The Independent Traveler's Newsletter                               PAGE THREE
L'Hermione Returns to America!

L' Hermione.  Photo courtesy of Association Hermione-La Fayette

authentically reproduced frigate, Hermione, an exact duplicate of the one that brought Général Marquis de La Fayette to the American colonies in the late 1770s, will arrive again at our shores ~ a voyage of 7500 nautical miles that will take four months.  This amazing reconstruction, built entirely as it would have been in the 1700s and entirely by volunteers, is scheduled to arrive in Yorktown, Virginia, between the 5th and 7th of June 2015.

La Fayette (the family spelling of Lafayette) and l'Hermione participated in the battle of Yorktown, the first stop on this voyage, which was decisive in the United States War of Independence.  The other ports of call and the dates are listed below.

In 2011, we visited Rochefort where the frigate was being constructed, and this article in our Autumn 2011 newsletter showed the work in progress.  We were pleased to join the Association Hermione-La Fayette and make a donation enabling us to have our names on the Hermione flag.  Now, proven seaworthy over the past year, the Hermione will make its maiden Atlantic voyage, departing from Rochefort to the Canary Islands, and then it will sail from the Canary Islands to the Chesapeake Bay ~ 17 years after the construction began.

The Voyage of the Hermione

The Schedule:

  • Yorktown, 5 to 7 June
  • Mount Vernon at anchor - June 9
  • Alexandria, 10 and 11 June
  • Annapolis, 15 to 17 June -  The presence of La Fayette here is reported in 1781.  Not only was this city in the interior of the Chesapeake Bay, but it served as the capital of the United States in 1783 after the Treaty of Paris.
  • Baltimore, 19 to 21 June.  La Fayette visited several times during the Spring of 1781 and the summer of 1784.
  • Philadelphia 25 to 28 June, with Tall Ships America
      New York
  • New York, 2 to 4 July, with Tall Ships America.  New York was the capital of the United States from 1785 to 1790.  It was also the last city to be liberated by the army of George Washington at the end of the War of Independence in 1783.
  • Greenport, Long Island, 6 and 7 of July, with Tall Ships America
      Rhode Island
  • Newport, 8 and 9 July.  It was in Newport on the 11th of July, 1780, the landing of 5,500 men constituting the troops of Rochambeau, that La Fayette will join as a special envoy of General Washington, July 25, 1780.
  • Boston, 11 and 12 July.  It was Boston where the American Revolution began, and it was Boston where General La Fayette landed the 28 of April 1780 aboard l'Hermione.
  • Castine 14 and 15 July on its way to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada where it will be on the 18th of July.
The Hermione will return to Brest, France, where La Fayette landed on February 6, 1779 at the end of his first American campaign.  The ship will proceed from there to the island of Ile d'Aix in the Charente-Maritime département before returning to its home port of Rochefort.

We hope that as many of you as possible will be able to see the Hermione for yourselves, and we encourage you to do so.  This is an important piece of the unbroken friendship between France and the United States ~ an alliance that has lasted more than 238 years ~ and it represents the incredibly close bond between the Marquis de La Fayette and General George Washington.

Association Hermione-La Fayette logo
[We want to thank the Association Hermione-La Fayette for its dedication over many years to make this ship a reality.
  The craftsmanship, hand work, authenticity of materials and design, and the tens of thousands of hours devoted to
 this noble cause by all who participated is greatly appreciated by those of us who have followed its progress over the years.
 Appreciated, too, are the many thousands of people  who donated money to fund the project. 
We thank the Association for providing us with the information to pass along to our readers.]

THE BOOKSHELF:   A Mule Across the Water:  Real Food in Sussex and Normandy
a book by Rob Silverstone

The December 2004 issue of this newsletter included an excerpt from Rob Silverstone's book, A Mule in Rouen, his recounting of the time he spent in Normandy.  For those of you who may not have seen this snippet from his book, click here to enjoy a few moments with Rob's lovely prose.  We didn't say it then, but we should have:  he is a chef by vocation, but he has successfully joined it with his avocation - writing - to create enjoyable books that take you A Mule Across the Water cover - a book by Rob Silverstoneimmediately to Upper Normandy, France - and, in this case, Sussex, England.

A Mule Across the Water  begins in a comedy club in Brighton and a seafood restaurant in Dieppe, and his descriptions of the clientele and  waitresses provide instant images for the reader, transporting one happily into each scene.  Of course, menus and food play a major part in each story. The book lingers awhile in each place and then dashes across the Channel for more of Rob's adventures.

