JUNE 30, 2021
The view from Étretat to Bénouville
It's midnight in Brittany. The tide is coming in, and the waves push the water up the shore line with power and calm. Just a few meters up, with a perfect view were it not for the darkness of the night, a laptop illuminates a van as music plays softly. Hi, that's me. I've arrived at a perfect spot for the night after five days in Normandy. Let me tell you the tale.
I will not bore you with the details of my drive from Germany to Normandy. It was long, boring, tiring, and I spent the night in the seemingly poorest village in France. I was driven, however, by the idea of the sea that Lake Geneva had instilled in me a few days back. Still exhausted from the drive and adjusting to living in a car again, I spent the first two nights at a campsite in Yport for comfort and finding my groove. It was a lovely place, and washing your dishes with a view of the cliffs is great, but I did not really get into my comfort zone yet.
La Mer playing in my head the entire time
While staying there, I visited Étretat and was appalled by how much of a tourist attraction a sight of nature can become. Of course - as always - once you walk a bit more, the crowds fade, but it's a disgrace it came to this in the first place. It's very symptomatic for these Instagram hotspots, but I will spare you the rant. What I found equally symptomatic is that this post's title image was directly behind all the people taking photos of the famous rock formations. I like this one better.
The really good part began after Étretat. Essentially, it was nothing special, nothing truly breathtaking or unique. Instead, I found a very healthy mix of good sleeping spots, calls with friends, a daily pain au chocolate, podcasts, evening editing sessions and running on the beach. I can't really put a finger on it, but those three nights and days have been heavenly - coincidentally, three of the four photos I show you here are from that period.
A mussel fisher's tractor
Photographically, I'm actually quite happy. By no means did I do a comprehensive tour of Normandy nor could I make a good photo in every place due to the weather, but I always had my camera ready, always went out again even if I was tired, and always set my alarm for sunrise in case the sun was out (it never was, though). Four presentable images in five days is what I consider a very good quota, so I'm happy. What I like even more is that they are so diverse in motive and feel, yet that is exactly why they capture this first part of the trip so well.
One thing about Mont Saint Michel: it sucks. Could not have been a more negative experience. Then again, right now I have already forgotten the frustration of fast food and pink stuffed unicorns in a medieval place of worship. Instead, I had comfort food and a comfort call and tomorrow I'll be waking up to the sight of the ocean 15 meters from my bed. That is, after I've fallen asleep to the sounds of the tide rolling in. I like this.
From an evening walk on the shore