Basse-Normandie Local Customs
right at galerie du dauphin
right at galerie du dauphin
Galerie d Art du Vieux Honfleur
Inspector Maigret - ?
The choo choo train
I'm ready, where's my saddle?
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Peche a pied
A favourite local activity takes place on low tide, when the sea retreats several kilometers away and the seabed is exposed. You will find many people walking and picking all kind of mussels (moules, coques, palourdes). While for the coques or palourdes, you need already some equipment and knowledge, the easiest to pick are the mussels - just lying attached on seaweeds, rocks or directly in the sand. The only inconvenience is that you need to rinse really well in water all those picked on sand.No permit is required if the picking is done for personal consumption and you respect the minimum sizes (shown on the small boards near the beach access).
Le Trou Normand
This "former" custom of gourmandise is still observed in at least the Suisse Normand. It consists of downing a small glass of spirits (of course in Normandy it is Calvados) between the entree and the roast (meat course). (In other parts of France this may be called the "coup de milieu"). Nowadays in a less husky society , this eating pause has been replaced by a sorbet, sometimes doused in a spirit or strong liqueur. (The word trou means a hole or gap). Try it, you might like it.
The clearing of forests and fields for farming or pasture leads to the accumulation of rubble which in some localities (long before ecology was conceptualized) was distributed at the edges of the cleared land (and not burned). Over decades this became clusters of dense shrubbery and trees: copses and hedgerows. The Norman (and French) term for this is bocage (originally boscage). During WWII the area south of the D-Day beaches unexpectedly made the advance much more difficult because it presented obstructions and presented ambush points. This was a better defense than the Germans had planned! Ultimately, cleverly developed tank-corps ingenuity overcame it, but the taking of St.-Lo was greatly delayed. The bocage extends beyond the southern edge of the "Suisse Normand"
A typical French thing in Normandie
Jeu de Boules or Petanque, is a very traditionally Frenmch game that is played almost everywhere. In many villages and cities, one can find the special created Petanque lanes on shadowy places along the streets or on a square. Young and old play the game, but mostly one sees men doing it. We couldn't refuse when Lily (our camping entertainer) organised a smalle Petanque tournement in which we were (of course) absolutely crushed by the French comeptitors.
What would a coast be without lighthouses?
The Cotentin peninsula as well as further East coastline villages of Normandie, have many lighthouses. These variete from small port light houses to high towers that shine their lights over a far distance into the sea. The Gatteville-le-Phare lighthouse ("Phare", atually means lighthouse in French) is one of the highest in the world. Few pages also mention more detailed information on lighthouses, such as:Gattesville-le-Phare, Goury (Cap la Hague) and Fermanville (Cap Levi).
Vakwerk (woodwork) houses
To be honest, I do not know the exact word in English, but the woodwork (vakwerk) houses are very present in the older villages and towns of Normandie, showing that this was a popular building style here (as well as in Germany and parts of England). The houses were constructed as a wooden frame in between which plasterwork (clay or so) was pressed, forming walls. The wooden patterns stay visible, leaving often a very colourful house, especially when the platsre later was painted in various (pastel) colours.
Flag and coat of arms of Normandy
Unlike most French provinces, towns and districts, Normandie does not have the French lily in it's flag, coat of arms. No, here in Normandie it's (like in the Lowlands and England) the lion that can be found on these national items. And proud of it they are, these Normandians, as the flag waves in many many places and shows to the people that Normandy is different from the rest of France.
Historical strong agriculture
Three agribusinesses have been historically strong in Normandie, effecting the present day landscape, traditions and welfare. First the apple orchards that stand at the bases of the famous Cidre Wine and Calvados, originating from this region. Furthermore cattle keeping, especially the meat producing cattle, have created it's own Normandian race. And last but not least, horses. Normandie is famous for it's studfarms, that have in past times delivered some exquisitely bread horses.
The stone edged acres and fields
The Normandian landscape is quite similar to the English / Irish landscape in it's many stone edged fields and acres. This comes from ancient times, in which stones were the most easiest and available material to create barriers between properties. Wood was to expensive and barb wire just wasn't invented yet. The stone walls are left 'til today and form a significant beautiful presence in many landscapes.
Chemins, driving through the "chimneys"
Normandie is famous for it's "chemins". These narrow roads are flanked by walls of stone and green, that in some cases grow completely over the road, turning it into a tunnel. These charming roads are a delight for the driver, even though the landscape is completely cut off from sight. However, around the corner waits a surprise in a sudden beautiful view over the surroundings or ... a person coming towards you by car. In the last case ... may the best one win - hahaha.
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