Tag Archives: fete

A lakeside walk in Normandy

6 Jan

When a good chunk of people think of Normandy – the most northern territory in France – images of the World War II D-Day invasion almost inevitably spring to mind. Or, for my Canadian friends, the failed Dieppe raid, in which so many of our servicemen perished in the Canadian/British invasion.

But, to me, Normandy has come to symbolise so many more things: a very particular red colour of hair that many of the, ahem, upper middle-aged ladies love to sport; summer festivals, such as the fete in Vire where the townsfolk line the streets and watch the supremely decorated floats parade past; the bizarre junk sales in fields that attract an incomprehensible number of locals (despite an oft-overwhelming scent of cow dung); Calvados – in its legal and bootlegged versions; and, beautiful, sprawling lands that remind me how vast most other countries outside of England really are. There’s also the “Normandy stare” – a phrase coined by the boy’s step-father to describe the hard, penetrating looks the locals tend to give to anyone they may not know straight off – don’t worry; if you see it, it’s done in curiosity, not hostility.

A woman in a sombrero & a tractor: all normal at at a village junk sale; while (photo right) shows one of the fantastic floats used in the annual Vire Fete.

I tend to head to Normandy a few times a year, given half of the boy’s family live there now. It is a pleasant and relaxing part of the world, with little hustle & bustle – a far cry from London life.

But it was on our latest trip over that I discovered a beautiful, hidden gem of a place: Lake Dathée (or Lac de la Dathée en Francais). I had heard for years about the man-made lake (done to provide more water to the locals) from the boy’s family, but the weather or something else had never been quite right for us to make it there. Five miles southeast of the small town of Vire , the lake is a bit off the beaten path for anyone taking a quick trip through Normandy. But it is here that you will see eager locals out for an early 3.8-mile walk, or encounter cyclists getting away from the crowds of more populated areas of France. It is also an ornithological reserve and offers canoe rentals in summer.

So, on a sunny day we headed out to the lake to walk the dogs and spent much of our time gaping at the beautiful reflections in the mill pond-like water, which I couldn’t help but post.

The breathtaking reflections that greeted us...

Which only just continued...

And made us wonder where the road and lake, each began and ended...

A great day for some eager dogs (and the boy) to blow off some steam

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