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Honfleur has been painted by many artists over the years and once you arrive at the harbor, you immediately understand why. Today there are more British expats than artists in residence, but the charming village feel of this port remains.

 There are numerous streets stretching out from the harbor.

All the streets in the heart of the city are cobblestones, so make sure you wear the proper shoes!

 If you have a tiny car, you can drive in, but it’s a labyrinth.

The biggest wooden church in France is Sainte Catherine’s

and yes you can enter and/or attend a service.

Some buildings have the year they were built literally engraved in stone.

 City Hall is a much more modern building.

Driving along the coast, Villerville looked like a movie set, and it was!

The fictional town of “Tigreville” in the Jean Gabin and Jean Paul Belmondo film, “A Monkey in Winter“, was shot here and numerous posters, pictures, and plaques note that fact.

 Even the town church was picturesque.

 There are access points down to the coast

 and you can stroll above the surf.

This is the view of where the Seine joins the Atlantic.

 My favorite view was the path leading south 🙂

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The Atlantic coast of France is best experienced in the Summer, so I went to Normandy for the first time in the middle of June; for someone who has lived in Southern California, it was still chilly 🙂 The most well known city is Deauville, where the film festival is held and rich city dwellers have Summer homes. The casino is a beautiful building on the edge of the coast.

The beach is laid out into sections with various services available along each section

including private cabanas named after famous actors and actresses, a bit like the stars on Hollywood Boulevard.

 There is a long boardwalk along the beach

 and various shelters from wind and sun on the beach itself,

 which was empty in mid June,

 as were the beachside cafes

 and Summer homes.

 Downtown Deauville was a bit more inhabited,

 and even had a small train going from the center of town to the beach.

 The center of town also had activities like shopping at high end stores,

 sleeping in the grand hotel,

 and strolling the city center park in front of Printemps department store.

Trouville is a much smaller city just north of Deauville and IMHO much more charming:)

There is a casino here but it was being renovated.

The main reason people came here was for the “Sea Cure” or as I would call it, “Fresh Air”.

If you don’t want to swim in the cold ocean, there is a heated pool.

The City Hall is as picturesque as the city itself.

Shops and restaurants line the harbor

offering seafood from Brittany and local catches like bulots (sea snails).

The beach amenities are built alongside the old bunkers from the war,

and as a symbol of how things have changed on the Normandy beaches, flowers now adorn the bunkers.

The beaches were almost empty,

as were the harbors,

but I saw Elvis hanging out:)

Driving only gets you close to the shoreline, to actually get to the ocean, it’s much better to park and walk where you can find many semi-hidden paths. You never know what vistas await once you get through the wild vegetation.

 

 

sometimes there are secret passageways

or surprise geysers

or clumps of shellfish

like these oysters on the beach!

The area is known for shellfish, so it’s not surprising that homes

have docks as well as driveways.

With modern technology, old fashioned lighthouses are picturesque markers now.

 

Sand dunes still protect the land from the wind and sea.

 

 

Heading back to Paris along the lavender roads leading north makes for a fragrant farewell.

 

The differences between low tide and high tide is stunning in south western France. The light colored sand is the only part that still shows when it is high tide here.

Small coves with sheltered beaches dot the coastline and you can see how shallow the water is here; during low tide you could literally walk across the cove.

Even though there were signs posted prohibiting oyster fishing, there were people out with pails and shovels scooping up shellfish.

There were also much more legal and professional looking fishing shacks complete with huge nets.

Small harbors with a mix of pleasure and fishing boats line the coast.

During low tide you can see the line in the cliffs where the tide rises

by the same afternoon the tide had risen to the half way point of the cliffs!

Modern self cleaning free toilettes are everywhere, but so high tech with blinking lights that some people couldn’t figure out when they could go in and use the facilities.

This small ferris wheel reminded me of the huge one in Santa Monica

until this sign reminded me I was 5,679 miles away 🙂

 

I was kidnapped last week 🙂 A friend from overseas rented a car and said simply, “We’re going South.” We drove away from the gray rain and hail in Paris and about 6 hours later we ended up on the southern Atlantic coast of France bordered by forest and beaches. The coastal areas are marked with distinct paths for bikers and walking/running along the coast that stretch out as far as you can see.

This was my first trip the the Atlantic coast of France so I got my feet wet, but decided it was still too chilly to go in further without a wetsuit:)

Fishermen had poles out all along the beaches.

Tiny crabs the size of my thumb peeked out from the sand

a beautiful beached jellyfish unlike any I’ve ever seen.

There was a class of beach surfers, but with no wind, the lesson was more of a lecture.

I had never seen bunkers before, but these huge war time relics stood like elephants

encrusted with black mussels

which clung to them in groups.

One of the ways they cook mussels in the south is they light straw on fire and place the burning straw on top of a platter until the straw is completely burned away and the mussels are “roasted”.

Everyone went in for the messy deliciousness before I could snap a picture without fingers:)

The beauty of being on the beach off season (season here begins in July and goes through August)

is that you may be the only one enjoying the entire beach:)

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