THE GORGES

Between Pourville and the Ailly lighthouse, no fewer than five hanging valleys or small gorges lead down to the sea and provide particularly interesting walks. They are especially well-frequented in spring when the surrounding woods and fields are full of wild daffodils.

Starting in the north near Pourville, the first gorge is called Mordal. Access is difficult from the beach and very quickly one finds oneself in a private property.
However every year on the south facing side of this valley, sheltered from the wind, a vine produces some delicious grapes.

The Petit Ailly valley is much more accessible and is used by many fishermen since a mussel bed is situated fairly near and at the period of exceptionally low tides, the beach is always crowded. Opposite this gorge are huge rocks which can be reached on foot at the equinoctial tides.

The most picturesque valley is the Moutiers gorge. It is just below the church and can be reached from a path beside the church or from a path which leads from the Rue de l’Aumone and borders the Parc des Moutiers.
It is on the beach at the bottom of this gorge that many Varengeville inhabitants learned to swim – before the Second World War, a sports club, the Starfish, founded by Pascaline Mallet was situated here. Many children did keep-fit lessons and other sporting activities as well as swimming here and a small cottage, no longer in existence, halfway between the church and the beach was used as changing rooms.

Nearer Sainte- Marguerite are two other valleys. Firstly the Morville gorge, also called the Pelouard gorge after the owner of the nearby Hotel des Terrasses. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a needle at the foot of this gorge exactly like the one at Etretat but it has succumbed to tides and storms. The fifth gorge is that at Vasterival, in the commune of Sainte Marguerite sur Mer. On the slopes of this valley were many luxurious villas, including one called “Le Château”. This valley is favoured by fishermen due its proximity to the famous Ailly rocks. It was through this gorge in August 1942 during Operation Jubilee, that the British troops under Lord Lovat, landed on French soil to destroy the gun battery at Vasterival.

Translation: Alison Dufour

 

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