Archive for Normandy

from William’s castle [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , on May 16, 2017 by xi'an

Camembert day?!

Posted in Kids, pictures, Wines with tags , , , , on April 28, 2017 by xi'an

Google France is celebrating the 256th anniversary of the birth of Marie Harel, who, according to local legend, invented Camembert cheese. Enjoy (if you can!).

Initial, Caen [*]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2017 by xi'an

along the canal from Caen to Ouistreham, Oct 09, 2016In what may now become a family tradition, we sampled for the new year another Michelin starred restaurant in Caen, Normandy, called Initial, which is a small and unpretentious restaurant in one back-street, not far from my collège, Lycée Malherbes. And from Guillaume’s Abbaye aux Hommes.


The food itself was both elaborate and light, with fantastic presentations, like the millimetre thick crepe above. Absolutely stunning! Now, the lunch menu has very few degrees of freedom as the chef cooks according to the local products currently available. Which means the menu changes all the time. And also presumably to cater for local clients having only a lunch break from work: we stayed there for less than one and a half and most of the other customers did not stay that long. The service is very efficient and friendly, advising about (cheap) wines that fit the dishes. (Hence, I tasted an unknown Austrian wine!) And bringing plenty of side pre- and post-dishes as nibbles… This is all quite enjoyable, if not the ultimate culinary experience, and very affordable, since lunch at Initial cost much less than in a mediocre Paris restaurant!

Hastings without Metropolis

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on October 14, 2016 by xi'an

Today marks the 950th anniversary of the battle of Hastings, when Guillaume, Duke of Normandy and pretendent to the throne of England following the death of the childless King Edward the Confessor in January 1066, defeated Harold Godwinson, recently elected King and even more recently the victor of a battle against another pretended, Harald Hardrada of Norway. (I had always thought that Guillaume had fought the battle the day his fleet of hundreds of Viking drakkars landed, but he arrived two weeks earlier and had time to build a fort in Hastings.) One of the consequences of this victory would be significant changes in the structure and vocabulary of the English language. [One may wonder at why I am mentioning this anniversary but been “born and raised” in the heart of Guillaume’s Norman kingdom prompted some long-lasting interest in the Norman invasion.]

Norman restaurants [Ivan’s star]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2016 by xi'an

Visiting relatives for the New Year break, I had two wonderful opportunities to sample chef’s restaurants in Normandy. One was Ivan Vautier’s IV in Caen, who had recently lost one Michelin star out of two, but seems to deserve two from the quality of the food and service we received for lunch. For instance, this poached egg… (Definitely above the X I tested twice in 2015.) Plus a great touch of connecting with the local producers, whose pictures were posted in the entrance to the restaurant. The second restaurant was Pavillon de Gouffern, located in a forest near Argentan (and almost on the path of my traditional half-marathon). Worth recommending if only for the setting, in a former hunting lodge, superbly quiet with great views. Plus a well-made scampi risotto, ultimately creamy. And a wide collection of local pear-ciders.

Argentan half-marathon [1 24′ 46″ – 22/496 – V2: 2/116 – 17°C]

Posted in pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , on October 5, 2015 by xi'an

ADSC_0135A fairly good race in Argentan, despite (relatively) hot weather that saw the winning time increase by two minutes and a half. (Last year’s winner actually lost 3 and half minutes on the same track). Gaining 18 seconds over my time from last year was thus a significant achievement. This was my 17th—or 18th including one I ran on my own as it had been cancelled—Argentan half-marathon. The first half [of the half] was a bit unpleasant under the relentless sun, and each wee slope made me miss my 3:52 kilometre goal. But very few runners passed me for good after the 5th kilometre and reaching the forest part was a blessing, providing shade and cool. A single runner passed me there, although I had not slowed down, and I did not realise it was another runner in my V2 category as I could have tried to keep up. The last kilometres were indeed much smoother than in previous, thanks to a change in my training where I increased the number of long distance trainings. And presumable thanks to the previous week abroad when I trained twice a day. Anyway, I was still surprised to end up as the second V2, 15 seconds from both the first and third V2 runners. Which got me a nice Timex watch as a reward! And a pretty ugly cup… [Thanks again and again to the photographs of Normandiecourseapied for their free pictures!]

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Argentan, 30th and 17th and 7th edition(s)

Posted in Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2015 by xi'an

When I started the ‘Og, in 2008, I was about to run the 23rd edition of the Argentan half-marathon… Seven years later, I am once again getting ready for the race, after a rather good training season, between the mountains of the North Cascade and the track of Malakoff. with the last week in England, Holland, and Canada having seen close to two trainings a day. (Borderline stress injury, maybe!) Weather does not look too bad this year, so we’ll see tomorrow how I fare against myself (and the other V2 runners, incidentally!).