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7 Days in Normandy, France


For those of you who may follow me on social media, you may have seen that during the start of August, I was in Normandy in Northern France for a week. My previous holidays to Amsterdam and Italy this year have been more city breaks, which involved lots of running around exploring and although enjoyable, weren’t to take down time. Being tucked away in the French countryside in a quaint little cottage was utterly relaxing and left me so completely refreshed.

 Boarding the ferry at 5:30am, we drove from our little B&B located in Dover, snuggled in sweaters complete with a Frenchie eager and excited in the back of the car. Both of us were a little travel sick on the ferry but as soon as we hit the road in France armed with a picnic, we were all set.

Where We Stayed 


 After four hours in the car, pulling up to our cottage at Chateau de Canchy could not have put a bigger smile on my face! We were greeted by our host, who was all set to leave for Paris but managed to show us around the cottage and the grounds before she left. We were left open-mouthed when she said we had the entire grounds to ourselves for the week and they were simply breath taking. The Chateau had been previously used in WWII to house soldiers during the war and attached to the property was a church with its own cemetery. The cottage had a huge open fire, mezzanine bedroom and decorated with a classic French touch. 


 

 The bells would ring every morning (and on the hour) and they were such a pleasant sound to be woken to. I grew so used to that being the only sound we would hear, other the occasional cow in the neighbouring field or a wild bird. Early in the morning or later as dusk fell, we would see bunny rabbits hopping around near the cottage and beautiful butterflies landing on the lavender which grew next to the cottage.



Omaha Beach

Although it was an ultra-relaxing holiday, we also managed to soak up a whole lot of history – and Normandy certainly is full of it. Located approximately a 10 minute drive from where we were staying,  was Omaha Beach, one of the five D-Day landing beaches where the U.S invasion forces landed on June 6, 1944. Here, they were met with great German resistance and sadly, a large loss of life.



There is a definite vibe on the beach, even whilst enjoying the beauty of the French coastline, the events that took place there can still be felt. When you’re done exploring the beach, you can take a short walk up to the Normandy American Cemetery, which contains the graves of 9387 of the military dead. There is also the “Walls of the missing” which contains the names of the 1557who were never found.
The sun shone the day we visited the beach, yet I found it poignant how cloud hung over the cemetery that day.



Bayeux

Bayeux is a beautiful little town that looks like something from a fairytale. Filled with cobbled streets, tea rooms and nic-nac shops, it's a lovely place to visit for a stroll and very dog friendly! 


Another must see of course is Cathedral Notre-Dame de Bayeux, a cathedral that has survived for over 900 years during countless conflicts and wars. The gargoyles staring down at you and the imposing gothic spires, it really is a beautiful structure to see. After dinner one evening, we took a walk through the cathedral and admired it’s many stained glass windows, sculptures and monuments. At one point, we headed down into the crypt, but emerged shortly after when we smelt something pretty off-putting (and I was kind of creeped out).


The Tree Of Liberty

It was after dinner that same evening when we visited the cathedral courtyard, that is home to the monumental “Tree Of Liberty”. The tree dates back 216 years to the French Revolution and boasts a wonderful light show throughout the summer months, beginning at dusk.


At around 9.30pm we arrived in the courtyard, worrying we were late as it was already packed with a good 100-200 people. It didn’t actually begin until around 10.30pm (dusk is when the show starts) and the lights dimmed and suddenly everyone fell silent. From all four sides of the tree, a laser show was projected onto the giant tree. Moving patterns and symbols followed an array of colours, accompanied by musical pieces which told stories of freedom. As I watched the show, I felt almost in a dream-like state and as the lights and sounds filled the sky, I felt completely in my own bubble, absorbed in the spectacular performance. It really was a wonderful experience and was one of the most fascinating, moving things I’ve ever seen.
 We happened to see the advert for the show outside the cathedral and decided to travel the short journey into Bayeux to check it out. It cost nothing to attend and yet had such an impact on us.

Bayeux Tapestry

Obviously, you can’t very well visit Bayeux and not see the world famous tapestry! 
 It cost around 9 euros for entry into the exhibit and on arrival you’re handed a little voice player which tells the tale depicted on the tapestry. The tapestry itself is almost 70 metres long and depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. The final scenes show the Battle of Hastings and shows some pretty gory scenes.

Les Volets Roses Tea Rooms

It was late morning when we left the tapestry exhibit, so we decided to head for some late breakfast at a quaint little tea room we had spied the day before. It's located adjacent to the cathedral and has a beautiful exterior filled with windmills and pretty pastel decor that can't be missed. 



It really is the sweetest tea room, complete with a 1950s soundtrack and the most delicious flavoured espresso coffee. 

German Nazi Battery

My favourite trip of the holiday was visiting an underground nazi gun nagger complex, which was unearthed in 2006. I managed to speak with the founders son, who confirmed his father was adamant there was something to be unearthed but locals believed no such place existed.



  It wasn't particularly costly to visit, I'm sure it was around €6. Upon arrival we were handed a map and followed the trail which was made up of bunkers, ammo storage, offices and even an underground hospital. The trenches surrounding the building reach up to a mile and a half. 



Although we visited the Omaha Overlord Musuem, I felt that this place was so authentic and gritty, really bringing it home what soldiers were faced with and the environment they were in. On the way out we visited the little shop and purchased some bullet shells which has been uncovered from the site. 




My trip to Normandy was so relaxing and I came home feeling invigorated, after a week of bare skin and fresh, clean air. I also was able to learn more about an important time in history and have a wonderful time with my two favourites. 



Thanks for reading! 


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