Thursday, 18 June 2015

Fleeing rural Normandy for the coast (or Abbeville to Fort-Mahon-Plage)

When I open my motel door for the first cigarette in the morning, I repulse in horror. RAIN.

 When I ask the owner (who quadruple cheek kisses his mother when she arrives at 8 am) where to buy cigarettes, he says "la ville".  
 At 9 am I hop on the bike for the 14 km cigarette-buying round trip in the rain. I also stop at a Carrefour to buy some baguette and a new plate (never know how many hedgehogs are in dire need out there ;-).  And last but not least, something that was missing in my saddlebags and has been my trusty companion on all previous bike trips in Europe: A water kettle.
Abbeville train station built in 1912
 The rain is supposed to let up soon, so I plan today's route with Google Maps.  After yesterday's hell on wheels, I am taking it easy today. 40 kilometers (55 km including my cigarette and chocolate run ;-).  
Abbeville Cathedral 

The weather forecast has predicted the sun to be out by 1pm and the rain and drizzle to end before then. When I check out at 11 am, the drizzle is still going and there is a head wind to deal with.  At first I am tempted to curse fate again, but then I realize that I am cycling on smooth roads with almost non-existent car traffic through a gorgeous country side of France.  

Now that I'm getting closer to the coast, it is noticeable that the area is getting more touristy and more developed. After yesterday at least one of those is a welcome change.  But French 'touristy' is much different than for example Belgian 'touristy'.  No wall of highrises along the water here. And the villages long the way seem to have maintained a lot of their original character.

Where  there are camp grounds, there must be stores with power outlets ;-) (Not that I need one today)
An old country home converted to a hotel:
The even revived an old train to run for the tourists. I'll see the old steam engine being cleaned tomorrow and here is its turny thing to turn the engine around
It seems that today's ride goes through the Delta/Waterlogged area of the river Somme. Reason to read up on the battle of the Somme!

Le Crotoy is one village along today's route and it has many restaurants right at the main arm of the Somme, which due to tidal action flows upstream right now.    
I order my first moules frites au curry  of this trip and after inhaling the first curry-flavoured French fries realize that this is just my replacement of the German Currywursts with Fries of my youth.

The pot and portion are so big that I can't finish it

People meet Somme

Somme meets ocean

In Belgium this would be a high-rise

Bike route along water near Le Crotoy

The wetlands contain a bird sanctuary and the noise is overwhelming

After 58.8 kms I am glad I have arrived.  Not so glad am I that the town reminds me of the Hoof of Holland. I had hoped to get a taste of St Malo early by coming here but I am disappointed.  This is a town where old and young come to be animated (by animators ;-).  I'm almost ready to question my own memory, but I am unanimous in that I DID see:  A middle-aged animator demonstrating to older Nordic Walkers the game of Hopscotch with Nordic Walking sticks on the beach!

The water exhibits a questionable degree of cleanness and leaves yucky foam when it retreats.  THAT AIN'T RIGHT !

A very nice beach otherwise

Various groups being animated

I fall asleep for an hour with a view of the ocean, and when I wake up it is gone!  I love the tide on these shallow Northern France beaches ;-)  I grab a hoodie, shoes, cigarettes, and camera and race outside.
All the animateurs and animatees are gone now and the beach is quiet.
I am excited. After Folkstone, this is my first experience on this trip of a REAL beach.  There is still MUCH better to come, but not bad for almost half-time ;-)

That/s what a beach is for me.  Room to walk and think.

... and to take shadow self-portraits ;-)

Something about following in the footsteps of seagulls 

Somehow the visual simplicity

leads to a desire for that same simplicity in life (This reminds me a bit of Belgium!)

It looks like there is wiggly things sticking out of the sand,but these are actually structures made of sand.  Some creature's secretions below rendered the sand along an upright tube resistant to water flow action.  I wonder who lives in there!

Empty beach = good mood

The houses and their reflections remind me of a Piet Mondrian painting

The ugly coloured foam swath that I observed earlier in the day have dried in the evening. Something wrong with this water if it makes foam like that.

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