Where waves echo history

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  • Published 26.07.12
(From top) The USP of this hotel in Étretat is that it's made from the
remains of a ship; Gothic architecture inside the Notre-Dame cathedral in Rouen; A board near this device said, ‘Designed at the beginning for the grinding of agricultural products (cereals, oilseeds), it moved progressively to the working of machines (forge hammer, fuller mill, bellows) and then to the production of all the energy for machine shops (saws, pumps, lathes…).The exclusive use of wood in its construction made it fragile and gradually pieces of metal were used to reinforce it. The mill Anquetil functioned until its destruction in June 1940 during the Battle of Veules. There only remains the millrace, the base of the walls, the paddle-wheel and a metal gear-wheel. This is situated at a coastal village called Veules les Roses in Normandy’; Rapeseed fields that look much like mustard because of the yellow colour. There are miles and miles of these beside the roads in the Normandy countryside

There is much more to Normandy than the D-Day landings. But the breathtakingly beautiful countryside along the English channel is difficult for tourists to access unless you have a car. But there are some terrific places which are accessible by train or bus.

You could start with Rouen, pronounced H()ooa()we in French, the capital of the area, that is less that’s two hours from Paris by train. You could go to the tourist office just opposite the magnificent Notre-Dame cathedral and get a map of the interesting places to see. There are quite a few Gothic cathedrals, but some may be closed for renovation (they take years). There is also a fossilised cat from thousands of years ago at an art school that you may find interesting.

The Étretat postcard. The elephant" arch and the "needle".

At a park near the mayor’s office, you could find some elderly people playing a game called pétanque, which is a form of boules. The objective is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball.

Dieppe is a coastal city that is accessible by train. It’s a great place for seafood lovers because you get very fresh mussels and oysters, among other things, there. This town also has some cathedrals, some of which were damaged during the World War II. The beach here is not sandy, but pebbly and a lot of Britons come to spend their summers here. Along the beach here, and several other seaside towns, you will find small shacks along the beach which tourists can rent to keep their stuff while they have fun in the sea.

A German bunker from World War II on a cliff facing the English Channel at Saint Valley Encaux, another village in Normandy

If you do have a car, you should visit the villages along the coast. Each has its own story to tell. You could go to Vueles les Roses, where the smallest stream in the country is. (That’s what a signboard says.) It's not more than 10 feet wide and has a lot of trouts in it. Close by, is Saint Valley Encaux, a bigger village which has a port. On top a hill here are two memorials — one of the first flight from Paris to New York in 1930 and the other of Scottish soldiers who died in the Second World War.

Among the most beautiful places in Normandy is Étretat. It is known for its breathtaking cliffs and tourism drives the economy of this city. The beautiful pebbly beach, the three natural arches in the cliffs (one looks like an elephant) and the “needle” (a pointy piece of rock rising from the sea) make a wonderful combo that anyone visiting Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) should never miss.