Neufchatel en Bray (Normandy) May 2024 (Tour 9)

It’s 21 May 2024 and this morning we left Brighton for a short tour of France in the Van. This is Tour number 9 and, all things being equal, we’ll be on the road for between 5 and 6 weeks. Both Vanya and I would prefer to be out longer but there is just too much going on at the moment.

This tour will differ from our others inasmuch that, instead of going where we please (following the sun and changing direction on a whim), we are going to have to restrict ourselves to relatively flat areas close to quieter towns and villages. This is because our German Shepherd dog, Nala, has succumbed to hip dysplasia (a not unusual condition for aging ‘Shepherds’) but, to compound matters, she has also suffered a disc bulge. There’s no remedy for either condition and, while the pain associated with both is being well managed by appropriate medication (not cheap), her mobility is significantly reduced. We’ve purchased a set of wheels to support her back legs and these help her to get out and about (she can handle 4 kilometre walks with the wheels and for the most part she seems very happy with them) but, we have to be careful she doesn’t overstretch herself. Moreover, we must limit ourselves to visiting those places where she can more easily manoeuvre in her wheels. Her spacial awareness is akin to that of a bull in a china shop… bless her.

So, a 07.15 start saw us heading off to Folkestone to take Le Shuttle to Calais and then on to Neufchatel en Bray in Normandy. The journey went like a dream. There was no traffic to speak of as we travelled along the M23, M25, M26 and M20 to Folkestone and we arrived almost two hours before our scheduled train to Calais. We sailed through the Pet Checks, Passport Control, Immigration, etc and were able to catch the 10.18 train instead of the 11.48. The drive from Calais to Neufchatel en Bray was wet but nowhere near as bad as we experienced in Folkestone.

Tomorrow we’ll press on to the Loire Valley but for the moment we’re parked up at Camping Sainte Claire close, not far from the centre of Neufchatel en Bray and just 300 metres from a sizeable Leclerc. Vanya stayed with Nala and Beanie while I obtained essential provisions from the Leclerc, checked out the town’s eating options for the evening and enjoyed a quick beer in the town centre. Of course, ‘essential provisions’ included some decent French wines and the local cheese (this is Normandy) which has to be Neufchatel cheese. Neufchatel, not to be confused with Swiss Neuchatel cheese, is soft, slightly crumbly and grainy with a sharp tangy taste andit is often produced in a heart shape…

Dinner was at a small but very friendly and accommodating Italian restaurant in the town centre, Le Catanzaro. Yes, I know this is France but it is a Tuesday and many French restaurants are closed on a Monday and Tuesday evening. Hey, we were lucky to find somewhere that would accommodate Nala and her wheels and; the food (and wine – we insisted on a Sancerre in preference to the Italian choices) was excellent.

The town was almost totally destroyed during World War II and then rebuilt along more practical lines but; unfortunately, this makes for very little in terms of photo opportunities. Nevertheless…

And on to the Loire Valley…

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