From the breezy beauty of Honfleur to the majestic Mont Saint-Michel, the Normandy coastline in France is dotted with historical sights, seaside villages and golden sandy beaches. Enjoy a cider and Camembert-fuelled stay in Normandy at these welcoming guesthouses and B&Bs.
As a region that has shaped much of French and European modern history, Normandy remains one of France’s best-visited destinations. Although its iconic monasteries, medieval tapestries and solemn battlegrounds make it a destination for contemplation, its renowned cheese, apples and seafood mean you won’t go hungry while doing so. Here’s our pick of Normandy’s top guesthouses and B&Bs.
Le Clos Fleuri is just a five-minute walk from Claude Monet’s House in Giverny; its location on a quiet side street allows a welcome respite away from the crowds. The bed and breakfast offers three rooms – Water Lillies, Poppies and Clematis – that reflect an Impressionist influence through tasteful floral fabrics, ample sunlight provided by large windows, warm wood furnishings and potted plants. Encircling the house are 2,500sqm (27,000sqft) of perfectly manicured gardens, which could rival those of Monet, tended by the property owners and avid gardeners, Danielle and Claude. Le Clos Fleuri is the neighbour of Sainte-Radegonde church, Monet’s final resting place.
The white-chalk cliffs of the Alabaster Coast are especially noteworthy in the town of Étretat, which is just a 10-minute drive from Le Clos des Hautes Loges. Four guest rooms, three cottages and a luxury gypsy-style caravan offer a range of options for guests looking to soak up this region brimming with natural beauty. The newest of their cottages, Les Sardines, provides an especially authentic Norman experience in a half-timbered house with exposed wood beams and a stone roof, surrounded by open plains.
Astrid and Laurence of Les Filles du Bord de Mer offer contemporary beach house rentals in the seaside town of Port-en-Bessin. There are a total of nine rentals, four of which are seaside and the others within 100m (300ft) of the seaside. All units are fully equipped with a kitchen, wifi and linens. Though not a bed and breakfast, seafood and cheese plates or a picnic basket with local goods can be provided on request. Be sure to check out their boutique store, La Compagnie Ordinaire de la Mer, for home decor and local produce.
Manoir de la Fieffe is located 3km (1.9mi) north of the sandy beaches of Cotentin near the city of Cherbourg. You’ll have the choice of three rooms housed in a 16th-century manor or a fully equipped cottage rental. Rooms are spacious and full of light; each has its own private bathroom. The area of Cotentin is best known for being the site of Utah Beach, the American landing site on D-Day, making la Manoir de la Fieffe a great base for touring monuments of the Second World War.
Ever dreamt of sleeping in a pink castle in the French countryside? Meet Château de Chantore, a château with three suites and two bedrooms draped in quintessentially French decor – from toile de jouy in the Mont Saint-Michel suite (named after the view it boasts of the famous island) to 18th-century antiques in the Viscount suite. The property is an attraction worth visiting in itself, surrounded by a 47-acre (19ha) park that includes exotic trees, bamboo jungles, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. You’ll also have partial access to the castle, including the sitting room, Chinese room, dining room and stables. The rest of the property is up for view-only through a private tour booked with the owner.
Where the Calvados and Orne regions of Normandy meet is known as Swiss Normandy, an adventure lover’s idyll in the Orne Valley. Rocky cliff faces are perfect for climbing, gorges can be navigated by boat, and hiking trails abound. If this seems up your alley, stay at Les Sabots, a 200-year-old stone house with two rooms surrounded by lush gardens. The owners, Nick and Kim, open their doors between April and October and are knowledgeable in the region, sharing information on surrounding trails and restaurants.
In the small village of Berville-sur-Mer, just 12km (7.5mi) away from Honfleur, Aux Rives de Honfleur sits among lush gardens alongside the Canal de Retour, an offshoot of the Seine River. The hosts provide you with the option of four spacious rooms, two of which come with a private terrace, and all with a private bathroom. During nicer weather, breakfast is served in the garden, complete with house-made preserves concocted by Marie, the owner. Lunch and dinner services are available on request.
Discover the Manoir de Sens, built on the grounds of a former château destroyed during the Revolution, in the town of Beuvron-en-Auge, which is also known as one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. The Manoir de Sens comprises seven bedrooms, housed in a typical Norman half-timbered home, alongside a stud farm where the owners, Philippe and Anne David, breed horses. Inside, the manor is luxuriously decorated in 18th-century style and features crystal chandeliers and intricate crown moulding.
Alexis James contributed additional reporting to this article.