For us it was a bit of a maze but eventually we found the terminal with car hire and the terminal with hotels (in our price range!) and made a night of it, before heading off towards Normandy the next day.
We were of course on the wrong side of Paris so we had no idea how to get to where we were going. First stop Carrefour, the French equivalent of Woolworths and Big W, all rolled into one huge building. Fortunately the Michelin road atlas we got was in all Euro languages so we now knew where we were going….sort of.
Quite by accident we went through Chantilly and discovered a magical castle come stately home with a huge horse training estate, race track and a town.
We also discovered that McDonalds really does have Le Royal burger and that in France McDonalds, you can serve yourself! Well, the ordering part you do yourself anyway!
Our aim was to get to Cambremer where our very good friends from when we lived in Malaysia have a house in a little French village. By a stroke of Luck Bruno was there longer than planned so we had decided to visit as soon as possible, partly the reason we left Paris before actually seeing the sights.
Regular visitors at the web-site might remember Bruno, Chrystel and their boys Remi and Guillame from such memorable blogs as the “tandem bikes around a Singaporean park” and “how many people can you fit in a 2+2 sports car in Singapore”!??!
As it turned out we missed Bruno and the boys when we arrived by about two hours but did find the house and made ourselves at home, deciding to stay on until Bruno returned in several days time.
Cambremer is a small village dedicated to growing, eating, destilling and drinking apples. Apple cider, apple liqueur and apple whisky (Calvados). It has a market on Sundays and our first morning we woke up to this – a town square full of pigs, chickens, people dressed as peasants and French folk music. Dancing takes place about every hour and various products are for sale, mostly apple based! Of course there is a plentiful supply of (really) smelly cheeses, sausages (fitting of a similar description as the cheese) and of course French sticks (which in France they call baguettes!! Go figure?!!?).
We visited other small villages, found the locals very friendly and when Bruno returned he took us on a tour of the Normandy beaches. We finished at the American Memorial and cemetery. It is an inspiring and at the same time solemn piece of land overlooking Omaha beach. Omaha was considered the most difficult of the allied landings and as it was the landing site for two US Divisions it is a fitting location for the memorial. I always thought that the USA returned their war dead home for burial but discovered that next of kin were given the option in Europe of a burial site in situ or at home. There are 9,000 graves at Omaha.
In the evenings Bruno entertained us with his BBQing skills and by offering a large variety of aperitifs to finish off the evening. My favourite was the apple ice-cream with calvados as topping. Fruit and whisky ice-cream!???!!!!
If only we had 4 weeks spare to work on our French – who knows, maybe we would grow to like the “aroma” of soft French cheese?