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  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.

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August 31 2012 6 31 /08 /August /2012 14:57

LES GROTTES DE JOBOURG

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8450/7899653688_11b5ba7c31.jpgLe nez is a word derived from the Norse "ness", meaning cape and not as some would think, the French word for nose.  The nez de Jobourg is one of the most visited sites along the Channel.  The shoreline cliffs are the highest in Europe and peak at over 128 meters.  From its adjacent nez de Voidries one can admire the most western tip of the Cotentin peninsula and its breath taking panoramas.  During good weather it is possible to see the Channel Islands of Sark, Alderney and Guernsey in the near distance.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8033/7899654724_862fd57a89.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8301/7899655140_d0b02fec47.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8038/7899654196_749b6eda8a.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8301/7899642334_01de92aa43.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8452/7899665586_a34fcf883d.jpgOn July 18, I went with three friends on a guided trip to the famous grottes de Jobourg located under the nez de Voidries which forms a small bay with the nez de Jobourg.  The four caves: the “fairy hole”, the “little church”, the “big church” and the “lion’s cave” can be visited as long as one has a qualified guide.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8461/7899652202_a21b4cf56d.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8459/7899653216_7f785cd8b4.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8296/7899652738_e26f538cfd.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8169/7899660124_1441b5e9b1.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8438/7899651410_8392ac1f1f.jpgOur guide was a man named Cyrille Forafo from the Association EXSPEN who was well versed in local history and legends as well as geology and marine science.  In order to visit the caves we had to hike down a narrow path which required us to use climbing ropes and safety harnesses to get us to the bottom and across several small inlets.  This was the scary part for all of us.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8443/7899645764_e9e632b748.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8033/7899659104_f95e08f34b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8457/7899664926_16299edd5f.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8041/7899662818_628a028746.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8437/7899662068_11102f52c4.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8450/7899661368_fa37d05c30.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8171/7899656440_b16c65994a.jpgAlthough we were attached to a safety rope, there was always the chance we could fall into the water and get soaking wet.  Using precautionary safety ropes, no one fell into the sea although we all got our feet wet.  The path is very steep and the rocks are slippery.  Throughout the five hour hike, we explored caves and rock formations stopping every now and then for our guide to show us something and explain its use or its history.  It was all very interesting.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8438/7899657806_03340cce60.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8461/7899650810_e05f0194da.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8430/7899646664_c3efd4891f.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8031/7899649780_6d94e16070.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8459/7899663536_896d9e886e.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8040/7899664362_3429b07257.jpgI learned that the many of the small caves along the coast were used by smugglers during the reign of Louis XIV.  Smuggling was a national sport in this area of France because of its closeness to the English-owned Channel Islands.  Smugglers would use the caves to store food and goods that could not be found in France but were readily available on the islands.  Customs officers, called “les gabelous” were laughed at because they could never find bootleg items in the caves.  This was because the gabelous were like cats who did not like to get their feet wet.  At low tide, they would explore the caves and find nothing.  The smugglers however, knew that the best times to hide things in the caves would be during high coefficients.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8297/7899650348_d62561451e.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8313/7899656920_5613e989f0.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8179/7899658472_253875f439.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8309/7899648282_5281b6e67e.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8316/7899648724_a07ee997eb.jpgThe most popular product to be sold on the black market was neither cigarettes nor alcohol but silk stockings.  The irony here is that the silk stockings were the ones that King Louis XIV really liked.  They were all the rage and everyone wanted them.  But even though the king liked silk stockings, and 90% of the product could be found on the Channel Islands, trading with England was illegal.  Because Alderney is only 16 kilometers away, the illicit trade in stockings became quite popular in La Hague and lasted until 1688 when the king finally authorized the building of factories in France to create these special stockings.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8300/7899647396_ef086755d1.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8309/7899648282_5281b6e67e.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8297/7899649242_c12d861814.jpgThe highlight of the tour comes during the visit to the Lion’s Cave where lichens shimmering silver and gold line the walls.  It was here that we all ate our sack lunch before exploring the rest of the caves.  Many of the caves have their own legends attached to them.  For example, some local people believe that there is a tunnel linking the “little church” cave to the church in Jobourg.  This is actually impossible as the stone is way too hard for anyone to build such a tunnel.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8448/7899643288_f37d43b358.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8319/7899644464_3e0f044c49.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8425/7899645076_9a0c114747.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8443/7899646116_b42f83f766.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8435/7899643680_c97b85d7ab.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8031/7899644040_4f5ae27b1c.jpgOur guide also showed us the many different types of seaweed and shell fish that thrive in this area and can be eaten as food.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8295/7899642674_e6b04a374c.jpgMy favorite plant was this “crown of thorns” succulent which grows at the base of the cliffs and tastes very much like a mild grapefruit.  An excellent source of vitamin C, it can be eaten as is or mixed with a salad.  At the end of the hike we returned to our starting point at the parking lot of the restaurant near the nez de Jobourg.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8306/7899655588_56c5325b1e.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8176/7899641850_9e7eec5efa.jpgHere, our guide showed us several seaweed products that can be purchased from the local health food stores in Cherbourg and Tourlaville.  Cyrille Forafo from the Association EXSPEN was an excellent guide and showed us a wonderful time.  If you are interested in visiting the Grottes de Jobourg yourself, you might want to visit the EXSPEN website for more information.

