, but cannot see nothing.

Anyway the real attraction of the place is not the camp site but the castle overlooking it. Château Gaillard was found by Richard Lionheart. It has changed hand many times and also played a crucial role in the Hundred Year War. And it was not just any odd castle. It was of really massive scale.Today it definitely enhances the scenery.

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We will come back again to give it a closer inspection. But for now, after a very long day on the road we tread ourselves to a meal at tfhe Restaurant Mistral in the village. Great food. Back to the camp. Early bed.