The Bayeux Tapestry, Mont-St-Michel, the Cathedral of Caen or the Disembarkment Beaches of the Allied Forces in World War II are considered the most remarkable sights in Normandy. After visiting these outstanding landmarks foreign travellers usually move westwards to Brittany, ignoring the Cotentin Peninsula which is really worth a stay: Milelong white beaches, undulating and nested hedgerow-fields, the busy port of Cherbourg or the fishing towns of Barfleur (here William the Conqueror set sails towards England – which is impressively depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry) and Saint-Vaast-la-Hogue. And, last but not least, the Traversées Tatihou.
This festival takes place in numerous locations in the Saire Valley, above all in Saint-Vaast: On the town’s quay and on the island of Tatihou with its formidable fortress built by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban. When there is low tide you can walk over to the isle on a path with vast oyster beds on both sides. Usually an amphibian vehicle commutes from the port to the island – but this year, just a few days before the festival, the gear drive powering the enormous wheels of the boat conked out and resisted to any fixing. However, the ship’s propeller worked and with high tide the Tatihou II perfectly did her job.
On foot, by ferry or by horse coach – some thousand music fans made their way to the island every day. Which is part of Traversées’ concept and charm. According to artistic consultant Gérard Vielle (also well-known as a writer for Trad’Mag) the festival’s motto is ambiguous: To attend a concert you must cross the tideland and, on the other hand, the musical program stands for traversing cultural frontiers. This year’s cross-border commuters: Vox Bigerri (F), Wör (B), Solas (Irl-USA), Zachary Richard (USA), Sébastien Bertrand (F), Duo Bottasso (IT), Lucilla Galeazzi & Elena Ledda & Ginevra di Marco & Ricardo Tesi (IT), Galand Galanaina (PT), Melisande (CND), Monster Ceilidh Band (UK) and Hotel Palindrone.
For the first time in Traversées’ history there was a ball night – due to the tide between seven o’clock in the evening and four o’clock in the morning. In fact, the audience was confined for hours by the sea. Hotel Palindrone was the last band to appear, accompanied by tireless dancers who would not let the band walk off the stage without some encores although the tidelands were calling.
In the end we would like to inform you of our favorite places. Taverns and inns: Café de France in Barfleur, Le Goéland in Réville/Jonville, La Bisquine and La Criée du Tomahawk in Saint-Vaast. Accomodation: Manoir du Cabourg and Hotel La Gervaiserie in Réville. Shopping: Farmers’ market in Saint-Vaast (Saturday), Boucherie Villeneuve, Librairie La Chaloupe and the Episserie Gosselin.
And here is a piece of advice by the locals, if you intend to walk happy-go-lucky through the tidelands: „Respectez bien les horaires, la mer n’attends pas“ – “Mind the schedule, the sea will not wait.“