Eco-Gites of Lenault Walks - La Chauvinière
This is walk number 8 in our series of walks you can take directly from the gite; a relatively short route that crosses our local stream twice. South facing bank along side the road and paths you walk along are excellent places to spot the earliest wild flowers in late winter and spring.
Distance - 2.8 kms
This walk is our second shortest walk. It is great for young walkers but not suitable for a buggy unless perhaps you have a four-wheel off-road type. Along the walk you cross the same stream twice (although one or both may be dry in the summer) and walk down an ancient green lane alongside which the south facing bank has some of the earliest of our spring flowers. The pictures below are all taken when I walked the route in late January and even at this midwinter date there were still plenty of wild flowers.
View across the winter Normandy countryside from our gate
First crossing of the stream. Can you see the dog?
Ruined farmhouse - you can still see the fireplace and shelves built into the wall
The path down to the second crossing of the stream at the top of our drive. You can see the gite in the distance
A dandelion in January, always a welcome sight
Greater periwinkle (Vinca major) growing against a barn wall
This sheltered track down to the stream is the best place locally to see the earliest wild flowers
The second crossing of the stream just below Eco-Gites of Lénault
A gentle climb along an ancient green lane, with the banks on each side covered with coppiced hazel trees and many wild plants
Welcome back to Eco-Gites of Lénault. For more about this building read the italic section below.
Walk out of the gite past the old building/pig house and onto the footpath, GR221. Turn left. Follow the path round to the road and cross over. Walk over open countryside and take the first path on your left between 2 hedges.
Walk down into the small valley and cross the stream (although this may be dry in summer).
Continue up to the road, checking out the ruined building on your left. I wonder who used to live here and what stories its walls could tell? For more details about old Normandy houses see the italic section below.
At the road turn left and continue past the turning to La Chauvinière. After this entrance, the bank on your left is an excellent location for spotting spring flowers such as cowslips and early purple orchids.
When you arrive back at our front drive start to walk back to the gite and just past the entrance to the house on the right take the path, also on the right, down into the valley. This sheltered south facing path is the best place locally to find the earliest spring flowers.
Walk along until you see the stream flowing under the path. Turn left and cross over the stream for the second time. After a lot of rain you may need wellington boots to get across. Throughout winter the path down to the stream is fed by springs and itself becomes a shallow fast flowing stream, something that you see on many paths locally.
Take the narrow path up to the top of the slope through the trees. This section of the walk is covered in wild garlic in spring and bluebells carpet the copse on your right.
At the top turn left at the La Caucesserie waymarker, continue up the slope and walk back into our back gate.
The building facing you as you come through the gate is an old house with attached barn. The house part is to the right and was made up of a large kitchen downstairs and one large room upstairs. There was no bathroom but there was an outdoor privy. Neither were there any internal stairs and we assume the residents used a ladder outside and went in through the upstairs door on the right. The rest of the building (that had a connecting door from the kitchen) would have been used to house stock, store hay and milk the cows.
Our house and the gite are a more modern take on this typical Normandy building. In this case the house was larger than the barn (which is now the gite) and our house had more rooms and included an internal staircase. However it did not have an inside toilet until the 70's. There was also no internal connecting door.
Drive around this part of Normandy and you will see innumerable buildings following this same form. Many are still lived in, and like ours, may have had the barn part converted. Others remain abandoned and gently decay year on year.
We believe that our 2 houses/barns would have both been lived in at the same time in years gone by and probably had slightly different names. Where we live can be spelt one of 3 ways depending where you look (maps, road signs, official documents etc) with La Caucerie, La Caucesserie and La Causserie all used. We just don't know which is the correct one for our house or of they are just misspellings over time of the same name.
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