La Manche region of Normandy’s characterised by its extensive coastline which surrounds a terrain of hedgerows, woodland and pastures (known as bocage). The video below highlights some of the key sights to see.
The miles and miles of coast are also home to pretty seaside villages and towns. Some of the aerial shots show Granville with its rocky headland, old town and marina together with Barfleur with a beautiful port and quaint cobbled streets. Also on the coast are Regnéville, home to a ruined chateau, the island of Tatihou with its fort and the lighthouse at Gatteville. Many of these locations offer magnificent views. From the high town at Granville you can see the beaches stretching to both the north and south and also overlook the modern town and marina. If you can climb the 365 steps at Gatteville, the view is wonderful. It is hard on the lungs going up and hard on the legs coming down. The stone circular staircase has convenient stopping points thanks to the deep windowsills of the lighthouse’s 52 windows.
Hommage is paid to the D-Day landings in various sites throughout La Manche region. Featured in the video is the Batterie at Azeville, Saint-Mère-Eglise which was the first town to be liberated and Utah beach – the American troops landed here in 1944. There are many more D-Day sites in La Manche region and most villages have a memorial with names inscribed of those who were lost in combat.
Throughout the region are chateaux, abbeys, cathedrals, manor houses and churches. The video shows Coutances cathedral which was rebuilt in the 13th century. It is Gothic in style and was built over the top of a smaller, Romanesque structure. I love this building and almost always call in when I’m in Coutances. The strong lines andarchitectural detail on the exterior contrast with a relatively simple interior. There are not many statues but the stained glass windows, The Chapel of Saint Laud painted in strong colours and the lantern tower which allows light to flood in to the cathedral are beautiful. You can do tours of the upper walkways by arrangement or buy an audioguide from the local tourist office.
Last but not least is Mont St Michel – the jewel in Normandy’s crown. It’s a small island commune with its crowning glory of an abbey dating from the 8th century. This is another of my favourite places.
A waiting list of almost 790 years for a facelift costing over 2.6 million euros … Was it worth the wait and the price tag? Absolutely! The cloister at Mont St Michel in Normandy was completed in 1228 and a year-long renovation project throughout 2017 has just ended. The photos in the link below show the extent of the restoration work which has included lowering the floors by 15cm, cleaning the wooden vaulted ceilings, the stone work and spandrels above the columns. The spandrels are intricately and beautifully decorated with a botanical theme – a painstaking job.
Traditionally cloisters are built at the centre of the abbey with all the monastic buildings leading off it. However, Mont St Michel’s cloister was built on top of other buildings as a place of prayer for the monks. It’s is accessed via a small courtyard which leads from the abbey church and then leads to the refectory. The cloister has remained open throughout the work except when materials have been delivered by helicopter. The garden will be planted in spring 2018 to finally complete the restoration project. Despite the numerous visitors that pass through here every year the cloister retains a sense of peace and tranquility – a nod to its original purpose of prayer and reflection.
Normandy Advent Calendar, Day 24. This is my final calendar post sharing some of my favourite things about Normandy. Mont St Michel is my favourite place. I took this photo from Pointe du Grouin du Sud which gives fantastic views of the island. There was also a sunset just for good measure. I hope I’ve inspired you to visit Normandy to see what a beautiful part of France it is. I’m incredibly lucky to live there and have all of this on my doorstep.
Day 3 of my Normandy Advent Calendar sharing my favourite things about Normandy. Mont St Michel is right at the top of my list of all that I love about Normandy. Yes, it can get busy during the summer holidays but it's to be expected as it's a UNESCO world heritage site. However, many people visit the restaurants, bars and tourist shops in the main street without venturing up to the abbey. When you get up to the abbey, there are less people and you can avoid the crowds by taking a quieter route. There's something magical about Mont St Michel – particularly when you catch your first glimpse of it from a distance. As you get closer, the excitement grows. They abbey is definitely worth a visit but an audio guide is recommended.
Walking across the Bay of Mont St Michel is a magical experience for Normandy visitors. As well as the fabulous views of the island of Mont St Michel, you also get to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims who have made this journey over the centuries. There are various different options available depending on how far you want to walk. Other options are walks focussing on nature, those with commentaries and others visiting the smaller island of Tombelaine. Whichever option you decide on, you must go with a guide as quicksand and the fast moving tides make it too dangerous to attempt. A number of companies run these tours. Costs vary depending on the option you choose. Two of the companies are: www.cheminsdelabaie.com and www.decouvertebaie.com
I'm so fortunate to live close to Le Mont St Michel in Normandy and to have captured this picture of Sunday's sunset. It was taken at Le Grouin du Sud, a headland overlooking the Bay of Mont St Michel. As the sun changed the colours in the sky and on the water, it was a time for personal reflection. It's one of my favourite places to visit and the first glimpse you catch of the island as you get nearer to it always makes my heart sing.
Although the October holidays are almost over, it's the ideal time to explore Normandy. Everywhere will be quieter, even Mont St Michel, which can be busy during the summer holidays. It's Normandy's most popular visitor attraction and well worth a visit.
The cloister’s function was to provide access to all the essential rooms: the refectory, kitchens, church, dormitory, chapter hall and the archives. Only the north gallery, looking out towards the sea, was not meant to serve as a way of communication with other rooms. The principal functions of monastic life, except for work and reception, were therefore distributed around the cloister. It also served as the place set aside for the monk’s personal meditation.
Throughout the summer the abbey at Mont St Michel in Normandy is open in the evenings. It really is much quieter and so is well worth doing to experience this magnificent attraction. We arrived in daylight, visited the abbey, saw the sun set and took this photo at around 10pm as we were leaving. The car park is free after 7pm and the free shuttle buses run until 1am. Extended opening every evening except Sundays until the end of August.