The Fridays in Normandy – Wednesday ride report

To St-Vaast-la-Hogue (elevenses), Barfleur (lunch) and the Phare-de-Gatteville

The eagle-eyed and sharp-witted will see that elevenses and lunch were swopped around from Sunday’s ride.  But we took quite a different route (and, of course, different eateries) for this ride around the north-east coast of the Cotentin peninsula.

We gîtists pedalled over to the château to meet up with the big group – and, before one or two members left early, a group photo at the front of the chateau.IMGP6233The sun was bright, the lanes were lovely and traffic-free.  A stop in St-Vaast for coffee and bakeries and then two stops in Barfleur, the first for a light beer and cider aperitif; the second for moules crême with more cider.IMGP6239Then we went to the lighthouse at Gatteville – the second highest lighthouse in Europe.  Unlike the white Stevenson lighthouses for the Northern Lights, French lighthouses turn out to be grey.  It’s a popular outing for the locals and they, and all the drivers on the little lane to the lighthouse, were astonishingly polite.IMGP6240We then went up a corker of hill (the coastline is difficult and bumpy at this point), decided we needn’t do any shopping in Cherbourg and looked for a quiet way back to Brix.   Tiny lanes, huge bulldozers and a little girl on a pink tricycle – who overtook us shortly after we had overtaken her!

My room-mate Charlie was on cooking duty this evening and made a lovely spicy Moroccan vegetarian dish based on chick-peas.  More beer, cider and wine were drunk.  A wonderful day!

Route here.  Mileage for the day = 55.  Cumulative mileage = 284.

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The Fridays in Normandy – Sunday Ride Report

To Barfleur (elevenses), St-Vaast-la-Hogue (lunch), and Valognes (aperatif)

There was damp in the air but this made no difference to the Fridays riders on their first full day in Normandy.  And what a way to begin!  Gordon led me to the boulangerie in Brix so that we could obtain breakfast supplies from the legend that is Madame.

But the real business of the day started when he led the gîtists back to the château for the gathering that was to become the ride to Barfleur.

I can do no better than borrow from Martin’s CycleChat thoughts recorded on the day itself: “Great day. A few spots of rain but not enough to get the gear on for. Coffee in Barfleur. Fish and chips in st huge le vaaast (other spellings are available); some had fresh oysters to boot. Others had crêpes. Return was through idyllic lanes. As you do. The Splittist Tendency of The Fridays International Brigade went off in search of Calvados on the return. The Orthodox Front returned direct to Le Chateau.”

Fish & chips, and cider, and oysters in St Vaast

Fish & chips, and cider, and oysters in St Vaast

Yep, I had the fish & chips – accompanied by cider (a first) and preceded by half-a-dozen fresh oysters (another first).  Our fellow gîtists, Andy and Jo, got stranded on the far side of the harbour when the bridge opened; my, how we laughed!

Andy can just be seen, with his back to the camera, starting his long walk around the harbour

Andy can just be seen, with his back to the camera, starting his long walk around the harbour

Jo - none the worse for her adventure

Jo – none the worse for her adventure

And yes, I was a member of The Splittist Tndency – a small select group who  lingered in Valognes for calvados and cider.  Valognes is pretty quiet on a Sunday afternoon and we had difficulty finding a bar.   I resorted to asking people on the pavement.  The first family were Dutch and also looking for a bar – an ice cream bar – to satisfy their young son.  No mistake with the second group; one gentleman looked quite drunk already.  Oh yes, he replied, there are two bars open; the one at the station is always open; but, nearer, you will find La Civette.  I learned that you do not ask for “un calvados” but rather “un calva”!

Le Tendence Splittiste enjoy "un calve"

Le Tendence Splittiste enjoy “un calva”

Back eventually to the gîte and a marvellous chilli pasta, cooked by Jo and Andy.

Andy cooks his chilli special

Andy cooks his chilli special

Route for the day here.  Today’s mileage = 60.  Cumulative mileage = 109.