A Walk in Villedieu Through The Centuries

Church in Villedieu

A walk in Villedieu is one of the best ways to discover this historic town which was established in around 1130. There are 14 orange and brown information boards with text in both French and English to help you on your walk through centuries of history.

Practical Information

Villedieu is relatively compact although this walk could take you around an hour and a half. Much will depend on how much you linger at each information board. The town is built on a slope so not all of it may be suitable for everyone. However, there is a reasonable amount that is flat. There are also cobbled streets and courtyards to explore.

Start your walk in Villedieu at the Tourist Office which is on La Place des Costils. There’s parking right outside although on a Tuesday morning the large weekly market takes up some of the parking spaces. There’s also a smaller weekly market on a Friday morning.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Mairie

Go inside the Tourist Office and pick up a copy of a brown A5 leaflet called Villedieu-les-Poêles – a trip through history. They have versions in both English and French. There’s a map at the back of the leaflet and additional points of interest to explore. Not all of the 14 historic boards are marked on the map. However, the location of all the boards is shown on the first information board you’ll visit.

Walk in Villedieu

This, together with the information below will help you to find all 14 boards and learn about Villedieu-les-Poêles. Alternatively, you can buy a pathways booklet for 1,50€ which details the 14 stops. It’s available in French, English, Dutch, Spanish, Italian and German.

The information boards look like this. The first one can be found right outside the Tourist Office.

Villedieu walk

1. Villa Dei – Villedieu

The first information board explains about the history of the town and how it was named. With your back to the Tourist Office walk across the car park in La Place des Halles and make your way to the bridge which is marked as no. 2 in the information leaflet. You’ll walk past the old covered market/corn exchange on your left.

2. Le Pont de Pierre – The Stone Bridge

This is a very picturesque spot and one of the original entrances to the town. You’ll be able to find out where the keystone to the gate of the original stone bridge is now located by reading the board.

Now walk up rue Gambetta towards the church and look for Cour Deuzet on your left. Head towards the Commandery park which is no. 4 on the leaflet.

3. Les Tanneries du Bord de Sienne – The Tanners on the Banks of the River Sienne

Here you can learn about the leather trade that existed in the town. You can also see the back of the Commandery buildings. Retrace your steps and turn left up the rue Taillemarche. At the end of the street turn left until you reach the Commandery.

4. La Commanderie – the Commanderie

The Commander’s residence stood on the site of the mansion and the Saint Blaise chapel. The Commander held both religious and secular powers and dispensed justice. You can read more about the Order in the leaflet.

Carry on along the Rue du Pont Chignon until you reach the next information board on your left.

5. La Fonderie des Cloches – the Bell Foundry

Bells have been made in Villedieu since the end of the Middle Ages. The bell foundry building was built in 1865. You can take a paid visit to the foundry and tours can be arranged in English.

The website for the bell foundry is here. http://cornille-havard.com

Now retrace your steps and go back to the church.


6. l’Eglise Notre-Dame (interieur)- Notre-Dame church (interior)

Make your way to the north side of the church where you’ll find the information board near the doorway. There’s more information about the church in the brown leaflet. There are also information sheets in French in the church. The church was built in the 12th century and has architecture dating from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. In the north transept is a stained glass window representing some of the saints for the artisan crafts. Saint Hubert is the principal figure and he is the patron saint of the pot making and copperware brotherhood.

When you leave the church make your way over to the town hall. Before you cross the road, you’ll find another information board describing this location.Villedieu stained glass window

7. L’Hôtel de Ville- Town Hall

This is also known at Le Mairie. The town hall was originally built in the 16th and 17th centuries. The wealthy people of the town met here to organise the town’s affairs and taxes were collected here. The town flourished between 1846 and 1880 and in 1869 the new town hall was opened. It’s a wonderfully grand building.

Walk across to the the town hall and once you’ve explored the steps look for the next information board. As you face the town hall it’s on the right hand corner of the building on Place de la Presbyere. This board explains about the outside of the church so turn round to see the church and the features described.

Villedieu Mairie

8. L’Eglise Notre-Dame (exterieur) – Notre-Dame Church (exterior)

The gargolyes and sculptures are some some of the architectural details you can see.

From here, walk up the main street towards the top of town. You will now start to walk up a slight slope. The next information board is just off La Place de la Republique on the wall of a small alleyway named Cour de l’Abbé Gauthier.

9. La Place de la Republique

From the square you can see the statue erected in 1889 for the centenary of the French Revolution.

Continue walking up rue Carnot and onto rue Général Huard. As you walk up the righthand side of the road you’ll find board no. 10 at the entrance to the Cour aux Lilas. This is also marked as no. 10 in the information leaflet.

