Getting Acquainted with Normandy



For 5 days (which wasn’t long enough )Philip and I explored Normandy securing hotels, restaurants, garden visits and excursions for a new tour to Normandy and Scotland  in May / June 2017.

Our French friends Jacque and Anny – who live in the Normandy countryside couldn’t  understand why ..when we went to visit towns we also checked out hotels!!
Gardens are our love and on this tour I intend to incorporate several. Our b and b garden was a delight and we often sat well into the evening out on the deck overlooking a rather lovely stream with a glass of wine and our computers !!
We soon found a little more confidence driving the extremely narrow roads, through many gorgeous villages, to some incredibily stunning gardens. The French love hedges and to a degree quite a bit of formality, but then the planting can then become more relaxed. Avenues of huge tress that must be extremely old line roadsides everywhere, just like in the South of France.
This region also has a long coastline so naturally Normandy can offer wonderful seafood especially oysters, scallops, shrimps and prawns. A Classic dish is mussels cooked in cream and served in a huge bowl with an equally huge bowl of chips!!!
Many regions have iconic historical sites that have become major tourist attractions. Mont Saint Michel is one of these. Sitting proudly just off the coast there is now a fleet of buses that transport visitors the 600m to the base of the island. This is the most visited historical site in France. Built and added to and getting higher and higher since the 8th century, it is perched high above the rushing incoming tide and is a good strenuous walk up thousands of steps to the Monastery and Abbey at the top.
We arrived very late in the afternoon and people were leaving in droves. I think this is often the best time to visit these places when the tourist buses have departed and they are pleasantly calm with a beautiful evening light.
Normandy of course was the chosen site where the Allies launched the successful invasion of German occupied France during  World War ll . Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy.
Normandy today has many monuments, museums, gravesides and events to commemorate the invasion. Loss of life, not only the military but the local civilians is hard to comprehend and cemeteries close to the landing beaches are very moving visits.
The city of Bayeux – which will be one of  our 3 nights stops  on the tour  was the first city to be liberated by the allied forces. But, it is also home of the Bayeux Tapestry which depicts the events leading up to the  Norman conquest of Britain. A very long time ago I used to teach embroidery and this has been a life long dream to visit the 70 m long miraculous Tapestry which is  still in wonderful condition . It ‘will’ be a visit on the tour.
A glass of Calvados and a tasting platter of creamy camembert is obligatory in this region which is very beautiful and has an abundance of gorgeous medieval villages / cities to visit. The food is delicious and the French are very particular about eating well.