This post on Dieppe is my last on the Alabaster Coast (Côte d'Albâtre) in Normandy. Sheltered between two high cliffs, Dieppe stretches on either side of the river Arques as it empties into the Atlantic. Seaside and tourist resort of the Alabaster coast valued by the English and Parisians, the town has conserved very few architectural souvenirs of its golden age. Dieppe is sometimes called the Viking town. It traces its history as a human settlement and port back to the arrival of the Vikings on this coast at the beginning of the tenth century AD. Of course, there were other people living in these parts before then, and the Romans passed this way before the Vikings. But the Romans did not leave such important traces of their occupation here as they did elsewhere. The Vikings, from Scandinavia, settled in and around Dieppe because of the hospitable harbour they found for their ships at the river estuary that cuts through a forbidding line of cliffs. The name Dieppe derives from the Viking term “djepp”, meaning “deep”.
I have been writing posts about the towns along the white cliffs of the Alabaster Coast (Côte d'Albâtre) and I thought I would provide a little overview and some practical information on how to get there from Paris. The Pays de Caux is a plateau of Upper Cretaceous chalk, like that which forms the North and South Downs in southern England. It forms a rough triangle from Rouen and Le Havre on the Seine, to the south, to Dieppe in the north. The name caux is Norman for calcium carbonate or chalk and the white cliffs of the Alabaster Coast are the result of sea erosion of the plateau on the edges. The area is covered with large farms and dotted with mostly small but beautiful towns.
As part of my series of posts on the Paix de Caux in Normandy and the Côte d'Albâtre (Alabaster Coast), I thought I would present our pictures of the small town of Veules les Roses. From the creation of the county of Rouen and of the Duchy of Normandy in 911, the Vikings settled a great number of people in the Paix de Caux and left an enduring legacy in the Cauchois Norman dialect but also in the ethnic makeup of the Cauchois Normans. Cauchois is a notable dialect of the Norman language and the Pays de Caux is one of the remaining strongholds of the Norman language outside the Cotentin. Nestling since the 4th century in the hollow of a valley opening on to the sea, Veules Les Roses will seduce you with the charms of its seashore, its rich heritage and its wooded setting crossed by the smallest river in France, the Veules, only three quarters of a mile long. Before 1897 the town was called Veules en Caux, the mayor of the time changed the name to a more evocative Veules Les Roses.
As I said in a previous post, we decided to visit the northern coast of Normandy for a few days to get away from the heat in Paris. Fécamp started out at the mouth of a depression, where the Ganzeville and Valmont rivers meet and flow into the sea. It was the capital of the duchy of Normandy until the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, when William of Normandy, who inherited the English crown from his cousin Edward the Confessor, sailed across the channel with a full fleet to defeat Harold, the pretender to the throne, at the Battle of Hastings. This is part of the same Côte d'Albâtre (Alabaster Coast) as Étretat. The section around Fécamp also goes by the poetic name of le Pays des Hautes Falaises (high cliff country) conjuring up the flavor of salty air and the shrieks of circling gulls.