Already for years we have had a crush on the French region of Normandy. It’s the place we tend to go outside the busy summer season to relax and do some sightseeing without crowds of tourists. Normandy has a lot to offer, from the historical sites of WWII’s D-Day to picturesque villages, from the beautiful coast to majestic cathedrals. Even just driving around in the bucolic landscape gives you a nice feeling. Two years ago we also found the ideal spot from which to explore this nice region : Le Petit Manoir de la Vernelle.
Le Petit Manoir de la Vernelle is an old 18th century mansion in the middle of the countryside. The building is in the typical normandy style with its facade of wooden beams and silex stone and now houses a lovely B&B.
You will probably get welcomed by Igghins, the crazy energetic and sweet dog of the house. But Igghins is not the only charming animal in this place. The big garden and orchard is inhabited by sheep, goats, chicken and two donkeys, all adding to a great countryside atmosphere.
Stéphane and Fabien are the two super friendly hosts and they do everything to make you feel at home from the moment you step in their lovely home. There are three comfortable rooms for the guests, of which one is a family room. La Gobinne is the most beautiful room with old hexagon tiles and century old built in closets. During weekdays it’s possible to stay over for a great homemade dinner as well. At breakfast you can taste some of the delicious homemade jams and marmelades.
A short drive from the petit manoir is the old town of Pont Audemer, with it’s old houses, small streets and little rivers this is a nice place to have some lunch or dinner. We had some nice galettes and crêpes at Creperie La Gargouille, next to the church. For dinner Stéphane recommended Au ptit Etal, also only a few steps from the church in a small charming street. We had some great seafood, including cockles and clams prepared in a simple and delicious way. Also the scallops with porcini and winter vegetables were a real treat.
It would take me too long to name all the things you could visit in the larger area around Le Petit Manoir de la Vernelle, but here are some of our personal highlights in the area. Touristy, but oh so pretty is Honfleur. It looks like time stood still in this old fishermen’s town. The old port surrounded by slate covered houses has been an inspiration for painters like Monet, Courbet and Jongkind and it’s fun to get lost in its small streets. Make a nice walk up to the old Notre-Dame de Grâce church and enjoy some lovely views of the town on your way up. For a nice beach walk you can head to Deauville. This posh sea resort still has a lot of charm and is also nice for the better shopping spree. Looking for a more spiritual place ? Why not visit the wonderful Basilica of Lisieux, the second biggest pilgrimage site in France. We also really enjoyed the gardens of the Chateau de Boutement. Try to get hold of the handy leaflet “Parks & Gardens” in Normandy, which describes around 120 gardens you can visit. As I said, this is just a very small introduction of things you could do, so visit the Normandy tourist website to get more inspired.
And when you are on your way back to Brussels from Le Petit Manoir de La Vernelle don’t forget to stop in Etretat, with its amazing cliffs. Or pay a visit to the lovely garden “Jardin du Mesnil” (see the autumn colors on the photo)
Le Petit Manoir de la Vernelle : La Croisée – 11, Route de la Ferme des Portes