Thursday, April 14, 2011

Deauville notes

As I mentioned last time, the slow parts of a trip I have plenty of time to write about on the spot, but once stuff is happening, only the slightest notes get taken. Usually I depend on the photographs to jog my memory, though they often don't and it's a week before I get around to it, and well, I've been there. It's over. So here we are with some fragments.

The tourist office didn't have any small or handy maps of hiking in the area (what? physical activity beyond lugging shopping bags to the Benz???), so I popped into a bookstore to check out the travel section. There's this series of books that covers hiking trails all across the country, and each town stocks the book(s) covering the area. I love the series, but at 15 euros a shot it's a bit pricey when you're only ever going to do one hike from a given book. There is only one hike from Deauville, and one from Trouville.

I took the following note in the margin of a sudoku page: red/white from ch St Aug. That it was 12km and ended up on the beach about a mile north of town I could simply remember.

Roast local chicken and french fries for lunch, and off for the hills.

First interesting building come to is a great monastery complex and historic site. Open to the public (yea!) Saturdays from 3 to 5 (oh. never mind).

A few k on, the Touqueville Military Cemetery contains mostly WWI graves, and then from WW2: 11 British, 2 Canadian and 33 German soldiers. Just normal, I guess, but it struck me that you couldn't tell anyone apart at a glance. The two sides were just mixed in.Cows in the distance!The apple trees are just coming into bloom, but this place had a gigantic red apple already.

Not far from here I crossed a patch of woods, and having seen no other people on the trail so far, stopped for a pee. Thank goodness the dog and two passersby were paying attention to each other, because there wasn't all that much cover.

And a few steps farther, I finally saw the difference between a rabbit and a hare. I swear, that sucker was three feet tall!

I would have read the trail book a little more carefully if the shopkeeper hadn't been watching me (and expecting me to buy the book, not copy it), and it would have been useful to know that the loop described was only one of several possibilities pieced together from a long-distance trail and its alternates that wander extensively through the area. I ended up overshooting my turning-point and going much farther. I could have gone to the next town, but prudently realized that going too far in one direction would mean foot agony by the time I got back. Once back at sea level I passed a sign saying Deauville, 5km (3.5km farther that I should have hit the beach). But it was a soft walk back on the sand.

Horses are indeed ridden up and down the beach.

Kid absolutely enthralled by his sand pile.

Along the Deauville boardwalk there was this strange serenade of, what, bells? Some kind of tin drum? Nope, the gently clanging of the unused flagpoles.

That was the end of Day 1's hike, about 20km all told. Time for a glorious soak in the tub and a bit of a nap before dinner.

Ah, yes, let's get to the eating part. Strolling around rich tourist-destination Deauville with its brand-name boutiques and day spas, it looked like I had to spend a fortune to dine. Across the river to more modest Trouville, perfectly affordable restaurants line the quay upstream, getting swankier as you approach the sea. Who knows what's good? Cloth napkins are no guarantee, so just pick one.

Fish soup, fresh mussels and fries, a glass of wine, perhaps some sorbet for dessert. That's exactly the menu I'm looking for, and I'm not disappointed. Not quite as good as the fish soup in Marseille last year (the southerners are bolder with the spices and garlic), but very nice.

Evenings like this... it's 8pm, the sun is just setting, the tourists have not yet arrived in force... really make me appreciate the French thing for eating on the sidewalk. They've turned on the heaters on the terrace, cleverly just a degree before I would have noticed needing them. As long as they don't seat smokers at the next table, it'll be a perfect dinner. And they don't.

Local Calvados apple sorbet! well, well, apple isn't my usual choice of sorbet, but this stuff is special. Not your supermarket junk!

I've taken my time at dinner, and still the sky is not quite black. Dusk lingers and lingers, fading ever so slowly. The river rushing the other way now, the 'right' way, makes the moored fishing boats look like they're underway, bow-wave and all.

Tomorrow I see there's a Kite Festival on the beach. That will be a sight. I hope they get going in the morning - a shame if my 1pm train makes me miss it by a whisker. I hate missing things by a whisker: better miss by a week and not regret it.

In the morning: a long walk up the Trouville-side beach, and back by the parallel road/hiking trail. The beach photos from the first post are all from that walk.

This line in the sand was much more noticable in person, but I had to lean way down to see what was making it.

Beachfront property.Fish market on the Trouville side of the river. Glorious offerings - I wish I had some means of getting the catch to my house in good condition! All I could do was eat as much as possible while there.

Tourist alert! Also while sitting at this table, having a beer and waiting for my train back to Paris, I overheard the following snippet of conversation:

kid: ...we can take a knife!

grandma: yes, that would be useful if they attack us

mom: and if they attack us with lots of cannonballs?...

And that's the story. I'll see about posting more photos tomorrow.



steven said...

what a kicker ending - more of a beginning . . . . what a walk - beautiful stories. i would love to see the monastery, inside and out. steven

Bagman and Butler said...

What a glorious hike. You seem to have made much better progress than the snail but I guess that is an assumption since I don't know how far back the trough extended. Good think you weren't ducking cannonballs.