Lyons la Foret
"Charming Village in Haute Normandie"
When you drive into Lyons-la-Foret, you pass some tiny very medieval looking houses. Then you come to this gem where there is parking. This is the house where Maurice Ravel is supposed to have written Le Tombeau de Couperin.
It's a great introduction to the lovely little town.
This is a great place to have a cup of coffee while you watch the market across the street.
If you took away the cars, this would look like a movie set straight out of the Middle Ages . . . and it has been. Several movies have been made here so if it looks familiar, it probably is.
Foret des Lyons - Beautiful French Landscape
"A day out in the forest"
Foret des Lyons is a landscape situated a few kilometers east of Rouen, which is partly a national park under environment protection. There are villages, natural fountains, ruins and the small town of Lyons-La-Foret quite in the middle of all. The plan was to see all mayor sights in a single day, which was quite short. But anyway, my friend and me became used to "power-sightseeing" - so off we go: Have a look at the tips as well as on the travellog.
Normandie is dotted with litle towns and villages. To visit them all would take a very long time. Lyons-la-Forêt is a typical Norman village we we chose to visit during our short stay in the area. According to the tourbook, it's reputed to be one of the most scenic villages here. Such may be true if one were to stay for a while and absorb in the rustic surroundings. However, our quick tour through the town didn't give us much time to enjoy the village or be impressed by it. Such is a potential evil of rapid-fire travel.
The drive to the village from Vascoeuil is very pleasant. The landscape is mostly rolling farmlands, with a particularly nice stretch where the road runs through the middle of a dense forest among towering trees.
Norman half-timbered houses are common here, as in many of the villages in Normandy. A particularly striking example is the former house of the famous composer Maurice Ravel.
Normandy 1999 - looking for a big oak tree
"A daytrip away from Rouen"
I mentioned my 1999 Normandy tour in most of my other France travel tips. This has been one of four or five ocassions where I have been to France and unfortunately, my last so far. However, even if it's already a long time ago, this trip still remains among the best I ever made. Perhaps that's why I mention it so often...
When we made the daytrip from Rouen to Foret de Lyons, we had already spent around a week in Normandy with only slightly more than another one left. Anyway, we have only seen a small part of this area and we had everything west of the Seine left. In Rouen, we decided to do the villages and sights east of the city in a single day and return to the same campground at night. As far as I can remember, that was the only time during the whole trip we did that. A single day for Foret des Lyons was not really enough, but my friend and me were already used to "power sightseeing" and so we did quite a lot that day. We picked the things we wanted in our green Michelin guide and off we went.
"Chapelle St. Jean and Chêne St. Jean"
One of the things in our green Michelin guide was this chapel and a big oak tree with the same name. I really love the Michelin guide and I even have bought it for tours where I didn't use a car. However, this was one of two ocassions where I was not really happy with that book (the other one was in Rome, just a year later). After having visited the chapel, we decided to look for the tree. Michelin vert said, that there was a path leading to a tree which has a perimeter of around 5 meters. Two paths were leading away from the chapel, so we tried the first, thinking that such a huge tree should be easy to find. after a few minutes of walking, the path splitted up in some smaller paths and some of them did the same. We followed the one or other, but there was no such tree. Some more minutes of walking and we were completely lost. We found ourselves in the middle of nowhere (see picture above) and had no idea where the chapel (and more important: our car which was parked next to it...) was. We found the river and a few houses after some time, but that was not really what we were looking for. So we decided to return into the french outback and find the car again - or at least the tree. We just found a larger trunk, thinking that perhaps this was the ******* tree a long time ago....
"Around 1 1/2 hours later..."
...we came back along the second path leading from the chapel into the forest. I still have no idea how we found the chapel and the car, having a bad sense of orientation and no helpful tools. I have no idea, if that tree exists or if Michelin just has a single line to fool the reader in every guide (where's the one in the "Amsterdam" and "Netherlands" tomes?). But although this picture is not really nice, it became one of my favourites. I made it just after discovering the car!
P.S.: Doing some internet research, I found out that the tree was damaged in June of 1998, just a year before our visit. Unfortunately, I do not know if it is still standing. I hope that it does, because it looked nice on the older pictures I found and it is a shame to lose such an immense naturla monument.
"Continuing through Foret de Lyons and onward"
The other destinations were a little more interesting, but we didn't enjoy them as much as the walk though Normandy wilderness. Next on our list was the Abbaye de Mortemer, an abbey south of the town of Lyons-la-Foret. That was quite nice, but unfortunately not as impressive as Jumi?ges. Maybe we were just spolied by that one. We left the Foret for some destinations and sights in the south. These included Gisors, Vernon, Les Andelys and Ch?teau Gaillard. We returned to Rouen in the evening and went to town to get something to eat. As you can imagine, the main conversation theme was a big oak tree we never saw...