Normandy Easter Activities

Normandy Easter Activities

There will be Easter egg hunts taking place all over Normandy this weekend. Only Easter Monday is a public holiday so they’ll be spread over the three days of the extended Easter weekend.

This link gives details of a number of hunts in and around Granville. The nearest ones to me are at Equilly and Cerences.

This list of 29 farms holding easter egg hunts also has details of one at Mesnil Rogues. This is a farm that’s about 10 – 15 minutes away. It’s called La Ceuillette, Ferme de Lucie and there’s a farm shops that sells products such as honey, jam, cider, apple juice and calvados.

You can also look at the map option to see where they are.

If you don’t fancy an Easter egg hunt, then there’s plenty going on. On Saturday the abbey at Mont-Saint-Michel will be open until 10.30pm and there’ll be a high tide at around 9pm. You’re advised to get there around 2 hours before and will hopefully see the island cut off from the mainland.

 

Mont-Saint-Michel high tides

For a list of church services happening around postal code 50450, check out this link. In Villedieu-les-Poêles the bell foundry will be open on Monday. The nearby Zoo de Champrépus is a popular family day out and will be open on Easter Monday.

You can also read about French traditions around church bells and chocolate fish here.

Obviously Easter should be celebrated with chocolate. The chocolate shops and pâtisseries are full of amazing creations.  Weather-wise it’s currently warm and sunny in Normandy and that looks to continue for the rest of the weekend. If you’re in France at Easter, you’re bound to find something to tempt you.

 

Top 3 Omaha Beach Places To Visit

Normandy American Cemetery

If I had to choose my top 3 Omaha Beach places to visit I’d opt for La Pointe du Hoc, the Normandy American Cemetery and Les Braves. In just over 7 weeks time Normandy will be hosting events for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

I visited these 3 Omaha Beach spots in February 2018 on a chilly but sunny day. I wanted blue sky for the photos I was going to take and I wasn’t disappointed. Rather than visit a museum, I chose 2 places where there were visitor centres. This gave me a real feel for the challenges that the American troops faced at Omaha Beach.

Normandy American Cemetery

It took me around an hour to drive to Omaha Beach. I started my day at La Pointe du Hoc. It’s between Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. You can read about my visit here. I genuinely felt as if history came to life as I walked around this battle site.

D-Day

 

Next on my list was Les Braves. This beautiful steel sculpture is on the beach just beyond the memorial. Again, the clock seemed to roll back as I thought about the men who lost their lives on this beach. My review is here and includes a video of the beach.

D-Day

My final stop was the Normandy American Cemetery. The visitor centre is very informative and the cemetery itself is unforgettable. It is beautifully maintained and a fitting tribute to those for whom Normandy is their final resting place. The drone footage in my review article shows the extent of the site.

Normandy American Cemetery Normandy American Cemetery

 

It is still one of the most memorable days I’ve had in Normandy. I can still recall the emotion I felt as I visited each of these 3 amazing sites. Time now stands still for these heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.

For more information about Omaha Beach visit this page.

English Canons At Mont-Saint-Michel

Canons at Mont-Saint-Michel

I saw some fabulous old photos of English canons at Mont-Saint-Michel today. They were on the Facebook page of Archives départmentales de la Manche. I hope the link below works but if not do find their post from 8th April and take a look at the additional photos.

The canons are English and were used during the Hundred Year’s War to try and take over the island of Mont-Saint-Michel. In 1434 the English troops settled on the nearby island of Tombelaine. They were unsuccessful in their attempts to break the Mont’s defences. Today it remains the only part of Normandy not to be conquered by the English soldiers. Following their failure to capture the island, these canons were abandoned. They have since been installed just inside the main entrance. They are called Les Michelettes and each one weighs 2.5 tonnes. I have to confess I’ve never seen them. Possibly because I often take a quieter route up to the abbey that doesn’t involve going through the main entrance. I must pay attention the next time I visit!

Canons at Mont-Saint-Michel

Photo credit: Jean Bazard

Alternative link to Archives departementales de la Manche

 

New Grace Kelly Exhibition At The Christian Dior Museum In Normandy

Christian Dior Museum

Princess Grace of Monaco will be the focus of a new exhibition at the Christian Dior museum in Normandy. As an actress she was known as Grace Kelly and became Princess of Monaco in 1956 following her marriage to Prince Rainier III.

