This year in Normandy the largest event is going to be the 70th anniversary of D-Day without a doubt. However, even though this may be the main reason that tourists come to the region, there are still plenty of other reasons to stop by and visit Normandy this year.
Normandy has plenty to offer Brits looking for a summer escape including some great apartments that are suitable for short and long stays. In addition, the city has a handful of hidden spots and great regional foods for those that love to sample unique local cuisine. Toss in some exciting events and Normandy becomes a must-see travel destination for 2014.
D-Day away from the beaches
D-Day’s main assault was of course over the five beaches that have been etched into history forever. The decisive day of the 6th June 1944 also involved thousands of paratroopers dropping over Normandy along with gliders silently landing in fields over the area. Horsa gliders led by Major John Howard landed just after midnight as close as 47 yards from their target bridge over the Caen canal, later to be known as Pegasus Bridge after their emblem. Attacking with the element of surprise in their favour the Company was able to take the bridge in just 10 minutes from the startled German forces at the loss of two men. The attack was immortalised during the 1962 movie ‘The Longest Day’ as well as in Stephen E. Ambrose’s ( Band of Brothers author) account of the attack, Pegasus Bridge .
Now the bridge is within the grounds of the Pegasus Museum opened in 2000 complete with a replica Horsa glider alongside the bridge. On the coast and within 30 minutes drive of the Pegasus Museum is the Residence Le Chant des Oiseaux in Courseulles-sur-Mer, overlooking the Juno landing area used by Canadian forces. Prices in June (D-Day itself is sold out) start from £457 for a 7 nights in a 1 bedroom apartment sleeping 4.
You trot to try these!
Everyone knows Calvados is the regional speciality in terms of drinks in Normandy but what about on the foodie front? The local speciality is pigs trotters and the dish to try is tripes à la mode de Caen , a mixture of tripe including pigs trotters in a broth. Café Mancel in Caen in a great spot to try this delicacy with a menu boasting other local dishes such as veal head with vegetables accompanied by a gribiche sauce, calves sweetbreads with potato pancake and cream of ceps with perhaps a tarte tatin to finish www.cafemarcel.com
Located inside Caen’s Ducel Castle the café is ideally enjoyed as a wider day out in the area exploring the castle dating back to William the Conqueror. Close by Pierre & Vacances apartments include those at Courseulles-sur-Mer and also theResidence Port Guillaume near Cabourg. Continuing the link between William the Conqueror and trips to the area the fishing port of Dives-sur-Mer where the Residence is located was home to the King of Normandy and Britain. The Residence has two swimming pools and a location within the marina and just 300m from the beach. Prices start from £138 for a 3 night weekend, Friday to Monday.
American Film Festival Deauville
The annual American Film Festival in Deauville attracts some of Hollywood’s biggest stars to the coastal town each September. Last year Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, opened the festival. Other attendees included Cate Blanchett, Nicholas Cage, John Travolta, Forest Whittaker and Jamie Foxx. This year’s event is the 40th edition with another packed schedule of events between the 5th – 14th September due to be announced in the coming months.
Pierre & Vacances has a number of options in and around Deauville but they’ll need to be booked early to get amongst the stars. Mix movie stardom with the pleasant beaches of Houlgate at the Premium Residence et Spa with prices starting from £501 for 7 nights arriving on the 6th September for a 1 bedroom apartment sleeping 4.
Take on a new activity
The beaches of Normandy are wide and long making them ideal locations for sports both on the sand and on the waters. Sand yachting is the activity to try on dry land utilising the strengths of the wind to gain momentum and speed along the wide sandy beaches. The Centre de Char a Voile in Cabourg has children’s lessons from just 8.50€ per hour. For those looking to the seas then kitesurfing is the sport of the moment and Kite-R Évolution runs a range of kite surfing sessions.
For those looking for an action packed holiday Pierre & Vacances Holiday Villages are an ideal solution. The Normandy Garden Holiday Village situated near Branville, just inland from the beaches, is made up of a range of houses and apartments. Activities on offer include children’s clubs split into age brackets, circus skills class and a wide variety of sports on site. Stay two weeks to make the most of all there is to do and an offer on 14 night stays. Prices start from £1,703 during the school holidays for 14 nights at a 1/2 bedroom apartment sleeping up to 6, including a 25% discount.
For more information visit www.pierreetvacances.co.uk or call 0870 0267 145.