Day 74 Monday 14th August 2017
Today is a ‘jour de pont’ as the bank holiday is tomorrow for Ascension Day, which means that people can make a long weekend of it. It’s certainly very busy in Dieppe: lots of families milling about, visiting the fair and eating in all the restaurants along the quayside by the marina.
We’ve decided, because of the strong wind warnings tomorrow, to hire a car and visit the Somme battlefields. Walk down towards the station, putting laundry in en route, to find Avis and negotiate for a day’s hire. Of course, they’re all shut tomorrow so we can have the key now and pick it up at 5.30 p.m. Think we’ll leave it at the station as there’s nowhere to park near the marina.
Last time we only stopped overnight in Dieppe so now we have time to explore the old town, its huge cathedral like church of St. Jacques and the castle on the cliff.
The original church was built in the 12th century to greet English pilgrims heading for the shrine of St. James at Santiago de Compostela.
Climb up to the medieval chateau which also houses the Musee de Dieppe. This little tower reminded me of Essouria in Morocco where Jonathan and family have recently holidayed.
There’s a good selection of paintings from the impressionists. Loved Dufy’s painting of these peche a pied men with their huge shrimp nets, just like at Grandcamp-Maisy.
And this one of the elephant with his trunk at Etretat.
There are two rooms full of carved ivory. Apparently Dieppois ‘explorers’ shipped ivory home from Africa to such an extent in the 17th century that there were 300 craftsmen-carvers here in Dieppe. Like the jet industry in Whitby in the 19th century, sparked by Queen Victoria’s wearing of jet jewelry after Albert died.
Wonderful views of the town and port from up here. The ferry between Dieppe and Newhaven began in 1848 as the Newhaven Packet, soon after the railway arrived from Paris. The town became a fashionable seaside resort, attracting French aristocracy and British royalty. French visitors would promenade along the seafront, while the English colony indulged in the peculiar pastime of bathing in the sea!