Day trips – A day at Jumièges.

This week, a visitor to Rouen asked me to give her some ideas for her month stay in Rouen.

The river trips haven’t started yet, a fun thing to do in Spring from the begining of the Easter holidays, but nevertheless a trip further down the Seine is a visual treat and its lanscape never fails to impress me. Often visitors come without a car, and this visit to Jumièges is possible by a local bus, and gives a great taste of the Normandy lanscape along the Seine in the footsteps of the Impressionist painters.

Jumièges is a village dating back to medieval times build on a loop of the Seine, and home to one of the Romanesqe, and early Gothic Monasteries, now in ruins. Norman dukes made this the settlement for the first monastery and abbey from the 7th century. The second abbey was built in 1062 and later modernised in the Gothic style in 1278 before being ruined during the Wars of Religeon. The river carves its way through the lanscape with the huge chalk cliffs banking the rive gauche facing over the fertile Jumiége plain with its orchards and Abbey.

Take the number 30 bus from Rouen. Get advice from the TCAR office at the Gare Routière near the Theatre des Arts for the times. In off-season, there are, I believe more buses on a sunday than other days of the week

In Jumiéges there are several small restaurants in the shadow of the abbey, but one of my favorite walks, to prolong the day, and especially in beautiful weather is to turn out of the gate of the abbey to the right, and hugging the bounary of the abbey site as well as possible, to pass behind the monument, passing the wonderful manor which also stands in its grounds, and continue to circuit the site until back at a crossroads with the main street of Jumièges once more. From there cross the main road and take the small lane opposite heading across the plain and orchard fields towards the river. Passing the huddle of houses overlooking the river aim for the Bac ferry which crosses the Seine every 10 minutes (but check the last crossing time before you leave). This small ferry is free to car and foot passengers and lands, very conveniently, in front of a lovely café overlooking the water’s edge.

Spend some moments watching the occasional river traffic before heading either further along the rive gauche, or returning to the rive droit and Jumièges. A 10 minute walk down the lane running perpendicular to the river will take you back to the centre of Jumièges, its cafés, restaurants and bus stop.

Allow yourself a couple of hours for the walk, in addition to the visit to the abbey site, in order to not miss the return bus back home.

And cross your fingers for a sunny day!


Christmas Walk – La Bouille at dusk.

The fog came down early in the afternoon, yet it seemed a beautifully atmospheric time to head out for a walk along the Seine before returning home to sit in front of the fireplace with a book.

La Bouille is the first pretty village on the Rive Gauche heading out to Le Havre from Rouen. Tucked under the steep chalk cliff faces that alternate bank to bank as the bouclés of the River Seine coil through the countryside, it is also port to the small ‘Bac’ ferry boats which traverse the river.

Incredibly, these little car ferries run constantly during the day from the rive gauche to the rive droit and are free of charge for both cars and passengers, only stopping for the drivers to take their lunch. During the summer, after walking the river bank we returned to the terminus to wait for the Bac. Realising that the driver had stopped for lunch, we took the opportunity to take a drink in the cafe on the water’s edge. Some half hour later the driver returned to find that the tide had turned whilst he had been away and a large expanse of water lay between the shore and the ferry ramp. Taking off his shoes, he took a flying leap, safely landed on the boat and drove it back to shore.

We profited from the eerie gloom to visit the Chateau de Robert le Diable which is fabled to have been constructed in 1200 by the duc de Normandie and father of William the Conquerer. There is no proof to this claim. It has a particularly strategic position towering above the cliffs of the Seine with, on a clear day, a spectacular panoramic view of Normandy. Partially ruined by fire in 2007, a renovation project is underway with a view to once more opening to the public the interior. For now we content ourselves with an atmospheric walk beneath its walls.

We make our way back to the centre of the village as the misty afternoon turns to night and take in the darkening streets and riverside path before returning to the bac.