There is a lovely advertisement in Salmo Truta (volume 13, 2010, page 29) inviting readers to consider casting in the same waters as Winston Churchill and Charles Ritz. It is supported by cunning promises of ‘wild brown trout in their natural chalk stream habitat’, and ‘complete privacy, perfect peace and quiet’, and even better, ‘exquisite luncheons and candle-lit dinners from food grown on the estate’…a hedonist’s ideal!
So, eager to add La Belle France to my countries’ collection, I enquired successfully, about availability, booked ‘Tonka Too’ onto the Channel Shuttle, then showed Ma Plus Belle Sue the outstanding advertisement, and her seduction was completed with – “….and I have just booked it for….”!!
As it happened, the day we chose to travel was bright and sunny, the drive to Ashford was easy as was the check-in and boarding, as was the short ride. Leaving Calais, our only decision was, where to stop for lunch, and SatNav highlighted Montreuil, just over an hour away, and after that hour we left the N1 and after crossing our first sighting of a North France chalk stream, the Canche, we drove up into the walled town and enjoyed a ‘dejeuner typique’ (saucisse, du pain et de la biere) in a local café restaurant.
One hour later we were searching, unhurriedly, for the Manoir as we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the lovely Normandy countryside. But find it we soon did, and the long driveway and crossing over the rickety wooden river bridge revealed the most stunning setting that is the Manoir de Malvoisine, www.chalkstream.net and we were greeted warmly by Ad(e)rian and Hedy (Thompson), our English hosts.
Today, it a warm and inviting family dwelling with courtyard, outbuildings and extensive gardens. The rooms are all of generous size and height, as you would imagine, and one can only imagine what secrets it could reveal of its 650 years….clues abound (but these are for historians, pas pecheurs!
The sun was high that afternoon and the temperatures not conducive to fishing, so a stroll downstream from the bridge with our hosts was leisurely and instructive, and revealed the extraordinary effort that they have put into the restoring the river to former glories.
June 2010 – the Andelle
The Andelle is a tributary of the Seine and rises not far away in Forges les Eaux, which is just 16kms from L’Heron, and another 20kms from the sea. It is usually gin clear and flows at a constant temperature of 15 Celsius. On my visit, there was a slight bloom which made spotting fish rather difficult. Bank side vegetation is lush but as part of his four year restoration project, with advice from the WTT, Ade has cut or removed over 400 trees, but used the timber imaginatively to create cover, or runs and improve weed growth, as well as planking over side streams and a spotting bridge halfway down the lower beat. In addition, he has pressure washed the margins to flush the silt and installed fly boards to encourage fly life.
This year’s mayfly hatch (May to mid June) was, in his word, ‘profuse’ which is probably why my visit was not that productive, because the fish were ‘full to bursting’ and my solitary but welcome brown came whilst the BBQ was alight, ahead of supper with our hosts, and in the gloom a 7” fish came to the net succumbing to a BWO.
September is a good month on the Andelle, as well.
Everything which I/we hoped for was delivered by this trip, and their website is a reliable and authentic representation of what you may expect (unlike so many…!!!) Guests are made to feel like friends the moment they arrive. Only a single party (in our case the two of us) will stay at one time. Our room was very comfortable; dinner is the freshest…local meat, home grown vegetables, Normandy cheeses, and delicious wines…and taken with Ade and Hedy, in our case, in the pigeon loft, or downstream on their island picnic table, and always accompanied by interesting conversation and plenty of laughter. They are terrific hosts.
One bit of warning. Don’t leave your favorite rod on the roof of your car, and forget you have. I will let your imagination roam….but, suffice to say, my favourite rod, a Loomis Trilogy, 3wt., did not return home with me, nor did my beautiful, Loomis Eastfork reel, which was attached to it!!
Do I/we recommend the Manoir….would I/we visit again…….”mais naturellement, mes amis de pêcheur”.