Fécamp is a charming weekend getaway destination on the sea front.
Located in Haute-Normandie, just a few hours by direct train from Paris, Fécamp is a lovely seaside town. The train station is at the center of the city, from there it's an easy walk to reach the port.
East of the harbour, there is a very long pebble beach right beneath the massive white cliffs, some almost 100 meters high. It is never very busy and there are caves in the rock and cascades. The Impressionist painters were fascinated by this landscape and the changing light on these natural alabaster walls.
A nice circuit walk starts at sea level along the beach then a staircase leads to the top of the cliffs. Here the feel is very rural, the fields of wheat and cows grazing make you quickly forget that you are just a few meters from the sea.
The town has kept souvenirs of the past centuries. There are the charming fishermen houses, stretching out on both sides of the Valmont river. The port has been famous for its cod, mackerel and herrings since the Middle-Ages.
In the 19th century, the well-named Alexandre Le Grand, son of a ship master, discovered a manuscript in an abbey with the recipe for an herbs-based liqueur. He commercialised it and called it "La Benedictine". The success was immediate and brought the small port to the attention of the Parisian bourgeoisie. Le Grand built a grandiose distillerie, known as the Benedictine Palace. It's worth going there for a tasting of this very peculiar liquid.
On the cliff of Cap Fagnet, overlooking the harbour, there are two war bunkers built by the german army as part of the wall of the Atlantic.
I stayed at the Camping de Reneville (www.campingdereneville.com), built on a slope facing the sea. The view in the morning when I unzipped the tent is worth so much more than the few euros I paid for. In the evening, some people go to the casino to try their luck, others go for a walk on the promenade where one can buy crepes and waffles until late.
To get in the mood:
- Eat: Milk jam
- Listen: Julien doré - Le lac