Of course, no visit to Normandy would be complete without ingesting the cheese.  Rob writes, "Pont l'Evêque and Livarot are both good when warm as freshly-baked bread.  But the prize cheese is Neufchatel, named after the little market town in the heart of the Pays de Bray.  Neufchatel is a taste explosion, blowing the roof off your head.  Patched up and sedated, you have to go back for more.  The perfect cheese is meltingly ripe, maturity taking the edge off the cordite, leaving your tongue intact.  The last Neufchatel I bough smelt and tasted of the farmyard.  A live, almost carnal food, rich and deeply authentic.  Tucked away in the hills near Bellencombre, snowy white goats command your affection as they clamour and roll in the hay.  This is where the Bazin family makes their famous 'chèvre'.  Ladled into moulds, and rolled in ash, it bears no resemblance to the sharp, acidic mass-produced logs.  Sun-kissed on a summer picnic, the skin barely manages to contain its creamy centre.  If ever there was a cheese like nectar, then this is it."

His humor won't escape you either - he can describe an ordinary scene, and you will laugh out loud.  Rob tells of a time when protesters were burning tires on the bridges across the Seine.  With traffic backed up for miles, those sitting at café terraces shook their heads in resignation, "resignation tinged with pride at La France, a refined state of order always bubbling on the edge of rebellion."  You find yourself in the company of the author in offbeat little places, definitely not frequented by the tourist trade.  He introduces you to obscure food shops on both sides of the Channel, on ferry trips from Newhaven or Brighton to Dieppe, into pubs and tiny eateries, to an oyster farm, a renovated barn now a theatre in Brighton - even a Scallop Festival. 

Rob rides a bicycle from place to place on both sides of the Channel, which, after one Brighton excursion, makes you admire his stamina.  "The bus fuming in gridlock, inching forward painfully with each jarring squeal of the brakes.  Catch a lung full of the black exhaust; it's got to do you good".  The book includes three better bike routes that follow railway lines - from Polegate to Heathfield and Shoreham to Guildford in Sussex, and Dieppe (partially on the coastal road) to Rouen. He is also fond of trains, and, of course, boats.

There are excellent black and white photos - Rob's other passion - in this book of 254 pages. Beginning with Chapter 3 the book is dedicated to myriad specialty food shops where you can buy everything from fish to ice cream, outdoor markets in hamlets and villages, producers of wines and beers of Sussex, a few good restaurants he personally recommends, and Les Produits du Terroir de Haute Normandie - something very close to his heart as Rob is a strong believer in healthy food and nutrition and using only fresh, local products for his cooking. 

Chapter 5 offers a glimpse into Rob the chef - it is a treasure trove of his recipes, again based on local produce: Soups and Starters (Celeriac and apple soup is one), Meat (do try leg of lamb cooked in hay), Fish (Cod mornay), and Desserts (Crêpes Normandes). And there is even a 12-page section on Vegetarian recipes which, we were happy to hear recently, is cuisine that is finally catching on in France.  Try Aunt Val's Cheese & Chutney Tart.

This is the third in the "Mule" series, and thoroughly enjoyable.  Rob has a real writing talent combined with the ability to see the funny side of almost any situation.  It will especially appeal to anyone interested in food and who might like a little guidance to find those out-of-the-way specialty shops and restaurants along the Channel.   In addition to this book, he has also published A Mule In Rouen - A Discovery of Upper Normandy which we mentioned earlier, and (for you Anglophiles) A Mule in Brighton - A Taste of the Downs

                                                                                                                                                                        -  Editor

Rob Silverstone worked for many years as a chef in Oxford, Copenhagen and Nice, as well as completing a 'stage' in Michel Guérard's
3 Michelin star kitchen at Eugénie-les Bains.   Guérard was the European pioneer of light and healthy cuisine.  Rob then became a lecturer in 
food and nutrition at Bournemouth and Brighton Universities, and in 1990 Macmillan published his book 'Healthy Eating - a guide for chefs and caterers'.
He continued to write extensively on contamination in the food chain and the emergence of vegetarian and organic food.

In 1994 he opened 'The Cook & Fiddle' on the Brighton seafront, using fish from the local fishermen, Sussex High Weald cheeses
and Cuckmere Valley wine. In 2000 Rob moved to Rouen in Normandy and the discovery of the region's  art, 
history and cuisine provided the inspiration for A Mule in Rouen.  It was his love of authentic recipes that prompted him to explore 
the delights of Normandy.  That book presented his impressions and experiences and his
struggle to open and run a restaurant beside the little river Robec in the old quarter of Rouen.

Now the third in the series is yours to enjoy.

Order your copy from  Contact Rob directly at

[Publisher:  Vanguard Press, Cambridge.  ISBN 978 1 84386 759 3] 



Or, click here to buy any of Rob Silverstone's books

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