Things to do
Bricquebec is a traditional market town in the department of Manche, called the ‘garden of Normandy’, bordered with blue seas & boasting the gorgeous, golden beaches of the Atlantic coast as well as those of the English Channel & the famous D-Day landing sites. It is a well kept treasure that stretches down the Cotentin Peninsula to Mont St. Michel.
We are spoilt for choice with our local beaches; a drive of fifteen minutes brings you to the sheltered cove at Carteret on the Atlantic coast, with acres & acres of soft, golden sand & warm pools at low tide; great safe paddling for youngsters & perfect for sand castle construction.
There is a well marked 9km walk around the Cap de la Carteret for the energetic. The beach is overlooked by La Potiniere (www.la-potiniere-carteret.com) which does a delicious lunch or supper & has a big deep freeze full of ice creams for the small ones, with plenty of indoor & outdoor seating. It’s advisable to book in summer as it’s very popular. The little town is just down the road & more good restaurants include Restaurant Le Cap. (www.hotel-le-cap.fr) for excellent seafood.
Just five minutes drive up the coast is Hatainville; known locally as the Surfer’s beach & next door is Surtainville; another huge, long stretch of sand. Kite-surfing & wind surfing are very popular. Beyond these, you can drive right up to the Cap de la Hague, with it’s spectacular views & high, pebbly cliffs & beaches and more great cliff walks. In the other direction, down the Atlantic coast are Barneville & Portbail; both worth a visit for their beaches, restaurants, shops, walks & typical French ambience. For rainy days, there are several excellent indoor activity pools, with big slides, within 20 mins drive of La Lande.
At any time of year, most of our beaches can be found practically deserted, except for sea birds. They are mostly undeveloped & very clean. You can find the sea still warm enough for swimming in October (sans wet-suit!). When it’s too cold for the sea, there are several great indoor pools in the area with huge slides (tip for the boys; make sure you pack your ‘Speedo’ stylee-brief swimming trunks beacuse the French pools don’t accept the wearing of anything else! If you don’t have anything but shorts, you can buy new pairs at Decathlon; 15 mins drive away near Cherbourg. Fab, cheap sports shop.)
Areas of Interest
Daily boats go from Carteret Port during the summer, to Jersey which you can see from the French coast. Jersey is a wonderful island, which has a mix of both French and British cultures.
Manche is truly an area that has something for everyone from famous gardens and chateaux to the Bayeux Tapestry. All through the summer the big houses of Normandy host garden fairs and open days; we can advise you of dates. St Mere Eglise is 25 minutes drive from La Lande & just beyond is Utah Beach, the start of the D-Day landing beaches.
Drive over to Caen, visit William the Conqueror’s castle and abbeys, see Pegasus bridge, the first place to be liberated on the 6th June 1944. Walk along the D Day landing beaches, and visit the town of Arromanches made famous by the Mulberry harbour. And while you are in the area, don’t forget the Bayeux Tapestry.
The famous French painter, Jean-Francois Millet’s house at Greville Hague is well worth a visit; a gorgeous, light, original Normandy house in a stunning location. Approx. half an hour from La Lande.
Towns throughout France hold weekly markets, selling locally produced exquisite French cheeses, meats & wine, fresh fruit & veg. Brocantes (antique fairs), vide greniers (literally translates as ‘loft sales’ or better known as car boot sales to the British) & fairs can be found all over the place; admittedly more in the spring & summer than in the winter, but there are plenty of activities year-round. Bricquebec’s own market is one of the biggest in the region & takes place on a Monday. Valognes market is also enormous & very busy on a Friday. Barneville-Carteret; Saturday.
Girafou Indoor Gamepark: 1300 square metres of ball parks and slides open 14:00 to 19:00 Wed, Sat & Sun, everyday in school holidays and also bank holidays. Located between Caen & Ouistreham; approximately 1 hour 15 mins drive from La Lande, www.girafou.com Tel: 02 31 53 72 68.
