LisieuxAn early trip around the market in Lisieux just went to show the amazing range and quality of produce the French consider normal. A cafe noir (expresso) and a delicious pastry is all you really need for breakfast, and the chocolate and almond thing I had could easily be considered too much.

The Lisieux cathedral is another fantastic edifice and absolutely huge, sadly however it seems to be in a sad state of repair with graffiti, broken windows and serious structural issues like it's dissolving in the rain. It's nothing a really huge amount of money could not cure but I guess they may wait until it's serious.

French backroads are great fun if a little overcrowded by NZ South Island standards but that's a very high standard indeed. We left Lisieux for Caen via the little town of St Pierre sur Dive, about an hours drive. All went well until we hit Caen where we planned to go to the Caen Memorial covering the D-Day landings. Excellent signs petered out half way through the city for reasons unexplained, we may have course missed one and gotten off route.

pastisseryIn any event the Caen Memorial (www.memorial-caen.fr) covers the rise of fascism from 1918 and the entire second World War. There are also a sections about the Cold War and efforts for peace but we found these less moving although we may well have been suffering from museum overload. We were told we would need four hours to do the whole place justice and our experience is that this would be an absolute minimum.

We left a bit after 4pm and traveled by back roads to St Lo in Manche Department as we did not wish to deal with Caen's roads again. Again the Lonely Planet's accommodation guide let us down with, as far as we could tell, all three hotels listed being awol.

Our first hotel was very hard to raise as it was next to the Cathidral and the bells were in full flight, the noise can scarcely be credited. Our major concern with the hotel was what happens in the morning (Sunday) but in any event they only had one room available so we moved on. We found two rooms in the somewhat shabby but cheap and clean Auberge Normande who did us an excellent dinner an half bottle of red.

Memorial CaenSeems you need to bring your own pillow. Odd.