Think of beaches and Normandy and possibly the D-D landing beaches spring to mind. The beaches of Sword, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Utah are certainly a draw to visitors who come to pay their respects and reflect on the significant role they played in the events of 1944. There is, however, much more to the Normandy coastline which stretches from the bay at Mont St Michel, up to Cherbourg, along the D-Day landing beaches, to Le Havre, Dieppe and beyond. The Alabaster Coast which starts just north of Le Havre in Upper Normandy is characterised by the imposing white cliffs and white shingle.
The pictures below were taken along the Côte des Havres (the Harbour Coast) which stretches from Granville to Carteret. As well as 8 harbours, this coast is known for its sandy and shingle beaches and low dunes behind which nestle quaint villages. Some of the beaches have wide pedestrian walkways which run in front of the seaside properties. The beaches are generally quiet, so quiet that you wonder why no-one else has realised how glorious they are.
Other coasts include the Cotentin (or Cherbourg) Peninsula, the Bay of Mont St Michel and the Côte Fleurie.
For those who enjoy being by the sea, the beaches in Normandy offer the perfect destination to explore and enjoy the extensive and unspoilt coastline.
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.
The Normandy coastline collection includes posts about beaches, fishing villages, the coast, watersports and much more. Normandy has an extensive coastline stretching from just above Le Tréport right down to Le Mont St Michel.
The Phare de Gatteville is a Normandy lighthouse at the tip of Barfleur and is the second tallest lighthouse in France. The strong currents and many shipwrecks prompted the building of this Normandy lighthouse. The original version of the lighthouse built in 1774 can be seen on the left and was topped with a coal fire. It was called the Phare de Barfleur (Barfleur Lighthouse) standing at 25 metres. An upgrade to the lens meant that the tower needed to be raised by 32 meters. This, however, was not possible with the existing building which proved not to be wide enough. A new lighthouse was therefore commissioned and now stands 75 metres high. Construction took five years and the lighthouse was completed in 1834. The lighthouse was built by hand and without using any scaffolding. 11,000 blocks of granite weighing 7,400 tonnes were used. The lantern from the original lighthouse was removed and remains on site as a semaphore.
The lighthouse was renovated during 1996 and 1997 and is now a lighthouse museum. The tower is cylindrical with a gallery and a lantern. It measures 25 metres in diameter at the base and 6 metres at the bridge. It is attached to a 2-story keeper’s complex which forms a U-shape around the base of the tower. After you’ve climbed the 365 steps to the top you can enjoy spectacular views across the English Channel and the Normandy countryside. Check opening times and entry costs at www.phare-de-gatteville.fr
These charming white beach huts with shutters and doors in varying shades of blue are in Barneville-Carteret in Normandy. The towns of Barneville-sur-mer and Carteret developed as seaside resorts from the 1870s onwards and combined into one town in 1965. Today the endless stretches of beaches are popular during the summer months. This photo was taken in November – the sun really does shine in Normandy!
The Chausey Islands are an archipelago of 365 islets at low tide and 52 at high tide in Normandy. The Grande Ile is located 17km/10m from Granville and is the only inhabited island. Technically it is part of the Channel Islands and has been the object of much rivalry between England and France over the centuries. The island has a hotel, restaurants, a fort, beautiful white sandy beaches, a lighthouse, and a chapel built in 1840. Apart from tourism, fishing is the main activity. From its thriving fishing village, lobster and shrimps are caught and mussels and oysters are farmed. Granite from the islands was quarried and used in the construction of Mont St Michel exported. Chausey can be reached by boat in less than an hour from Granville.
Arromanches-les-bains played an important role in the Normandy landings of June 1944, as it was here that an artificial port was installed. Troops deliberately did not land at Arromanches so that the beach could remain clear for the harbour to be built. Immediately after D-Day, the Allies established the harbour to allow the unloading of heavy equipment, supplies and troops. This avoided waiting for deep water ports such as Le Havre and Cherbourg to be conquered. The British built huge floating concrete caissons that were towed from England. Once at Arromanches, the caissons were assembled to form walls and piers forming and defining the artificial port called the Mulberry harbour. The pontoons were linked to the land by floating roadways. Sections of the Mulberry harbour still remain today together with a wonderful beach and cliff walks. Also at Arromanches are the D-D Museum (Musée du Débarquement), Arromanches 360 (a circular cinema), and poignant memorials to the British engineers who played such a critical role in the preparations for D-Day.
With temperatures warming up again this week, it's time to enjoy the sandy beaches once more. This is the beach at Donville-les-bains which is just outside Granville in Normandy. Plenty of parking, endless beaches and a walkway for strolling and admiring the view.
With schools and colleges about to start, it feels as if we only have a few more days of summer left. The memories, however, will last a lot longer. I've welcomed friends and family to Normandy this summer who have all really enjoyed the variety of things to do here. Sharing that with others is one of the reasons I became a holiday home owner. Here's one of my favourite summer memories – a day on the beach at Coudeville sur Mer, taking a dip, having a picnic, playing boules and then home for a BBQ.
The high town in Granville is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the shops and casino it overlooks. Home to a number of artists and galleries, its gentle pace makes it the perfect artistic and cultural quarter. You can stroll through the quaint streets admiring the architecture or head for Place Cambernon for something to eat and drink. The photo was taken in the Rue Notre Dame looking up towards the church.