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Discovering Summertime in Normandy

By Melissa Schulz

Summer time in Normandy! Picnics on the beach, the sun setting on the half timbered houses, sipping cider and enjoying the fruits de mer in the quaint beach side towns! Normandy has so many things to offer, from its regional specialties such as the cider and the cheese, the thrill of horse back riding on the beach or wind surfing through the pearl waters of the sea. Not to mention its amazing history and the steep cliffs of the D-day invasion. Staring down at the sea, you wonder how the soldiers found the strength to climb the cliffs and how such an exquisite and peaceful landscape ever witnessed the shedding of blood. A beautiful region with secrets and history as rich as
its land.

One of the treasures of this region is the cider that you can discover on the Cider Route. The farm houses are open to the public and you can taste the cider for free. If you are lucky you can get a tour of the cellars once used to press the apples. Most of the cider producers have kept this tradition in the family for years and the sweet cider is a testimony to their experience. The cider route is marked with easy to read signs pointing the direction of this lovely country drive. Along the way you can discover manor houses, apple orchards, and traditional villages that are heavily protected from any kind of commercial development. The immense charm of the Pays d’auge is as thick as the scent of apple blossoms in the air. 

Along the cider route we stumbled across a few finds that are worth the stop. A tea salon disguised as a typical Normandy house with a beautiful English garden in the front. It is owned by a single woman who does all the cooking herself. We were the only customers to take a late afternoon brunch in her cozy garden. The menu was surprisingly diverse with a wide variety of fish dishes and teas from around the world. The service was slow enough to let us thoroughly enjoy the warm afternoon in the shade of the garden. Everything was homemade, except the delicious bread that she walks 2 miles to get every day. 


Next, we took a nice promenade through the village of Beuvron. A city with a history that goes back to the Gaul conquest and heavily influenced by the Viking period of 876. It has been given the classification of one of the 100 nicest villages in France. The streets are lined with colorful flowers that seem to be mandatory for each resident. The small village is quite a tourist attraction, but it still retains a serene, cozy feeling. It is a protected village, meaning that it is not open to commercialization and everything is still as it was hundreds of years ago. 

A must see, while in Normandy, is Mont-Saint-Michel. According to tradition it was a sea tomb for the dead. It is an overwhelming sight that people come to see 
from all around the world. It sits 80 meters high presiding over the sea like a goddess. Her beauty is influenced by the tide. When it is low she shows all her splendor across golden sand dunes, or at the seasonable equinox she is surrounded on all sides, a rare and mystical site. 

Normandy is full of activities for sports lovers. Head to the beach and rent a boat or a wind surf board. For horse lovers try the local stables that offer guided runs on the beach. There are also the local race tracks. You can even rent hot air balloons or test your driving skills at the go-cart track. 

If you are a World War II buff, rent a car and take a tour of the D-Day beaches. This is the stretch of beaches from Utah to Sword. This military operation called Operation Overlord consisted of tens of thousands of soldiers from the UK, USA, and Canada that stormed the Coast of Normandy to free the French of Nazi occupation. There are museums and landmarks that memorialize this historical day.

Normandy is so full of things to do that I could write a book about it. It is worth a visit of a week to fully discover its secret charms and history. It offers something for everyone making it a great place to take the family. 

For more information email the tourist office at pontleveque@wanadoo.fr.

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Email:  schulz_mel@yahoo.com (Melissa Shulz)

Melissa Schulz is an American living in France. She has been traveling over a year to various destinations like Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece. 

 

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