May 19, 2007 – Chateau Gaillard, Rouen, Les Andelys
What a delight it was to start the morning in a huge hotel room with a great room service breakfast delivered promptly at 9am. Refreshed and refueled, we took off on the car route to the top of the hill to see the remains of Chateau Gaillard, a Medieval castle built by Richard the Lionheart of England from 1197-1198, in order to protect his holdings in Normandy. From this vantage point you can look down upon the town along the river and can almost picture the glacier that cut through this part of the world to create the cliffs and the river. As we surveyed the surrounding hills we were struck both by how bucolic the scene was with cows grazing and wheat growing and by how everything smelled so fresh.
We continued our journey for the day by driving about 45 minutes to Rouen, a large and actually very chic city. In Rouen we caught our first glimpses of the half-timbered style housing that we would see throughout Normandy during the week, and the first two huge cathedrals of our trip – again, we would go on to see one in literally every tiny town!
We stopped at a bistro in Rouen for lunch and I’m embarrassed to admit I did a repeat of the day before – Salad Chevre Chaud, although this time made even more special with lardons, those thick chunks of fried pork that put American bacon to shame. After a full day in Rouen we returned to La Chaine d’Or for dinner, but I insisted I couldn’t eat the multiple courses again, so simply had the sea bass with mixed vegetables and lardons of bacon and a cheese plate.