A Roadtrip through Normandy and Brittany
Another beautiful trip I've done 2 weeks ago so here's the itinerary!
We went to the North-Western part of France for 4 days so it was a pretty short roadtrip. I had to skip some places.. but I'm definitely coming back!
First the places we didn't have enough time for:
* Fécamps and the Palais Bénédictine
* Carnac megaliths
* The Southern part of Britanny
* Some (or a lot of) castles haha!
On Tuesday, after work, we drove to Caen. From Antwerp, this is only about 5h30.
On Wednesday, we visited the Mont-Saint-Michel.
Our next hotel was in Dol-De-Bretagne. Here we stayed a couple of nights.
On Thursday, we visited Fougères and it's castle. In the afternoon we went to the beautiful town of Cancale. In the evening we visited Saint-Malo and then we went to the hotel. Super close to the hotel, there's a massive menhir so we explored it as well. It's called Menhir de Champ-Dolent.
On Friday we visited Honfleur first and then went to Deauville. We wanted to enjoy the beach there but it was super windy... In the afternoon we drove to Etretat.
Since we didn't find another hotel to stay, we stayed at a b&b in Jumièges.
On Saturday, we visited the abbey of Jumièges and then the city of Rouen. We then drove to Amiens, since it was already a bit closer to home, had dinner and then drove back home. From Antwerp, Rouen is about 4h away. Amiens is 1 hour and a half away from Rouen and on the way home. From there, it's only 3 hours to go back to Antwerp.
1) Wednesday in Mont-Saint-Michel
We parked our car at the big parking lot and then went to the Mont by foot. There is a free shuttle bus if you like, but we wanted to explore the area first. I think we payed about 15 to 20 euros to park the car there the entire day.
Visiting the Mont is for free. You can wander around through the narrow cosy streets and enjoy the beach there. When the tide is low, the beach is pretty big. At high tide, the beach is smaller but you can still enjoy it. We went there in the morning and later in the afternoon. The contrast between tides is reeally impressive.
In the afternoon, we got tickets to visit the abbey. You can purchase tickets for the morning or for the afternoon. Tickets are on sale online. Tickets are 11 euros. The abbey is open every day but closed on holidays.
The abbey inside wasn't too impressive on my opinion. The entire mountain looks way more impressive from a distance. The sea views there are gorgeous though. The streets on the mountain are narrow but super cosy. The medieval half-timbered houses are lovely.
The abbey itself is from the 1500s after restorations. The island was and still is a real island. Now there's a bridge but this bridge wasn't always there. With high tide, they used boats to get there.
They started building on the mountain in the 10th century. Some parts of the abbey are still that old.
I think that we needed about 1 hour and a half to visit the abbey.
There are some restaurants and shops there and if you want to relax at the beach, you can easily spend an entire day there.
2) Thursday: Fougères and the castle, Cancale, Saint-Malo and the Menhir de Champ-Dolent.
We started our day in Fougères when it was still a bit cloudy. We visited the medieval castle. It's one of the biggest ones of that time in the entire world... and the biggest one in the area. We needed about 1 hour and a half to visit it. The castle is open every day from 10am till 9pm, except for mondays. Then it's closed.
Ticket rates are 9 euros.
After that, we visited the town itself. It's rather small but quite lovely. There was a free parking lot at the center of the city, where we parked our car.
In the afternoon we went to Cancale. It's a small fishermens town, famous for it's oysters. If you like oysters, you can eat a lot of them there. I don't eat them so I don't know it they're tasty or not haha.
We parked our car at the free parking behind the church in the city center on top of the hill. We then hiked to the beach, through the cosy streets there. The beach is stunning! Here you can spot a lot of gorgeous seashells and the color of the sea is amazing!
We had a very quick late lunch and then went on to our next stop: Saint-Malo.
Saint-Malo is super crowdy and finding parking space isn't easy... But there are a couple of public parkings just near the harbor.
