Our chauffer will collect us in Paris and drives us to Normandy. Mid-way, we will stop for lunch in the 17th century Château de Brécourt. Listed as a historical monument, it is an exceptional site. We will lunch here in the atmosphere from another époque where the courses on the menu are from recipes originally created by chefs from the “Grand Siècle” (the 19th century). This will be the first event of many. You will meet your guide and fellow travelling partners, while we introduce the programme for your week of exploring in Normandy and address questions regarding the journey.
Pacy sur Eure – Château de Brécourt – Lunch
After a brief tour of the Château’s park, we will begin our discovery of le Pays Normand by continuing on to the village of Lyons la Fôret, a member of the celebrated “les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (the Most Beautiful Villages of France. We will stop to admire the dovecot houses, the ancient covered market, the Eglise de Saint Denis, the house of the impressionist composer Maurice Ravel. Then it’s on our way, direction – la Mer (the sea) – at the coast of Etretat you will be able to be in awe of one of the most photogenic cliffs in Europe. In Etretat, we will find our charming Hôtel-Restaurant, Le Donjon, ideally placed at the uppermost point of the village to provide maximum viewing of the cliffs; the quality of the gastronomy here is designed to enchant. Here we will be introduced to the terroir, cuisine and cheeses of the region. We will spend our first night here, after enjoying just a few of the wonders of the sea proposed by the chef for dinner.
Etretat – Le Donjon / Domaine St Clair – Dinner, Night and Breakfast
In the morning, after a short trip along the coast, we will arrive in Fécamp where we visit the Palais Bénédictine. This is an astonishing monument celebrating the industrial glory of the city, the port and the palace of the Dukes of Normandy. We return to the left side of the estuary of the Seine to pass over another majestic Normandy bridge before stopping in the romantic little port, Honfleur, which has been the inspiration for countless painters and poets in the recent past. In one of the auberge at the port surrounded by the sea and the cries of the port seagulls, we will stop to taste our first “cidre normand” (Normandy cider).
Honfleur – Entre Terre et Mer – Lunch
After our meal, we will take time to walk in the footsteps of the fishermen of the region and discover this magically charming place. Then we will pass through Deauville, home of the world famous horse races and casino, to sample the town’s chic sporting ambiance, visits a few of its luxury boutiques and marvel at the casino by the sea. We then continue along the coast to marvel at the grandiose beaches that are the backdrop of this city’s world renowned reputation.
Then on to the city of Lisieux, where we visit the Basilica of St. Therese. This monument of spectacular wealth was built in 1929 in honour of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The Basilica of Lisieux is the second largest pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes. We will finish the day in a charming Norman village and have dinner nearby.
Cambremer – Domaines les Marronniers – Night and Breakfast : Crevecoeur en Auge – Auberge du Cheval Blanc – Dinner
We then head to Bec Hellouin, another representative of the most beautiful villages of France and lunch. You will enjoy a peaceful pastoral setting far removed from any hustle and bustle when we arrive at the Auberge de l’Abbaye, a former coaching inn from the 18th century, built in the half timbered Normand style. Then back to our journey.
Bec Hellouin – Auberge de l’Abbaye – Lunch
After lunch, we will take the time to walk in this beautiful village to visit the Benedictine Abbaye Notre Dame du Bec, founded in 1034. Made up of a series of amazing and majestic buildings erected throughout the second millennium, it’s buildings and grounds are worth the visit.
Then we take the road to Camembert, the village which gave its name to the famous Norman cheese. At Camembert, we stop at the cheese monger Durand, a traditional cheese factory where we will discover the principles of making this famous French symbol of gastronomy.
The visit will finish our touring for the day passing through Beuvron en Auge, another member of the Most Beautiful Villages of France club, where we must take a moment to admire a town that looks like it just stepped out of a fairy tale and have dinner at the most famous Pavé d’Auge where chef Jerome Bansard draws a path through the “terroir” of the land of the Auge and its Nomand roots.
Then it is back to Cambremer for the evening.
Beuvron-en-Auge – Le Pavé d’Auge – Dinner : Cambremer – Domaines les Marronniers – Night and Breakfast
After a last breakfast at the Domaines les Marronniers, with our luggage loaded in the car, we will go west to the discovery of another Normandy.
