It takes literally nothing to get me excited about France! I mean, seriously. What isn’t to love? Recognizing that not everyone is quite the Francophile I am, I want to serve up a little inspiration for those of you who might need to jump off the fence about planning a summer getaway to France.
There is no shortage of excitement in Paris throughout the summer (it’s peak season for a reason), but I want to challenge you to get out of le dodge and take a quick train to Normandy. These little coastal towns have a lot going on and you’re not gonna want to miss out!
You may think Normandy is all D-Day Beaches and WWII history—and even if it was, doesn’t that make it worth at least a day trip?—but she really offers a wealth of cultural, natural, and culinary experiences that you are just going to love. But let’s start with a quick tip regarding the D-Day Beaches, ok?
Don’t go on June 6th, the anniversary of D-Day (when everyone else will be there)! Save it for July 4th and have a fitting celebration of your own to commemorate U.S. Independence Day, as well as the freedom that our soldiers won for so many captives of the Nazi regime.
Another important reason to spend the first week of July in Normandy? Sports. Duh.
The 2016 Tour de France will open this year on July 2nd at Le Mont Saint-Michel, the stunning abbey off the coast of Normandy. The incredible site is worth a day trip from Paris on its own, but with all the festivities surrounding the Tour, you’ll want to plan on being there in advance. The cyclists will race the first stage from the abbey to Utah Beach. Following in their wake is a thrilling way to kick off the Norman leg of your trip to France!
You may think that a quick tour of the Beaches and a train back to Paris is in order, but I want to encourage you to spend a few days exploring the region. Some important summertime highlights:
- Art lovers won’t want to miss the Festival Normandie Impressioniste, which is held only every three years and runs late spring to September.
- Foodies should book (well in advance) a Table d’Hôtes en Cuisine at Manoir du Lys, where chef Franck Quinton prepares a special six-course tasting menu with wine pairing for up to six guests in his kitchen. And by “in his kitchen,” I mean that you get to sit in his kitchen while he prepares your food.
- Sports fans can’t miss time in Deauville, which is home to two hippodromes that hold daily polo matches and horse races throughout most of the summer. The Gold Cup Polo Championship is held on the last Sunday of August, followed by the season-closing Grand Prix de Deauville. And if spectating isn’t enough, you can even reserve a private horseback ride on the beach through the Poney Club.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent most of your Franco-energy on Paris, the French Riviera, and the important wine regions, but I hope I’ve at least inspired some thought of visiting the beautiful, exciting, and historical region of Normandy.
What tips do you have to share about this region? I’d love to hear about your favorite things to see, do, eat and drink in Normandy! Please comment below with your ideas.