Day Eighty Two: Ouistreham to Lisieux - Grampies Go On Their Knees - CycleBlaze

June 17, 2017

Day Eighty Two: Ouistreham to Lisieux

The calendar told us that it was time to finally and irrevocably return to Paris, since our return flight to Montreal is in a week. We still have some important stops on our list, though. Didier's parents in Pacy Sur Eure would like to meet us, and we are interested in Monet's house in Giverny. Plus, there is a bike shop near the Bastille we want to visit. The thing is, none of these things were planned, and we had little idea of how to get to these spots. We tossed around different scenarios involving trains - like bike to Caen, train to Evreux, bike to Pacy and Giverny, and train into Paris. But these started to give us a headache. So we just took a Tourist Information map of Calvados, one that showed some cycle routes, and started pedalling toward Paris.

Actually it ws not quite so loosey goosey as that. We targeting Lisieux as a first stop, and we rejected the Google Maps version of how to get there. Rather we adopted (more or less) a cycle routing shown on the map. It is only about 250 km into Paris, how far wrong can we go? (Hah!)

Just like the Allies on D Day, our first stop in from the coast was the Pegasus Bridge (again). The bridge is critical now as then as the way to cross the Orne and make your assault on Paris. On the way in we had crossed over and crossed back, just quickly, and failed to see the Pegasus Museum on the far side, nor the bust of major John Howard, leader of the force that took the bridge on June 6.

This time we saw the bust, but still bypassed the museum. Maybe next time.

Our hotel in Ouiestreham, There was nothing at all wrong wth the 38 euro room.
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Pegasus revisted
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Major John Howard
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The story
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Now began a long day of noodling our way toward Lisieux. We are avoidig the Google Maps way because we did not have a track for it (no time to develop and download one). And we were avoiding any big roads or roads that looked like they could become big. Finally we were trying to somewhat follow our map, and to somewhat follow bicycle way markings by the road.

It made for slow going, especially the use of small roads, which are not as direct as the main routes. We also did a lot of hill climbing, that maybe larger roads are avoiding.

We were kind of hoping that some fairly random wandering through Normandy would turn up some markets, or maybe a cheese factory with on site store, or some other classically Normandy thing. As it happened, while we did observe the typical Normandy house styles, and saw lots of apple trees, we did not run into any blockbuster Normandy experiences.

a typical modern house in this region - rusty orange roof of flat tiles, stucco exterior, maybe shutters but no common colour for them.
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A typical older place - with vertical timbers.
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Very robust lavender - but without a really strong scent
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The major cow types of Normandy
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A not untypical church with tower not seen elsewhere
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a "typical" old building
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Normandy cows
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This one was particularly friendly
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with their "shades" they are looking very cool.
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There were thousands of these butteflies fluttering around this shrub
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There is one possible exception. We came across a farm with store, called La Ferme des Patis, in the village of Mery-Corbon. We hoped this could be our big chance for some real Normany cheese, but actually they had little in the store. We asked the lady about yogurt but they did not have it. However she suggested teurgoule. This is no more nor less than a well cooked rice pudding. The lady brought out a large container. But we pointed out that we could not eat all nor carry that much. The lady had the answer - just eat what we can and she would dispose of the remainder. Further she offered it to us as a gift. Then she invited us to eat our lunch at her picnic tables, showed us were to find the toilets, closed the store and left to bring her husband lunch in the fields.

The teurgoule turned out to be so good that we ate the whole thing. That was good, because we would need the protein, sugar, and carb content for an afternoon of hill climbing.

The farm uses the AOP milk from its 40 cows, which are "Normandy" ones. The Normandys are the ones with the eye patches. The called called these "sunglasses", and she is right. The cows look like they are trying to be super cool in sunglasses.

A poster in the store revealed that the Normandy cows are actually only the third most common. Holsteins are actually the dominant ones here.

In our continuing quest for small roads or bike paths, we came to a short rail trail leading to St Julien le Faucon. It was unclear where the trail actually started, so we asked a young man who as pedalling nearby. He showed us the entrance, and asked us some of the usual questions. We replied, but found the young man had decided to follow along with us to make sure we did not get lost.

As we cycled we talked to the fellow, whose name was an unusual for France Timmy (teemie in French). We decided that Timmy was to some extent mentally challeged, but since we apparently would be riding companions for about 5 km to come, I looked for topics we could share. One thing I asked was whether he often visited Paris, and he replied rarely. Still I asked if he knew Notre Dame de Paris - no. So I moved to a sure bet, the Eiffel Tower - no. I found that unbelievable so I yanked out my Rick Steeves France Map, which has the tower on the cover. Ah, a light went on, of course - he said.

We continued riding along and I realized how really sweet Timmy was. When we parted (or more realistically - when we found an opportunity to shake him) I was glad to have made his acquaintance.

Timmy, with the Rick Steeves image of the Eiffel Tower.
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Typical small town.
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The day continued hot and we hit a 5 km long climb up a ridge. Now we were really getting tired. So before we got to Lisieux we told ourselves we would take the first hotel (with restaurant!) we encountered. Just our luck, one way or the other, the first hotel was the Grand Hotel de l'Esperance. Some hard bargaining brought the price down slightly, to 89 euros! But at least they had a convenient garage and early breakfast.

The Grand Hotel is fairly grand, which basically means it has velvet wallpaper and quite costly rooms. But it is not grand in the sense of being really old. A photo in the lobby shows the hotel after the bombing in WWII. On June 7, 1944 Allied planes destroyed 3/4 of the city in 45 minutes.

Clearly the current hotel is a total rebuild. We have not looked around Lisieux yet, but we should not expect to find much in terms of older heritage.

The restaurant turned out to be good, though also pricey. We got a salad with lardons and apples and little red onions, plus melted Camembert. It was a worthy addition to the gallery of salads we have found on this trip.

We really do not expect to look in Lisieux, not even its interesting looking church or its famous saint, Therese. No, we will have to get up, wolf down what we can of the expensive breakfast, squirrel some for later, and head off into the unknown, generally toward Paris!

Looking down from a ridge on a green landscape
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Vertical stripes
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The church in Lisieux from up on a ridge. We will not have time to visit or learn about it, or the famous saint, Therese
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A salad for the collection
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Our hotel in 1944
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Our hotel today
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Today's ride: 75 km (47 miles)
Total: 4,066 km (2,525 miles)

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