But before leaving the country called le Pays d’Auge, we will stop at Livarot to visit the cheese museum and works of Graindorge. Since 1910, the secrets of Noman cheese have been transmitted from father to son. Today Graindorge is the last family making all three AOC Nomandy cheeses (Appellation of Origin, Normandy). And even if the methods have changed, the spirit itself remains: tradition, simplicity and authenticity. From the viewing galleries, you will watch the making of these cheeses and observe their “affinage” or ripening process. In the exposition room, you’ll discover the story of Norman cheeses and taste the greats: Pont l’Évêque, Livarot, Camembert de Normandie AOC.
Then we will hit the road for the journey towards the Mont Saint Michel. We pass through Falaise, birthplace of William the Conqueror and see the castle which still dominates the city, then on through Vire – famous for its specialty sausage called Andouille de Vire – where we stop for lunch in a traditional local restaurant.
Vire – Le Vrai Normand – Lunch
After lunch, we will reach Mont Saint Michel. World renowned, this exceptional place is classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. As the images of the postcards appear in reality before your eyes, our arrival on the road to island will not fail to amaze you. After a short stop at the hotel, we will climb a passageway to the top of the rock face to visit the Benedictine Abbey, where you will be able to take in the breathtaking beauty of the site. The richness and the extraordinary state of preservation of this monument – whose first stones were laid in the 10th century – are remarkable. Traversing the maze of halls, chapels, the Great Cloister, you will be assailed with a thousand years of history.
As we exit the Cathedral, we will look back to take in the view from outside the walls of the Abbey and all the fortifications that surround the island. Passing back through the narrow streets, stairways and roof gardens of this place unique, magical place full of history, we find our hotel, the Aubèrge of Mère Poulard, located just inside the medieval city of Mont Saint-Michel. The setting, their reputation for the sumptuous baked omelette and the charm of this small hotel are responsible for the conquest of a list of world renowned celebrities. No doubt we will also join the list.
After dinner you can explore the tiny streets and stairways, chase the ghosts of centuries past and marvel at the impressive illuminated performance displayed on the facades of the buildings of this island monument.
Mont Saint Michel – La Mère Poulard – Dinner, Night and Breakfast
We leave Mont Saint Michel in the early morning with one last look back to ensure that this was not a dream … then we rejoin the continent.
Our route will pass through Coutances, an important Celtic city since the 3rd century, destroyed by the Vikings in the 9th century and restored by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. We will stop to admire yet another impressive Cathedral, but one with a special allure. Visible from the island of Jersey, this Gothic cathedral of the 13th century was built around the existing 11th century Roman cathedral almost as if it were being given a new set of clothes.
Then we continue northward and arrive near the coast to reach Pirou Castle, a very well preserved relic of rare medieval Norman architecture, which is actually the oldest castle in Normandy, built in the 12th century to protect Coutances.
Just above Pirou, we will stop at the newly opened, charming Ferme des Mares in Saint Germain sur Ay, where we will lunch sampling the terroir of the coast of western Normandy. Then we continue on to cross the Peninsula of Cotentin toward Isigny sur Mer.
Saint Germain sur Ay – La Ferme des Mares – Lunch
Isigny sur Mer, is famous the world over for its butter, cream, and cheeses (Mimolette, Pont-l’Évêque, Camembert) made by the Isigny Sainte Mère co-operative, but it is its’ most celebrated product we come to discover – caramels. We will visit the specialty house of Caramels d’Isigny where you will be initiated into the world of caramel.
After the visit, we cross the hinterland of Bessin via the Castle of Colombières, a splendid fortress of the 14th century where the Count Etienne de Maupeou d’Ableiges and his children, owners of the place will show us the grounds, the moat and the main rooms.
Then we stop at the Castle of Balleroy, a typical 17th century style building designed by the architect François Mansart, and made famous by Malcolm Forbes and his Hot Air Balloon Museum, which we will visit before arriving at our hotel.
In formula “Terroir” we will stay in a charming hotel, near downtown, where you can enjoy the harmony and serenity of the park as well as the generosity of the table.
