Monday, June 21, 2010

France, Part II


An easygoing day of shopping and sightseeing, still somewhat marred by the airline snafu. We ate egg crepes provided by the hotel's kitchen, with orange juice, baguette, preserves, and hot chocolate--the perfect breakfast. We then walked to the center of Honfleur, a square harbor with some impressive sailboats surrounded by tall, narrow houses. We toured the Church of St. Catherine, begun in 1464. It was dark inside, huge and barn-like. It creeped me out a little--images of Mary were everywhere, including hanging over the altar. We then spent time at a book shop where I bought Tintin au Congo, a book racist enough that it was never translated into English--but hey, it's a Tintin book. Though Herge was a Belgian Imperialist, all his books are works of art.
We returned to the hotel and prepared to go to a larger town to find some clothes for John. This took us a long time. Finally, we were able to find a good discount store. I bought sneakers and a shirt in the traditional Normandy fisherman pattern (slightly updated). We are little cheese pastries for lunch in Trouville-sur-Mer, and finally returned to Honfleur. We took a leisurely walk to the center of Honfleur, enjoying traditional cider and appetizers at a quaside restaurant before continuing our leisurely walk. We stopped so that John could get gyros, then walked a steep twenty minutes to Cote de Grace, the highest point around, with stunning views of Honfleur, and a massive bridge across the little finger of the Atlantic that separated quaint, medieval Honfleur from massive, industrial Le Havre. There was a chapel, Our Lady of Grace, which unlike St. Catherine's, had its altar centered on Christ. It was a beautiful chapel, set in acres of quiet, ancient forests on the top of Cote de Grace. The bells began, calling believers to Mass. The pale ocean on one side, the forest on the other, the idyllic chapel--one of the oldest in the region--and the tintinnabulation of the bells--all combined in a sweet sensory harmony. For me, it felt like long-awaited peace after a long couple days of travel. We returned to the hotel, watched part of the John Grisham film "A Time to Kill," and went exhaustedly to bed. We will be heading to Brittany tomorrow, taking in the D-Day beaches on the way. What I will take away from Honfleur: the quiet. On the quiet streets during the day, in this hotel, and everywhere at night, Honfleur is a quiet and peaceful city. I can hear nothing right now but the faint buzz of the lights and John's even, quiet breathing. Time to turn in.


Honfleur to Dinan, Brittany, via a never-ending procession of roundabouts and wee little towns. We were sad to leave the B&B in Honfleur--it was a truly wonderful place. Today we toured some of Normandy's beaches, including Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc, where Grandpa Gray's Ranger Battalion fought on D-Day. We then set our sights on Brittany, our next destination.
The town of Dinan is rather touristy, with circuitously medieval streets. The hotelwas ancient on the outside, but indoors resembled an American motel--in a bad way. The petite British manager was very helpful, if scatter-brained. We wandered through the narrow streets and alleys. Mrs. H. and John bought a handmade leather belt for Mr. Hokanson. Then, at Creperie Ahn, we had the best meal of the trip so far--crepe salad with hot chevre for me, with rose wine for the table and a butter-caramel crepe for dessert. Then, proudly utilizing my French skills, I told the waiter to "bring you the bill, please." I then corrected myself and the smiling waiter shook his head. We then took a dusky walk around medieval Dinan.


lizz said...

Hey Mos,

I really enjoyed your journal/post so far, very intreseting and well written.


Susan Elina said...

I love these posts! I think the chapel sounds so pretty! I've always wanted to go to Austria but now it sounds like France is a close rival.