All rooms in this lovely three-star hotel have a view of the old port, and are very comfortable.
Staff are very friendly, and the breakfast is good. They do have parking, in a garage about five minutes' walk away. I found I was able to get a good rate by negotiating directly with the hotel.
Hôtel Le Cheval Blanc, 2 quai des Passagers -14600 Honfleur - France - tél: (33) 2 31 81 65 00 - fax: (33) 2 31 89 52 80 E-mail: email@example.com
Very attractive B&B near the village of Mellé, 20 minutes from Fougeres. You will receive a wonderful welcome from Kevin & Christine in their beautiful traditional stone Breton home and they can give you lots of recommendations for places to visit. Unspoilt countryside and a great base for touring the area between the Mont St Michel and Fougeres.
Parking in the beauty spot of Etretat can be impossible. About four miles down the coast, however, is the small town of Yport, which was also painted by the Impressionists. There is easy free parking on the front there, and the atmosphere is more local and much less touristy than that of its famous neighbour. Take the steps up from the front and the steep road on the right up to the cliffs for fabulous views, especially if you stand on the old German lookout post, which is also a good place for a picnic.
Seine Maritime, near Fécamp.
A good, modern centrally placed hotel but is quiet too. Close to shops and the Cathedral and within easy walking distance of good eating.
Own car park but finding your way there can be tricky but the staff are adept at talking you in.
Mercure have another hotel, Champ de Mars. Being on the main through road it is easy to find, but not as nice as the Cathedral one.
Tucked away down country lanes between Concarneau and Pont-Aven. A really lovely beach - ideal for children with soft sand, sloping gently into the sea. A small Ile off-shore and small dunes and rocks for exploration and adventure.
A number of excellent campsites - the one where we camped was linked to the beach by a path through a field of poppies. Good place for the first French camping trip with a young family.
Raguenes Plage, Nevez, Brittany
Renting a 'Gite de France' still remains one of the best value holidays I've ever had. During our last visit to France, we rented a Gite on the outskirts of Josselin in the Morbihan region of Brittany.
The medieval town is beautiful with an impressive castle overlooking the Brittany Canal. It's an easy drive from St Malo and set in wonderful rolling countryside. We made several trips to the south coast at Carnac via the scenic back roads.
Eat oysters on the harbour fresh from the oyster beds for around five euros a dozen. Or treat yourself to an afternoon seafood platter at one of the many seafront restaurants.
This restaurant is a (not so) hidden gem where where the chef, the lovely Nathalie, cooks beautiful and original dishes using fresh local ingredients. Her husband runs the dining room and will give you tips on which wine will suit your meal better.
Their cooking book "trop mad" has recently won the first prize in the "Best local cookbook in the world" competition in Beijing.
Go there and you're in for a real treat.
46, rue Jules-Simon
Tel: 02 97 64 17 24
Open 12h15-13h30 and 19h30-21h30. Closed on sundays and mondays.
Recently the town has seen an expansion of its shopping centre. There is a good weekly market. Just outside the town is Notre Dame de Grace, a Trappist monastery, which sells its food produce at the gate. Very good value, with no sales pitch.
The town is dominated by a massive medieval castle, and the great thing is you can stay there - or at least in the hotel and restaurant built into the walls of the keep.
The best beach bar on this stretch of the spectacular north Brittany coast, Le Surf serves up simple meals of oysters, salads and steaks, at a very leisurely pace. The wide, flat beach is perfect for children's games and on a breezy day you can watch the surfers catch the waves.
Le Surf, Plage de Longchamp, St Lunaire, near Dinard. Open in season until 10pm.
This friendly restaurant in the north Brittany town of Ploubalay is fruits de mer HQ. Towering piles of crustaceans at very reasonable prices.
Good-value menus too. Best to call ahead to check opening hours and make sure of a table.
Restaurant des Sports, 1 rue de Colonel Pleven, Ploubalay, Cotes d'Armor, Brittany +33 2 96 27 20 07
Our trip to Hon Fleur was our first with our new 12 week old baby, and what a perfect first holiday it was.
