Exhibitions In Villedieu-les-Poêles, Normandy

Villedieu-les-Poêles Mairie

There are two exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles happening right now.

Exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles

The first exhibition is in the Tourist Office and is called Souvenirs de nos campagnes (Memories of our campaigns). It’s a tribute to the soldiers of World War 2 who liberated Normandy towns and villages after D-Day.

Exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles

The exhibition is the work of Monsieur Gabriel Bossard who is a private collector. Among the memorabilia are a uniform from a French soldier and an American one. Also included are everyday items such as toiletries, rations, first aid kits, toiletries and even a French/English phrase book. Descriptions for the display items are in French and English.

Tourist Office in villedieu

There are also photos of Hambye, Percy and Villedieu after D-Day.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Exhibition

It’s free and is only on until Friday 28th June but is well worth going to see. The tourist office is in La Place des Costils in Villedieu-les-Poêles. Their website is here.

The second exhibition is called 1944 – 2019 and commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the liberation of Villedieu. It’s an outdoor exhibition in the Jardin des Lavoirs. The garden is on the rue des Quais by the river Sienne.

Jardin des Lavoirs

Panels written in French give an overview of these two events and are illustrated with black and white photographs. Villedieu-les-Poêles was liberated on 2nd August 1944. The exhibition is also free and runs until 2nd September.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Exhibition

There’s also a display on the steps of the Mairie (town hall) to commemorate Villedieu’s liberation. What a fabulous display! These two exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles are definitely worth taking a look at.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Mairie

 

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

What’s On In Normandy This Weekend

What’s On In Normandy This Weekend

Looking to find out what’s on in Normandy this weekend? Here are just a few suggestions.

Fête de la Musique

 

Normandy music

This weekend Normandy will host a series of concerts throughout the region. There’s one in Gavray on Friday 21st from 8.30pm and it’s free. Alternatively, why not go to a summer concert given by a local choir at Hambye Abbey. It starts at 6.30pm on Saturday 22nd and is also free. For the full list of events, take a look at the website to find out what’s on. The concerts range from gospel, choral, rock, pop and jazz so there’s something for everyone. The majority of the concerts are free.

Antique Fair

 

What's on in NormandyIf you quite like the thought of finding a genuine French antique, head to Granville on Sunday 23rd. This is a monthly event and is called a brocante. It will be held in the Cours Jonville which is a square in the centre of the town. The fair opens at 8am and closes at 6pm. It’s held in the open-air but the weather is due to be good this weekend. Make sure your you have cash with you and you know your French number if you ask the price of something.

Normandy brocante

Local Fair

The village of Percy is holding its annual fair on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd June. On the Saturday there will be a funfare, bands and a firework display. On Sunday there will be more music and also a parade of floats from 2pm. The theme this year is the 1970s. I’m sure some of the costumes are going to be very entertaining!

Fireworks in Normandy

For more information about summer events in and around Villedieu-les-Poêles, take a look at this brochure. Normandy certainly has a lot going on.

 

A Guided Tour in Roncey, Normandy

Guided tour in Roncey

Earlier this week I went on a guided tour in Roncey, a small Normandy village in La Manche region. For over an hour we heard the story of how Roncey was liberated on 29th July 1944, the destruction and the re-building after the war.

Guided tour in Roncey

The American troops that had landed at Utah Beach on 6th June began to advance inland and liberate towns and villages. A small area near St-Lô was selected and bombed extensively so that the defences could be penetrated. This led to the ‘Roncey pocket’ where German troops became trapped in Roncey in their attempts to flee the advancing troops. Their exit route was blocked by a broken down lorry and they could not escape. Fierce fighting and bombing ensued on 28th July until Roncey was finally liberated on 29th July.

Guided tour in Roncey Guided tour in Roncey Guided tour in Roncey

As well as the loss of life, around 70% of Roncey was demolished. The town hall (Mairie), school and the presbytery remained. The church was demolished along with 46 houses. 43 other dwellings were damaged and further damage was caused by pillaging and bulldozers clearing the village. The photos above show the church as it was, after it was destroyed and the modern structure that has replaced it.

 

Reconstruction

There are a number of information boards throughout the village in both French and English with photos showing how the village used to look.

Guided tour in Roncey Guided tour in Roncey

The information board above showing Place de la Halle is on the blue building in the photo above.

 

Guided tour in Roncey

This row of brightly coloured houses and shops are directly opposite the church and the main square. They were completely demolished on 28th to 29th July.