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Published by The Baguette - in La Hague
August 1 2011 2 01 /08 /August /2011 08:45

4075 Port du Hâble, Omonville-la-RogueOn Friday I went on another hike along le sentier des douaniers of La Hague.  4071 Port du Hâble, Omonville-la-Rogue4072 Port du Hâble, Omonville-la-Rogue4073 Port du Hâble, Omonville-la-RogueThis time I started from Port du Hable in Omonville-la-Rogue toward Port Racine in Saint-Germain-des-Vaux for a total of 14 km.  The distance wasn’t the problem for me but the stone / gravel seashore and paved roadways certainly punished my knees.  It is not a hike that I would recommend unless you are keen on walking several kilometres along loose stones most of the way.  Before you head out, have lunch at the restaurant Le café du port.  The pot of moules-frites is huge and a serving for one actually feeds two!  To drink we had a bottle of cider and for dessert I had the crème brûlée while my friend had the fondant au chocolat (don’t worry, the hike worked off any extra calories).  4077 Sémaphore de Jardeheu, Digulleville4079 Anse Saint-MartinAfter passing the Sémaphore de Jardeheu the shoreline near the Havre de Plainvic and l'anse Saint-Martin comes into view revealed many strange rock formations.  4081 Sainte-Hélène4083 Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-Vaux4084 Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-Vaux4088 Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-VauxAs I got closer to Port Racine, I saw remains of German gun batteries which used to follow along the entire Atlantic coast during World War II.  4086 Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-Vaux4085 Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-VauxIt was rather strange seeing this solitary sunflower growing directly from the stones along the shore.  Hiking back to the car we took the D45 through the small hamlets of Renet and Les Mesnils, then veering off along the D203 at Hameau-ès-Fours past Hameau-ès-Asselines and La Rivière until reaching l'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste back in Omonville.  4093 l'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Omonville-la-Rogue4082 Port Racine, Saint-Germain-des-Vaux4091 Hameau de la Rivière, DigullevilleAll along the way, flowers grew wild along the road or in the neatly planted gardens of people lucky enough to live in this region of La Manche.4092 Hameau de la Rivière, Digulleville

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July 23 2011 7 23 /07 /July /2011 13:32

