A visit to Normandy, in the north of France, is not complete without a fabulous overnight stay at a château with sea-view rooms. Many of France’s hotels were built in the 19th century when the country experienced a boost in wealth with the end of its revolution, but there are much older castles around. Many châteaux now serve as luxe accommodations, and the region is rich in hotels of every kind.
Located in the centre of Bayeux, the Villa Lara is a luxury five-star property with a boutique hotel feel. Its 28 rooms are dressed in traditional French decor, using rich colours such as burgundies, purples and golds to complement a grey-and-white palette. The room’s furnishings are all designed by famous French cabinet-maker Moissonier, and large windows offer an airy feel with views over the enchanting Bayeux cathedral. The town of Bayeux serves as an ideal base for touring the monuments of the Second World War and boasts impressive sites such as the Bayeux Tapestry.
Normandy Barrière is a classic landmark of chic Deauville, a town known for its casino, sandy beaches and the American Film Festival. Nestled alongside the sea, the hotel’s eye-catching, half-timbered and chequered exterior is impossible to go unnoticed. It contains 271 rooms, each decorated with varying shades of toile de jouy (a pattern made up of pastoral scenes) and glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Guests can enjoy amenities such as an on-site spa, a swimming pool and free one-hour bike rentals. Other activities the concierge can arrange outside of the hotel include horseback riding (Deauville is also highly regarded in the equestrian world), rounds of a golf and yacht charters.
The chic and modern Cures Marines is found in the town of Trouville, just across the River Toques from Deauville. Its main draw is its spa, which uses thalassotherapy, a practice that enlists the help of the sea for its healing and soothing properties – hence the hotel’s name. Its ideal location in the town and its sleek, spacious and ocean-view rooms make it a top choice for anyone looking for a pampering, seaside getaway.
This former 18th-century castle is now home to Château La Chenevière, a five-star hotel located in the countryside, just outside the seaside town of Port-en-Bessin. Elegance permeates its 29 spacious rooms, each decorated in a unique style. Larger groups (up to eight people) can opt to stay in their Escures House, a romantic cottage located just minutes away from the property. The hotel has two restaurants on site, one gastronomic and one outdoor garden terrace, as well as a tucked-away speakeasy bar where you can enjoy a nightcap of the region’s finest calvados. Breakfast includes a buffet, à la carte eggs, and honey made on the castle grounds.
Overlooking the Seine estuary in Honfleur, La Ferme Saint-Siméon dates back to the 17th century. Its heyday came in the 19th century when it was known as Auberge de la Mère Toutain, an inn for painters (the Impressionists) who flocked to Honfleur in search of inspiration for their paintings. The painters’ meetings here would go on to create the School of Impressionism of Honfleur, also known as the Impressionist School of Saint-Siméon. Today it is a five-star property that aims to capture the spirit of the Impressionists through its decor, service, and activities, such as painting lessons in the hotel gardens.
On the shores of the English Channel, Le Landemer is approximately 14km west of Cherbourg on the tip of the spectacular Cotentin peninsula. All of the 10 rooms in this three-star property have views overlooking the sea and the four located in the farmhouse, just steps away from the main building, include a private terrace. Panoramic ocean views are also on offer from their restaurant, which serves up fresh seafood dishes.
The Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde dates back to the 15th century and sits in the heart of the city, blending into the Gothic buildings of Rouen and looking as though it was a royal palace rather than a full-service hotel. Formerly the mansion of the Le Roux family between 1499 and 1532, its regal atmosphere is derived from a blend of both traditional (exposed beam ceilings and Louis XVII-style armchairs) and contemporary (a sleek bar, pool and spa) elements. The most alluring feature is its courtyard terrace with the hotel’s striking architecture looming in the background.
The delightful La Maison de Lucie is a three-star boutique property in an 18th-century house located in the centre of Honfleur. Its charm is obvious at first sight as leafy vines climb its facade, accented by shuttered windows lined with red brick. Inside, a combination of warm tones, wood-panelled walls, stained glass windows, and a log fireplace provide a cosy vibe, as does its backyard garden patio. There is also a spa located in the house’s vaulted cellars, exclusive to its guests only.
Found halfway between the cities of Caen and Bayeux, Château d’Audrieu is a Historical Monument with 25 hectares of park and gardens surrounding the former 18th-century castle. Refined and comfortable rooms are located either within the main manor or 10 metres away in their private villa. For something different, stay in their deluxe room in the trees – a treehouse cabin with full amenities and a balcony overlooking the English gardens. The luxury extends to the hotel’s spa by the prestigious Parisian skincare brand, Sothys, its outdoor heated pool and its gastronomic restaurant, Le Séran, which uses fresh, seasonal produce from the hotel garden and houses an impressive wine cellar.
A mere four kilometres west of the famous Mont Saint-Michel, the five-star L’Ermitage contains six suites with a neutral decor of soft pastels, wood furnishings, and private balconies. The hotel restaurant, La Table, offers traditional French dishes using local ingredients such as a foie gras with pommeau and calvados, and oysters fresh from the bay.
Nicholas Grantham contributed additional reporting to this article.