We started this blog to answer the question ‘is there more to Normandy than Monet, WW2, Calvados and Cheese?’ and are still enjoying looking for the answer. Along the way we have come up with five sure fire ways to miss out on some of the best that Normandy has to offer, so don’t make the mistakes we did and read on…
1) Don’t stop when you see a sign on the roadside that says ‘Calvados Pommeau’.
Pull over and you may find yourself invited into a medieval manor house and plied with glasses of beautifully aged Calvados by a roaring log fire.
Or clink glasses of the freshest apple juice with a farmers’ very charming and polite children, in a spotless stone Manche farmstead.
There are a thousand reasons to stop and they all end with a car boot filled with bottles of happiness.
2) Stick to the big D-Day museums.
All along the north coast are smaller, more intimate museums stuffed with artefacts, history and experience.
Pop along to the Grand Camp Maisy Battery and see how an Englishman’s obsession is excavating a maze of history.
Or tour the tiny museum in Arromanches on Blv Gilbert Longuet, put together by a young man who started collecting militaria as a child.
3) Don’t try anything you don’t recognise on the menu.
And if nothing else will have some grand stories of Fruits-de-la-Mer platters that waved back at you or the real flavour of the pretty sounding Andouillette sausage ….
4) Avoid the local Vide Grenier and Foire-a-tout sales
What ?! and miss out on some real Normandy brocante bargains?!
And lot of it has been bought at the local annual village sales, for peanuts.
Keep an eye out on our pages for events and for signs that pop up around villages just before their event.
5) Stick to the plan
You have been looking forward to your Normandy trip for months. At last a chance to see Monet’s Garden in Giverny, climb Mont Saint Michel, walk the D-day beaches…. The sat nav is primed and every day planned to the last detail.
Your ideas are probably all excellent but before you have visited Normandy there are a couple of things not in the brochure you need to know A) Normandy is vast, you could spent a lot of your time in a car, and B) there is a lot more to see than the ‘top 10 places in Normandy’ list in the Sunday papers.
It takes willpower but try to leave time to aimlessly explore. Drive around the Pays d’Auge just stopping for lunch in a village that looks pretty and be rewarded with a leisurely meal of tasty local produce in the warm atmosphere of an ancient beamed restaurant.
Pick up a picnic of delicious Quiche Lorraine and cakes from the local patisserie (there is always a local patisserie) and after a quick trip to Paléospace visit Villers-sur-Mer beach to spend the day paddling and looking for fossils.
Or after exploring the local Manche brocantes relax on the endless sandy beaches at Carteret. Or just go back to that interesting looking place you zoomed past while on your way to Top Ten Normandy experience number 3 or 7 or ….
Don’t worry, all of those lovely things on your list will still be there another year (because you will be back). Just give yourself a chance to enjoy the surprises and the unexpected that become the moments you treasure.