One of the many delightful buildings in St Valery, Picardy, a few miles down the road from Ponches Estruval, a small village where we were staying with friends. Gardening, eating, drinking and listening to music at the local music festival made up a pretty near perfect long weekend.  And in grand contrast to the baroque notes tinkling from the church, a three piece band rocked the barn with everything from Abba to the Shadows…  Not far from Ponches are the gardens of the Abbaye de Valloires, a splendid mixture of typically French formal gardening and uninhibited swathes of planting along the slopes. First experience of using le Shuttle, too – very efficient and fast, if a little impersonal compared to the clanging and banging of a ferry loading.

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