Pont de Normandie

This is the upstart younger brother of the Pont de Tancarville that I was talking about. It opened in 1995, and is over 2km long. This photo gives some sense of the rollercoaster-esque experience which is crossing this bridge (indeed there’s a smaller ‘pre-bridge bridge’ just out of shot which is itself quite something).

I spent a year in France just east of these two bridges (in a flat, that is. I wasn’t living rough). Despite Normandy’s outstanding natural beauty I wound up in a very small town, nothing too grim in itself, but situated right in the middle of the petro-chemical heartland downstream from Le Havre. (The town in question, Lillebonne, is shown here; the Pont de Normandie is the more westerly crossing over the Seine, marked as the N1029; the Pont de Tancarville is marked as the N182).

It really hit home when a fellow teacher was driving us both to a larger town one evening (I forget where now, but somewhere east, in the general direction of Rouen. This is the same teacher/route that got me into Mister Eddy). Not long after setting off, I looked out of my window, and, in the dark, saw a number of lights.

“C’est quelle ville là-bas?” (What town’s that over there?) I asked, hopeful that there was somewhere close by with a little more of that certain special, um, ‘je ne sais quoi’ than Lillebonne itself.

“Euh, non… Ce n’est pas une ville, c’est une usine pétro-chimique” came the reply: “That’s not a town, it’s a petro-chemical refinery”.

You know that line in That’s Entertainment, “opening the windows and breathing in petrol”? I started my day that way more than once. That said, as well as being home to air-borne petrol, Lillebonne also housed a certain second-hand bookshop, so it certainly wasn’t all bad.


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  1. #1 by Mick Rocket on April 25, 2011 - 12:19 am

    Think I’ve been over this a couple of years ago on the way to Brittany – we all loved going over it, a memorable experience (shame about the toll though…)

  2. #2 by The Assommoir on April 25, 2011 - 3:49 pm

    It certainly is something special. As for the tolls, both on this bridge and in general on the French ‘autoroutes’ (anyone know what that is in Italian?), I don’t mind too much, given the almost idyllic driving environment you get in comparison to Britain.

    So long as you stay away from Paris’ Boulevard Périphérique, of course. Which is toll-free, and so doesn’t really strengthen my case, but anyway.

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