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Monday, January 17, 2011

France 2010 - Day 8, Part 1 - Normandy: Évreux, Conches

France 2010
Day 8 - 10th October - Normandy: Évreux, Conches
(Part 1)

This day I started my driving tour around northeastern France. I had hoped to visit the Père Lachaise and Montparnasse Cemeteries this time, but I decided that I'd pay my respects to Chopin and Sartre another year (it shall be this year!)

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Breakfast - super flaky Pain au Chocolat

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Montparnasse station: "Your ticket must be validated in one of the orange stamping machines"
The French sign does not mention that the machines are orange. As you can imagine, no orange machines could be found. Maybe it's an elaborate joke played on anglophones.

When I got to the car, I got a shock:

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I'd ordered a "Citroen C3 or similar", which had been the cheapest auto car available (this being my first time driving on the right, I decided to have fewer complications), but they upgraded me to a larger car - a diesel car with a GPS, among other things (all for only €50 more!) I was slightly worried as in theory large cars are easier to crash, but there were no other auto cars in the carpark so I gingerly drove out, glad at it being a Sunday (Parisian drivers were already nasty enough - I didn't need nasty traffic to add to my problems)

Brunch was a baguette sandwich. It was less hard, brittle and doughy than a Delifrance baguette.

Driving out of Paris and into Normandy, our first stop was Évreux, whose main attraction was a cathedral. Apparently there're Roman remains and artefacts also, but we didn't have a look at them. This wasn't really a loss, as even their prize piece is nothing too special.

One good thing about visiting smaller towns is that parking is free.

Entering Évreux cathedral just as a service was ending, we found the crowd (a Sunday crowd, at that) to be oldish as expected.

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"Trust, rise. He calls you
Vocations
National Service for Vocations"
This calls for people to join the dying Church

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Cathedral rear

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Dome

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Altar

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Stained glass

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Nave

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Front of cathedral


Side of cathedral

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The side was nicer

Pulling out of the Évreux parking lot, I exited the street into the wrong lane - and came face-to-face with an old bemused couple in a car (there was no crash). They were quite patient as I reversed to let them pass.

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Évreux cathedral from afar

The next stop was Conches, for lunch.

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Conches from afar

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Unsurprisingly, Conches has conches on its coat of arms

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Main Street and ruined 'castle' (well, technically it's a Donjon, but I'm blaming the guidebook)

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Apparently an authentic boulanger (bakery) works through the night

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Restaurant menu, including: "Parfait Maison (home-made perfect)". "Gourmandises" (delicacies) is translated as "Sweet Sins", which works.

In general, France is very vegetarian unfriendly. Even the salads mostly have meat or fish inside.

We got a small jug of house cider to share. There were 2 glasses in front of me: one big and one small. I didn't know which was for the cider, so I started to pour some into the small one, but the manat the next table gestured that I should use the big one. How nice of him (or maybe using the wrong glass is blasphemy)

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Puff pastry salmon with leeks and thyme

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Cod stew with cream and cider

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Stewed Rabbit leg 'au cidre en ragoût mijoté' (with cider, in a stew)
Mon lapin !

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Tartelette Bourdaloue ("Bourdaloue-vanilla flavoured pie"). It was very crisp, though it could've used more vanilla.

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Hilarious signs on French alcohol laws. The bit about not selling alcohol to minors and being able to demand identification is normal, but there's also:

"Il est interdit de vendre à crédit des boissons alcooliques (des groupes 3 à 5)"
("It is forbidden to sell alcohol drinks from groups 3-5 on credit")

Il est interdit de se trouver en état d'ivresse manifeste dans les lieux publics
("It is forbidden to be obviously drunk in public")

Il est interdit de proposer des boissons alcooliques à prix réduits pendant une période restreinte (<< Happy Hours >>) sans proposer également sur la même période des boissons sans alcool à prix réduits
("It is forbidden to offer cheaper alcoholic drinks during a certain period if you don't also discount non-alcoholic drinks")

Il est interdit pour les débitants de boissons de donner à boire à des personnes manifestement ivres ou de les recevoir dans leurs établissements
("It is forbidden for drink sellers to sell drinks to obviously drunk people or to receive them in their establishments")

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Plaque on Normandy. Besides being much longer, the French starts off with fairytale language.

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Donjon de Conches (Keep of Conches)
I'm told in the UK this would be cordoned off for safety reasons, but in France they trust you not to do anything stupid, so you can walk near it.

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Lidl's quite out of place in a half-timbered house

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Church in Conches

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More half-timbered houses. The town was quite dead. Partly this was because it was Sunday, but I was sure even on normal days it wasn't very lively either.

We then entered the church - the shop Le Saint-Jacques (previous picture) was supposed to open in a bit (yes, on a Sunday!), so we judged that it would be open after we left the church.

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Apple, Cheese and Cider festival. Mmm.

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The Angel Gabriel descends (the annunciation)

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Stained glass above altar

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Nave

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Stained Glass: the Virgin Mary

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Triptych. There was a sign on it, so I took a closer look:

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"Reproduction
Triptyque de la Passion
albâtre polychrome 15ème (original volé en juillet 1978)

Visiteurs !
Si vous découvrez ces oeuvres en France ou à l'Etranger MERCI d'en informer Mr. le Curé ou la Mairie"

("Reproduction
Triptych of the Passion
Polychrome alabaster, 15th century (the original was stolen in July 1978)

Visitors!
If you discover these works in France or abroad, PLEASE inform Mr le Curé or the mayor's office of this")

There was no one in the church when we were there - no wonder their triptych had been stolen.

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Church door

My notes say 'Ikea Church'. I'm still trying to figure that out.

Unsurprisingly, Le Saint-Jacques was still not open. However there were some shops with interesting-looking things.

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Knights of the Round Table

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Who cost a bomb

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French real estate. I was asked to take this

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Lazy pussy in real estate shop window


They don't seem to have flashing red men at traffic lights in France, so if you see a red man - run.
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