Hon Fleur is French enough to feel 'foreign', but close enough to the UK to feel 'safe' with a newborn in tow. We travelled from Dulwich to Hon Fleur within six hours, door to door, less than it often takes us to get up to Lancashire!
We rented a self-catering restored French gite on a sheep farm, about 4 miles outside of Hon Fleur. Rural, peaceful, surrounded by a big garden and fields, and with the loveliest owners imaginable, we felt like we had secured our little family haven.
Using Hon Fleur as our base, we explored local areas - with the amazing French roads, driving was an absolute pleasure. Evenings were spent either sipping good wine and dining in Hon Fleur (baby asleep in his pram beside us), watching the world go by - or sitting outside our gite listening to music, eating homemade food and, yes, you guessed it, sipping good wine!
One week later (but feeling like it was much longer) we returned to the UK relaxed, refreshed, and looking forward to many more enjoyable self-drive family holidays.
A bustling small harbour with a daily fish market strewn with nets and lobster pots. There are some great no-nonsense brasseries on the waterfront such as La Marée (+2 31 21 41 00), with friendly, knowledgeable staff (they told us which village our oysters came from).
The coquilles St Jacques, huge sweet scallops, were fantastic and ridiculously cheap compared to back home. If you're visiting the Normandy beaches this is a good spot to stop for lunch.
There are just three rooms at this intimate chambre d'hôte (B&B) in the shadow of Bayeux cathedral.
The 15th-century stone terrace has been lovingly restored by its owners to reveal the original wooden-beamed ceilings. Breakfast and dinner can be served in the flower-filled courtyard.
The charming rooms are great value, as is the all-inclusive dinner: aperitif of pommeau (a liquer made from apple juice or cider, and calvados) dinner came with cider and was followed with a digestif of calvados, chicken casserole was cooked in cider, then tarte aux pommes. Yes, this is the land of la pomme.
Doubles €60 per night: all-inclusive dinner €20. 2 bis, rue Quincangrogne (+2 3l 10 09 27, antpas.com).
There are two reasons these five stylish self-catering apartments are so popular. Firstly they are terrific value, and second they offer something none of Honfleur’s hotels can match —a view of the unique 17th-century harbour, one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Apartments from €155 per 3-night weekend (locationdecharme.com, + 6 80 42 28 25 (mobile).
Very stylish and comfortable hotel, worth the £100 a night for a treat. The 18th-century house has views of Pont de Normandie and Le Havre and the oak-panelled lounges and seven bedrooms are beautifully decorated with antique furniture. Best of all is the spacious garden terrace where you can sit for a leisurely breakfast.
Doubles from €150, breakfast €17.
44 rue des Capucins, (+2 31 14 40 40, lamaisondelucie.com).
This good hotel stands across the river from the wonderful castle of Josselin. It offers a range of excellent rooms which have retained their essentially French character. The restaurant takes the form of an enormous baronial hall, with swords and shields galore but the important thing is that the food is excellent. Many of the rooms have a view of the castle opposite, and in the early morning the mists from the river disperse to reveal a huge curtain wall, topped by steeps roofs, turrets and pinnacles galore.
60km west of Rennes, off the N24; 40 north of Vannes, off the D778.
Logis de France 2 cheminées - 1 rue du Général de Gaulle 56120 Josselin
Tel : 02 97 22 20 11
Valognes is a small town with a lot of character, good, small hotels and restaurants, and a market on Friday mornings. The town's heyday was in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, when some spectacular buildings dominated the place, such as the wonderful Hotel de Beaumont. However, like most towns in Normandy, the weeks following D-Day devastated most of Valognes and what remains is a tribute to the determination of the people who survived that time and rebuilt their town. Valognes is worth a stay for its own sake, because it lies at the centre of an interesting region, and for the fact that it is close to the ferry port at Cherbourg but retains its own distinctive and attractive character.
18km south of Cherbourg; signs for Valognes, off the N13.
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