Dieppe - a wonderful port from which to explore

29th April - 7th May 

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We settled into Dieppe very well - in fact so well we stayed for eight days.

During that time we did the normal Boller tour routine. Walking, cycling then hiring a car to go further afield.

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As we were moored literally in the centre of the city we were surrounded by restaurants along the quayside all of which seem to specialise in Moules and Frites. It did not take us long to walk the quaint streets to discover a Patisserie where they took three days to make their 1 euro baguettes from cultivating the yeast to baking - once tasted you could understand why they sold little else and the lines were always so long. Just across the street was another great find a local Boucherie with quality lamb, pork and beef produce. Just when you think it could not get any better we visited the local Saturday Market where more fresh produce, cheese and cured meats then one could possibly comprehend were available for purchase. 

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One of the first buildings you notice on entering Dieppe harbour is the Dieppe Castle pearched high on the hill overlooking the town. The Castle that stands today began construction in 1435 to defend the town againt the English during the Hundred Year War. One can only wonder what Captain Desmarets responsible for the rebuilding of the castle at that time would think about the thousands of English tourists who now arrive annually on the short two hour channel ferry ride from Newhaven. The Castle was the seat of the town governor until the French revolution in 1789, then became a garrison barracks until 1820. In 1923 it was brought by the town council and transformed into a museum displaying artwork and an extensive collection of elaborate intricately  carved ivory artifacts and artworks. Of particular note for us was a world chart created around 1550 which clearly indicated that if you headed to far away from known lands “ there be dragons” From the perimeter of the castle fortification panoramic views of Dieppe out to sea and inland could be appreciated - particularly as the sun came out. 

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In just a few blocks Dieppe had a wealth of historical buildings including Saint Jacques Church dating back to the 12th and 16th century and the district of Le Pollet with its flint houses along narrow winding streets that had apparently been almost swallowed up by the extension of the commercial harbour. 

By our third day we were ready to set out on our bikes. A route from Dieppe to Offranville onto Varengville-sur-mer back to Dieppe along the coast road through Pourville was chosen. Looked like a nice easy 21km cycle route....well that was before we cycled the roads, the cycle paths, the paddocks and the house lanes (when we were lost) and found very long  hill climbs. Think we need more practice! A great day out enjoying the many views of the coutryside and small townships as we peddled along. 

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With the weather turning we decided car hire was the next best option. So after spending Sunday onboard tending to paperwork and cleaning duties we headed south along The Alabaster Coastline that we had passed onroute to Deippe to take in the views of the white chalk cliffs that reach to 120m in places. We travelled as far south as Etretat (75km) an area apparently renown for having inspired impressionist painters of the 19th century. A hike up to the church overlooking the town of Etretat provided not only a cardio work out but a great view of the arch, needle and surrounding cliffs northward. The hanging bicycles throughout the town announced that we were just a little too early to watch the Tour De France that will pass through the streets of Etretat in July. 

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We continued back winding our way through towns such as Fecamp, Saint Valery and most notably the area around Veules-les Roses where had we had time we would have loved to have stopped and walked the streets of this quaint seaside village. 

The following day with winds now blowing over 40 knots we opted not to drive to Aimes and the war cemetery as originally planned and instead back to the nearby village of Varengeville-sur-mer when there was a short break in the weather. Here we discovered at the end of the road the quaint church of Saint Valery perched high above the sea some 80m below. Every lane way, side road we looked down seemed to hide behind its shubbery impressive Chateaus of varying grandeur. We chose to tour Manoir d Ango the home of Jean Ango a ship builder and the person after whom the port in which we were staying was named. The manors architectural claim to fame is that it was inspired by the Italian buildings of the Renaissance period appreciated by Jean Ango on his travels and to date is the only example of this style in Normandy. To read of where Jean Ango travelled to in his youth, and where later his ships sailed to truly made you appreciate early explorers and sailors. Unfortunately he died a pauper after supporting the French in battle with his ships and payment apparently was not forthcoming from King Henry II sending him bankrupt. The interior of the buildings had little left to appreciate of the era but the exterior including the Pidgeon House - the larger the coop the greater your wealth status - were worth viewing. 


As always when you are in harbours you meet some great people. Our first encounter was not unfortunately with invited guests but the Custom officers of France. For the first time since launching we were politely boarded, questioned, had our paperwork checked along with a routine check of cupboards down below. Interesting entertainment for everyone else in harbour seeing eight officers board a foreign yacht. On the May Day weekend we were bombarded by Yachts from Brighton Marina Yacht Club participating in the Dieppe Dash and met a great couple David and Lyn of Yacht  Electric Air.  Then to close off what had been an enjoyable stay we met a Latvia/Swedish/British family onboard the Dutch yacht Ilona. On route to Spain this season they are at the beginning of their sailing journey as a family. Great company for our last night in Dieppe.

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(Click for more photos of our stay in and around Dieppe)


© SV Katherine 2017      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Faro Portugal with Askari of Australia