There are several Horse Riding stables locally. Along the coast line there are Windsurfing clubs, as well as beach Sailing. Further afield, Normandy has about forty golf courses, which are very rarely crowded (golf is not as popular in France as it is in the UK ). For the active & brave there is ‘Forest Adventure’ at St Sauveur Le Vicomte, just down the road from Bricquebec; treetop climbing for children & adults; www.forestadventure.fr.
Jurques Zoo Park: More than 500 animals in 15 hectares of grounds. Play parks for children, shows, restaurant, safari animals and rare species in one of France’s most visited parks. At Jurques, between Caen and Vire (region 14). www.zoodejurques.fr Tel: 02 31 77 94 12.
Saint Martin Animal Park: Animals of 30 species from 5 continents in 15 hectares of wooded parkland. Pony rides for children. At Montaigu-la-Brisette, 25 minutes drive from La Lande, past Valognes on the Tatihou road. A gorgeous little park, open in the afternoons from 2pm. You can buy popcorn to feed the animals on the way around….but do save some for the pot bellied pigs, who are one of the last exibits & were so disappointed when we had none left to give! www.zoomontaigu.com Tel: 02 33 40 40 98
Parc Festyland: Fun park for kids. Viking ship roller coasters, aqua park, jousting and much more. Ragnarok, a Viking battle, is held every day in July and August. In Bretteville sur Odon (region 14) near Caen. Just over an hour or so drive from La Lande – www.festyland.com
Manche enjoys a maritime climate (a degree or two warmer than the UK, in general), rich in cultural heritage with plenty of museums, (in addition to the world war II museums) including the childhood home of Christian Dior; the only museum in France dedicated to a fashion designer.
Normandy is renowned for its trotting horses, with several racetracks to visit. One of France’s 20 National Studs (Haras) is situated 45 minutes away in St Lo, and these magnificent stables house 60 stallions of varying breeds. During summer months there is a daily stallion parade.
The old 8th century Benedictine Abbey at Mont St. Michel, France’s second most popular tourist destination after Paris, is approx. an hour & a half’s drive south. It’s is a small village built on a granite rock ½ a mile from the mainland in the Bay of St. Michel. A raised causeway links the village to the mainland during low tide. During high tide it is approached via boat. Slightly further on is the town of St. Malo with it’s 14th century castle. Some of our recent American visitors to La Lande loved their day out there in October; it’s busy in the summer months but fairly quiet out of season.
The Cotentin National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty & offers spectacular bird watching, particularly at migration times in spring & autumn. There are a number of fantastic nature reserves, all easily accessible from La Lande. The network of disused railway lines, the Voie Vert (Green Route) starts just down the lane from our front door & offers miles of off-road, safe, gravelled tracks, ideal for biking, walking or riding horses.
St. Sauveur Forest (about 20 minutes drive from La Lande) is a lovely, peaceful place to walk, ride bikes or horses. It has an arboretum & well marked 5 km walk. We regularly spot deer, hares & red squirrels.
Cherbourg is just up the road & will meet most of your shopping needs, as well as having cinemas, a theatre & of course, the port. Most people just drive straight through it after leaving the ferry, but it’s got lots of history, many good shops, restaurants and two large hypermarkets. The old town has plenty of great street cafes with outdoor terraces from which you can sit & watch the world go by, whilst enjoying a glass of wine or a coffee.
If you feel more adventurous, then Paris is easily reached; only four hours away by car, or by train from Valognes (about 2 hours). Don’t forget Disneyland Paris & the fabulous Asterix park, which is 4 miles away from Disney. These are just a few of the places to visit.
There is so much to see & do here in Normandy that no matter how long your stay, there will always be something else you’ll wish you’d had time for. This info is just a start. Each town has it’s own tourist office & the French guides usually speak English offering a huge amount of information, maps & leaflets, as well as the info you can source yourself via the web. We can supply info as required. Caen is our nearest big city and the airport is an hour & fifteen by car.
Whatever you decide to do, we are sure you will have a wonderful holiday.