Okay, when people come over for a visit it can be tricky to decide where to send them. This is because there is so much to choose from. People don’t come to Normandy for the weather. If you do then I’m sorry to have to break it to you – you’re gonna need a refund. As I type it’s torrential rain just in time for the school run. Yes, we do see the sun and it can be glorious but this year and the back-end of last has been particularly dire. Now I have it on good authority that the Dordogne has been awful as well. Edit – today has been glorious!
Turning to where to send your visitors well, naturally, it will depend on whether or not they are arriving with or sans les enfants. My twin sisters and one brother-in-law don’t come with sprogs and have very specific needs. Firstly, twin 1 likes to write a fully fledged itinerary prior to travelling anywhere in the world. She has travelled extensively and she only gets 25 days off a year from her London city job. This work journey alone is probably worthy of an itinerary – numerous delays, shortage of carriages – how’s that privatisation working out for us? Stop it. I said no politics. So, without further ado, here’s where they went and I have to say, with the exception of Rennes, capital of Brittany, they pretty much did it all:-
Ok slightly controversial one this. What that red barn looking building with horns we pass on the way to somewhere more exotic? Yarp. Home to the finest French cuisine. I’m kidding but if you really want a taste of the ‘real France’ then this place is authentic. That’s because French people queue to get their fix of American Burgers, 1950s dining, padded red seats, numerous pictures of native americans and totem poles to boot.
It’s better than the harvester (like as if that would even be hard – granted the seafood sauce on croutons is nice but that’s it) the service is normally quick and the food is good old fashioned standard fare – ribs, famous bacon burgers, nachos etc. Think a good Wetherspoons pub and you’re on the money. Loved by kids and adults alike and opens at 6pm when they’re normally ‘starving’. You know you’re in a proper decent town if it has a Buffalo Grill.
The clue is in the title – although even I said “what these horses can only trot?!” How the jockeys manage this I don’t know. If the horse does more than that they get disqualified.
Now, my sisters are keen horse riders. They’ve got the gear, they’ve got the horses, a horse box, horsey friends, do dressage and judge events. You get the picture. They’re horsey proper. Oh, and without fail every year, they frequent Ascot and those types of affairs. So I did wonder if the Hippodrome trotting would be right up their street but turns out it exceeded expectations.
Firstly, it only costs 3 euros to get in (it’s open twice a month) and it really is guess how much you’ll get back on the betting front. For instance, my son’s horse came in (2 euros each way) and we won 30 euros and another time my sister got about 2 euros. Go figure. But that’s the fun of it. There’s a sausage (of course – a French staple at any event) and chip van outside, bouncy castle for the kids, cheap drinks that can be taken (glass and everything) outside onto the terraces. Plus you can mingle with the horses should you so desire. It’s a fun afternoon out and I would highly recommend it. Plus kids go free.
Well worth the visit before it goes off to the UK. This is where my sister discovered that William the Conqueror was, in fact, French. This was greeted with much hilarity and provided a good source of entertainment for the rest of the day. I kind of wished I got the headsets. so if you want to make more of it, I would suggest you get those. There does seem to be a lot of finger-pointing in the tapestry! That being said it is an amazing work of art, the colours still look fresh, albeit a simple palette selection of muted tones. There is no photography allowed but my sister did capture it without flash on her phone. She has since left the country and I do not have a forwarding address. I shall write more on Bayeux as I really loved this town and it is perfectly placed for exploring other areas in Normandy.
Perfectly placed from Bayeux we headed to the British d-day landing beach of Arromanches and the famous Mulberry Harbour. This was brought over from the UK to create a manmade harbour. Clever or what? This really reminded us of Cornwall and we had a lovely walk along the front and then took the hill climb walk up to the top to see the memorial.
Feeling quite the intrepid tourist explorers, my sisters felt that a visit to the d-day landing beach of Omaha was not a bridge too far and headed that way. Unfortunately they arrived too late as the memorial was closing. A rooky mistake for me as host – check the closing times. It’s easy to forget that these cemeteries do close. On the way home, Mr Normandy stopped off at the Jerusalem war cemetery. It turns out this is the smallest British cemetery in France.
Golf for two – not content with walking miles and miles in the rain around our country lanes – my sister and her husband decided a round of golf was in order. The itinerary was changed at various times to accommodate the weather. They paid 65 euros which included a small licence fee and had a lovely time especially in the club house!
A lovely walk – right next to the Golf in Vire. Excellent in the summer as well. You can hire a pedalo, pretend you’re at the beach on the strip of sand, run, jog, cycle and generally enjoy your surroundings.
I’ve spoken about this before in the above link and funnily enough my sisters couldn’t find it! Actually if you are driving from le neufbourg you need to look right, just as you head into Mortain, as the trees can cover it. Although that said, there are signs which say grande cascades, parking etc but yeah going to give them the benefit of the doubt!
Well a trip to Normandy wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the second most visited attraction in the whole of France. We did avoid Easter Monday as we were told it would be heaving – however, a friend of mine did visit on this day and said it was fine. My sister’s got there early on a Friday – 9.30 am and by the time they left for lunch just outside (they shied away from the 35 euro omelette) it was getting very busy. Anyhow, they had a horse riding date at 2pm for 2 hours. Brilliant. So off they went riding. Next time they will do some riding near Omaha beach.
And finally, after I had finished at the doctors with Buddy Normandy (like where else would I be?!) to test for asthma (check), we headed over to Vire for some bowling fun. A great night to end a fantastic week. You will find all the info on the various tourist attractions by clicking the title links. You’re welcome.
Come back soon – we miss you!