The articles that make up this blog provide a guide to visiting Upper Normandy. Although it is primarily intended for guests staying at my B&B and holiday cottage in the hamlet of Basse Copette, it is also useful for anyone visiting Upper Normandy and parts of Picardy, including the Somme and the Oise departments.
Browse the most recent additions below, or use the Category Index to the right to find further articles on any particular subject.
After a particularly heavy but rare snowfall, December 2010
Although winter is very definitely a bit quieter at Basse Copette, I still do welcome guests for a long weekend, or a midweek winter break. The Bresle Valley has a stark beauty all of its own, and when its not too cold and you can avoid the hunters, it is a wonderful area to take a stroll and return to a roaring fire. Although most attractions are closed during the winter months (Monet’s Garden opens again in April), there are a number of places that are open, albeit with restricted hours (Le château Rambures).
Winter is also a time for me to catch up. This is not only a time when I get to make some necessary repairs, it is also when I get a long enough period between guests to be able to continue my programme of renovation and restoration. And I have just finished the bathrooms in the cottage. Continue reading
As 2012 draws to a close it is time to start reflecting on the year. I have not calculated how many guests this year were returning guests, but I expect the percentage to be quite high. Two couples have each returned three times and one of these already have two visits booked for next year, another couple who have returned each year since 2008 visited twice this year. It is not only wonderful to see guests again, it is an honour.
Just this last weekend I had guests who stopped over at Basse Copette last year on their way from Worcestershire to the Loire for their summer holiday, and back again. This time they added a long weekend break in Normandy to the end of a half-term break in Paris. Although it certainly did not seem like a year and more since I saw them last.
Thank you Thomas for another wonderful stay, you really are an exceptional host! As ever the food has been exceptional, and we’ve really appreciated all the extra touches – especially the ‘trick or treat’ bag. We look forward to returning next year!Very Best wishes. Neil, Donna & Alex
And they have indeed booked for next year!
Thank you for your kind words – It was a pleasure to welcome you back and I look forward to seeing you again in 2013.
Amiens by night, Amiens by bike
In less than a month, 23 November to be exact, the 2012 Marché de Noël d’Amiens will be open. While I appreciate that it often seems that preparations for Christmas start earlier and earlier each year, it does seem to me that the Christmas market in Amiens is something different, not least because it is not one big commercial trap. I go each year, usually just before Christmas, in the late afternoon just before it closes early evening. It is a wonderful evening out and one I can recommend, for the whole family as well. Continue reading
Medieval Splendour on the Streets of Rouen
For those who like Medieval architecture, the city of Rouen is a must. Together the many timber-framed and religious buildings create a wonderful atmosphere on the streets of a very modern city. But one of the most striking surprises is Le Gros Horloge set in a 13th century building and next to a 14/15th century belfry. The splendid clock itself dates back to the 14th century, and is among the oldest working clocks in Europe. Continue reading
Today is my tenth day on the French Cheese Challenge! I am still enjoying it, and no I do not eat a whole block of cheese each day – but I do taste the designated cheese each day!
Chabichou du Poitou
I had a busy day today – I went to see the Tour de France pass by near Basse Copette and then on to see a Gallo-Roman theatre in Vendeuil-Caply. So not much time for researching and thinking about the cheese on the menu today: Tomme de Savoie.
My kind of cheese: Tomme de Savoie
From the mountains in the Savoie region of France, the makers of this cheese claim that its distinctive taste comes from the rich and varied flora that their cows graze on. The cheese is made from the skim milk left after it has been used for the making of cream or other cheeses. As a result Tomme de Savoie has a low fat content. Like the Saint-Nectaire
I had yesterday, this cheese is also pressed and uncooked. It also has an edible rind that is brown-grey in colour, that develops after several months of maturing. Continue reading
Having watched various stages of Tour de France each year on TV it made a great change to be able to see it on the road, so to speak. In the seven year since I have been living in Basse Copette none of the stages have passed really close enough. And then like the proverbial buses, two days at once.
Tour de France, 2012.
I have been meaning to go and see the Gallo Roman theatre at Vendeuil Caply
for my Archaeology Travel website for a few months now, and the other day it dawned on me that Stage 5 of Tour de France (Rouen to Saint Quentin) passed very close by. Perfect! Continue reading
Having done my duty to the cheese of region I live in on day one, and used my favourite cheese for day two, now for the real fun of my 365 French Cheese Challenge. Today I tried a cheese I have not had before, Saint-Nectaire from the Auvergne region of France.
A simple snack this evening – Saint-Nectaire with wholegrain bread and a sweet chutney
As I have not tried Saint-Nectaire before I thought I would have it as is, with fresh home-made wholegrain bread and an apple and tomato chutney. But the official website for this AOC, linked to below, does have some interesting looking recipes. Although it is matured for a few months it has quite a soft taste, looking at the cheese I was expecting a stronger taste; the soft creaminess of the pâte was a bit of a surprise. Continue reading
Loyalty towards and a pride for the region of France I live in, Pays de Brays, meant that I just had to start my French Cheese Challenge yesterday with Neufchâtel. So I think it is quite acceptable that the second day of my challenge is my favourite cheese, Rocamadour.
Rocamadour is a goat’s milk cheese that takes its name from a Medieval village that really does appear as if to cling to the side of a cliff in the south west of France. This wonderful cheese was accorded its appellation d’origine contrôlée
(AOC) designation in 1996. Rocamadour comes as small medallions, which should be about 4 cm in diameter and weighing between 35 and 55 grams each. True AOC Rocamadour cheese is made from raw, unpasteurised full fat goat’s milk. And of all the conditions for this cheese’s AOC, each medallion must have its own paper label. Continue reading
Appropriately, I am starting my cheese challenge with the local cheese, Neufchâtel, which takes its name from the town of Neufchâtel-en-Bray (Upper Normandy). And coincidentally it just so happens to be one of my favourite French cheeses. Neufchâtel cheese is said to be one of the oldest cheeses of France.
Two forms of Neufchâtel cheese
Neufchâtel is a soft, cow’s milk cheese that has a dry, white mould-ripened rind (edible) with a slightly crumbly interior when fresh, that becomes runny when mature. Neufchâtel cheese is now known for its heart shape, but it is also available in a barrel or a brick shape. Local folklore has it that the heart shaped version of this cheese was produced during the 100 years war for the English soldiers. As wonderful as this story sounds, sadly there does not appear to be any corroborating historical evidence to back it up. There is, however, evidence that Neufchâtel cheese was made back in the sixth century; making it one of France’s oldest cheeses. Continue reading