Thursday, 25 February 2016

Cotentin Peninsula

Sometime in January, my hiking friends and I decided that we needed a weekend away to escape the grimness of winter in Paris. Our first choice of destination was the Vosges, but when we realised that the only weekend we all had free was the one when the three holiday zones for French schools collide, we opted for a change of plan.

(For those who are not familiar with the system, the regions of France are divided into three zones and the February and Easter holidays are staggered according to which zone you are in. In February, each zone has two weeks, but staggered over four, so there is one horrific weekend in the middle where everyone is on holiday and if you have the misfortune to end up on a motorway anywhere between a ski resort and a large town, you will probably find yourself stuck in traffic jams at 1 am and wishing you had spent the weekend at home doing housework.)

And so it was that we ended up going to the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy. It was damp and windy and grey, but there was, almost literally, nobody else there. And when you have good friends, good food and coast walks in the bracing fresh air, you don't really need any more. (The other reason the Cotentin peninsula is not a hot tourist destination is that it's beautiful coastline is sadly marred by a nuclear waste processing plant, but none of us came back glowing green, so I think that was OK.)

On the first day, we had a wet and windy walk around the coast at Port-Bail. It didn't rain all day, but we did have to encourage ourselves along the way with a trip to the boulangerie for pain aux raisins and macarons. On the second day, however, there was no real need for auto-bribery, because the weather was better and the hike along the length of coast from the beautiful little village of Vauville to the Nez de Jobourg was stunning. My photo doesn't really do it justice, but the vertiginous cliffs and rolling waves, combined with the pretty stone houses and the newborn lambs we spotted along the way really did make for a good day out.

And we didn't sit in a single traffic jam.

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