Christian Dior museum in Normandy

A selection of around 90 items from her wardrobe will look at the two facets of her life as a graceful public figure and also a modern woman, wife and mother.

Her glamorous Dior designer dresses and tweed suits are structured outfits befitting her royal status. This contrasts with a contemporary, simple and sporty look reminiscent of her American youth that she chose for her private life. The many dresses printed or embroidered with flowers recall her love of floral paintings and her taste for gardening.

The princess would have been 90 this year. She died in 1982 at the age of 52.

Useful information

The Grace Kelly exhibition will be open from April 27 to November 17 2019.

From April 27th to September 30th: it’s every day from 10am to 6.30pm (the ticket office closes at 6pm).

From October 1st: every day during the school holidays and from Tuesday to Sunday except school holidays from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 6pm (the ticket office closes at 12noon and 5.30pm).

Full price: 9 €
Reduced price: € 5 (students, visitors with disabilities and job seekers)

Your entry ticket to the Christian Dior Museum gives access to a discounted ticket for one week to the Richard Anacréon Museum of Modern Art in Granville.

Visit the website.

Christian Dior Museum
1 rue d’Estouteville
The Rhumbs Villa
50400 GRANVILLE

Christian Dior Museum

 

Top 3 Things To Do In Normandy

Bayeux

My top 3 things to do in Normandy are Mont-Saint-Michel, Bayeux and one of the D-Day landing beaches.

Bayeux tapestrTop 3 things to do in Normandy

I live around 50 minutes away from Mont-Saint-Michel and just over an hour from Bayeux. There are 5 landing beaches so depending on which one you go to it will take you around an hour or so.

Les Braves Omaha Beach

I usually ask my guests if they’ve got any special trips plans while they’re here and these 3 places come up in conversation regularly. I provide a range of tourist leaflets for my visitors but also created 3 in-depth guides. They’re designed to give a real flavour of what to expect and are full of hints, tips and practical information.

You can read the guides by clicking on the one that interests you.
Mont-Saint-Michel
Bayeux
The D-Day landing beaches

What are your top 3 things to do in Normandy?

 

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

British Memorial On Sword Beach

British memorial on Sword Beach

There are a number of memorials on Sword Beach stretching from Ouistreham in the East to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer in the West.

British memorial on Sword Beach

This British memorial on Sword Beach is dedicated to the following commando units of the 1st Special Service Brigade:

No. 3 Commando – Lieutenant Colonel Peter Young
No. 4 Commando – Lieutenant Colonel Robert Dawson
177 French Marine Commandos from No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando, commanded by Commandant Philippe Kieffer
No. 6 Commando – Lieutenant Colonel Derek Mills-Roberts
No. 45 (Royal Marine) Commando – Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ries

British memorial on Sword Beach

The 1st Special Service Brigade was a commando brigade of the British Army. It was formed during the Second World War and consisted of elements of the British Army (including British Commandos) and the Royal Marines. On 6 December 1944, the Brigade was redesignated 1st Commando Brigade.

British memorial on Sword Beach

The commando units landed here on D-Day, 6th June 1944. You can find the memorial at 15 Boulevard Maritime in Colleville-Montgomery. It’s at the intersection of rue Vauban and looks out onto Sword Beach.

For more information about Sword Beach visit this page.

An Historic Look at Blainville-sur-Mer

Blainville-sur-Mer

The Normandy village of Blainville-sur-Mer enjoys an enviable position on the Cotentin coast. It is fortunate to have a natural harbour giving fantastic views.

Coutances Tourist Office has produced a map of a walking circuit you can do to explore the village. You can download a copy here.

The walk is around 17km although you can reduce it as there is an alternative route. Highlights of the walk include the 15th century sailors chapel, the natural harbour, the 12th century church and some very grand dwellings.

Blainville-sur-Mer Blainville-sur-Mer

The five grand properties are dotted along Rue de Bas. It was originally called Rue des Libraries or Booksellers Street.