302 Vauville303 Vauville305 VauvilleOn Friday, after some cloudy skies in the morning, the sun came out and I decided to continue with my hikes along le sentier des douaniers near Vauville.  I parked near l’ancien carrière at the bottom of the D318 and proceeded to walk down la rue following the signs to le prieuré.  304 Vauville306 Le prieuré de Vauville307 Le prieuré de VauvilleThe Benedictine priory of St-Michel, which stands on a hill to the left of the road, was founded in 1147 by Richard, grandson of William of Vauville.  He was responsible for bringing here the monks of Cerisy-la-Forêt.  It has long been called the Priory of St-Hermel and is the same priory where the Blessed Thomas Hélye (1187-1257), chaplain of St-Louis, came to study when he was very young.  His body now lies in a reliquary tomb at the church in Biville.  308 Le prieuré de Vauville309 Le prieuré de Vauville310 Le prieuré de VauvilleSadly, the priory is now a private residence and visits are not permitted beyond the white gate.  310a Le prieuré de VauvilleFamous local artist, Jean-François Millet did this oil painting of the priory.  It now hangs in a museum in Amsterdam.  312 VauvilleThis hike was only 8.2 kilometres long and was quite easy-going despite most of the uphill walking.  At one point, I was at a level altitude with the La Hague Reprocessing Plant which I could see in the distance.  311 VauvilleUp here there are a lot of fenced-in properties with cows, sheep, goats and horses grazing—I had to be sure I closed gates behind me as I went along the trails.  314 Le Lavoir, Vauville316 VauvilleLe petit Doué lies at the bottom of the path where I stumbled upon a covered lavoir once used by residents to wash their clothes.  I wanted to visit the church in Vauville again and so I followed the signs into town.  336 L'église Saint-Martin, VauvilleThe church was placed under the patronage of St-Martin and its construction is dated to around 1160, shortly after that of the priory.  The three-level bell tower has Romanesque windows and is covered with a pyramid roof.  There used to be three bells in the belfry but they were recast in Villedieu on February 3, 1951 and the new electric bell was blessed on June 12, 1952.  333 L'église Saint-Martin, Vauville326 L'église Saint-Martin, Vauville323 L'église Saint-Martin, VauvilleThe nave is covered in wood from the 12th century.  The Lady Chapel dates from the beginning of 13th century as does the Gothic choir, which was renovated in the 18th century and is well lit by the modern windows placed there in 1966.  331 L'église Saint-Martin, Vauville330 L'église Saint-Martin, Vauville329 L'église Saint-Martin, Vauville328 L'église Saint-Martin, Vauville327 L'église Saint-Martin, VauvilleJust beyond the church are the château and the jardin botanique.  I chose not to visit them since I’ve been there so many times before.  The château was built in 1163 by Richard of Vauville—only the keep remains.  The current building from the 17th century has two wings built at right angles above the former foundations.  337 Château de VauvilleIt is the property of Guillaume Pellerin whose father designed the botanical gardens nearby.  In 1972 the château was inscribed as a historical monument and the gardens were included in 1992.  The château is almost always closed since it is a private residence and therefore only opens during European Heritage Days in October.  However, the gardens are open throughout the year and are quite beautiful.  They contain the largest palm grove in northern Europe.  341 La plage, VauvilleAfter walking around the town, I followed the beach back to where I parked my car.301

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July 16 2011 7 16 /07 /July /2011 12:12

006 Glee Project winnerYesterday was another beautiful day for a hike along le sentier des douaniers.  Again, I did about six kilometres on a trail near the one I did a few days ago close to Herqueville.  001 La Hague003 La Hague004 La HagueThis hike starts at the bottom of the D403 below Le Hameau Linnet.  Walking towards Vauville there are some spectacular views of the sea along the steep cliffside paths.  011 Glee Project winner012 Glee Project winner022 La HagueSadly, it was somewhat hazy (un peu brumeux) in the distance but that did not prevent me from completely enjoying my hike.  025 carrièreAs one walks toward le petit Beaumont, one comes across the old quarry called l’ancien carrière, a geological site with sedimentary rock as old as 450 million years .  031 Pouquelées030 Pouquelées029 PouqueléesContinuing up the path toward les pierrres des Pouquelées there is an interesting megalithic collective burial site erected around 4500 years ago during the Neolithic period.  It is not known precisely what people were buried here.  The alley, which opens toward the south-west measures 14.50 meters long and one meter wide.  The site rests 110 meters above sea level which means they had to be carried here as the stones are from a deposit located about three kilometres away at sea level.  At the beginning of 19th century, people began taking the stones to build a bridge.  Warned of this, the sub-prefecture of the time ordered the slabs replaced.  L’allée couverte des Pouquelées was made a historic monument in 1854.  018 Cotentin vol libre017 Cotentin vol libre019 Cotentin vol libreThis part of the hike takes one to the top of a cliff where people into paragliding can risk their lives.  More information about the association Cotentin Vol Libre can be found here if you are inclined to risk your life jumping off of cliffs.  I saw more than seven different people riding the wind with their para gliders—I’d love to try it someday.  035 Le petit Beaumont, GisementHeading back to my car, I passed the gisement des fossiles (480 million years old).  It may just look like a pile of rocks but it is actually a site loaded with ancient fossils of trilobites and echinoderms.  Be prepared to see a lot of goats, cows, sheep, butterflies and a wide array of flora especially wild berries while hiking. 008 Glee Project winner023 Glee Project winner041 Querqueville Cherbourg045 Camino de Santiago039 Mur Blackberries

