Sunday, May 13, 2012

Honfleur and around

Today was mostly in Honfleur, an ancient seaport on the English Channel, just across the mouth of the Seine from Le Havre.

Friend Catherine loaned us a book of "Chateux of Normandie" that listed many fine old houses. Today we actually set out to find one, Chateau Cricqueville-en-Auge. And we did find it. Like most in that book, it's private, not open to the public. But one can take a picture from the road, and we did.

Chateau Cricqueville-en-Auge

This was about a perfect spring morning. We're several kilometers from the motorway and except for birdsong, it's so quiet you want to tiptoe. Cool air, bright sun, grass still damp. Very nice.

Into Honfleur, where the first stop was a quirky museum memorializing the life of Erik Satie. We are such ignoramuses, barely knowing Satie was a composer and nothing about his work. But at one point in the tour this theme played and we both knew it instantly.

In what TV shows have you heard this as background music?

The museum was anything but conventional. The intention is that the entire museum is a single work of art. You get an audio guide that automatically changes tracks as you walk from place to place, through disorienting spaces, up and down narrow stairways, seeing bits of Satie's life represented in drawings and projections and objects, and hearing bits of his writings or music. Not highly photographable, except when you emerge into an all-white room where a white piano is playing the Gymnopodie theme.

It wasn't an entirely successful presentation (it would probably be terrific, if one came knowing something about Satie) but it certainly was a change from other museums.

We ate lunch—a loaf of bread we bought this morning, with pork paté we bought yesterday—in a pleasant park watching kids on swings. Then, quite unaware of what awaited us, we walked around to Honfleur's Vieux Bassin, which was once the fishing boat harbor.

Is it Nice? Cannes? Nooooo...

Here was a tiny boat basin absolutely lined with cafés and crowds of happy tourists. Was this the chilly English Channel or the Mediterranean? What a kick!

Pictures, pictures, what to shoot next?

Marian's Monet.

Had to take a panorama.

Click to open a jumbo-sized 4000x1200 panorama

Tearing ourselves away from the harbor we walked a couple blocks to St. Catherine's Church, a church built in wood in a region where stone was the standard. But they had boat builders handy, and they used the material they knew. The nave roof looks like an inverted boat hull.

They were worried about fire, so they made the belfry, more likely to be hit by lightning, a separate structure.

While we were there we realized that a choir practice was going on. The choir sounded pretty good and the director was amazing. Marian poked David and whispered "Video!" So here we go, enjoy. Does anyone know the name of this piece of music?

After noodling around Honfleur some more we drove to the top of a nearby hill for a view of the Pont du Normandie, which bridges the mouth of the Seine. When it was opened in 1995 it was the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world at 2808 feet between the piers.

Since then a bridge in Japan and one in Greece have surpassed it. But hey, 3rd place isn't so bad.

This had been a very satisfying day, but it was getting long and our tempers were getting short so we set the GPS for Bayeux and buzzed home at 120 km/hr on the motorway.

1 comment:

  1. I quickly recognized the Satie melody (but like you, I never heard the composer's name before), but I have no clue as to what the church choir is singing.

    Your views of Honfleur harbor look the same as when I was there 25 years ago.

    Thanks for all of your great reports. I've savored every one.