YONVILLE-L'ABBAYE* (so called from a former Capuchin Abbey of which not even the ruins now exist) is a market-town lying about eight leagues from Rouen, between the Abbeville and the Beauvais roads, in a valley watered by the Rieule, a small tributary of the Andelle. Before joining the larger stream it serves to turn three mills, where ponds hold a number of trout which provide amusement on Sundays for the local youth who fish for them with rod and line.
The traveller leaves the main road at La Boissière, and continues straight on to the top of the hill of Leux, whence he gets his first view of the valley. The river in its winding course cuts it into two parts, each of which has a distinctive appearance. To the left is pasture, to the right arable. The grasslands extend beneath a range of low hills, ultimately joining up with the western section of the Bray grazing district. But eastwards, the level bottoms begin to rise gently and to expand their acreage in a great expanse of golden corn which stretches as far as eye can reach. The stream skirts the border of the pastures, and looks like a white line separating the colour of the meadows from that of the plough, so that the landscape resembles a spread cloak having a velvet collar trimmed with silver braid.
Walking on towards the horizon, one finds, at length, the oaks of the Argueil forest and the steep escarpment of the Saint-Jean uplands streaked by long red gashes. These are the marks left by the rain. The brick-red colouring, graven in thin lines upon the greyish background of the hillside, comes from the numerous iron- impregnated streams which flow through the surrounding country.
This is the meeting-place of Normandy, Picardy and the ÎIe-de- France, a bastard land where the accents of the people and the contours of the ground are characterless. The worst cheeses of the whole Neufchâtel district are made here, and farming is an expensive business, because much manure is needed to enrich a friable soil mostly composed of sand and pebbles.
Until 1835 there was no practicable route into Yonville, but about