The buildings were rebuilt using concrete and brightly painted. Here you can see an example of a new building (salmon pink in colour) contrasting with an older building that survived the bombings.

Guided tour in Roncey

 

Town Hall (Mairie)

There is also an exhibition in the town hall. Their opening hours are:

Tuesday : 8h30-12h30 / 14h30-18h30

Wednesday : 8h30-12h30

Thursday : 8h30-12h30 / 14h30-17h

Friday : 8h30-12h30

Saturday : 9h00-12h

Email : mairieroncey@wanadoo.fr

Website : www.roncey.fr

For information about the guided tour in Roncey and others, please see this information. The tour will be repeated on 26th July and 9th August. You meet at 11am near the church, it’s free and you don’t need to book. The tour is in French but the panels as you walk around the village are in French and English.

 

 

A Normandy D-Day Poem

D-Day poem

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 6th June, I wanted to share this poem to honour the veterans.

WHO ARE THESE MEN?
Who are these men who march so proud,
Who quietly weep, eyes closed, head bowed?
These are the men who once were boys,
Who missed out on youth and all its joys.
Who are these men with aged faces,
Who silently count the empty spaces?
These are the men who gave their all,
Who fought for their country for freedom for all.
Who are these men with sorrowful look
Who can still remember the lives that were took?
These are the men who saw young men die,
The price of peace is always high.
Who are these men who in the midst of pain,
Whispered comfort to those they would not see again?
These are the men whose hands held tomorrow,
Who brought back our future with blood tears and sorrow.
Who are these men who promise to keep
Alive in their hearts the ones God holds asleep?
These are the men to whom I promise again:
‘Veterans’, my friends – I will remember them!

A beautiful poem written by Jodie Johnson in 1996 when she was 11.

D-Day poem

This year the commemorations are very high profile with dignitaries from all over the world attending events. Normandy is also welcoming many veterans and/or their families this week.

If you’re anywhere from Cherbourg to Mont-Saint-Michel on the afternoon of Friday 7th June you might be lucky enough to see a fly-past by 4 Dakota aircraft. The Dakotas will be following the Voie de la Liberté which is the route taken by the American troops as they advanced south after D-Day. They’ll take off from Cherbourg-Maupertus airport at 13.41 and will arrive at Huisnes-sur-Mer at 15.00 which is just south of Mont-Saint-Michel. At each of the following towns they will circle before heading onto the next destination: Cherbourg, Valognes, Sainte-Mère-Église, Utah Beach, Sainte-Marie-Du-Mont, St-Lô, Villedieu-les-Poêles, Avranches, Pontorson. Huisnes-sur-Mer is the resting place of almost 12,000 German soldiers who died during the Battle of Normandy. The video below shows the route and the expected times of the Dakotas.

 

D-Day In La Manche Region of Normandy

D-Day in La Manche

This week Normandy is hosting a whole range of events to commemorate D-Day. Four of the D-Day landing beaches are in the department of Calvados while the fifth is located in La Manche region.

D-Day in La Manche

In La Manche region the key locations are Carentan, Sainte-Mère-Église and Utah Beach. The full calendar of events in Normandy can be found here.

Sainte-Mère-Église church in Normandy

This website (in French) gives an overview of the road closures and traffic restrictions for the D-Day events in La Manche. This includes Carentan on the 5th, Utah Beach on the 6th and Sainte-Mère-Église on the 9th. There is no windscreen sticker system in place (there is in Calvados on the 6th) but it is inevitably going to be very busy.

Utah Beach was the landing beach where American troops landed. There is a museum overlooking Utah Beach and it will be open on the 6th. Sainte-Mère-Église is home to the Airborne Museum that honours the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The museum is across the square from the church where an effigy of a paratrooper hangs.

Sainte-Mère-Église church in Normandy

 

D-Day Events In Normandy

D-Day

In just over a week Normandy will welcome veterans, veterans families, dignitaries and tourists for D-Day. Throughout the region there will be events galore to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 6th June.

D-Day D-Day D-Day D-Day

 

Some events have already started and you can check out the programme of events here.

Alternatively, have a read of the Normandy Tourist Board’s visitor guide in PDF format.

