After leaving Brittany, we headed to neighboring Normandy, to an area of Lower Normandy (because there are technically two regions of Normandy: Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy) called Cap de la Hague. This area is located at the very tip of the Cotentin peninsula and is geographically very isolated. Most of the region’s economic industry relies on agriculture and fishing, but in the 1960s a nuclear power plant was installed, generating more jobs for the area. The nuclear power plant’s existence has been a source of controversy for environmental organizations. In fact, it seems the area has been launching new initiatives to encourage tourists to come visit La Hague and has been trying to distance itself from being associated with an ugly nuclear power plant.
Aside from the nuclear plant (which we did pass by at one point, getting kind of lost), most of the land in Normandy remains undeveloped and has retained its natural beauty. Most of the coast remains vibrantly green and the landscape appears to be nearly devoid of human inhabitants–indeed this part of Lower Normandy is very remote. If you would like more information about La Hague and the different places of interest, you can visit the official tourism website here (only available in French).
We stopped in the small coastal village of Auderville, giving us a taste of the striking pastoral scenery that makes up the majority of the Cap de la Hague.
In this part of France, it is very typical to see Catholic crosses dotting the countryside. Many of these tend to be memorials listing the names of soldiers who died in World War I and World War II who were from that particular town. After driving around for awhile, I lost count of how many of these cross memorials I saw on the side of the road. I know most Americans associate Normandy with the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (which I have been to twice), but it really made me realize the devastation experienced by the residents of northern France–most of which occurred before the Americans got involved in the war.
The lighthouse in the above picture is called the phare de la Hague (or also known as phare du Goury in some circles)–phare meaning lighthouse in English. The ocean current on this part of the coast is known as the raz Blanchard, and it is one of the most powerful and dangerous ocean currents in Europe, which is a large part of why the lighthouse was built in the first place.
The gentle rolling green hills and the remoteness of this location remind me so much of pictures I’ve seen of coastal communities in the UK and Ireland. In fact, this town in particular reminded me of some of the places I visited in Scotland. I’ve always theorized that at some point England and northern France were at one point the same landmass. Obviously I’m no scientist, but the similarities in the landscape can’t just be a coincidence, not to mention the geographic proximity of both regions.
Around the miniature harbor and the huge metal buoys signaling to the boats the entrance into the harbor, including a picture of me awkwardly posing:
Some horses playing musical chairs as they took turns drinking out of their bucket:
Standing by that cross and looking out on that lighthouse felt like stepping towards the edge of the world. Such a contrast from the concrete jungle of a city I work in, New York City.
Wait, what’s that you say?
Yes, you read that right. This chica is now gainfully employed!