Sunday 25th October
The clocks want backwards in the night so we get an extra hours sleep – not. 7am there is loads of crashing and banging outside the van so I get up to see what is happening.
A chap and his young daughter are setting up their rotisserie, cooking chickens and lamb over wood but they didn’t want us to move which is just as well, Lucy doesn’t get out of bed for anyone or anything until 9am. Except for today! I asked a couple of times “what are you doing?”, “Why are you getting up?”, etc. It was only when her feet touched the floor that she realised it was only 7.30am. It was really hard to hide my smile!
Never mind, we had breakfast and went for a walk around the town. William the Conqueror was born here in Falaise to a tanners daughter. She was spotted by the Duke at the age of 17 doing the laundry and was “invited” into the castle for a bit of hanky panky. Most girls would have slipped into the castle discretely but not this one, she borrows a horse and rides through the gates making it known that she was there to meet the Duke. This ensured that her illegitimate son could inherit a title from the Duke which he did at the age of 8.
This is a view of the castle from around the other side to Frankie, the Donjon was modelled on the White Tower in the Tower of London but looks more like a modern grain silo with a water tower stuck on the side.
This is one of the main entrances into the walled castle, gate of the cordennieres or weavers as we call them.
And this is from inside the gate. Falaise is French for cliff by the way, very imaginative town names they have sometimes.
There were a good few shops in the town, mercifully most of them were closed being as it was Sunday but the launderette was open and we managed to get everything clean and dry ready for another week.
A lot of this castle has been rebuilt since the last war. The town was obliterated by allied forces trying to close a gap in the defences (The Falaise Gap). When the Canadians came to liberate the town it was impossible to see where the roads were since there was so much rubble strewn about.
As you can see the weather has improved enormously so we decided to splash out and visit the Donjon itself and learn more about the history of the castle. It was €8 each to get in but we thought that we may never return so lets blow the budget. The ticket seller was serving three people in front of us, trying to upsell them into audio guides, maps, you name it, and then the phone rings. BIG mistake, he answers it. We’ve all got €8 in our grubby little hands but for some reason someone else is far more important than us so we walk out with a cheery au revere and €8 each in our pockets which we blow on a wood fire cooked chicken with pommes de terre cooked in lashings of butter.
We’ve got a target destination so we head off west into the sunset arriving at St Hilaire du Harcourt, it looks like a nice town with a nice aire but when we arrive we find the circus has arrived and filled it all up with lions, elephants and tigers. A quick planning session sends us off to Ducey and we catch a tantalising glimpse of tomorrows destination.
The aire we’re in is shared with a number of lorries but it has everything we need.