Les Vacances de monsieur Hulot
28th July 2018
Varengeville sur Mer, Normandy, France
I feel a bit like Jacques Tati in his 1953 film noir "Mr Hulot's Holiday' - a truly wonderful film if you've never seen it. The usual 100 mins, or so, of black and white reel in which ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happens, yet somehow it's fantastically enjoyable to watch! Nothing happened on a summer holiday just about sums up today for Amy and I.
We had a wonderfully quiet night last night, if you don't count a couple of three thunderstorms (which I don't) and we had our little stop-over place all to ourselves - even more unusually not one passing vehicle at any time during the night. A deserted beach at sunrise, albeit not a vast area due to a rising tide.
A few km down the road and we were in Dieppe doing the daily Lidl shop, of which there was slightly more to do today as I have finally come to the end of my 24 hour Army ration pack supply. Overall they were pretty good but the taste got a bit 'samey' after a few days so, from that point of view, I'm not sorry to have finished them but I will miss the ease of simply heating a bagged meal in boiling water for a couple of minutes and NO washing up afterwards!
Saw more of Dieppe today than I have previously and what I saw I thought was OK, particularly the old part of town in the environs of the centre and port. We tried to take the coast road south out of Dieppe only to find the inevitable 'road closed' sign barring our way. To be fair, we were given 1000m notice of the obstruction but so many times, in France, such notices are utterly meaningless and its always worth taking a chance that they are bluffing. Not today though. I guess the mayor thought his campsite on the alternate route needed the benefit of more passing trade as there was absolutely no reason to barricade the coast road for all of 50 metres, resulting in quite a long detour.
Eventually, we returned 51 metres further along the coast road from the point we were compelled to turn round(!) and it quickly blossomed into a very pretty route. Not far along the road we came to the beach at Varengeville sur Mer, via a charming labyrinth of little rural back lanes. When we arrived it was very quiet with just a few cars parked up and a handful of folk on the foreshore but as the day progressed it got fairly busy, but then again it is 'le weekend' and the last 'le weekend' in July to boot! Hardly surprising such an extensive beach so near to Dieppe should attract a few French persons looking for a classic day out at the seaside.
At high tide there is very little useable beach and so Amy and I sat in the sunshine on a low wall by the slipway for a few hours whist we waited for the sand to appear and watched the French world and his Madame go by. Amy was hugely popular and had her photo taken many times, both solo or with an admirer patting her head and it was really quite fun to watch all the different people come and go. I even managed a little conversation! it was sitting on that wall that I was minded of Jacques Tati's 1950s film noir of the eccentric Mr Hulot on 'is 'olidays as the film is essentially one of observation about the Family Species French. Really, very little has changed about them in 65 years and perhaps that is what endears me to them. I also like them for their dog tolerance as Amy parked her brain and went tearing all over the beach like a lunatic when low tide finally arrived. In the UK I would have suffered the approbation of 90% of the beach for Amy's behaviour but here, without exception, everyone just smiles and says
well, that's dogs, isn't it?
I also admire the fact that the French are not prudish in any way and seem to have a good understanding that we all need to 'live and let live' - a sentiment of which I wholeheartedly approve.
I note the fashion to adorn one's skin permanently with ink has not really gripped the imagination of French people in the way it has the Brits. You do see an occasional 'tramp stamp' invariably on the larger spandex clad lady, but its uncommon. I do find myself wondering if the desire to decorate the skin heralds in an age of 'new barbarism'?
It's 7.30 pm as I type this and there are still quite a a few cars here, but they are beginning to thin out and I have no reason to doubt it will be a nice quiet spot to spend the night once the sun goes down.
My Location tonight is:
GPS precision : 8 m
Can't quite decide whether to stay here tomorrow also as, if tonight goes OK, it might be a case of 'better the devil we know'. Being a summer Sunday everywhere on the coast will be busy and this place does, at least, have the benefit of severely limited car parking to restrict beach numbers.
Such difficult decisions!
Atom heart mother Sunday, Bloody Sunday