The Events

The events will be impressive and emotional at the same time. One of the most ambitious events has to be Daks over Normandy. In 1944 the airborne assault on Normandy was formed by over 800 Douglas C-47 Dakotas. The UK and Normandy skies will be filled with Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakotas and hundreds of Paratroopers. The event will be held in two locations: from 2 to 5 June at Duxford Airfield in the United Kingdom and from 5 to 9 June at Caen Carpiquet Airport in Normandy. Around 250 men and women will board the aircraft in the United Kingdom, fly across the English Channel and to jump into the historic Normandy drop zones. Have a look at the video below.

 

 

Traffic Restrictions in Normandy

There will be some traffic restrictions in place on 6th June around the landing beaches, Bayeux and Caen. More information is here.

D-Day events in Normandy
A map showing the restriction zone for vehicles on 6th June in Normandy

 

Ranville war cemetery
There will also be local events away from the Normandy beaches. Coutances will be commemorating D-Day with an event on 6th June. There will be a ceremony at the cemetery at 6pm followed by mass in the cathedral at 7.30pm. An exhibition of D-Day related photos will also be launched and will run until 6th September. The large-scale photos will be dotted around the town. The cathedral and two churches escaped relatively unscathed during the war although many buildings surrounding them were destroyed.

A series of three guided tours will start the following week. They’re free and you don’t need to book. Meet on Wednesday 12 June, 11am at Roncey church to hear how the Germans were surrounded by the Allies. On Wednesday 19 June at 11am, the story of the destruction of the Pont de la Roque will be told at Heugeville-sur-Sienne. British troops dropped bombs on the bridge to prevent German reinforcements advancing towards the landing beaches. Finally, on Wednesday 26th June you can learn about Coutances reconstruction after the bombings. Meet at 11am at the Quesnel-Morinière museum courtyard. The tours will be in French.

D-Day was just the start of the Battle of Normandy and the fight to liberate Europe. However, some events will continue throughout the summer. The memorials, the cemeteries, the museums and the spirit of those who sacrificed their lives for our liberty will always be here in Normandy. Lest We Forget.

For a guide to the D-Day beaches, read this guide and watch the video below for an overview of some of the D-Day sites.

Night Of The Museums in Normandy

Night of the museums in Normandy

This Saturday, 18th May is Night of the Museums in Normandy. It’s actually a European event and is happening throughout France. It’s an opportunity to visit some sites that will be open late and entry is often free. This link gives details of those museums participating in the five Normandy sectors. There is also another event called Pierres en Lumières on the same evening. This event features magnificent buildings that are lit up as dusk falls.

Nearby museums include the Scriptorial at Avranches where the Mont-Saint-Michel manuscripts are held. Christian Dior’s childhood home and museum in Granville is also participating.

Christian Dior Museum

A couple of the D-Day museum are open late but there is an entry fee. They include the Utah Beach museum at Sainte-Marie-Du-Mont and also the Airborne Museum at Sainte-Mère-Église.

Normandy Airborne Museum

There are also events at Avranches, Azeville, Barenton, Cherbourg, Granville, Gréville-Hague, Hambye, Omonville-la-Petite, Saint-Lô, Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Sainte-Mère-Eglise, Vains and Villedieu-les-Poêles-Rouffigny.

Night of the museums in Normandy

You can watch a video of the 2018 event at the Utah Beach Museum. It’s in French but gives you an idea of what to expect throughout the evening including re-enactments.

Night of the Museums in Normandy is a wonderful opportunity to explore some of the history and heritage Normandy excels at.

2019 Normandy Music Festivals

Normandy music festival

This fantastic map shows the range of Normandy music festivals taking place in 2019. (Credit Normandy Tourism) For all the details you can visit their website . There’s a wide range of concerts and festivals to appeal to different audiences.

Normandy music festival
Credit:Normandy Tourism

One of the biggest events is taking place at Hérouville-Saint-Clair near Caen from 4th – 7th July in the grounds of Beauregard castle. Acts include Tears for Fears, Limp Bizkit, Fat Boy Slim and The Hives. One day ticket prices start from 49€.

For something completely different, the renowned jazz festival in Coutances will be held from 24th May – 1st June. This festival is now in its 38th year and attracts international jazz artists. The line-up includes Angélique Kidjo, Electro Deluxe, Kneebody, the Amazing Keystone Big Band and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. The sets for Jazz Sous Les Pommiers (or Jazz Under the Apple Trees) are dotted all around Coutances and some are outside meaning you can enjoy the music as you stroll around. Tickets start from 12€. You can purchase tickets from Les Unelles in Coutances or alternatively go online via www.ticketmaster.fr. More information about the concerts are here.

Whatever your taste in music, you’re sure to find something in Normandy to suit you.

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.

 

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