Whatever the weather, there's so much to see in Normandy
It's a well known French joke that it always rains in Normandy.
Take a look in any tabac and there’s a plethora of postcards with cartoons of dark grey clouds hovering over characters trying to enjoy their holidays.
It’s also well known that the area has a love for alcohol – and for the vegetables – namely carrots, turnips and leeks, that are grown so abundantly in their fields.
Knowing all of these stereotypes, and after numerous short breaks, we couldn’t wait to return.
When Sam Acford got in touch to tell us about his renovation project, we thought it’d be rude not to go over and have a look in person.
Sam said that although the area is at its best in the height of summer due to its proximity to the beach, the good weather and festivals, it was equally rewarding in the colder months as it’s a lovely area to bed down, in front of the fire, glass of wine in hand. We were sold.
Sam and his wife Francesca took on the project three years ago, buying a rundown farmhouse and transforming it into a chic and beautiful place to stay.
They had to completely gut the place, dig down, put in new foundations, and put water, electric and sewage in for the first time in the house’s hundreds of years of history.
The young couple roped in friends and family to help with the renovation, and despite neither being builders, they have clearly poured their hearts and souls into the property.
We arrived on the ferry to glorious blue skies – a million miles away from the stereotype.
The drive to the house takes us past several supermarches and we stop to stock up on wine (when in Rome...) and cheese.
After heading down lots of winding country lanes, past fields dotted with thousands of orange specks (carrots waiting to be picked up), we arrive at the beautiful house, set in the tiny village of Glatigny.
We are glad we stocked up as the nearest shop is a drive away, and the village is incredibly quiet – but perfect for escaping the pressures of everyday life back home and spending some time together as a family.
Every element of the house, from its bathroom with roll top bath and the master bedroom with ornate bedstead, to its cleverly squeezed in mezzanine room shows the love and care put in by Sam and Francesca.
The blue skies don’t last long, but the house stayed warm despite the traditional Normandy rain thanks to a roaring fire and underfloor heating.
Determined to see the beach, we walked to the coast from the house – it took about 40 minutes – and the glorious rolling coastline made a truly wonderful sight.
Other days we explored further afield, enjoying lunch at the relaxing cafe-bar at the Hotel des Isles on the seafront at Barneville-Carteret 11 miles away and taking strolls around Portbail – a town seven miles away situated on a natural harbour – and Granville, a larger town about an hour’s drive away that had magnificent views across the ocean and history oozing out of its every inch (it’s also the birthplace of Christian Dior for any fashionistas).
We also took advice from Sam - and from a happy comment in the guestbook to discover the wonderfully bonkers Maison du Biscuit. Here, we were greeted with a Willy Wonka-esque land of biscuits, which truly screamed France. From the cafe to the quirky jams, this shop with its wafts of coffee and cigarette smoke and clunky piano music – it was a brilliantly unusual way to spend an hour.
Another afternoon we headed to the town of Coutances, where we found a buzz of activity and shops, gardens and a gothic cathedral.
But most of all we enjoyed spending time together as a family, enjoying the luxuries of the beautiful house. When it rained, it didn’t matter, as we stayed in and enjoyed the cheap wine and fresh produce.
Sam said there were many times when he thought ‘what have I taken on?!’ but now it seems like a distant memory and they are about to embark on landscaping the area opposite the house, plus renovating an old barn.
The property does already have a small but lovely garden, with fire pit and barbecue, which would be magnificent on a summer’s evening, but this extension project will add extra benefit on to an already brilliant house. Now we’ve found this great base, we’d love to return to see the area in its full splendour and spend a sunny day or two on the beach.
Obviously, with a picnic packed with local produce and wine.
What to do:
The farmhouse is less than a five minute drive away from a beautiful sandy beach, between two traditional but vibrant towns, and is close to many popular attractions such as Mont St Michel and the Bayeux Tapestry.
The tiny village of Glatigny is just a couple of minutes to a beautiful, long (and often deserted!) sandy beach.
It’s nestled between La Haye du Puit and Portbail, both of which have some superb restaurants and great weekly markets.
Barneville-Carteret is also close by and being a summer vacation spot for many Parisians, is a great location to visit in those summer months. Both Portbail and Barneville-Carteret offer equestrian stables for horse riding.
There are tennis courts in Glatigny, behind the Marie’s office in the village square. These are free and tennis racquets and balls can be found in the farmhouse barn.
From June to early September, on most weekends, many towns and villages nearby hold festivals and fêtes with outdoor music and food. For more information search ‘Glatigny Farmhouse’ on Facebook or go to remarkable-retreats.com
Prices start from £109 per night. To book, call 0792 246 1417.
- Brittany Ferries operate routes to Brittany and Normandy.
- We travelled by day from Portsmouth to Caen on the Normandie ferry for our departure and the Mont St Michel for our return.
Fares start from £66 each way for a car plus two passengers.
- Visit https://www.brittanyferries.com or call 0330159 7000.