Word from Gazon

Lieu-dit ‘Le Cerceuil’ – A Town called ‘Coffin’

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Lieu-dit ‘Le Cerceuil’ – A Town called ‘Coffin’

Not the most attractive place name, Le Cerceuil ( Coffin), a village on the edge of the majestic Ecouvres forest was perhaps named after the prehistoric single-chamber tomb or dolmen ‘La Pierre Tournoire’,  located nearby.Western France has very many of these giant stones which date back 4000-1000 years and are presumed to have fulfilled some ceremonial or burial function for the earliest Europeans who left no written language.   You can see two of these ‘mégalithes’ on a waymarked walk around this northern edge of the Parc naturel régional Normandie Maine,...

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Exactement Angleterre!

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Exactement Angleterre!

The southern part of the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy, in the Orne department, has an uncanny resemblance to the English countryside. Edgar Degas (1834-1917) the famous French impressionist painter, noted this similarity in his diaries when he often used to visit a friend: Paul Valpinçon, at his chateau and country estate in the tiny village of Menil-Hubert en Exmes. In one of these diaries from the 1870’s, Degas wrote: «Exactement l’Angleterre, des Herbages petits et grands, tous clos de haies. Des sentiers humides, des mares./ du vert et de la terre d’ombre. à travers chemins...

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La Vallée de la Baize

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La Vallée de la Baize

The river Baize arises in our neighbouring village of Habloville, runs right through the Haras du Gazon and then flows northeast for 25kms to reach the river Orne near Rapilly. We decided to meet up with ‘our’ river there and follow the way-marked  ‘La Vallée de la Baize’ walk. The details can be downloaded as a pdf here : http://bit.ly/2xsaGO9 Right from the starting point of this walk, we were impressed by the peace and beauty of this lovely Normandy ‘ bocage’ countryside: wooded hills, shaded paths and secluded valleys. Departure D: The church at...

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Church Services in Normandy

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Church Services in Normandy

Church Services in Normandy in English are few and far between I’m afraid. The whole list is at: https://www.angloinfo.com/normandy/directory/normandy-churches-religion-spirituality-23 The only ones reasonably close to the Haras du Gazon would be Sunday afternoon: Condé sur Noireau 1st & 3rd Sundays of the month (40 minute drive)  http://conde-church.webs.com/apps/location/ Caen (45 minute drive) 5.30pm ( September – June) http://www.stgeorgesparis.com/one-christian-family/anglican-chaplaincy-of-caen/ There is one Protestant (Evangelical) church in Argentan ( 20 minute drive) but...

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Coming down from Calais – the WW1 Battlefields

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Coming down from Calais – the WW1 Battlefields

ARRAS & VIMY RIDGE – the WWI BATTLEFIELDS 109km/68 miles 1 hr 8min drive from Calais to Vimy Ridge then a further 93kms/58 mile 57 min drive to Villers Bretonneux 312km/194 miles/ 3hr drive from Villers-Bretonneux to the Haras du Gazon Vimy Ridge in northern France is Canada’s largest overseas national memorial. Whereas the French, right after the war, attempted to erase all signs of battle and return the Somme region to agriculture and normalcy, the Canadians decided that the most evocative way to remember their fallen was to preserve pieces of the crater pocked battlefields. As a...

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Artisan d’Art : Dominic Stora

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Artisan d’Art : Dominic Stora

Artisan d’art: Dominic Stora , the last French maker of kaleidescopes, is in the picturesque Normandy village  of Beaumont -en- Auge   This is his story of how it all came about: “Après la Pluie” is the name of the shop selling antiques and books that my wife and I opened in 1976 in a small village in Normandy. Some of our clients, who loved vintage toys, regularly asked for kaleidoscopes, and we were curious to see what we could find to satisfy them. We quickly realised that the few antique kaleidoscopes available were as expensive as they were disappointing. The contemporary...

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