Travel

#bucketlist Normandy extraordinaire

18.03.2019 | By MICOL PIOVOSI

High cliffs on wind-swept seas, small harbors, crooked villages and a kilometer-long coastline lapped by the constant dance of the tides. Normandy offers stunning sceneries, like you would expect from a coastal region that stretches out towards the cold northern seas. But there’s more to it than landscapes: ancient traditions, the intense tastes of a unique kitchen and its friendly, easy-going people. If you’re feeling called by this land of extraordinary legends, you should definitely answer. And get ready for a journey that will stay in your heart forever.

Le Bec-Hellouin

A small village surrounded by fields and woods: not many inhabitants, few houses and a breathtaking abbey. Founded around 1034, the Bec Abbey soon became a crucial center for Christianity; hence the village that grew around it. Walking down its quiet streets admiring the typical houses with half-timbered walls will feel just like time traveling. Visit the Abbey, have a break with tea and a crêpe in one of the town’s characteristic cafes and buy a couple knickknacks in the antique shopping street.

Honfleur

Honfleur is an idyllic small fishing town that peacefully embraces the estuary of the Seine. If its typical houses perched along the harbor remind you of something you’ve already seen, it is because they have been portrayed by several great painters in art history: Coubert, Boudin and Monet found their inspiration right here. And maybe that’s why Honfleur is dotted with art boutiques and ateliers of all sorts, displaying one-of-a-kind souvenirs that will let you bring a bit of Normandy back home. But Honfleur is not only picture-perfect spots. It is the ideal place for tasting fresh fish cooked according the local recipes and sip some delicious Calvados. Besides this famous drink, the region’s specialities include fish soups and the unmistakable moules, the mussels. After your meal, enjoy a stroll in the town’s streets: visit the church of Sainte-Catherine, built in the 15th century, with its unique structure that reminds of an upside-down ship, then go for a walk towards the old harbor.

Étretat

Étretat is one of the many landmarks of the Côte d’Albâtre (lit. “Alabaster Coast”), which is known for resembling the English one for a peculiar feature: the falaises. Take a walk along the shore at sunset and let the sea-sprayed wind fill up your lungs, along the rocky path up to the top of the majestic precipices. From there, not only will you get to see the sun as it sinks into the horizon, feeling one with the wild nature, but also get a view over the town when the night lights turn on and dream about the refuge of the legendary gentleman thief Arsène Lupin. It is in the most elongated cliff, in fact, named Aiguille Creuse, that his creator Leblanc decided to place the character’s hideaway. When you are back to the village, treat yourself after the long walk: cider, moules-frites and crêpes are waiting for you.

Mont St Michel

When you think of Normandy, no destination is more iconic than Mont St Michel. Chanted, loved, portrayed and posted on social media, the town of Mont St Michel holds much more than just its tide-lapped island. If you’re lucky enough to get to visit this fairytale landmark, don’t just stick to its medieval streets. If you choose well your tour guide – so you don’t get tricked by the tides – you will be able to stroll along the local salt marshes or even visit the less famous island of Tombelaine, a natural shelter. And, for a dinner with oysters and omelettes, try the restaurants in La Caserne: a tourist town that, on foggy nights, turns into the perfect location for taking photos, thanks to its 80s structures and surreal atmosphere.