Thursday, August 21, 2008

Normandy is Fine and Fair

Today I did a non-conservation thing and went to Dieppe, in Normandy, to see the English Channel.  To be more precise, Dieppe is up upper Normandy, Haute-Normandie.  Ten points to whoever starts singing the next phrase of the title (Mark, Mercedes, Beth, here's looking at you).  And here is our handy Map of France!  Again!

I am now acquainted with almost every single train station in Paris: Gare du Nord, Gard de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, and Gare Saint-Lazare.  There are a few, maybe two, other train stations I have not yet visited.  Each one serves the trains headed in different directions.  Gare du Nord, for example, handles the trains to and from areas north of Paris (like the Netherlands).  The images below are from Gare Saint-Lazare, the train station that deals with Normandy and England.

So, I went to Dieppe to see the sea and the cliffs, and I was not disappointed.

I had never been to a 'beach' made out of rocks before!  Very exciting!  It was just a difficult to walk on as a beach of sand, perhaps a little more difficult, but there was the added bonus of not getting any sand in your shoes.  All-in-all I think I like rocky beaches better.

Rat of the Sea.

The cliffs at Dieppe are the other half of a set made by the cliffs at Dover.  Made up of white chalk, they are apparently quite fragile.  There were large chunks of chalk scattered among the rocks on the coast nearest them, and there were signs everywhere to inform visitors of their instability.  For a moment, I almost took a giant lump of chalk with me, but I quickly realized that this was crazy.  I did pick up a few smaller rocks (two only) for Dad.  He likes rocks.

You may recall the name 'Dieppe' courtesy of your American History class.  In August 18, 1942, there was a large, disastrous military offensive by Allied forces attempting to take a bit of the coast from the Germans.  The majority of the people killed/captured were Canadians, and later in 1944 Canadian forces returned and liberated the city.  Even after all the time that has passed, Dieppe has not forgotten than, and there are Canadian flags all over the city.  Even floral ones.  It makes a nice bridge into the what and where of my next year. 

This is the Chateau-Musee de Dieppe.  The castle itself is pretty cool and seems to be a conglomeration of many different historical periods.  I came in through an entrance near sea-level and got to climb all sorts of twisty staircases before reaching the upper levels.  Good times.

I have no idea what era these cannons date to.  They were just sitting out in one of the courtyards.

View of the city from the castle.

The Chateau-Musee, instead of being interpreted historically (as I thought it would be), is actually home to a really bizarre arrangement of objects.  Carved wooden bas-reliefs, ivory figures, cameos, from 18th century furniture, prints by George Braque, paintings by Pissaro, a few pre-Columbian ceramics.  It was a really strange visit, and the main exhibition was contemporary art.  It was nice, and highly unexpected, but I think a historic interpretation would have been much more fun.

This little church perched high on the cliffs opposite the Chateau-Musee, on the other side of the Dieppe harbor, is the Chapelle de Bonsecours.  I walked up and visited.  It was a long walk involving lots of stairs.

Chapelle de Bonsecours was built in the 1880s and is apparently the only church in honor of sailors.  It is dedicated to Mary.  It has been destroyed at least three times by sea storms and is rebuilt each time.  It is very narrow and high, and all of the hangings inside are dark blue.  Since it was built, people have been leaving plaques expressing thanks for narrow escapes of in memory of sailors and fishermen lost at sea.  It is amazing that even today sailors and fishermen can be lost at sea.  I suppose some things just cannot be controlled or predicted.

I am quite tired, as the train trip back to Paris was not as smooth/fast as the trip to Dieppe.  I also have to brave the Metro with the Baggage again tomorrow.  Back to Amsterdam, then the next day back to Pennsylvania!

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