Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reunion with Anaconda in Fécamp

We are very happy to be docked right next to our friends Lex and Maria on Anaconda. They waited here in Fécamp for us to catch up with them, and we’ll be going on together to Honfleur tomorrow. The boats are so close together that we can go from one to the other without stepping onto the dock.

Last night both galleys were busy cooking mussels (provided by Anaconda) for a feast that was consumed in Solstice’s cockpit (because we have a cockpit table). Tonight’s feast is our treat, and John will be making sea bass with a wonderful cream sauce that he made for me in Dieppe.

Boulogne, Dieppe, and Fécamp

Boulogne’s major claim to fame is its ancient fortified city, parts of the walls of which date to the second century A.D. The buildings only go back to the 17th century for the most part, but they are very beautiful. We visited the old city upon arrival in the afternoon, and it was our intention to go back the next day for more pictures, but our full day in Boulogne was cloudy, cool, and even a little drizzly, so we stayed home.

In Boulogne’s old city

Low tide in Boulogne

Dieppe has a nice harbor right in the middle of town. Beautiful old buildings with sidewalk cafés surround it, and you can see the towers of nearby churches behind them when the tide is in. When the tide is out, the view is somewhat limited since tidal range here is about nine meters. That also makes the ramp from the dock to the street quite steep at low tide.

Dieppe at low tide

The sail from Boulogne to Dieppe was a relatively long one, so we treated ourselves to dinner at one of the cafés where John had his first mussels in France. Dinner was good, but it couldn’t compare to the next night’s dinner. John bought fresh sea bass from a local boat (the boats put up stands in the mornings near the harbor office). Then he baked it and served it with a wonderful cream sauce. That’s the recipe he’s going to reprise tonight.

We did more exploring in Dieppe than we did in Boulogne visiting a really old church and the beach. All in all, it was a very good stop, and we recommend it highly to others.

We motored from Dieppe to Fécamp; there just wasn’t any wind. Unusual for us, we stayed quite close to the shore, which is lined with beautiful white cliffs. The weather was warm and sunny, and we were very impressed with this stretch of Normandy.

White cliffs of France

Besides being the location of our rendezvous with Anaconda, Fécamp is the home of Bénédictine. Today we visited the Palais Bénédictine with Maria. A monk may have invented the recipe centuries ago in an abbey pharmacy, but the production and marketing of the liqueur is recent, as is the palace. The palace is a marvel of gothic excess, but according to the brochure, it actually opened in 1900. It really is where Bénédictine is made, though, and we got to walk through parts of the caves where it is aged. The displays with the plants and spices used in the secret recipe were really interesting, and at the end there was a tasting and, of course, an opportunity to buy. So our liquor cabinet now contains a bottle of Bénédictine.

Bénédictine palace

No comments: