France 41 - the end of the trip

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June 14th 2012
Published: June 14th 2012
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Our holiday was reaching its conclusion. Where on earth had four weeks gone to? It hardly seems five minutes since we left Britain to start our four week tour and here we were almost at the end. We found ourselves with a few days left and not much of an idea where to go or what we could do to fill the time before we came home. We decided in the end to head to the Abbey of Jumieges. The journey was fairly uneventful apart from Tom Tom taking us to the ferry crossing the Seine rather than finding the road route. We did not fancy taking the motorhome on the ferry so turned Suzy round and headed back where we had come from. The road route probably took a lot longer than the ferry but it seemed a lot easier.

We crossed the Seine over the Brotonne Bridge . Also known as the Pont de Brottone - pont actually also meaning Bridge in Welsh. The bridge is in Upper Normandy and was erected in 1977. The bridge apparently is cable stayed and spans 350 yards over the Seine and is the oldest bridge of its type in the world. It was a steep bridge with lovely views along the river in both directions and more importantly was free which is a novelty sometimes.

The road to Jumieges seemed to go on forever but eventually we arrived in the village. The village was well tended and clean as usual with flowers everywhere. The usual road furniture much hated by Tour de France cyclists blocked part of the road preventing speeding through the heart of the village. We parked on the local aire which was empty. Again as usual it was clean tidy and a very functional site and more importantly within walking distance of the abbey. This time this actually was true as the abbey was about a 3 minute slow stroll away.

The Benedictine abbey was founded by St Philbert in 654 AD. Compared to abbeys we have visited back home it is fairly complete despite much robbing out during the French Revolution. It was being restored as we speak but luckily not to the point of over restoration. The front of the abbey has twin towers where were topped with conical tips which are now missing. The white gothic style gatehouse housed the reception. We paid 10euros to visit and there was no reduction for oldies. The abbey church was austere, grey stoned but quietly impressive with Romanesque carvings. The usual cloisters for meditation , refrectory for feeding the body and hospice to care for the sick Jumieges catered for every need in the community. The terraced gardens catered for the soul, tidy boxed hedges were filled with neatly trimmed lawns and lawns set over to a more wilder character. Clover, Ox eye daisies grew wildly - a haven for butterflies. In all there were 15 hectares of parkland.

The village had a post office and a few shops but these were closed as we visited mid afternoon. Our stop for the night was going to be Camping La Foret just up the road from the abbey and popular with visitors to the area. There was a small shop on site, a neat and tidy reception manned by a very efficient but unfriendly receptionist. Go and find a plot she barked at us. Come back with the number. We found one large and easy to access - a corner plot which gave us a great deal of room. We had no neighbours but by the end of the evening we were surrounded by an army of Brits either staying here on their way home or using it as a stop over before heading somewhere else in France. I swam in a lovely indoor swimming pool which I had to myself. The toilet block was clean and well cared for. As I perused the facilities I was joined by a man and woman. Mr Bossy Boots commanded his wife to go in and check. With her camera over her arm she complied with his command. I wondered if they were checkers from a caravan club organisation or just a domineering husband who was not happy to look himself. Perhaps they had had dirty loos and Mr Bossy was not going to stay here if there was the slightest spec of dirt in the showers. I never did find out what her verdict was.

Beech hedges separated the plots and these did nothing to damp down the noise of our neighbours who laughed, shouted and joked until theearly hours of themorning.

We left early but not before we had contacted Eurotunnel to find out if we could get an earlier train home. If not we would have to spend another two days doing very little and we both felt it was time to come home. Luckily a space was available and we were offered a new time if we paid £34 . We felt it was worth it as we would have spent about another £40 if we stayed.

Our last day was spent in Dieppe in a campsite just outside the town. It prided itself on being the closest campsite to Dieppe and handy as a stop off point. We paid and set ourselves up, we tried the tv and found the fuses had blown. We had visions of the satellite stuck up in the air and not being able to drive home. Luckily after much reading of the information manuals we found the trip switch and reset it. We tried to pay for WFI- one day for 6 euros - 2 days 12 euros . In the end after much discussion one day was not available and we were not going to be there for two days. We walked to the town which took about an hour. Down narrow lanes with no footpaths and eventually on footpaths which were in need of tarmacing. This must have been the dog dirt capital of the world as every step along the way was covered in dog excrement. The town seemed a long way off, in the distance we could see the sea and we could hear seagulls which augered well. When we arrived in the town we were rather disappointed with it all - perhaps the weather did not help as it was damp, threatened rain and was misty grey. In its Victorian hey day it might have been a nice place but now looked down at heel. The seafront was unimpressive and reminded me of seaside towns in Belgium. We just stopped for lunch Quiche Lorraine thick and creamy and rammed full with vegetables and an omlette with the best chips we have tasted for a long time. After our feast we walked home. A long and miserable walk uphill which took a lot longer than the hour it took to walk down.

Arriving back we spent the day getting ready for coming home. The weather was so bad even the sun was not producing any energy to put into the solar panel. We arrived at the tunnel and were welcomed as the machine recognised our number plate. How I wish it would do this on the british end!. We were offered an earlier trip for no extra cost and jumped at the chance. Even half an hour would make a difference at the other side as we had to drive around London and up the M42 -a drive which would take at least 5 or 6 hours depending on traffic. We parked up on the designated bus/motorhome park before walking over to the duty free. Duty free never feels quite so cheap these days after internet shopping. There never seems such a good bargain. Dinner was quickly eaten in the fast food hall - a rather cold and insipid pizza. After which we waited for our call to board the train. Eventually the board changed from waiting to board to be ready and then nothing happened. Ten minutes passed before we were called and we went through passport control, not much of a check there- do we have gas and is it switched off - another cursory glance. We headed up to the gates and were kept there for 15 minutes apparently some problem but eventually we loaded and the train set off ending our wonderful holiday. A holiday we will have memories of for a long time to come.


16th June 2012

What a trip...
rather than spend so much time in France on the way back, wouldn't it have been better to spend more time in Croatia?
16th June 2012

Hello Bob yes a misjudgement of time.With hindsight we should have gone down further and made it to Zadar, Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik but we really misjudged how long it would take to get there and back in tim efor work . We have another september trip and plan to go again to italy but next march we are definately back to Croatia and hopefull see more of Slovenia .

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