Archive for March, 2010

Awaken To Hornfleur in Normandy

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I’m concentrating on Normandy sights for your French travel this time, so let me take you to the beautiful village of Hornfleur. Two hundred kilometres from Paris (Gare St Lazare) to Deauville or Lisieux or Pont l’Eveque then a short bus connection and you’re there!

In Hornfleur there is plenty to see and do here. With a vast array of seafood and cider, Hornfleur offers wonderful cuisine and culture, beside the seaside. You don’t have to have sea legs to love this place.

My french awakening found this port side village filled with lovely experiences on and off the water. You’ll be singing ” Well I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” (as my mother used to sing ) in absolutely no time at all!

Gelato and grey coloured buildings border the mariner and walking promenade in Hornfleur. The air is tangy fresh with salt and there is a distinct feeling of holiday mode even among the locals who remain very casually French and friendly. You will unwind believe me…

Wander around the mariner and dock in the Old Harbour (Vieux Bassin) filled with local fishing boats- some licked with a new coat of paint and others crackling with a siding of barnacles and old age. Brown faced fishermen haul their nets filled with the days catch towards the many restaurant owners and gathering tourists, so proud of their fishy display.

Enter any of the port side restaurants off cobbled lanes and if you’re lucky enough to go in October, you’ll experience Hornfleur’s famous Shrimp (or Prawn) Festival. Shrimp up to your eyeballs washed down with cider now there’s a treat. Or maybe you fancy a little fish as I did…

You may be seduced by the Fish festival or even the Mussel Festival for that matter and how about the Blessing of The Sea? or the Jazz Festival if you’d rather music with you’re seafood? Hmmm it’s all so good.

The Fete des Marins or Mariners Festival is Hornfleur’s day of remembering all Lost Seamen. It takes place in the Church of St Catherine, high up at the top of the town and the locals promise that St Catherines is the largest wooden church in France. On that day, the towns wooden miniature boat is hauled up through the town to its steps. Even those who have had their ashes scattered out to sea are prayed for as well.

There’s something for all here.

In fact, the day we arrived a wonderful mardi gras procession of very cute littlies totted through the streets- all dressed up in a concoction of fur and tinsel and sporting headpieces which included masks and witches hats and even an antenna or two here and there. Bobbly bits from costumes sprung in all directions and flashed passed us in sheer joy! The entire fantastical regiment were celebrating the beginning of their Easter holiday break. We hadn’t been in Hornfleur for an hour before we were covered in gorgeous confetti. I liked Hornfleur in an instant!

Come take a look or why not join the procession?…

Even the Hornfleur teachers got into the swing of Mardi Gras…

For further details on festivals and other events, check out the Hornfleur Tourist Office at:

http://www.ot-honfleur.fr/

So you see, when you’re next in France, head for Normandy and don’t think of giving Hornfleur a miss. It even inspired famous artists such as Monet, Courbet, Boudin and even William Turner with their nautical Hornfleur themes and play with light. But you don’t have to be a painter. See it through your own eyes my friends.

It’s a very pretty coastal town. You’ll be invigorated by the air and soothed by its pace. When you’re having a glass of their famous local cider and looking out to sea, I’m certain you’ll agree that Hornfleur was definately worth experiencing.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes,Therese Waddell

Copyright@ 2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening To The D Day Beaches of Normandy

Posted in Central France, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Let me take you to Normandy. My french awakening could not have imagined a more sobering experience than at the D Day Beaches of the beautiful Normandy coastline.

To get more of a feel for what our Allied Forces experienced in Normandy, France during WWII, visit the five main landing sites of Juno, Omaha, Sword, Gold and Utah- making up an 80km stretch of lonely coast today.

Walk down to the now deserted beach and along the way observe tiny pieces of rusted shavings in the sand – tiny remnants of the horrific battle…

The D Day Beaches takes about three hours in a westerly direction from Paris by train (from Gare St Lazare  via Bayeux ) or less time via Caen and believe me mes amis, this destination will rock your soul and burn unforgettable memories in your heart long after you’ve returned home.

Standing on the shores of Omaha Beach, footprints embedded in the sands around me serve as a reminder of the feet of young boy soldiers who scurried across its bloody sands for the love of freedom.

The air is blowing cold and I imagine the shrill of terror in the nearly two hundred thousand soldiers’ hearts as they burst forth onto shore on the 6th June, 1944-carried by a spring tide which guarantees deep water in a strategic operation famously known as “Operation Neptune”. Even ‘Midget Submarines’ waited at the bottom of the sea until the timing was right to join forces.

The first wave of Allied soldiers took heavy losses on Omaha beach and many referred to this bloodbath as ‘Bloody Omaha”. Even with strong German resistance, the Americans eventually won back the village of Vierville and a whole mile back from the beach.

Allied Battalions came by air too. Mostly consisting of Canadian, American, English, French Resistance soldiers and from other places including Australia were flown in, guided by the light of a full moon and as they surged towards the German brigades they were pelted with gunfire from machine guns in concrete bunkers constructed by Germany.

These bunkers dot the shoreline and are still intact today. Enter the bowel of one and peer out to sea as Germans did long ago awaiting action. It won’t take you long to feel an eery reminder of the tragedy of man…

The American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer, overlooks Omaha Beach.

It’s fitting that all these soldiers who died here would want to be be buried beside their comrades in arms. Especially poignant are the crosses of thirty three pairs of brothers included in the death toll of Americans alone.

Shiny white marble crosses mark the graves of the nearly nine and a half thousand American soldiers who gave their lives here. Each cross serves as a fine memorial of pure courage and the pristine rows and rows of crosses accumulate to symbolise the undying respect and devotion of families, friends and countrymen of the entire free world.

