If you picture your ideal French countryside with friendly farmers, long drives along the sea, incredible delights, medieval villages and castles along the road, there is a chance that you might fall in love with Brittany & Normandy...
Brittany and Normandy are two beautiful regions located Northwestern France, where landscapes are of rolling green fields, farmhouses and white chalk cliffs. History is in abundance there, as is art, culture -not to mention the food.
There is plenty to explore and therefore, many itineraries possibles. We've started our journey from the lovely St Malo in Brittany to finish in pure beauty with Claude Monet's gorgeous property. This is one of the most characteristic road trip to do in France, as it mixes the best of our culture (namely crepes + cider).
Follow our charming itinerary along Brittany and Normandy's roads, from castles to islands, to stunning nature wonders... And please, if you've traveled around, share your experience in the comments. I am dying to go back there and get to know these two regions more (=eat more crepes, drink more cider). Bon voyage!
Itinerary of a road trip : from Brittany to Normandy
01|The perfect start in St Malo
Kites on the beach, sunset to die for, tiny islands, medieval granite ramparts, old fort, charming narrow alleys, friendly restaurants, signature cuisines -seafood, salted butter caramel, crepes & galettes... It was love at first sight with St Malo! This old walled city reflects perfectly the charm of Brittany.
Don't miss: Le Café La Java for its quirky atmosphere (3, Rue Sainte-Barbe).
02|Views from the magnificent Mont St-Michel
The tiny tidal rocky island called Mont St-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most famous sights in France -get there very early to avoid the crowds. The island is absolutely charming with its tiny alleys and charming boutiques. The highlight is the visit of the Abbey Church, reached by climbing to the top of Mont St-Michel -it offers a breathtaking panoramic views.
03|Haute Couture at La Maison Dior
On the cliff facing the islands in Granville stands Christian Dior's perfect peachy pink childhood home. The villa became the Musée Dior, that holds a different exhibition dedicated to the designer's memory every year. The garden is a real piece of art, with stunning sea views, mosaic floor ornament, pergola and a great rose garden. J'adore!
Don't miss: Le Mathata, delicious restaurant in Granville - everything homemade (184 Avenue de la Libération)
04|Pure wilderness on Chausey Island
From Granville, you can hop on a ferry to les îles Chausey, l'île de Jersey or the Channel Islands. We chose Chausey Island -the closest- for a nice, remote day-trip. On the ferry: a dozen of fishermen/women and 4 'lost' tourists (us). We're off-season, the island is nearly deserted. It feels like we are lost somewhere in wild Ireland. We hear nothing but the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks... The Chausey islands are the definition of serenity.
05|Sunset from the Cabins in Gouville-sur-Mer
The long beach of Gouville-sur-Mer is dotted with these cute retro wooden sheds. White cabins with blue, yellow, green or red roofs... It evokes back when tourists started to come to the beach. They are now part of Normandy's cultural heritage, and a true inspirations for artists. It's a peaceful and unique place, perfect to enjoy the sunset with a cheese & wine picnic.
06|Sweet treats at la Maison du Biscuit & la Biscuiterie de l'Abbaye
Now we're talking!! If you like biscuits (who doesn't?), there are two places not to miss: La Maison du Biscuit (you HAVE to taste the financiers!) and La Biscuiterie de L'Abbaye, where you can actually visit the factory (yes, you will also taste some crispy biscuits). The roads to both places are stunning and part of the journey...
07|Majestic castles along the road
We took the route D511 and were happy to stop many times to admire the majestic castles along the road. The region abounds with these masterpieces of architecture. Built the 18e century, le Château de Vendeuvre is one of the most beautiful, a true jewel of Normandy, preserved with its original decoration and furniture.
08|The much talked about Cider Route
Normandy is famous for its abundance of apple orchards and cider making, so no trip to the region would be complete without indulging in some of the local beverages (obviously it HAS to be drank with crepes). There is a clearly signed route called the “Route du Cidre” that is about 40 km long and passes by the producers of cider in the region. Following the Route du Cidre will not only allow you to sample the local ciders, but you’ll also be able see and explore some of Normandy’s small, quaint villages.
09|Greatness of the White Cliffs in Etretat
The cute village of Etretat lies on Normandy's picturesque coastline, at the foot of spectacular white limestone cliffs. The cliffs reach 90 meters heights, and from the top are sensational panoramic views. Be aware of the tides before you go explore the beaches, if you don't want to end up like me, walking/trying to run with my fancy boots on my hands and water to my knees -in cold November!-.
10|Legendary Claude Monet's House & Garden
Monet's garden and lovely property is only one hours' drive away from Paris. The garden flower is a delight, and the famous water garden with THE Japanese bridge and waterlily pond surrounded by lush weeping willow trees is absolutely legendary. Unfortunately I didn't get enough time to visit it, it's on my plans for my next trip in Paris.
It's funny, how you need to leave your country to realize how beautiful it is... It took me 25 years to explore Brittany and Normandy, and now that I know how STUNNING these regions are, I can't wait to go back and discover more (crepes crepes crepes!). Sure, it can be cold and rainy, but that's part of the atmosphere (+ that's an excuse to take refuge in a restaurant and try some specialities -did I tell you Normandy is the region of camembert?-).