is what travel always gives me. There isn’t a point when it doesn’t deliver and our trip to Rouen was no exception. Although it turned out to be a city which at one point must have been vibrant and alive. Now, many of the gorgeous buildings empty and the streets deserted.
We’d decided on a road trip, as an ideal short break away from our little home town, after a tumultuous few weeks. Travelling by ferry, we arose at the awful time of 3:30 am to begin our journey. The roads dark, the traffic light. An ideal time of day to travel to Dover – dramatic cliffs looming over the docks on our arrival.
My idea to travel and arrive at a time in France, which allowed us to explore and reach our destination for the evening; a little village called Vascoeuil, kissing the outskirts of Rouen, our number 1 stop for this trip. A place which I’d thought looked interesting due to its architecture, historical nature and being the location where King Richard the Lionheart of England’s heart is embalmed and tombed.
It’s also where Joan of Arc was executed. The first woman I can remember learning about classed as a heroine in history lessons at school and was interested in finding out a little more. The location of the museum in the heart of the city, housed in the magnificent Archbishops Palace-incidentally, through the story told at the Joan of Arc Museum I discovered much myth and she seemed to have annoyed quite a lot of men!
We were on a self guided tour with two others and for me, that was the fun bit – the way we had to figure out, how long to give the interactive exhibits in each room a chance to start – the way in which we connected as a four through the process. The others probably weren’t even thinking in that way but there is something magical for me, in human connection, which fills me with glee and lights me up relationally. Much in the same way travel does for me personally.
The drive had taken a lot longer than we’d thought. It reminded us that driving on a motorway, you could be anywhere in the world and that time, simply melded in on itself in the process. We’d arrived in the city at lunchtime – a deserted feel surrounded us. I remembered that the french close their shops for lunch. Exploring we discovered a canopied coffee shop – where I used my school girl french to order coffee and refill, as we sat outside watching tourists wander by. The rain fell. Glee filled my heart.
The army came.
They patrolled the street enmass. Machine guns at the ready. We were surprised but not really concerned. Oh, there was a part of me which wanted to simply run up and say ‘Selfie,’ to one of the young soldiers resplendent in military uniform!
Instead we smiled politely – I shared my desire with Vin. A much safer bet. We supped the frothy substance set down in front of us, observing them diligently patrolling.
We’d hoped the river Seine which meandered its way further south from Paris, would hold some glories for us – like the water way in Kraków but alas it didn’t and by the time we’d visited the museum for the tour, it was time to be making our way to our B&B for the night. My driving timing completely up the swannie on this occasion.
Just outside the village of Vascoeuil, a find easy off the main road was La Tourelle. A creaky, traditional french house, filled with wooden floors, bric a brac and a friendly host. A quaint coffee machine offering refreshments and a homemade apple cake from the trees in the orchard shared with us on arrival.
The village a short drive down the lane, here we discovered a way of eating french food which we hadn’t encountered before. We were guided to a little deli past the flower shop. On arriving we were asked to choose our 3 course style of dinner from below the glass cabinet. On doing so, the food was plated into a bowl, put on a tray and taken into the next room. There we were left to our own devices.
The food was cold. Looking towards the rear of the little cafe, we discovered three microwaves and here we heated our own food for 25 euros. It was different, a bit weird and we loved it. My chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce was delicious and the vegetables tasted wonderful, although I wasn’t quite sure about the hash brown potato. As two other guests arrived we were greeted with ‘Bon Appetit’ from across the room. With a sip of red wine I was flooded with happy endorphins once again. See why I love this travel malarky!
After such a long day, tiredness followed us like a gnarly drunk and a spat outside the local tabac made sure we were on our way into a well needed early night.
La tourelle – a sweet little overnight stay but one we didn’t think suitable for any more than that. Although waking up to watching the neighbours feed chickens, watching the birds gather in the trees. Gazing out over the fields and knowing down the lane was a river, good for a meandering, early autumn swim, might have led me to think differently, if given the time. As did enjoying warmed croissants and jam, served with fresh orange juice and natural yoghurt, it certainly set us up for the next part of our adventure. As we made our way towards the coast…