The American Memorial adjacent to the cemetery, has a lithe bronze figure at its semi circular centre entitled, “Spirit of American Youth Rising From The Waves”. Its arms are  outstretched in the grasp for greater glory, justice and freedom and it stands as custodian for the nearly two thousand American soldiers who are remembered on the ‘Walls of the Missing’ behind.

Each cross pierces a pristine and peaceful green lawn of the American Cemetery in Omaha- a stark restful contrast to the action on the beach in World War II.

Visit the entire Normandy American Cemetery Visitors Centre while you are there. It will relive the  D Day Battles in real life footage on wide screen and you’ll begin to understand the enormity of the struggle for freedom and the military operations of all Landings.

It’s a very moving experience as you listen to the deep throated voices of patriotic Generals and emotional stories of the saga of soldiers. Come face to face with personal items of the dead and learn the history of the Normandy Battle in all its gruesome and heroic detail.

Likewise at Juno Beach, the landings of the Canadian Infantry were  invaluable to the Battle of Normandy and you can pay your respects to the over five and a half thousand troops who died there. Take time to visit the Juno Beach information Centre. For more information go to:

http://www.junobeach.org/

Each of the five Landing Sites in Normandy will give you the same picture. Different countrymen displaying the same unbelievable courage and infallible hope in themselves and in their battalion and in their country.

The Allied troops on D Day rose to glory after horrendous loss of young lives. As I walked outside towards the beach at Omaha and passed the beautiful water feature, a thought crossed my mind that it looked so serene in all its reflective glory and it seemed to become one with sea and sky…

Perhaps like those young soldiers who had fallen for the love of Freedom.

Do go and be reminded of how lucky we are!

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Copyright@ 2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken To Window Shopping In Paris

Posted in Decoration & Design, French Travel, Paris, Paris Shopping with tags , , , , on March 13, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

We’ve all had a hard week it seems, so come and lets do some window shopping today in Paris. Walk the boulevards with me and let me take you to some fine and quirky Parisien store windows to gaze upon, be inspired or just to make you relaxed.

For the foodies…

Here’s one for the sewing ladies…

Antique lovers…

And those of us with a hat or shoe fetish…

Mikimoto pearls, luxury Mont Blanc pens and quirky umbrellas…

And along the way, we will pass decorative elements in stone…

And on wood…

On topiary boxes and screenings

or  even underneath your feet..

And little works of art in the making…

And things to make you smile too.

Feeling better? Paris has a habit of doing that!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening To Mont St Michel

Posted in Day Trips from Paris, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Excuse my blog absence, for my son has just left for London for quite some time but his parting reminded me of my experience that the beautiful Mont St Michel will offer next time you’re in France.

Physically and mentally isolating, my french awakening gazed across the plains surrounding  Mont St Michel in wonder.

There are challenges to be met but once you’ve reached the dramatic peak after climbing the stairs…

reaching higher into the mist, where you become one with sea and sky…

you’ll be intrigued by the mystery and beauty of what lies ahead.

Some things are meant to be….

According to legend, in 708 the Archangel Michael appeared requesting the Bishop of Avranches to build a monastery here. So strong were his requests, that he eventually accompanied these with a touch of skull burning. Mont Tomb (Tomb on the Hill) as it was known, suddenly became Mont St Michel!

Look up and around and notice the gilded winged statue of  Saint Michael The Protector- brandishing his sword above his head hell bent for further action, on the tip of the church spire.

Mont St Michel, near St Malo, stands on a solitary islet separated from all that once was, by a causeway hidden rhythmically by the shifting tides. It captures the imagination as I feel sorry for the unwary travellers who had been caught by flooding tides and quick sand in the past.

These days, follow the signs and keep to the causeway (and there are plenty of officials to steer you in the right direction) to avoid sirens going off and your car sinking into the mud!

Although its surrounds change, Mont St Michel remains as united and solid as ever, built of impervious massive granite walls and still standing with the passing of time.

It has been a castle and fortress, a prison (initially for over 300 priests!) and Medieval town, subjected to WW2 canons, fires and of course, The Revolution.

Of all the places to experience in France, Mont St Michel is breathtakingly beautiful and an unforgettable sacred space.

It remains one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in the world and you can’t get closer to Heaven than this!

If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see one of the Abbeys monks rising high into the air above the chapel altar as he swings the rope of the enormous bell making it peal across the flood plains towards the Atlantic Coast.

Mont St Michel is about 3 1/2 hours North West of Paris. None of it will be disappointing! I was gladder for the experience and you will be too!

If you have time, have lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants there. You’ll have a view to die for!

For further information, le Mont Saint Michel official Website can be found at:

http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/accueil_gb.htm

Find your sanctuary and be inspired.

P.S Hayden, you will always be my rock. Stay protected. Carpe Diem. (Saisissez le jour!)

With love,

Au Revoir,

Therese Waddell

Awaken To Therese Waddell’s Quilt Designs

Posted in French Affair, French Quilts, Therese Waddell's Quilts with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Attention all quilters of the world! Its time to introduce the products of my French Awakening-my own french inspired quilt patterns and designs found at www.quiltingthejourney.com

This website was produced by moi who wanted quilters of the world to be able to achieve many beautiful quilts in a short period of time! Take a look at my first selection of quilts and their patterns by clicking on the photograph in the top right corner or go directly to the website for purchasing or perusing…. and let me know what you think lovelies!

I do hope you like it all!

PS A special THANKYOU to all my beautiful family members and gorgeous friends who have encouraged me all this time to finally fulfil a dream inspired by France.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell