Sourdeval and Domfront en Poiraie

July, 2022

Sourdeval is part of Basse Normandie (Lower Normandy) in the Manche department. A small village, surrounded by charming mansions, old farms and a dreamy landscape. The dog guides me over the country roads, during our daily walks. The most favorite hike is the Voie Verte, on top of the ridge. This is the old railway track, which stretches as far as Mont Saint-Michel. Very popular among the cyclists and hikers! I love the view over the fields from the escarpment, where farmers are busy to roll the golden hay into stacks.

I take the dog with me in the car on a few outings. Due to the fact that she has some joints problems, we need to adjust the length of our walks! We explore the small waterfalls in Mortain. An area popular among mountain climbers.

Next, we drive up the hill to the cistercian abbey just outside Mortain. The convent was founded in 1112 and it was a nunnery until 1793.  As the habits of the nuns were made from undyed wool, they call it Abbaye Blanche (White Abbey). Recently, this immense building got a new owner, who will hopefully start the renovations. I only can have a glimpse through the gate.

Abbaye Blanche Mortain

Later in the week, we are going to visit Fosse Arthour, a serene lake and a nice hiking area. The small scenic road takes us in 25 minutes to this oasis amidst natural beauty! According to the legends, King Arthur and his wife, who lived in the caves, are laid to rest in the lake. Different trails go around the Fosse, over the sandstone rocks and along the fast streaming river Sonce. There are plenty of picnic areas, possibilities for rock climbing and even an Auberge, with a small terrace overlooking the stream.

After my partner arrives by train from Paris, we explore charming Domfront-en-Poiraie. This fortified medieval town is situated high above the Varenne valley. Even though it is a very hot day, we decide to climb the narrow streets towards the modern Neo-Byzantine style church; Saint-Julien was built in the 20th century.

Plenty of charming stores, half-timbered houses and the remains of the old castle are all part of this attractive town in the lower Normandy region.

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On the road again to the next house sit

 

23rd of July, 2022

It has been a while, since I hit the road to go to France on my own. It was during a house sit in The Lot. This time I have the opportunity to visit Normandy, one of the places from our bucket list. My transponder is installed, to drive smooth through the traffic at the Péage. At 5.00 a.m. I am already on the road to avoid the Black Saturday madness.

Everything is going well, until somewhere in between Lille and Amiens, I notice three uniformed guys, all lined up at the side of the highway. My speedometer says 100, while I am allowed 110. For whatever reason, I just know they are going after me! Maybe my sunglasses are too big? Or they think that a lady, driving on her own in a Dutch car, probably comes from Amsterdam? Suddenly, one guy is in front of my car, two at the back and even another car is following!!! They all guide me to a very quiet place, far away from the highway. I feel like a criminal…..

After opening the window, all three guys with ‘Douanier’ on their jackets are surrounding me. I look as relaxed as possible and my school french is floating out of my mouth; “Qu’y a-t-il, messieurs?” “Controle, madame, where are you going to?” I explain that I am going for a house sit to Sourdeval in Normandy, looking after a funny dog and two ragdolls.

‘ Les Douaniers’ give me a suspicious look. Did I maybe use too many Spanish words? “Did I bring boose?” Yes, sure, one bottle of whiskey for the boyfriend, who is coming by train on Saturday. I get enthusiastic, happy to practise my french, and tell them how long we will stay and what we are going to do.

The guys don’t even ask anymore for my passport, nor check the loads of luggage I brought. “Merci madame, bonne journée” and they rapidly leave. Pfffff…….

The next day I arrive safely at the gorgeous property, where I will stay for ten exciting days.

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