Honfleur in France

I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the building in the photo below, it’s up for sale but it looks like nature is going to beat any buyer to it.

aplant cliff 1

From there we went for a snoop around a supermarket, it’s always interesting in a foreign country – to see what different things are on offer food-wise. But with French supermarkets you always have to pluck up courage to go in as when you first step through the doors you are invariably assailed by such a horrendous smell that it takes some courage not to just turn around and dash out again for fresh air. I don’t know how they manage it, I suspect they just never clean the places.

Below is a photo of an old style French ‘gents’ public toilet – and it’s still in use. As usual Jack was in need of a loo (I swear I could write a guidebook on the public loos of Scotland – I seem to have stood outside most of them at some point!) Anyway, he went into the small white building which he thought was unisex, but I’m not so sure as the old metal structure is still in use, I saw chaps using it, and I mean saw as their heads were in view. This is all rather alien to Brits, but French toilet facilities still leave a lot to be desired, in some places it is literally just a hole in the ground!
toilets

It reminded me of Clochemerle, it’s a book by Gabriel Chevallier and it was televised way back in the early 1970s on the BBC, very late due to its subject matter being seen as rather risque in those days.

From the ‘cor blimey’ to the sublime Saint Catherine’s Church below is really old, 15th century in some parts I believe.

Honfleur Church

The church has a separate belltower.
achurch 4 belltower
And this other church was actually open.

achurch 5

As you can see the internal decor is quite different from British churches.

achurch archway

The very intricate designs on the walls and ceilings seem to be more in keeping with a grand house, but maybe that is a feature of French Roman Catholic churches. It’s beautiful anyway.

achurch frieze

aleaving harbour 1

Sailing on out of Honfleur, the surroundings are lovely, with this heavily wooded area right by the coast.
aleaving harbour 2

Sailing back out to sea, as you can see it’s a flat calm but the sea did get a wee bit more interesting in the next few days as we sailed back to Scotland. Most of the time though lying in bed on ship made me think of how it would feel if you were being stirred around gently in a big bowl. I find it very relaxing – rock-a-bye-baby sort of sensation, although I always worried about that lullaby’s words. Even as a small child that sounded crazily dangerous to me!

aleaving harbour 3

Honfleur in France

Our last port of call on that cruise we went on in October was Honfleur in France. It’s north western France and the weather was very similar to British weather as it tends to be in that area. In fact we had to go into a shop and buy ‘une paraplui s’il vous plait’ – yes the rain was coming down in buckets! That was the only bad weather we had the whole cruise. Luckily we had taken most of our photos before the deluge.

aharbour 1

aharbour 4

But Honfleur itself turned out to be a wee gem of a town, very ancient as you can see.

old building 2

The town is just a very short walk from where our ship Black Watch was berthed.

aharbour 7

aOld building 3

aOld building 5

Some of the houses are very chocolate boxy and others are in dire need of some tender loving care, the one below looks scarily dilapidated!

aOld Building 6

And the house in the photo below is where the composer Erik Satie was born.

aOld Building 8

Sadly it was a Monday again and although most of the shops were open, because Honfleur’s economy must be massively boosted by the cruise ships that visit – the second-hand booksellers obviously didn’t think it was worth their while to open on a Monday. I was SO ANNOYED because I was dying to get in there and get in amongst those books. I wasn’t bothered that they were in French. I would have bought that old copy of Gulliver’s Travels if it had been open and I could see boxes full of old Tintin books in there.

abookshop

Some women press their noses up against jewellery shop windows but with me it’s the bookshops – or chocolate shops!

I’m sure you know who Erik Satie was but just because I love this piece of music by him I’m putting it on here. Gymnopedie.

Lorient in Brittany, France

We sailed into Lorient in Brittany on a Monday. Apparently shops in France shut on a Monday. I’ve spent a couple of holidays in France before and I don’t recall that at all, although they did have what seemed to us to be bizarre opening times. In Britain we just assume that shops should open at 9 am and close at 5.30 pm but it isn’t like that in other parts of the world. You would have thought though that any town that has a cruise ship containing nearly 1,000 passengers docking within a very short walking distance from ‘centre ville’ that the business owners might think it was a good idea to open up the shops, just for that Monday, but hmm, they don’t seem to think like that in France. The only shops open were bakeries and pharmacies. I think that France must have the biggest number of pharmacies of any country in the world. The photo below is of a typical street, complete with very tall plane trees. Well, I think that’s what they are.

a Street 1 Lorient

aStreet 2

Anyway, it was just nice to be able to stretch our legs properly after getting off the ship and Lorient is a lovely town – for window shopping. If I had known the town would be shut we would have arranged to go on one of the arranged trips to nearby Quimper, where that charming pottery originates, oh well, maybe next time we’re in that neighbourhood we’ll go there.

Below is a photo of the Hotel de Ville, I love fountains, I don’t know why we don’t have as many in the UK.

aHotel de Ville 3 fountains

It has a rather snazzy looking modern theatre.

aTheatre 1

Most of Lorient is quite modern, it was badly bombed during the war in 1943-44, but the Hotel Gabriel and tower below are quite historic. The Germans had their U-Boat headquarters in Lorient so it was always going to be a big target for the allies, they apparently dropped leaflets prior to the bombing campaign advising inhabitants to get out. It’s quiet depressing how nothing seems to change where human beings are concerned, we – or should I say – the powers that be just never learn and ordinary people just have to suffer it all.

aHotel Gabriel + tower
Despite being disappointed at fetching up in a more or less deserted town, it was only at this time that I began to really enjoy the cruise. The weather wasn’t great, it was quite chilly and we even got a wee smattering of rain, but Lorient has some beautiful planting and fountains and is obviously quite a wealthy area, going by the huge amount of yachts and boats moored there. The photo below shows just a tiny fraction of them.

ayachts in harbour

There’s quite a lot of art deco inspired modern architecture around. I especially liked the porthole windows in the building below.
aDeco 3

As we were leaving port on the Black Watch there was a nice looking wee town across the river from Lorient. I think it’s called Locmiquélic.

Locmiquélic

Tomorrow we’ll sail via the Bay of Biscay to Getxo in Spain, the port for Bilbao, where things get much better.