The Channel ferry ports are a strange mixture of cultures, pockets of period architecture in between largely brutalist post war reconstruction, run down in places, thriving in others. Dieppe was all of these plus an old fashioned seaside resort, but on the whole not a very attractive city.
Tuesday 25th June – Boulogne to Dieppe
Almost a whole day of sailing with good winds broad reaching. We left Boulogne about 8am and headed out in light winds from the North East. Tim set the spinnaker and our speed soon picked up to 7 knots comfortably cruising with the autopilot doing most of the work. After lunch we noticed our speed had picked up to over 8 knots and realised the windspeed was now hitting 18-20 knots. This was pushing it a bit for our spinnaker, but the boat was very stable. I was more concerned that something would break soon, so we changed down to the genoa. As the afternoon moved on the sea got rougher and the boat was rolling down the waves.
We arrived in Dieppe around 6.30pm and found the visitor’s berths in the marina easily enough. The marina office opened for limited hours (9-12, 2-6) so we weren’t able to get the codes for toilet and wifi, and the marina was very susceptible to swell from the north facing entrance. The boat was rolling around all over the place but once we went to bed we both fell asleep quickly and slept soundly through the night.
Dieppe is an active commercial port and ferry terminal (twice daily to Newhaven) and also appears to be a busy seaside resort (more Great Yarmouth than Bournemouth), just gearing up for the start of the school holidays next week. The pictures above were taken on the seafront, probably the nicest part. Otherwise the town was a bit run down and we had no desire to stay any longer than necessary.
Wednesday 27th June – To St Valery en Caux
After a quick trip to the boulangerie to stock up with pain and croissants we left quite early to catch the tide. Unfortunately (!) the marina office was not open, so we were unable to pay… Today was a short ride along the coast to a smaller port at St. Valery en Caux.
The entrance was interesting in the onshore breeze but the technique seems to be to come in under full power to avoid being thrown around too much. These photos were taken a little later on as the tide went out – it wasn’t quite as scary earlier.
Once inside it is lovely. We passed through the lock and under the lifting bridge into a pretty marina in the middle of a small seaside town. Much nicer than the big ports we’ve been in the last few days. One side of the river is full of old houses and cottages, including Henri IV’s house, now a museum, and many appeared to have been restored and modernised as holiday homes. The other side, where most of the shops are, is mostly post war so must have taken some damage. There is a beautiful modern timber and stained glass church with a frieze of a traditional sailing vessel on the outside and model sailing ships by the altar. Alongside the harbour there are several fish stalls where the local fishermen sell their catch directly, seagulls hovering alongside to catch the scraps as they gut the fish.