Normandy market days

10. Le Travail du Cuivre – The Copper Trade

Here you can learn more about the copper industry at one of Villidieu’s oldest workshops. Their website is here.

Cross the road and walk downhill on rue Général Huard. You’ll see the entrance to a courtyard and the next information board.

Before you go into the courtyard, take a look down rue du Docteur Havard towards the church. This is one of my favourite views in Villedieu.

Villedieu view

11. La Cour du Foyer – The Furnace Courtyard

Walk in VilledieuThis courtyard is one of 35 that you can visit during your walk in Villedieu. It’s also one of the prettiest. There’s lots more information in the brown leaflet and this is no. 11 on the map. The pan maker’s museum and the lace-making house are here.

Walk through the courtyard and eventually you’ll come out on rue des Quais. Turn left and follow the river. At the bridge cross over to the small park area. The next board is at the end.

Jardin des Lavoirs

12. Les Lavoirs du Bord de Sienne – The Wash houses on the Banks of the River Sienne

A number of public and private wash houses were built on the rivers banks during the 19th century. You can learn about how long the washing would take.

Go back across the bridge and continue along rue des Quais. The lane turns to the left and becomes rue des Mouliniers. Before you turn right down the hill onto rue du Docteur Havard you’ll find the penultimate information board.

13. La Dentelle de Villedieu – Villedieu Lace

Lace making was another big artisan trade in Villedieu predominantly between 1760 and 1880. Rue du Docteur Havard was one of the most industrious with over 500 workers making lace during the town’s heyday.

Continue walking down the street until you get to Cour de la Luzerne on the right hand side. It’s marked as number 19 in the brown leaflet.

Villedieu walk

14. La Cour de la Luzerne – Luzerne Courtyard

Villedieu Cour de la LuzerneThe final information board describes the houses in the courtyards dotted around the town. As an artisan town, the ground floor of the houses was the workshop and the living accommodation was above. The living quarters were accessed by external stone staircases in case of a fire in the workshop. There are still many examples of these outside staircases in the courtyards. The courtyards had large wooden gates which were closed at night during curfews.

So, that’s the end of your walk in Villedieu. Many of the houses in the courtyards are still lived in today so please be respectful when you go into them. There are plans to restore another 4 courtyards. You can read more about the courtyards here.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed discovering the artisan history of the town. The Tourist Office website is here.  You can also arrange a guided tour for a minimum of 5 people. Tours can be given in English and are arranged with the Tourist Office. As well as the history and the market twice a week there are also a couple of copper shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and independent shops.


An Art Gallery in Gavray, Normandy

art gallery in Gavray

Galerie Sur Le Pont is a recently established art gallery in Gavray in Normandy. There are two rooms dedicated to the gallery where you can browse and purchase artwork from local artists. There’s a wide range of styles and techniques on display and entry to the gallery is free.

art gallery in Gavray

You can also take art classes here too. English and French is spoken and all levels are catered for. On a Wednesday morning, there’s a life drawing class from 10am – 12.30pm. The Wednesday afternoon class is painting including watercolours, oils and acrylics. It runs from 2 – 5pm. Each session costs 8€ and you can pay as you go. Alternatively, there’s the option to pay for 4 classes which costs 30€.

art classes in Gavray

The gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday inclusive. Galerie Sur Le Pont is at 9 rue de la Liberation in Gavray and is above the Cadeau Craft shop. The shop also sells art supplies as well as other crafting materials.

Gavray art gallery art in Gavray


If you fancy exploring your creative side, then this is the ideal opportunity. Pop along to the art gallery in Gavray and try out one of the art classes or admire other artists’ work.

A Family Friendly Farm in Normandy

Family friendly farm in Normandy

There’s a family friendly farm less than 10 minutes from Gavray that’s suitable for younger guests. It’s called La Ferme de Lucie and is run by Céline and Benoît Hachler in Le Mesnil Rogues.

Normandy farm shop


I was kindly allowed to take photos of the animals which included goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, lambs, llamas and peacocks.

Family friendly farm in Normandy

Some of the animals such as the chickens are in pens but others roam free. Sensible shoes are therefore recommended as you may come across animal droppings as you wander round.

Normandy farm shop

There’s also a farm shop where you can buy honey, sweet spicy cake (pain d’épices), jam, cider, calvados, apple juice, cider vinegar and duck pâté. The apple products are all produced locally in Normandy.

If you’d like to pick your own seasonal fruit and veg, this is also available and is priced by weight. Strawberries are available from June through to the end of September. Simply pick as much as you want so there’s no waste.

