Normandy. The green, softly flowing valleys, glistening sea, shining white cliffs and sky so close you could hug it. Normandy is such a picturesque place, I think my soul has found a second home from its shores. I am always happy to return there, and bring some friends along, like we did this time.
Normandy is starting to be our Easter habit, it seems. It is just close enough to get to for a long weekend, and just far enough to feel like you are abroad, or at least, somewhere else.
Early in the Saturday morning we hit the road. Despite the masses of people on the road we reached our first walk early. We had chosen a small loop around the countryside near the town of Yport. Yport, as many of the towns on the coast, sits there where the cliffs lower down to a valley. The streets climb and wind up from the beach onto the cliffs to go off finding other villages. The houses are a harmonious combination of natural rocks and bricks. I would imagine happy people are living in them.
After a good walk we headed to camp at the same place where we have been every time when we go to Normandy. On the cliffs, a few kilometres to the west from Étretat. Good weather and long Easter weekend had lured out some other wild campers too, so we did not get our favorite spot, right on top of the cliff, but no-one let that ruin the mood.
We got our camp up and campfire going at the edge of the cliff just perfectly to be able to enjoy the colors of the sunset. After dinner the cooling air shooed us away to our tents as the stars started to litter the sky. The night was chill and I could not sleep too much. Instead I listened to the sea and the calmness of the night… and Waffle, sleeping next to me.
I was surprisingly well rested in the morning, as we prepared for the coming day, by munching breakfast. The hike for the day was something we had already done with Waffle a couple of years back. The trail would walk us via the cliffs to Étretat and beyond, and return back deeper inland, stretching a distance of about 16 km.
Waffle and Bram found their inner children and were soon enough climbing and crawling into caves, eventually managing to get me and Maria into that business as well. The beaches and cliffs with their caves kept us rather busy for a while, but the crumbling tummies demanded us to climb back up and find our way to Étretat to get some food.
The closer to the village we got, the more people there started to be on the trail, everybody want’s the hottest selfie with the famous arches. I do think they are better seen a little bit further away, down from one of the beaches, rather than by sitting on top of one.
At one point Bram’s face went sour. He had dropped his phone somewhere. A vigorous search started. Me and Maria were left on the important duty of watching over the stuff, as the guys ran up and down the path in search of the phone.
It was nowhere to be seen.
After the shock treatment Bram swallowed his fate, blocked the sim and life started to go on again. We had a quick lunch in the beach boulevard of Étretat, trying not to get annoyed by the massive crowd of tourists.
Finally we headed on, over the cliffs again, before turning back via the fields. Half way back we ended up at the goat farm Le Valaine, where we had visited earlier too. The place where they make amazing chocolates and ice creams out of goats milk! Of course we had to pay a visit, after which Maria and Bram were rather sold too. The only sad thing is, that they are shutting the place down, since there is nobody to continue the business.
So if you happen to be into goat herding and ice cream / chocolate making, please go there, me and Waffle will promise to be your most loyal clients!
Another tired and serene evening followed with campfire rattling on the cliff and sun putting on its best show while setting. It felt good to crawl to bed and lat the sleep take us away to another world.
Monday was the last they we had in the beautiful Normandy. We started driving off towards Dieppe and another set of cliffs. We were passing a series of very beautiful Normandian villages and farmlands on our way to the destination, which was Criel-Sur-Mer.
Those cliffs covered in whispering grass were bathing in the sun as we climbed them. The northern wind had turned a little warmer with the sun, and hiking was very pleasant, even our Portuguese addition was unwrapping herself.
It was a very beautiful walk to end the trip, not a spectacular one, rather the beauty was more hidden in its subtle colors and warm sunshine. In any case it left me wanting to stay there. Normandy just feels like an improved Finland sometimes, very homely.
We’ll be back, soon I hope.