“I guess it is a nice place.” The nonchalant delivery of these words from our campsite receptionist and the indifference with which she handed us the map of Veules Les Roses certainly led us to think this would not be a town worth writing about. Wrong! What with a moody coast, the opportunity to find the source of a river, and watercress beds, this was a day to tick things off the bucket list.
Where? Veules Les Roses (Normandy Coast)
When? October 2016
What? France's smallest river, moody coast, watercress
Campsite: Les Mouettes
The first thing we did when we looked at the map was laugh at it. The circuit was only 1.1km. Surely we’d be done within half an hour? Three hours later, we had become obsessed with tracking down every single one of the 23 points on the map, as if we were on some sort of treasure hunt, with the prize being sacred knowledge of watercress cultivation.
Of course being complete rebels we did the circuit in reverse order. We started atop France’s own white cliffs. Geologically speaking, Britain is really just a snapped off piece of a continental Kit Kat, isn’t it?
The climb down to the beach was by way of a quirky little collection of beach huts on terraces. The pebbled beach, the white cliffs, the unwelcoming weather - did France think we were homesick or something? Before the main event of our meander along France’s smallest river, our little coastal wander produced an unhinged French-man who thought the conditions perfect for a swim, and a lone fisherman with no appreciation for symmetry (look closely at where he is standing and you’ll see what I mean!)
Within mere metres, we are magically transported from a replica of the white cliffs of Dover, to a lovely little French village; incredible red-stoned dollhouses, thriving businesses, fresh seafood, pop-up art galleries, a local theatre group, and most importantly, visible pride in their town.
The local Tourism Information Office has a lot to answer for. Map points 17 and 18 are annoyingly nowhere to be found. And the way they sold the source of the river Veules to us, you would think we were going to find a spring gushing from the side of a mountain, rather than the anticlimactic trickle of reality. But who knew that for hundreds of years (and still to this day), this trickle has been creating the perfect conditions to grow watercress?