On day 9, the tour really began, as we headed to Normandie. I don't think I ever told you the name of the tour we went on. We were on Globus' Normandy, Brittany, and Chateau Country tour. This was our second time traveling with Globus, and they really do a nice job with their tours.
Our first stop was Rouen, a medieval town. Normandy has architecture more commonly seen in England, including these half-timber buildings, and even some thatched roof cottages, but more on that later.
(Gros Horloge, an astrological clock dating back to the 16th century, but with movement inside dating to the 1300s)
(Palais de Justice)
(Medieval Tax collector building)
(Hotel de Bourgtheroulde, which dates to the 16th century and was built in the Renaissance style)
Unfortunately the most famous church in town, Notre-Dame Cathedral (by the way, Notre Dame is the most popular name for churches in France--it means "our lady"--dedicated to Mary of course) was closed and wouldn't open until after we had already left town. The church is the burial place of Richard the Lionhearted's heart (because he was born in France). Katherine and I were disappointed we couldn't go in. Even the façade was under scaffolding, so we couldn't even get a good view of the outside.
The tower on the left has an interesting story. It was added to the church with money the people paid so that they could have butter during lent, giving it the name Tour de Beurre (Butter Tower).
Here are a couple of views of the side of the church:
To bring in a bit from what we learned earlier in our travels, Monet painted this church A LOT. He was experimenting with light. Some of these paintings were at the Musee d'Orsay.
(picture from the internet here)
In Rouen we stopped for a crepe early lunch--mine was Grand Manier this time. They just made the crepe and poured on the liquer and sugar while it was still warm. Very good :).
We sat on the ruins of a church destroyed during WWII, that was later replaced by a new church dedicated to Joan of Arc.
(This modern church is meant to invoke the look of a Viking ship)
There are many churches dedicated to Joan of Arc here; she was burned at the stake in this town (actually at the spot below).
From Rouen, we traveled to Beuvron-en-Auge, which is along the Route du Cidre--and is famous for its apple orchards and cider. Normandy is also famous for its cows (called, appropriately enough, Normande cows), some of which we saw as we traveled along:
When we arrived in Beuvron-en-Auge, we tasted some of the region's apple cider before the group broke up to walk around the town.
We didn't have much time in Beuvron-en-Auge, really only enough time to walk around the little town.
(Apple orchard with sheep and chickens wandering through the trees, which was located right next to the church)
We also saw a thatched roof cottage just outside of town, which was really exciting.
The last stop today (and where I stayed that night) was Caen. We did stop at a museum before heading to our hotel, but I will share that tomorrow. Our hotel was within walking distance of Chateau Caen, which had been a medieval castle of William the Conquer (the first Norman king of England) (1000s ad). The walls of the castle remain.
Here is a better look at the church across the street from the castle:
We also walked up two abbeys after dinner, the Abbaye des Dames (the women's abbey) and the Abbaye des Hommes (the men's abbey). William the Conquer had to pay for the construction of these two abbeys so that the Church would sanction his marriage to his cousin, Matilda of Flanders. Unfortunately, we couldn`t get in to see them because it was too late in the day.
Matilda is still buried at the abbey of the woman.
William had been buried at the abbey of the men, but his remains were removed.
After finding the abbey of the men, we headed back passing a couple of other interesting sights along the way:
(this dock was located directly across the street from our hotel)