Bayeux – Château de Bellefontaine – Dinner, Night and Breakfast
In formula “Domaines”, we will stay a few miles from Bayeux, in a beautiful luxury hotel of character where the cuisine of chef Didier Robin will seduce even the most demanding.
Port en Bessin – Château la Chenevière – Dinner, Night and Breakfast
In this part of Normandy, it would be inconceivable to ignore recent history and the Allied landing on Norman beaches. Our morning will be devoted to the memory of the many soldiers who stormed these beaches on June 6, 1944 and sacrificed their lives to liberate France.
We begin with the memorial at Omaha Beach and the impressive military cemetery where lie close to ten thousand Americans who fell during the first battles for control of the Normandy coast.
Then we will visit the museum of the landing at Arromanches, where you can still see the remains of the huge artificial harbour built to transport the troops and their equipment who began to push the Germans all the way back to Berlin.
We have lunch in a charming village nearby in a farm-fortified manor house dating from the 13th century, which will include local products selected to soothe lingering emotions and our hunger.
Creuilly – La Rançonnière – Lunch
After a well deserved calvados, we head for beautiful nearby city of Bayeux where we will spend the afternoon discovering all of its many attractions.
We will admire the famous Bayeux Tapestry, whose impressive reality exceeds imagination and commands respect. Classified as a “Memory of the World” by UNESCO, this 70 meters (230 feet) long embroidery was completed in the 11th century to celebrate the conquest of England at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 by William, seventh Duke of Normandy, otherwise known as William the Conqueror. The history, executed in textile, is attributed to be the work of noble Saxon women who had chosen to spend their life in the convents of either Winchester or Canterbury and upon its completion, it was transported to hang in the Cathedral of Bayeux.
Leaving the museum, we will be able to see the Cathedral for which this tapestry was designed. It was dedicated in 1077 in the presence of William the Conqueror who became King of England. As in Coutances, contributions made Gothic 13th to 15th century surround the original Romanesque structure.
We can then walk to the Market Square, stroll through the medieval town with narrow streets lined with old houses with wood sides, from mansions to towers of the 15th and 16th centuries, large houses and elegant mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries.
In formula “Terroir”, being in town, we will enjoy dinner at a restaurant run by lovers of regional cuisine delivered with up to date intelligence and creativity. A short digestive walk will bring us back to the castle through the old city.
Bayeux – Le Pommier – DinnerBayeux – Château de Bellefontaine – Night and Breakfast
In formula “Domaines” we will dine in our hotel at Port en Bessin.
Port en Bessin – Château la Chenevière – Dinner, Night and Breakfast
For our last day, we will spend the morning at Caen. In this city full of history, starting from the ducal castle, we will follow in the footsteps of William the Conqueror to the Abbaye aux Hommes, then through the streets towards the Abbaye aux Dames, both founded in 1060’s, then return to the vicinity of the ducal palace, where our car awaits.
Not far away, we will stop at the Chateau de Breuil, a exceedingly representative monument of Norman architecture, which is also one of the most prestigious distilleries of the world famous Calvados. After lunch, we visit the cellars and the production site and sample this liquid gold. And for those who wish to maintain a liquid souvenir of Normandy, you will be able to do so under the guiding hand of a master distiller.
Breuil en Auge – Château de Breuil – Lunch
Sadly Paris awaits and we will bid you adieu when we reach there two hours later. We hope the images, tastes and emotions you have experienced from this week of exploration in le pays Normand were a genuine pleasure, which will last you a lifetime.
Golf in Etretat, Deauville or Omaha beach
Hot air ballooning
The land of cows, the sea and all things butter & cream, this wonderful, rustic but spectacular region offers world famous cheeses such as Pavé d'Auge, Camembert, Pont l'Évêque, Livarot, butters, crepes, seafood, ciders and Calvados.
|€/pers 7 days||Guided 8 per||Guided 4 per||Self Guided|
"La Fromagerie de l'Houssaye was definitely a highlight of our tour. A most educational and enlightening visit. Loved it! And even though we were on a cheese tour, the non-cheese related experiences were outstanding memories as well."
Mary Ann & James Macie, Atlanta, GeorgiaView Testimonials
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