Normandy, Vaux-les-Roses, Alabaster Coast
Veules les Roses is a small town on Normandy’s Alabaster Coast, between Dieppe and Etretat.
If Etretat was an anticipated delight, Veules les Roses, which we had never heard of, came as a complete surprise.
The Veuille, the shortest river in France, just over a kilometer long, flows into the Atlantic Ocean at this point. The chalk cliffs parted, letting the “little one” through to the ocean. Well, people did not miss the opportunity to settle in the resulting gap in the rocks. They built houses along the river, installed water mills, planted flowers, and it turned out something wonderful.
French artists first discovered the place. And if it was impossible to conceal the incredible rocks of Etretat, then about Vaux-le-Rose all the initiates stubbornly kept silence, so as not to attract the attention of the public.
Somehow, this quiet corner of Normandy came to the Russian painter and marine painter Alexey Bogolyubov, grandson of Radishchev. And he liked the lovely town so much that for the next thirty years he visited it from time to time, and recommended it to his artist friends.
So, in the summer of 1874 came here Russian artists Repin, Kharlamov, Savitsky. They were all inspired by the local beauty, so that Kharlamov even bought a house here, and Repin called Völle-les-Roses his “third painting lesson”. In his private letter Ilya Efimovich wrote “…I wouldn’t trade ten Italias with Naples for this place” (I don’t know where Repin got so many Italias).
And they lured Polenov out of Rome, where he was in a creative crisis. When Polenov arrived in Normandy, the crisis ceased, and immediately the desire to create returned to him. A piece of Velyel moved to the Tretyakov Gallery – captured by Polenov in the painting “In the Park. The place Völ in Normandy. And in the Veulet appeared lane (passage) of Russian artists.
The names of French artists, however, are also inscribed on the map of the city: the avenues of Renoir, Boudin, Pissarro, as well as Monet’s impasse in the Veulet-le-Rose.
For us, Vaux-les-Roses began with a small platform under a rush roof with the inscription “Cresson”.
Beyond the site, the river banks parted and the Veuille River spilled out in a thin layer. In this shallow, semi-submerged place, they grow cress.
From the first steps along the river, the town just enveloped us with its charm, its charm and cozy beauty. Everything was buried in flowers: the river banks, and the surrounding lawns, and yards. The houses are small, up to 4 floors, stone and half-timbered. Some have cane roofs and irises are planted on top – to pull out the extra moisture. Along the street are wooden front gardens or clipped shrubs.
House with a reed roof
We pass the alley of Russian artists, then the Champs Elysees. Yes, Veulet has its own Champs-Elysées, or rather, the road of the Champs-Elysées (chemin des Champs Elisees).
Meanwhile, the river narrowed and the mills came one after another. Near each wheel of the mill – a sign with the name of the mill.
Mills on the River Welle
In the water among the glare of the sun trout are gliding.
The most fascinating part of the river is just before the ocean. Along the banks, stone houses are lined up close to the water; they seem to squeeze the river on both sides, leaving only a narrow passage along the water. Bridges are thrown from bank to bank. The houses here already resemble fortresses: blank stone or brick walls, but greenery and flowers break through every crack.
A few more steps, and from the stone cramp we emerge into an expanse open to the ocean.
The last meters to the ocean, the river flows in thickets of yellow bush and reeds.
The beach in Voule-les-Roses is wide, of coarse light pebbles, the entrance to the water is sandy. Along the beach there is a wooden promenade. On both sides of the beach stand chalk walls, going into the distance.
Beach in Velle-les-Roses.
Going into the distance chalk cliffs and deserted beach
The beach on the other side
After walking to the rocks, I returned to the town, only not along the river, but along the main town street Victor Hugo (passing into rue Pierre Girard). The center of the town is built up with magnificent villas, and on the main square stands the church of Saint Martin from the late 12th or early 13th century. People on the street was almost no, but in the cafe near the river were occupied almost all the tables.
The houses in the center of Vell-les-Roses
Columns with carvings
Giving in to the temptation, I reached the river again and walked to the ocean along the other shore.
Vaux-les-Roses captivated me. I fully support Repin and Polenov and I share their enthusiasm. I do not know how many other such hidden corners in Normandy, known to the initiated few. In the list of Normandy beauties I have seen, Vaux-les-Roses ranks second, right behind Etretat.