Normandy has been welcoming thousands of travellers each year for decades and always with arms wide open. Chain hotels in the region are seldom found, a blessing in disguise as a stay in a bed and breakfast or guesthouse brings with it new connections, a personalised experience, and a local touch. Here are the top 10 guesthouses and B&Bs in Normandy, France.
Villa Cambette is the dwelling of Valerie and Bruno, who welcome guests into their 18th century home located on a quiet street in the town of Bayeux. They offer three charming bedroom suites with private bathrooms (equipped with Fragonard toiletries, might we add) and each beautifully decorated in its own unique style. A mere 400 metres away from the famous Bayeux Tapestry, the Villa’s central location is ideal for those looking to spend time exploring this medieval town or to discover the Landing Beaches of the Second World War – Omaha, Gold and Juno beaches being the closest. Breakfast is enjoyed outside on one of the three terraces located in the home’s stunning gardens.
La Pommetier’s owners, Danielle and Mike, are Australian expats who fell to the charms of Normandy after stumbling upon the house that is now La Pommetier on a visit to France in 2013. The slower pace of living in the French countryside was the life for them, so they abandoned their corporate careers in Melbourne and opened up their charming B&B at the epicentre of World War II monuments in Arromanches-les-Bains. They have three double occupancy rooms with queen beds, and a fourth double room suite that can sleep four – all thoughtfully decorated in a wash of soft pastels and adorned with framed artwork and antique furnishings.
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 and tourist activities. 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 2500 square metres 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, the final resting place of Claude Monet.
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 are redefining the Normandy experience, offering contemporary and trendy 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 50 to 100 metres of the ocean. All units are fully equipped with a kitchen, WiFi, and linens. Though not a bed and breakfast, the ladies’ gracious hospitality still shines through in their offer to handle a few services upon booking, such as seafood and cheese plates or a picnic basket with local goods. Be sure to check out their pop-up store, La Compagnie Ordinaire de la Mer, if in town on a Sunday. It’s a lifestyle boutique selling specialty groceries, stationery, home decoration, books, and arts and crafts.
Manoir de la Fieffe is located three kilometres north of the sandy beaches of Cotentin near the city of Cherbourg. Guests 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 and 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 dreamed of sleeping in a pink castle in the French countryside? Meet Chateau de Chantore, a private chateau 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 itself, surrounded by a 19-hectare park that includes exotic trees, bamboo jungles, rivers, lakes and 14 waterfalls. Guests staying there also have partial access to the castle, including the sitting room, the Chinese room, the dining room and the stables. The rest of the property is up for view-only through a private tour booking with its owner.
Where the Calvados and Orne regions of Normandy meet is known as Swiss Normandy, an adventure lover’s idyll in the Orne Valley where 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 with guests information on surrounding trails and restaurants.
In the small village of Berville-sur-Mer, just 12 kilometres 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 guests 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 a selection of house-made preserves concocted by Marie, the owner, and lunch and dinner services are available on request.
Discover the Manoir de Sens, built on the grounds of a former chateau 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 is comprised of 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.