The visit to Normandy in June/July wowed us with its plethora of ecclesiastical buildings:
The Abbaye de Jumièges with its neoclassical Roman looking towers.
The Cathedral Notre-Dame de Rouen with its beautiful new metal light holders made to blend with the Gothic shape, colours and style of the time. Little Manou church tucked between several other buildings. Our guide, Olivier, encouraging our interest.
On our visit to Monet’s garden at Giverny we were greeted by a beautiful summer display of annuals in lavender, pink and peach tones, arched over by roses, wisteria and other climbers all leading us on to the green gloss painted doors and shutters of the house. Full of visitors, people did not mind waiting to go in the house, one member said it was the best holiday that she had been on in years. The wait and crowds were worth it for this remarkable house and garden. The water lily pond was as seen in Monet’s paintings all enhanced by the beautiful sunshine.
Olivier, our very enthusiastic guide told us about the “light show” at 11pm most evenings projected on to the front of the Cathedral de Notre Dame de Rouen. Several members of the group went and a huge crowd congregated, we were about to see the history of Normandy projected on the walls, wonderful! With sound track too.
The contrast to Giverny was evident at Arromanches, there just off the beach are the stark remains of the mulberry harbour used to land supplies to our army 70 years ago, remains stark against the gentle sand and lapping sea. Coming after a trip to see the amazing Bayeux tapestry, this was a truly historical day.
Honfleur, the haunt of artists, had that special film-site look of many years ago, pretty baskets of flowers, great masted boats and a slowness of pace allowed us all to relax and enjoy the place.
The visit to Parc Floral du Bois des Moutiers had to be for most of the group the best experience of our holiday. The pleasure we all had by having a private tour given by such a charming lady, the grand-daughter of the original owner, Guillaume Mallet, who knew Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. She begged on behalf of her grand piano for one of our group to play it, saying it loved to be played. This of course showed off Lutyens ability to create a room where the acoustics were fantastic. Hugh pulled it off! Bach was played bringing our guide and a few others to tears.
We were invited to explore the Gertrude Jekyll designed gardens, following the tour around her much loved Arts and Crafts style home. The gardens were magical. All different “rooms” and characters.
The trip was organised through Heritage and the organisation could not be faulted. The reason for choosing Heritage was their personal contact on the phone, their organisational skills, the “Nothing is a problem” attitude and their ability to suit the needs of our Society members. The result was a very thorough itinerary which members, the coach driver and Carolyne as group leader appreciated. All timings were very accurate.
The group gelled very well and hopefully no one felt alone or left out. There was no hogging of seats on the coach (except the driver) and everyone interacted well. There was humour, joie de vivre, consideration and care of others. Those who were travelling alone felt included. The Hove members and other guests were welcomed and are looking forward to our next holiday. Other comments included,” well organised, enjoyable, interesting, friendly, excellent guide and driver”. One member said she had not had the courage to go on holiday for 5 years, she was so glad she came and felt very cared for and confidence had returned. Another member said she felt privileged to join us and as an “oldie” to be looked after. Therefore “bucket lists” were ticked and new friends made. Memories will last for some time, hopefully!
With thanks to our member, Carol Allen and Carolyne Hazlehurst, Holiday organiser, August 2018