Driving Down the Normandy Coast, With Time to Stop

Today was the kind of day you hope to get at least once or twice during a working press trip. A day where we got up late, had a leisurely breakfast, and got on the road in this beautiful part of France with time to mosey into small villages, stop to take photos, and pop into a beachside cafe to slurp up fresh oysters washed down with beer. The pace was relaxing and we hung beside the steep cement dock at Carteret until a group of fishing boats came to disgourge their fishy contents and refuel.

The men on the boats swung a hand cranked crane with plastic crates full of sole, crabs and smaller fish. They loaded their fresh catch into waiting vans, and then another smaller boat pulled up alongside the quay. The men began loading fish into the boat, and we looked at each other…isn’t the fish supposed to go in the trucks, not back on a boat? Later an African crewman explained that these were junk fish that they’d use for bait…and that his real catch was sole and the other flatfish, plus the spindly red crabs with barnicles on their backs.

We followed D902 as it wound down the coast toward Granville, our destination for the night. We stopped to shoot some photos in a field, catching just the right angle of a tractor that was pushing hay into a row. We spent some time in a busy little village and watched traffic pass as we sipped coffee and men bet on trotters in the dark bar. In Granville, we got a chance to taste bulot, one of the specialities of the La Manche region. In our country we’d call them welks, but they looked just like giant snails and had a briny, tough seafoody kind of taste.

France and Normandy once again has left me feeling like it’s the exact place I want to be in this exact moment. As we watch another evening that will lag on and not get dark until about 10:30 pm, the glow of the wine and the feeling that we’ve captured many fine moments gives me great satisfaction.