Dieppe and Varengeville

The cliff of Varengeville forms a point on the Côte d’Albâtre between Quiberville and Dieppe. Varengeville-sur-Mer is one of those coastal villages that developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as well-to-do families would have their houses built to face the sea. Some of those properties reflect not only the wealth of their owners but a spirit of beauty and adventure. One such house is the Arts & Crafts manor designed by Edward Lutyns, the Bois des Moutiers which has one of the loveliest English gardens I have ever known. I invite you to see the video on this site that shows Varengeville, the house and the garden. The explanations are in French.

Another aspect of this lovely village is the church perched atop the cliffs, its cemetery filled with graves of celebrities who had spent their twilight years in Varengeville.

varengeville-egliseThis church is built in the austere Romanesque style, to which a gothic aisle was added.

dieppe-varengevilleTo see Varengeville from the sea, there are two beaches to launch a boat, Pourville at the centre of this satellite photo to the west of the port of Dieppe or from Quiberville or Saint-Marguerite-sur-Mer to the west of the Varengeville headland. Yesterday, on account of the rising tide, I launched from Pourville and sailed to the west upwind. The conditions were gentle and the wind was a south-westerly veering to the west.

20141001dieppe01This is the beach of Pourville at low tide looking towards the cliffs of Varengeville. The colour is not the usual chalk and flint, but some brownish stone, possibly coloured by the erosion of the soil. Atop the cliffs, one can see one of those fine country houses and its garden extending to the cliff edge. We will see more of this cliff as I launch the boat and begin sailing westwards.

20141001dieppe02Here I leave Pourville behind and get out of the shallow water.

20141001dieppe03Looking eastwards, Dieppe is obscured by the haze, but the starboard seawall of the port can be seen quite clearly.

20141001dieppe04Looking at Varengeville, I am too far away for the camera to get much in the way of detail.

20141001dieppe05As I lashed the helm and carefully set the sails, I turned more to the west. We can see past the headland of Varengeville to Quiverville, Saint-Aubin and the headland that hides Veules-les-Roses. The coast leading to Saint-Valéry-en Caux is in the extreme background.

20141001dieppe06Here is another one of the same coast as I was almost opposite the Varengeville headland. To most people, I imagine these photos all look alike.Someone who is used to coastal navigation observes everything from church spires, water towers, lighthouses and particular shapes of cliffs.

20141001dieppe07Time was getting on and the tide was in full current, and there was only a light wind. I turned back off the Varengeville headland and took this one from my starboard beam. The tower of Varengeville church can be clearly seen on the cliff top. Churches still guide ships and boats even if they find it that much more difficult to guide souls to God!

20141001dieppe08Here is Pourville again as I approach it in a run and then a full reach as the wind turned to the north-west.

20141001dieppe09One last look at the Varengeville cliff. There’s a couple those tight coves that allow access to the sea. I don’t know if you can get a boat down there. I would be surprised in spite of the presence of a dilapidated launching slipway. They must have been great for smugglers in the old days!

20141001dieppe10Here is a clearer shot of Dieppe as the weather improved a little. Most of these towns and villages suffered during World War II, less so in 1944 as the D-Day landing was more to the south. There were many heroic attempts to get Allied servicemen out of France in 1940 and in some places as late as 1942. The Dieppe Raid in August 1942 was a largely failed attempt to seize and hold a major port in occupied territory and get intelligence. Most of the servicemen were Canadian and many died or were taken prisoners. There is a memorial to them in Pourville.

I have explored most of this coast from Dieppe to Fécamp to the west and have crossed the Seine Estuary. Further to the north, there is the Baie de Somme which is wonderful for its natural wildlife (I must not forget my binoculars!). The tidal currents are complex and treacherous, so I will need to do a lot of research and planning. Perhaps for next year… There are also the organised events of the Semaine du Golfe and my second time at the Route du Sable. There are many more trips in perspective for my little ten-footer…

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