We started our trip there by walking on the city walls. You can do an entire round-trip around them. We took some shots and then went to the beach to lay in the sun for a couple of hours. After that we visited the streets inside the city walls and had dinner.
We then drove back home and visited the old menhir near our hotel.
I think that it's so impressive, knowing that they are even older than 4000 years old. No one actually knows their purpose... it's very mythical. This place was in the middel of a field with some flowers. You can park the car just next to it.
3) Honfleur, Deauville and Etretat.
Our day started in Honfleur. Honfleur is a lovely town near the sea but doesn't have sea views. The beach is a bit further away. It has an adorable harbor though. Here you can find some cute houses and boats.
We wandered through town and then discovered a "hidden" city garden. In the middle of a super touristic town, you can enjoy the tranquility there. It's called Jardin Du Tripot. The city has two beautiful churches that you can visit as well. After like 2 hours we visited every highlight there so we went on to the next stop.
We initially wanted to visit Deauville and enjoy the beach there... but it was extremely windy so it wasn't a good idea. We just visited the city itself instead. It has THE most beautiful luxurious houses. Did you know that this was one of the favourite places of Coco Chanel to travel to? I really get why!
The houses, more like villas or even small castles are from eclectic styles. It's a mixture of art déco, art noveau and the pesonal styles of the house owners.
In the late afternoon we went to Etretat. We didn't actually visit anything there because we didn't have enough time... but we took a lot of pictures at the beach and took a stroll there as well. After this, we had dinner and went to the next location. We didn't find a stay for the night near Etretat so we had to travel to the region of Rouen. We found a small b&b in Jumièges, where we stayed.
4) Jumièges abbey, Rouen and Amiens.
SInce our b&b was super close to the abbey, we decided to imprompto visit this. It wasn't on the planning though. Actually, this was the first trip that I didn't really plan in detail. We only booked this vacation 1 day before departure. We booked it so late since the weather everywhere in Europe was pretty bad. So we waited untill the very last minute to wait what the forecasts would be.
For some reason, the weather here was super nice and warm. Normally, Normandy/Brittany is known for it's terrible weather though so we were very lucky!
We visited the abbey first thing in the morning. It's open every day, except for holidays. The opening times are different in summer and winter. From April 15 to September 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., last ticket issued at 6 p.m. From September 16 to April 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., last tickets issued at 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
You can park the car just across the street. Tickets are 7 euros, but free for teachers yay!
The abbey is an amazing place to visit. The location is beautiful. It's close to the Seine river and has views over the Seine and the big rocks next to it. There are some lovely flowerfields on the site and there's a castle with an exposition to explore.
The abbey was founded in 653, by the Benedictans. The buildings are from the 11th century so pretty old.
In the afternoon we went to Rouen, which isn't far away from Jumièges. Rouen is a lovely city, filled with medievel architecture. It has two main cathedrals that are really impressive. Rouen is known for being the city where
Jeanne D'Arc lived and created her army to fight with during the Hundred Years' War.
It has a building to honor her, on the central market. This is also where we parked our car. The highlights to visit in the city are the lovely streets with colored half-timbered houses, the churches and the water. In the summer you can ride a boat or take a cruise there... or walk next to the river.
I was also pretty impressed by a square called Aître Saint-Maclou. It's a very unique courtyard from the 16th century. In the 14th century they buried people who died from the plague there. It also has a mummified black cat there... probably to protect people. It's a pretty scary sight though.
Rouen is also famous for the big clock in the city center. The street to find it is called: Rue du l'Horloge.
When we were there, with the long weekend of Ascension Day, it's super crowded there since there are medieval markets to celebrate the history of the city.
After our city stroll, we went to Amiens. In Amiens is not much to see, but we enjoyed dinner near the cathedral. The cathedral is wonderful to visit though. it has gorgeous stained glass artwork from the 1200s. When it's sunny, the walls look like rainbows!
And that was our entire trip. Would you go there too?