Day3: Abbeys, Honfleur

In the land of Normandy on the flow of the River Seine, the Avalon Tapestry II continues a northwest heading down-river to our farthest docking point from Paris, Caudebec en Caux.

We are attuned to the hayfields being harvested everywhere, reminders that Claude Monet painted haystacks and cathedrals on the route now journeyed.
Haystacks at the coast of Normandy

Haystacks today are rolled, not stacked as they were in the day of Monet.

Haystacks along the highway in Normandy

Haystacks along the highway with modern art spirals in the background.

Tour guides and ship personnel are fully fluent in English, thus only bits of French language are learned. We gather that Caudebec en Caux rhymes with the English word for the grazing bovines seen in the Norman meadows. I sarcastically wonder if perhaps “Caudebec” is the word for “bus;” it seems everything to be seen from here is via motor coach, often at significant distance.

Two abbeys make a morning under brilliant blue skies, a Normandy anomaly.
Jumièges Abbey founded in 654, and the Abbey of Saint Wandrille, 649.
Jumièges Abbey

Jumièges Abbey

Abbey of Saint Wandrille

Abbey of Saint Wandrille

Visiting Jumièges Abbey

Visiting Jumièges Abbey

While Jumièges Abbey was only ruins, our host at Saint Wandrille is the gracious and engaging Brother Lucien. He informs that his home remains a functioning monastery despite some parts having been ravaged by Viking invaders over 1000 years ago (as was Jumièges) and by French Revolutionaries “just” over two centuries ago (as was Jumièges).

St. Wandrille is informative for
history, religion, and a brewing brood of brothers.
Brother Lucein

Brother Lucein engages and explains

There are ruins at Saint Wandrille

Some ruins at Saint Wandrille

Ruins restoration at Saint Wandrille, with every arch a different design decor.
More than beauty, the decorative insert keeps the arch from crumbling.
Saint Wandrille ruins restoration.

More than beauty, the decorative insert keeps the arch from crumbling

We learn these Benedictine monks have a research library of more than 200,000 volumes. They study, pray seven times daily, remain celibate, and make money with two primary trades.

One is the labor of restoring works of art (quaint, solitary, reverent) and the second is (curve ball coming at you) brewing beer! Yes, the monks of Saint-Wandrille Abbey began crafting and selling pale ales for your pleasure in 2016.

Into the afternoon, crossing the Seine on a modern suspension bridge, our motor coach coasted to the coastline of France, visiting the narrow alleyways in the lovely flower of Honfleur.
Seine suspension bridge Narrow street in Honfleur

The English Channel town of Honfleur was not destroyed by modern warfare and thus exhibits Normandy architecture the way it used to be. Much is a style known as “half-timbered,” which features well-spaced logs filled between with a form of plaster. It claims the largest church in France built solely with wooden timbers, and is now a pricey vacation port.

Timbered Saint Catherine Church in Honfleur, Normandy, France.
Outside St. Catherine Inside St. Catherine
Honfleur is a mix of old settlement and bustling new money.
Honfleur buildings
Honfleur port

Surprise! The harbor’s drawbridge (not a relic) was raised at the very moment of needing to proceed to our bus rendezvous; ooh-la-la. (French words!) It doesn’t seem fashionable to be late, so the docking basin is quickly circled and voilà, arrival at the appointed point is at the appointed time.

Drawbridge, Honfleur

Drawbridge should have drawn attention earlier!

As tour day 3 ends going back to Caudebec by bus, the buzz began for day 4, which was to be all about D-Day.

On board we absorb
a Normandy liberation
lecture, the second of
three war seminars by
a noted photographer,
Mr. Nigel Stewart.

Mr. Nigel Stewart

Nigel Stewart

Other cruise lines insisted the onboard abodes are “cabins,” not “rooms.” Avalon terms all accommodations “staterooms.”

Home-sweet-home on the top level to enjoy the views, which this day was infiltrated by a cute little guest of towel art created by the cabin maid.
Tapestry II stateroom

Tapestry II stateroom

Tapestry II towel art

Next: Day 4 is D-Day!

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