One weekend in August last year, I went on a flying visit to France for the weekend. My aunt and uncle have a house in rural Normandy and we have holidayed there for years, sadly I couldn’t get any time off work this time, so made do with a whistle-stop tour.
I finished work on the friday and caught the train straight to Portsmouth to catch the overnight boat to Le Havre – this part of the trip was pretty grim, they didn’t have any cabins left so I had to try and sleep in a “recliner” chair in a public lounge on the ferry. On the plus side this way I got an extra morning in France rather than catching a boat the next day. All my family had already been out there for a few weeks, so Dad met me in Le Havre and we drove to the house (via a boulangerie bien sur).
Having stuffed myself with fresh patisserie and had a quick snooze, we headed en masse to the Saturday morning markets in the nearest town of St Lo. All these things that I hated when I was younger, I now love!
We wandered around the markets in the surprisingly sunny weather, picking up various bits for lunch, fresh flowers, and home-made jam and honey to take home with us. Tired from all of our labours, we stopped for a drink at our favourite bar. I had a citron presse where you get a glass of fresh lemon juice, a jug of water, and a sugar shaker so you can mix your own lemonade – so refreshing! Me and my cousin Richaella used to come here when we were teenagers to order steak frites, smoke cigarettes, drink champagne and pretend we were very grown up, haha!
Fully revived we hurried home to devour all the goodies we had just purchased. Lunch for us in France is always super laid-back, and is usually a mix of food from the markets – paella, rotisserie chicken, fresh baguettes, salad, oysters, cheese, wine. My favourite sort of meal!
Next up on my whirlwind weekend was the mandatory afternoon at the beach. Us girls bundled in the car and drove over to Agon-Coutainville which is our go-to beach because of all the nice bars and restaurants nearby. Happily the sun was still on our side, so we laid happily roasting away until our stomachs started to grumble (again). Mum went on a mercy dash and returned with waffles and crepes which sated us temporarily.
That evening we went for dinner at another of my aunt and uncles who also have a house in the area. Lovely food and wine, catching up with family, and lots of time spent playing with Tuixy the dog and our baby cousin, it was a perfect night.
On Sunday morning we woke to more typical Normandy weather – cold, grey, windy and rainy. Not to be deterred, we set off for a favourite restaurant that we all call “The Shack” and have no idea what it’s really called! A little place set right on the beach, it’s a hotch potch of mismatched tables, chairs, nick-nacks, and the resident gentleman playing the piano and singing. The menu is brief – chips, mussels, oysters, sausage. To the point but boy do they do it well. We ordered everything, with a generous serve of rose alongside. Huddled up in our scarves to hide from the stinging wind, the steaming hot food was the perfect remedy. I love this place because it’s so relaxed, the food is simple but great, and it’s always jam packed with families having a ball and singing along to the music.
That evening me and 3 of my cousins headed back to Cherbourg to catch the boat home. After a very choppy (insert, vomit) crossing, I made it home by about 2am and fell into bed to be awoken by my 6:30am alarm ready for a week at work, joy!