Today, we drove over Pont de Normandie, walked around Le Havre, made a quick stop in Saint Adresse, then hiked the cliffs at Etretat.
Knowing we would be walking a lot on Saturday in Rouen, running around trying to fit everything in, we decided to take it a bit easy on Friday and wander up the coast.
Pont de Normandie
This bridge crosses the Seine between Honfleur and Le Havre, with a toll of 5,30€ each way. I knew this bridge was big – 700ft high and 1.3 miles across, the second biggest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Now, those who know me know that one of my big fears is bridges over water. As we approached, I believe a couple of cuss words escaped my lips. The thing was HUGE!!
This city is a large, busy, modern-ish city, since much of the city was destroyed in WWII. We took some time to walk along the waterfront, stopping at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which has the second largest impressionist collection outside of Paris. Unfortunately, part of the museum was closed while we were there, but we still got to see some paintings by Monet, Sisley, Degas, and Renoir, not to mention a ton of Boudin.
Next we made a stop at the Church of St Joseph, a modern concrete and stained glass structure that stands like a lighthouse at 107 meters tall. I thought I had read that you could climb the stairs to the top for a great view, but if that’s true, it was closed the day we went.
(By the way, Le Havre is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.)
This is the number one reason I picked Normandy to visit. This town. It’s silly really. You see, I have forever loved the painting Jardin à Sainte-Adresse by Monet. It’s my all-time favorite painting. I wanted to see this spot, the spot that I’ve loved for so many years without actually having seen it. It’s almost as if I have a memory of this spot, it’s so strong. Unfortunately, the day was grey, and I didn’t see many gardens, but that didn’t stop me from wandering down the boardwalk, looking up at the houses along the hillside, wondering which terrace Monet painted.
You’ve seen Étretat, even if you don’t think you have. It’s been in numerous wall calendars, on desktop backgrounds, painted by Monet, and pinned on Pinterest often. The white cliffs, with their natural arches, are just as beautiful and awe-inspiring in person. I only wish I could have captured the water color better, the deep blue changing to turquoise turning to green.
Stay tuned for Day 3 in Normandy: Rouen.