Where To Find The Farm

The farm’s address is 46 Rault Bidel, 50450 Le Mesnil Rogues. It is located just off the D7 than runs from Gavray to La Haye Pesnel. Opening times from June to September are Wednesday and Saturday morning and afternoons. On Thursday and Friday it’s open in the morning only. Morning times are 9.30 – 12 noon. Afternoon opening is 2 – 6pm. Their website has more information about the pick-your-own produce and the animals you can visit. It costs 4€ for children and 6€ for adults to visit the farm.


For more family friendly activities in Normandy, read this blog post.

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.


Top 3 Normandy Museums

Normandy museums

There are plenty of museums to choose from in Normandy so I’ve selected my top three. They’re perfect for museum buffs or for a rainy day activity. The three museums are in Cherbourg, Caen and Bayeux.


Cité de la Mer

Cherbourg is much more than a Normandy arrival and departure port for ferries. There is a natural history museum, a museum about the liberation, parks and gardens and a fine art museum. You could easily spend a day here or fill in some time before boarding a late ferry.



The Cité de la Mer is a maritime museum housed in the former ArtDeco railway station built in 1933. There are six separate spaces to visit:

The Ocean of The Future

A new space for 2019. Visitors can explore 17 aquariums spread over three floors.

Cherbourg 1944

This permanent exhibition covers the period from 6th June to 26th June 1944. From D-Day through to the day the city was liberated, you’ll learn how Cherbourg inhabitants were affected during this time. You can view large scale photos and a film to help bring history to life.

The Men and Machines Gallery

The ground floor hosts a unique collection of deep-sea diving craft and submersibles.

Le Redoutable

Visit the Le Redoutable submarine and take an audio guide tour around the control centre, canteen, engine room and cabins.

Walking into the Depths Adventure

This is a 50-minute long immersive trip that transports explorers into the depths of the ocean. On board the simulator you begin a virtual dive down into the mysterious, inhospitable world of the ocean depths.

Titanic, Return to Cherbourg

Take an historic voyage on The Titanic and travel with 50 million emigrants on their way to the New World. The fateful shipped docked in Cherbourg on 10 April 1912 before setting off on its final journey. The stories of those emigrating as well as historic events behind the sinking of the liner can be discovered.

I’d recommend you arrive in the morning to really make the most of the museum. Your ticket is valid all day so you can leave for lunch and return later. Alternatively, you can eat on site. Le Quai des Mers restaurant offers à la carte or set meal options. Seafood platters are very popular. There is also Le Ruban Bleu Snack Bar. You can grab a snack or a drink here although it’s only open during the high season.

The museum is based at Allée du Président Menut, 50100 Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. Check out the website for opening times and ticket prices.

Watch the video below to give you an idea of what to expect in this spectacular Normandy museum.


Le Mémorial de Caen – A Normandy Museum

The Caen Memorial Museum, Centre for History and Peace (Le Mémorial de Caen) is built on a blockhouse used by German troops during the Second World War. The bunker has recently been opened up as part of the museum. There’s a lot to see in this Normandy museum and a minimum of half a day is recommended but to immerse yourself fully you can spend a full day here. The museum covers the events leading up to the Second World War and how the conflict unfolded. There’s also a section on the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy. Visitors can also learn about other conflicts such as the Cold War and the Vietnam War. If you are visiting Normandy to explore some of the D-Day landing sites, the museum is a very good place to start.

D-Day in La Manche

You can download an app, purchase an audio guide or, alternatively, just wander round watching films, reading display boards, looking at exhibits and photographs. History will come to life before you as you walk through the decades of conflict since the Second World War.

Practical Information

The museum is open 7 days a weeks although check opening times on the website. It closes for part of January and opening times differ throughout the year. From April through to September it’s open from 9am to 7pm. There’s plenty of free parking together with a restaurant, snack bar, gift shop as well as various places to sit throughout the museum. Information about the snack bar and restaurant is here. It costs 19,80€ for a single ticket but family tickets cost 51€. A family ticket allows 2 adults and at least one child (under 18) entry although there’s no limit on the number of children. If you want to see other Normandy sites such as Arromanches 360 circular cinema or Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg (a nautical and maritime museum), then there are packages available for joint tickets.

How To Get There

Caen Memorial Museum
The museum is on Esplanade Général Eisenhower, 14050 Caen

GPS N 49° 20′ 24″ – O 00° 37′ 16″

By car: coming from Paris on the A13 or from Rennes on the A84, take the Northbound ringroad (périphérique), exit n°7

By bus: no.2 from the city centre. Easy access for disabled people.

There is access as well as facilities for people with reduced mobility.

For more information visit the museum website.


Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth measuring nearly 70 metres long and 50 cm high and depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. Characters include William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, (later King of England).

Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry

You can read about my visit to the the museum here. The 58 scenes are technically an embroidery rather than a tapestry. I enjoyed my visit here enormously. The intricate embroidery is exquisite in its detail. I particularly enjoyed looking at the 2D facsimile in more detail and spotted all manner of things I’d not seen when looking at the original. The link includes information about each area of the museum, practical information, photos and a video.

The museum is at 21 Allée des Augustines which is just off the rue de Nesmond. It’s open 7 days a week from February through to December but check opening times on the website.


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.


Normandy Cycle Routes

Normandy Cycle Routes

A number of my guests have brought their bikes to Normandy to enjoy some cycling. Normandy has 1600km of véloroutes (cycle routes) giving you cycling itineraries via traditional cycle paths or secure roads with little traffic. The cycle routes are designated by special signposts. 700km of these routes are greenways (or voie vertes in French). Greenways are specially built tracks – often former railways lines or towpaths – where there is no motorised traffic.

Normandy cycle routes

For the serious cyclist there are a number of long routes such as the landing beaches to Mont St Michel. There are 2 options here meaning you can start from either Utah beach or Arromanches. The route is 210km (130 miles long). There’s more information here including a detailed route.


A visit to Mont-Saint-Michel

If you’d prefer to drive and take your bike, then you could cycle near Mont-Saint-Michel. You can’t leave your bike at the foot of the island or take your bike onto the island. The only permitted places to leave your bicycle are are near the Tourist Information Centre (near the parking) and by the dam. However, you can cycle to the foot of the island and back again. Read the information here.


There are plenty of cycle routes near to the gite. This website lists some of them. If you scroll down to the bottom of the webpage you’ll see a list of routes – some of which have a bicycle symbol. The cycle route in the image below is around Nicorps and gives wonderful views over the steeples and bell towers of Coutances.

Normandy Cycle Routes

For more information about cycling in Normandy check out the website or watch the video below.

Top 10 Tips For Visiting Mont-Saint-Michel

Top 10 Tips Mont Saint Michel

Top 10 Tips Mont Saint Michel

Here are my top 10 tips for visiting Mont-Saint-Michel.

  1. Factor in time to get from the car park to the island. It could take half an hour depending on where you park. Try and park as near to the shuttle buses as possible. Check out the Tourist Information Centre leaflet which has a map of the car park.
  2. The shuttle buses run very frequently so although there may be a queue you shouldn’t have too long to wait. The shuttle buses are free. There are 4 drop off/pick up points – the car park, the shops, the dam and the island.
  3. Some ticket machines for the car park only take cash and others only take credit card. Take your car parking ticket with you and pay for it before you return to your vehicle. Parking ticket machines are near the Tourist Information Centre and the main walkways to the car parks.
  4. Dogs aren’t allowed on the shuttle bus or in the abbey. They are permitted to go on the island and possibly in bars and restaurants depending on their policy.
  5. Check the tide times and opening times of the abbey. During the summer the abbey is open late. As Saturday is often a day when people start or end their holidays, it can be a good day to visit. The island is always open so if you arrive early before the abbey or shops open, you can still wander round enjoying the views.
  6. There are a lot of steps on the island and in the abbey. Taking a pushchair isn’t recommended due to the steps and cobbled streets.
  7. Restrooms are located near the Tourist Information Office, (inside the main entrance to the island) at the top of La Grande Rue and at the top of the first staircase in the abbey.
  8. Refreshments can be purchased before you get to the island in the shops near the car park or in the bars and restaurants on the island. Food and drink shouldn’t be consumed in the abbey.
  9. If you are going to go to the abbey, plan your route up to it. During peak season, the island is very busy. The main entrance leads to a narrow cobbled street (La Grande Rue) with bars and restaurants that leads up to the abbey. Most people take this route. There is a staircase immediately after the post office (La Poste) which is on the left near the main entrance. Although it’s a lot of steps to climb it can be preferable to the narrow main street. A better option is to avoid the main entrance completely. Instead, as you approach the island, look over to the left where there is a turreted structure and an archway. It’s not always accessible during the high tides. This is a gentler and quieter route.
  10. Take your time in the abbey as doubling back isn’t easy. Pick up a leaflet in the ticket hall that gives a map of the abbey’s layout as this will help you to get your bearings.

For more information, check out this in-depth guide with  more tips for visiting Mont Saint Michel. You’ll also be able to browse photos, videos and practical information.

Mont-Saint-Michel ramparts

Salle des Chevaliers at Mont-Saint-Michel
Salle des Chevaliers at Mont-Saint-Michel


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.


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

Christian Dior Museum


Top 3 Things To Do In Normandy


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.
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.


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.

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.