18 July – a Norman castle

This morning we were warned over breakfast that the route to Domfront would be up and down. Obviously the people issuing the warnings were not cyclists. There is a Voie Verte (Green Route) cycle path about 70km long all the way to Domfront on an old railway track. Although the countryside was hilly, the track was graded the whole way. Furthermore the vegetation next to the track creates a green belt all the way to Domfront. So we had a lovely ride on a quiet shaded track with no cars. We only stopped a few time for restorative traditional shortbread biscuits and peaches.

We arrived in Domfront around 1pm. The medieval castle and town are on a hill, which involved a long hill climb in low gears. We are now in Normandy and this is a defensive position looking out over Brittany.

We arranged our accommodation about 10km out of town at the Office de Tourisme. The lady there was personable and was doing a tour in English from 3-5pm, so we decided to join this tour after buying our food.

The tour was very informative and entertaining. She first took us through the castle, which is all in ruins – part of the keep and battlements remain (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Domfront). Then we went through the old city learning about the architecture of the different houses – the oldest are timber framed. Quite a few of the city walls and towers remain, some of them are now part of houses. We were also shown where the Americans mistakenly bombed streets in the second world war. The town is known for underground cellars which interconnect.

We rode around 4km out of our way struggling to find our accommodation (in all we did 92km). We eventually back tracked to the town of Torchamp and got directions from a local elderly couple. Once again the Office de Tourisme directions were inadequate.

The accommodation is a very cute cottage next to the river and the hosts house. She has a lovely garden full of flowers along the banks. The cottage is like a dolls house. We very much enjoyed our breakfast the next day (as we were given eggs) and chat with our hostess, although her English is limited. Her husband farms in the area, they have 40 cows (compared to NZ where most herds are over 200).

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