(Yes, that’s Normandie as in French, sorry but I cannot bring myself to write Normandy, I think the y removes all the French glamour immediately.)
I had been thinking about traveling to that region of North-West France since a few years now, after seeing pictures of Honfleur and Deauville in some travel article, and falling in love with the coloured front row houses and vintage beach changing rooms. I also wanted to see the disappearing Mount Saint-Michel, but didn’t have time for that this time. (They say every time you travel, it’s better to leave some things off for a future visit 🙂 )
Giverny or the impressionist dream
If you come from Paris, as me and my sister did, I would recommend making a first stop by Giverny before heading towards the beach and visiting the Fondation Claude Monet. Especially if you’re coming in Spring. Remember those marvellous huge Water Lilies paintings? They were painted here.
Monet, one of my favorite painters, built his own garden with flowers that would grow all year long in front of his house. Once I saw the scenery, I realized that 2 hour-drive and the 40-minute waiting in line under the sun to get in were well worth it. I will let my pictures speak for themselves.
Unfortunately it wasn’t a good timing for the water lilies, but the whole experience was just fantastic. I can’t imagine a better placement for an impressionist painter than a house with this amazing garden. I could picture myself living surrounded by such a myriad of colours in the middle of nature. When I grow up I want a house just like that 🙂
Étretat or when the sea meets the power of earth
Again, following some captivating pictures I had seen online, we took our way to Étretat on the coast. Famous for its impressive cliffs that enclose a beautiful shingle beach (bring your hiking sandals if you wanna make it to the water or expect a painful barefoot ordeal), Étretat is well worth the detour.
If you are lucky enough to enjoy such a shiny and warm weather as we did, just lying there will bring you peace and allow for a quick and soothing nap. Depending on the tides, it is possible to walk under the arches sculpted on the cliffs, which was not the case when we got there. Anyway we could get close enough to enjoy the spectacle.
Deauville & Trouville or the savoir vivre
Following the coast, we came back to Deauville where we were staying. Famous for its Grand Casino, horse races and the American Film Festival, Deauville is one of the preferred destinations of the Parisian bourgeoisie that, already back in the XIXth century, turned the village into a high-class sea resort.
When the tides are low, the beach allows for an almost never ending walk to the water, bypassing striped changing rooms and parasols. Coming in spring instead of summer made all the difference, being able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the sea rather than an ocean of vacationers.
Its neighbor, Trouville-sur-mer, may not have all that glam and grandiloquence, but precisely, it appears to be more charming and picturesque. We enjoyed some delicious seafood and fish by the port and were lucky enough to admire the views of its beach.
By the way, in Trouville it was my first time to see a paying footbridge to cross the river. It may sound ridiculous to pay 50c, but believe me, it saves a good deal of time if you need to cross from or to Deauville.
I must say that everything, from the cleanness and emerging gardens of the streets, to its food and breathtaking views, Normandie was a beautiful surprise to me. If it wasn’t economically challenging, I would want to visit it longer soon. Allowing the time to stop by the small towns on the coast, the WWII invasion beaches, Rouen (and its famous cathedral painted by Monet) and, of course, Mount Saint-Michel. Hopefully soon 🙂
Have you ever visited Normandie, what did you think?