To do in and around Normandy
There is so much to do and see in this historic part of France within easy driving distance. Traffic free roads, markets with local Normandy produce and restaurants all add to this charming rural area. We can always provide ideas for things to do and have listed below some places to visit and things to do during your stay in Normandy.
Local Normandy activities
- Beaches – from secluded sandy bays to cosmopolitan towns with restaurants, nightclubs and promenade activities to sporting beaches with surfing, sailing, sand yachting and paragliding
- Activity park – Lac de la Dathée : (43 hectare leisure lake set in open country, circled by footpaths or crossable by rented sailing boat, windsurfing, kayak, or pedalo) – 23km
- Zoos – there are two zoos within 15 minutes drive: Jurques
- Chateaux (Pont Bellinger and Clécy) and gardens (Giverny)
- Walking – explore the ‘Vaux de Vire’, steep-sided, lush, wooded riverside walks on your own – or join a locally organised fun and friendly walking/rambling outing : tel 02 31 90 74 49. (Vire pictured above)
- Aquarium – St Malo – a fantastic and educational day out
- Mont St Michel – picturesque monastry set on a granite top
- Golf – Clécy 20km and 20 golf courses within an hour’s drive (the owner is a keen golf enthusiast and will happily advise)
- Fishing – sea fishing and fresh water fishing on your gite’s River Vire
- Horse riding
- Bungee jumping at the AJ Hacket bungee jumping centre 5km
- Horse-riding at Bény-Bocage 5km
- Tennis 6km
- Swimming – open air pool 15km
- Shops at Bény Bocage 5km
- Forests – directly across the river from your gite and the famous St Severs Forest (20km)
- Bird sanctuary de la Dathée – Parc Lenormand
- ‘Vire Mortain’ – an old railway-line restored for walks and horse riding : tel : 02 9967 42 21
- British War Cemetary – St Charles de Percy – the only remaining ‘active’ British cemetary in Normandy
- Disneyland, Paris – you can drive to Disneyland in 3.5 hours
Nearby Normandy towns
- Avranches – busy likeable town looking across the bay to Mont St Michel. Explore its maze of little alleys and historic relics. Visit its Jardin des Plantes – magnificently illuminated at night – which overlooks
- Bayeux – the first French town to be liberated (7th June 1944), a delightful and interesting historical town which miraculously escaped the ravages of the war and of course boasts the famous tapestry which presents its unique record of the events of 1066. One of France’s finest cathedrals dominates the centre of the town.
- Bény-Bocage 5km – local village with doctor, pharmacy, bar, etc
- Caen – capital and largest city of Basse-Normandie – devastated in 1944 but sympathetically restored and still a pleasant modern city, though industrial – a day spent there will probably be more than sufficient.
- Campeaux 3km – the nearest village with shops and a bar.
- Clécy – delightful little town at the foot of wooded slopes – excellent for exploring beauty spots and and one of the only hang-gliding spots in North Western France. Along the riverside by Pont de Vey, cafés and restaurants flourish. Its huge model railway is a replica of a route from Clécy to Flanders.
- Condé-sur-Noireau – small cotton town in Suisse-Normande with a charming lakeside chateau, Pontécoulant.
- Domfront – superb countryside, a public park leading up to its Norman castle ruins, from which the views of unspoilt countryside are spectacular – a slender footbridge connects the castle to the narrow cobbled streets, half-timber houses, secret courtyards and noble mansions – see Normandy in the middle-ages!!
- Granville characterful fashionable resort with busy port and drawbridge leading to ramparts 56km
- Mont Saint-Michel 70km – a focus of faith, architecture, pilgrimage and tourism. Its architecture dates from the 11th to 16th centuries and its three museums are worth visiting.
- Mortain – halfway up a rocky hillside among deep forest land and lovely waterfalls of the river Cance, waters fall 25 meters. The town is dominated by the rather severe 13th century gothic limestone St Evroult church – but the joy of Mortain is following woodland paths crossing streams on little bridges and stepping stones.
- Rouen 200km – a mix of old and new – the vieux-ville is spires and bell-towers and romantically beautiful while the industrial new city is a concrete mess.
- Saint-Lô – ‘Capital of the Ruins’ with memorial sites everywhere – walk the ramparts and look down on the walled town, visit its Musée des Beaux-Arts which is full of treasures.
- Vire 13km (railway station) – best known for it’s andouille sausages, and salmon trout fresh from the river, accompanied by the local poiré.
- Villedieu-les-Poêles (Gods Town of the Frying Pans) 50km – known since the 17th century for producing the best copper pans in France – a delightful lively little town with 18th century Flamboyant church,
- Seaside 40km
There are many historic Normandy towns all of which have a market at least once a week – these traditional french markets sell local vegetables, fish, meat, cheeses, clothes and bric-a-brac, some even sell live animals. There is a market somewhere closeby every day of the week.
- Torigni sur Vire (10km) – Monday
- Villedieu-les-poeles (35km) – Tuesday
- St-Lô (30km) – Tuesday
- Flers (25km)- Wednesday
- Villers Bocage (30km) – Wednesdays
- Bény-Bocage (7km) – Thursday
- Condé sur Noireau (25 km) – Thursdays
- Vire (14km) – Friday
- Caen (50km) – a FANTASTIC market on Sundays
Fête des Rogations (à l’Ascension)
Manifestation ” Les Virevoltés ” (juillet)
Concours d’Andouille (organisé par la Confrérie)
Chapitre de la Confrérie de la Véritable Andouille de Vire (end October)
Antiques Fair (November)
Marchés au Foie gras (2 : Novembre and December)
Foire à l’Andouille de Vire et Produits du Terroir (All Saints Day)
Normandy Horse Show August – Saint Lo (Tel: 02 33 57 77 77)
From Saturday before Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) until Mardi Gras is held one of the biggest carnivals in north France.
Le Grand Pardon des Corporations et de la Mer takes place the last Sunday in July (held since 1950) – religious festival giving thanks for protection of the town during WW2 with open air mass, torch procession and celebrations.