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July 14 2011 5 14 /07 /July /2011 08:56

015 HerquevilleOne of the best ways of discovering the countryside of La Hague is to walk along one of the many coastal footpaths called le sentier des douaniers.  In English, the name means “the customs’ paths” since it was once a notorious place for tobacco smugglers from the Channel Islands to hide their boats during bad weather.  006 Herqueville010 Herqueville008 HerquevilleFrom 1800 to 1850, French customs officials did their best to stop illegal contraband by guarding the many paths along the coast.  Throughout the region there are short, medium and long distance footpaths marked with red and white lined lines to keep one from getting lost.  My trip yesterday was just a small one at six kilometres total.  002 HerquevilleI started at the bottom of route des Moulinets and headed toward Herqueville along the Baie des Fontenelles.  The views from here are spectacular to say the least.  At one point, looking off into the distance, one can see the island of Alderney.  011 Herqueville012 Herqueville013 Herqueville014 HerquevilleAt the point called les Treize Vents (the thirteen winds) it is easy to see the small cove of port du Houguet.  This quaint little spot is one of four small ports in La Hague, the others being Port-Racine, le Hâble and Goury.021 Herqueville  019 Herqueville043 camino de santiago de compostela044 walking the camino de santiago de compostelaThe wild and colorful shrubs, ferns, brambles and thistle are everywhere clinging to the steep cliffs but some places have been grazed clean by the many goats and sheep raised here by local farmers.  020 Herqueville017 HerquevilleThe toughest part of the hike was the upward climb along the chemin de crève cœur (there’s a double meaning to the name of this path—the exhausted heart that bursts or the more romantic path to heartbreak) to the small village of Herqueville.  022 Herqueville023 Eglise Herqueville024b Herqueville035 HerquevilleBeside the town hall rests the quite modest church dedicated to Our Lady.  The old baptismal font near the entrance reminds us of Christ’s baptism.  The wooden vaults of the nave are shaped like an overturned ship and have recently been restored.  037 Herqueville029 Herqueville032 HerquevilleThe choir was rebuilt in 1785 and is surrounded by statues in polychrome stone or wood.  Just behind the altar is the sacristy.  025a Way of Saint JamesAlong one of the walls is a bell that came from Omonville-la-Petite and is dated from 1733.  Herqueville has its own well and lavoir as well which adds to the charm of this little village by the sea.040 Herqueville041 Herqueville

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April 10 2011 1 10 /04 /April /2011 06:33

042 CHÂTEAU LE MONT EPINGUETTheir website says : “Built in 1751, Château le Mont Epinguet is steeped in history and tradition.”  I can’t find any information online as to what history or tradition it is steeped in but that’s probably because it’s all written in books that haven’t been digitally scanned for public consumption.  I’m too lazy to go looking for stuff like that at the library.  044 CHÂTEAU LE MONT EPINGUETTheir website also says that it used to be a farming estate on 2000 acres and was occupied by the Germans during World War II.  If you want to rent out the chateau or some of its rooms, that seems to be something they offer.  Enjoy.