Blainville-sur-Mer Blainville-sur-MerSeveral local young men decided to try and make their fortune in Paris rather than work in the maritime industry locally. They became booksellers and printers and were successful. When they returned to Blainville-sur-Mer they built very grand residences and so the street was named after their former profession.

Blainville-sur-Mer Blainville-sur-Mer

 

Ranville – A British War Cemetery in Normandy

Ranville war cemetery

Ranville cemetery in Normandy is the final resting place of predominantly British soldiers killed in the Battle of Normandy. Many of the fallen were from the British 6th Airborne Division who attacked Pegasus bridge on D-Day at nearby Benouville.

Ranville war cemetery

Ranville is situated 10km north east of Caen and was the first village to be liberated on D-Day. This part of the conflict was covered by the Sword Beach sector.

The Cemetery

There are 2563 graves in Ranville cemetery. 2152 are British, 76 Candian, 3 New Zealand, 1 Australian, 5 French, 1 Polish, 1 Belgian, 322 German and 2 unidentified nationalities. As with other war cemeteries, it is very well maintained.

Ranville cemetery

 

The Churchyard

In the adjacent churchyard there are 47 British graves and one unknown British soldier. You can find these graves as you go through the main gate to the church. If you then turn right, they’re set against the stone wall surrounding the churchyard.

Ranville war cemetery Ranville cemetery

Ranville cemetery is on rue du Comte Louis de Rohan Chabot. However, there isn’t much parking at the cemetery. There are a few spaces in front of the churchyard and a few at the post office (La Poste) just opposite. Otherwise, there is a hall near to the Mairie (the town hall) and you may find parking spaces there.

Ranville war cemetery

 

How To Find A Grave

As you go through the gate and stone archway, you’ll see the cemetery register which is kept in an open safe. There’s a plan of the plots and a list of all the soldiers and reference numbers for the graves.

I visited the war cemetery on a beautifully sunny February day. For the majority of the time I was the only person there apart from the gardeners and maintenance staff. Below is the grave and register entry for Jack Robinson who was just 19 when he was killed in action on 26th June 1944.

Ranville war cemetery

 

If you’d like to find a grave, you can do so on this website.

Mont-Saint-Michel From a Drone

Mont-Saint-Michel From a Drone

Mont-Saint-Michel at high tide is an incredible sight. The island becomes cuts off from the mainland giving you plenty of time to explore while waiting for the tide to recede.

Mont Saint Michel from a drone

The video below was filmed from a drone and shows the island’s setting. It really does seem to rise majestically from the bay. It’s also very impressive when you catch your first glimpse of it in the distance. It can be seen from the D175/176 that runs from Avranches in Normandy to Dol-de-Bretagne in Brittany. There is also a good view from the Jardin des Plantes in Avranches, Pointe du Grouin du Sud (a viewing point around 5km across the bay) and from the German cemetery at Huisnes-sur-Mer.

Mont Saint Michel from a drone

For an in-depth look at Mont-Saint-Michel this guide has photos, videos, drone footage and information about the whole island.

Things To Do In Granville

Lucerne abbey

Granville Tourist Office have just produced a number of guides about what to do in Granville.

I picked up four different publications yesterday from one of their offices.

things to do in GranvilleThey’ve produced a magazine, a brochure about forthcoming events, a guide to gourmet delights and a main guide. The information is in English and French.

The main guide runs to 198 pages and gives an overview of the area. There are a number of villages and coastal towns featured.

The high town in Granville also gets a mention. This is a wonderful place to explore the old buildings of the original town. It’s very quaint with cobbled streets and fantastic views up and down the coastline.

Normandy weather

For a spot of culture, Granville is home to an art museum as well as the Christian Dior museum. The abbey at Lucerne is just a short drive away.

Christian Dior Museum

The coastal location means that trips to the islands of Chausey and the Channel Islands are popular with visitors. If you prefer to stay on dry land, then the beaches are family friendly while watching the water sports.

Inland you will find walks, cycle routes and horse-treking trails There really is something for everyone. You can download the brochures here.

You can also read more about the carnival, a cheese shop in Granville and Lucerne abbey.