Not quite the promised Mostly Sunny, but the patches of blue over the seapass for a pretty nice day here on the Normand coast. It isn't raining! What more could I ask for?
I arrive a bit after one, having been delayed half an hour by a broken rail near Paris. The connecting train from Rouen to Dieppe patiently waited for us (happily, or most of us on the train to the coast would have had to cool our heels in Rouen for two or three hours - enough to wreck any day-trip)
So it's time for lunch. Past time. The pleasure port here is conveniently lined with restaurants, however. Half of them are open, though whether the closures are due to the end of the high season and the Tuesdayness of the day, or to some general economic depression is unclear. At any rate, I am here to do my part to help out, and am looking for a fixed-price menu with as many different sea creatures on it as possible.
Aha. Here at the place with the bright yellow awnings I can have both a fresh seafood platter (4 species) and a sort of fish stew (4 more) at a reasonable rate. And they're still seating new tables for lunch. Just my day.
The bigorneaux are my favorites. This is perhaps partially because you have to actually go to the coast to get these black-shelled sea snails. They're fresh from this morning's low tide, nutty tasting, and not at all gross, even raw. Oysters are on offer, naturally, but they're really not my thing and they're happily absent from my plate, which is completed with salmon, shrimp and a spiny langoustine. The Dieppe-style stew isn't one, in fact, but a collection of small pieces of fish in a creamy butter-lemon sauce, all very fresh and divine.
Straight off the boat fresh seafood is one of the things I've been craving. The other is a nice walk along the coast. Time to get on with it!
The tide is way up. The beach curving away west toward Fecamp and Le Havre is steep and stony, and the white cliffs dull under the heavy cloud cover. It isn't easy to walk along the beach - the rocks are smooth and range from pebbles to the size of a child's fist, but they're deep and with the slope you keep sliding down at every step.
Families and couples are scattered up and down the waterfront, laying out on their towels fully clothed, insisting on a last day of summer. Every fourth souvenir stand is open, catching passersby with their gaudy wares. A beachfront bar is open but has just two tables occupied with people sipping hot tea and coffee.
I walk past the edge of the town past where the cliffs begin, but not too far, thinking I just might see something of the town before train time back to Paris. But there's nothing like strolling along a mostly deserted coasline, wondering at the cliffs on one side, the receding sea on the other, this narrow strip of land in between full of colorful and intruiging shapes, a sailboat going past close. After an n-ieme photo of seagulls on some emerging rocks I turn back and discover that the tide is uncovering sand at last. Such a pleasure! Much smoother to walk on than the rocks.
Even so, once back at the secured swimming areas (yes, a pair of lifeguards on duty at each one, despite the utter absence of swimmers) it's time for a rapid glance at the quaint old town with its new shops same as every other town's, and to the station.