Around Haute Normandy (click here to see the photos in a new window)
After visiting the gardens we bought picnicking supplies there and set off for Rouen. Rouen is a charming town, larger than I would have thought. The beautiful Gothic cathedral was a bit gloomy and undergoing repairs on the outside of course. Monet painted it repeatedly (70+ times I think) because the light constantly changes. We walked all around, and had tea at a delightful little tearoom. There are many many half-timbered houses here too- it seems that NEW houses are made half-timbered in a faux-antique style. There's a great city clock. A fair number of visitors even this early in the season. The weather remained overcast and chilly but not raining.
The next day we drove first to Honfleur, which was something of a disappointment. It was a town favored by the Impressionists, with its little harbor painted by many of them. Today the harbor holds yachts, and the town itself seems to be mostly occupied by gift shops, charming restaurants, and so on. Self-consciously quaint. The big wooden church, built by shipbuilders and showing its origins, is charming. But we had good fresh sole amandine in a restaurant overlooking the harbor.
We looked out onto the Channel from the almost-deserted beach at Deauville (or was it Trouville?) which stretched out in front of miles and miles of holiday homes and villas and hotels. We arrived in Caen and eventually found our motel near the War Memorials. Neither of us had any interest in visiting the D-Day sites. By now our jet-lag was catching up with us, as well as our eternal impatience with the many roundabouts on the roads, and we spent the evening "in."
The next day we visited Bayeux.