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April 7 2011 5 07 /04 /April /2011 14:17

The town of Tonneville is famous for the local legend of Blanche de Percy, la demoiselle de Tonneville, a 13th century noblewoman.  Upon the death of her parents, she became the sole heir to the Percy lands.  She refuted all offers of marriage, lived alone and studied witchcraft.  001This eventually led to a dispute over her lands from the local parish and that of Flottemanville.  She cursed those who contested her inheritence saying, « Si, après ma mort, j'avais un pied dans le ciel, et l'autre dans l'enfer, je retirerais le premier pour avoir toute la lande à moi. »  (If, after my death, I had one foot in heaven, and the other in hell, I would withdraw the first to have all of my lands.)  At the time of her death she turned away from the sacraments of the priest and refused to retract her blasphemous words about the possession of her lands.  007At her funeral, her coffin became so heavy that it was impossible to move from the doorway of her manor house.  Despite all efforts to have it moved, the locals decided to have it buried on the spot at the entrance to the manor.  Since then, in keeping with her malediction, she haunts the lands and attacks weary travellers.  The legend was given even more credence when in 1949, during demolition work at the site of the manor house, a tomb without inscription was found under the threshold.  Could it possibly be the centuries-old legendary tomb of la demoiselle de Tonneville ?  010 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLEIn a 12th century charter of the Abbaye Notre-Dame du Vœu, one finds the first mention of the town of Tonneville.  The church, dedicated to St-Martin, was built in the Roman style at the beginning of the 13th century.029 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLE012 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLE013 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLEThe nave and the choir were reshaped in the 15th century.  A saddleback tower houses a single bell.  Recently renovated, the interior of the building is welcoming and pleasant.  019 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLEIn the north wall of the choir is the 15th century funerary plaque of Anne Le Tellier who died in 1490.  She was the wife of Jehan Basan, a former lord of Tonneville.  It reads as follows : CY DEVA(N)T GIST NOBLE DAMESELLE ANNE LE TELLIER, EN SO(N) VIVA(N)T FAME DE NOBLE HO(MM)E JEHAN BASAN S(EI)G(NEU)R P(A)TRO(N) DE THO(N)NEVILLE: DE SYOU(VIL)LE ET PIERRE(VIL)LE, LA Q(UEL)LE T(R)ESPASSA LE XIIIe JOUR DE JU(I)LLET L'A(N) M CCCC IIIIxx ET X. DIEU EN AIT L'A(M)E.  023a ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLE026a ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLE021 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLE031 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLEFive of the stained glass windows in the church date from 1953.  There is one tomb of interest in the cemetery of smaller memorials surrounding the church.  008 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLEIt is quite large and since 1880 has served as the final resting place for members three Tonneville families : Piel, A. Leveziel and Lemoine.022 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLE014 ÉGLISE DE TONNEVILLE

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Published by The Baguette - in La Hague
October 25 2009 1 25 /10 /October /2009 07:59
Built partly in the 15th and 16th century with a tower built in 1856, l’église d’Eculleville is a small church in La Hague.  It was restored in 2000 and includes a fascinating bas-relief charity of St-Martin in polychrome stone.  St. Martin was the founder of monasteries in Gaul.
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September 29 2009 3 29 /09 /September /2009 07:25

Haunting, vast and gray,

The sea is a beast.

It rambles on and off the shore all day

With its stabbing sharp claws

It eats the beach away.

Sand and stone tumble down—punish, thrash !

The sonorous sounds scare the birds away.

Reminders of World War II, the German block houses and gun turrets dot the Atlantic coast of France.  Unlike those in Querqueville, these have fallen into the sea as the endless tides and frequent storms erode the shoreline.



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Published by The Baguette - in La Hague
September 27 2009 1 27 /09 /September /2009 20:08

Its position on the seafront overlooking the cliffs promises a relaxing time for all nature lovers.  The site has an interesting history in that it holds a small place in legend.  Der-Écu means strong shield, a name that originates from the battle fought by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and future King of England.  An enemy threatened to cut off William’s head with his ax.  A Norman knight, Richard le Fort, interposed his shield and the ax went deep into the wood of the shield without breaking it.  William’s life was saved and the Strong Shield became a legend and reminds us that this castle was meant to defend Normandy against attackers.

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