The benedictinesses of Valognes
Hidden away in the outskirts of Valognes, is the small abbey Notre Dame de Protection. This benedictinesse abbey was the refugee of the nuns of this order, while fleeing Cherbourg in the days of the plague that roamed through Europe in the 17th century. Up to today, Benedictines nuns are living in this beautiful and above all peaceful place with Valognes. They take very good care of their abbey, which can be witnessed by visitors in the well-kept gadens and buildings full of pretty decoration and religious statues and paintings.
Alauna, the Romain heritage of Valognes
Quite a few kilometres from Valgones, archeologic digs have recovered Romain fundaments of the ancient town Alauna. This town was the capital of the Unelli, that roamed the Cotentin around present Valognes and through which territory the Romain road towards the Channel coast went. This road was for example quite important for the tin that the Romains brought from Cornwall. Escavations started out only in the late 80-ies of the 20st century and lead to surprising archeological findings of various buildings, among which a Thermae (Romain bathing house). Including parts of the aquaduct that brought water to the Thermae and the furnaces that heated the water.
Take a drive through the lands around Valognes
The surroundings lands of Valognes are of exquisit beauty. The hills with acres and fields look harmonious and are well worth roaming around in for a couple of hours. Especially typical for Normandie are the "Chemins", the narrow streets that on both side are half covered with stone walls that are grown over by bushes, trees and plants. These tunnels are very typical for Normandie and make driving through the landscape to a very special event. In between one can gaze over acres and fields and sometimes also witness where the Cidre comes from (apple orchards). Many people in Normandy have lots of flowers around the house and take very good care of their gardens. Especially the Hortensia bushes are magnificent in summertime.
Hidden secret: Chateau la Brique
This privately owned castle is a very off the beaten path tip, as I believe that I was trespassing at the time that I accidently ended up on the entrancegates of this castle. Just outside Valognes in a forest on the estate called "La Brique", a beautiful castle is hidden. On my scenic route between Bricquebec and Valognes (D62) I suddenly decided to make a walk in the forest that I passed and turned from the road onto a small bad road leading into the forest. Soon the road started to change to a path and I passed entrancegates onto the premisses of a mansion/castle. Amazed by the view of this place, I swiftly took some pictures and then retreated.
In France still many castles and mansions are private possessions. As this beautiful place was not named on the signs and very hard to reach, I guess this must have been one of them. I am very happy to accidently found it and allowed to see it that way.
Direction: Take D62 from Valognes to Bricquebec and turn North after passing "La Brique" inside the small forest onto a forest road.
Centre of Cotentin delicatesses (cidre, calvados)
"Valognes, to get the taste of Normandie"
In the centre of Basse-Normandie and the peninsula Cotentin, Valognes presents itself as a place where the traditions of this part of France are kept high and are shown to all interested visitors. Here is where the visitors find the Musee de Cidre (Cider wine), Musee de Calvados (apple liquor) and Musee des vieux metiers (various old, mainly agricultural, machines, tools and crafts). The museums are situated all in the same block of houses, along a scenic small creek that is pressing itself forward in between the buildings of the town. Valognes is full of enchanting places and beautiful scenery is there for the picking. Around every corner a new beautiful surprise awaits the visitor.
"Valognes, from Romains to Aristocrats"
Valognes already dates back to the Romain era, when - not far from the present location of the town - a Romain settlement Alauna was. It may be not completely clear, but the name Valognes is said to derive from this Latin Alauna. Anyway, when Normandie became an English province, Valognes became an aristocratic town, as several noble families decided to place there mansions in it's neighbourhood. It can be imagines that during the French revolution, Valognes was struck as hard as it did against anything that had to do with the present powers to be (royals as well as nobility). Now-a-days Valognes is a pleasant town in agricultural surroundings. Agriculture is the bases for many traditional Normandian products and Valognes can well be named a centre in this.