Croissants in the morning, a baguette sandwich or crepes for lunch, mussels and oysters fresh from the sea, beautiful little towns, wonderful gardens, nature, great trails for extensive walks and hikes with amazing views, impressive coastlines, beaches and bays.
This is France, the Normandy and Brittany.
Many people and friends told us to go to visit the Normandy and Brittany. And it wasn’t to long ago that we saw this really nice documentary about this region and the coastline of France on TV. Our decision was made!
Before we go into details on our road trip, we want to let you know that this 1st travel report about Normandy and Brittany is a more general report on our entire trip a long the coast of the Normandy and Brittany.
With 4,780 km driving and seeing so many beautiful bays, beaches and towns, we thought it’s better to split them into several tour diaries. That’s way we did two other reports with more details on each the Normandy and Brittany. So look up on our list of road trips for these travel reports. You will also find some moving images. So stay with us and get to see and read more.
3 weeks – 4,780 km > Berlin – Normandy – Brittany – Loire – Berlin
- 1,100 km > Berlin –Namur/Belgium – Normandy
- 1,080 km > Normandy
- 840 km > Brittany
- 410 km > Brittany – Amboise/Loire
- 1,350 km > Amboise/Loire – Berlin
Normandy > 1080 km
- Cote d’Albâtre: Dieppe – Fécamp – Yport – Étretat
- Cote Fleurie: Honfleur – Trouville – Deauville – Houlgate
- Plateau du Calvados: St-Aubin-sur-Mer – Courseulles-sur-Mer – Arromanches-les-Bains
- Ravenoville – St-Vaast-la-Hougue – Barfleur
- Landemer – Omonville-la-Rogue – St-Germain-des-Vaux – Cap de la Hague – Auderville
- Cap de Carteret
- Baie du Mont Saint Michel
Brittany > 840 km
- St Malo – St Lunaier – St Jacut de la Mer – Cap Fréhel
- Baie de Saint-Brieuc: St-Quay-Portrieux – Paimpol – Abbaye de Beauport
- Port Blanc – Bréhat – Perros-Guirec – Trégastel – Plougasnou – Pointe de Primel
- Roscoff – Kerfissien – Plouguerneau – Aber-Wrac’h – Pointe du Van – Lampaul-Plouarzel
- Pointe de la Torche – St Guénole
- Pointe de Penmarch – Névez
- Le Fort Bloque – Lorient – St Pierre-Quiberon
- Auray – Amboise/Loire
THE END OF SEASON
The summer holidays are over; the streets and campgrounds are empty and there are only a view people visiting popular sites. Beach huts were closed, almost no people on the beach and we were lucky to get a beer at a nearby beach restaurant. But we like this atmosphere and the beauty of this melancholia.
September and October is always the best time for travel.
And yes, we were so right going during to the end of the summer season. It must be very disturbing driving through all these beautiful – little towns with lots of many other cars and camper vans in front. It was very comfortable to stop anywhere we wanted and just walk or take pictures with no people bothering us.
When we planned our trip we went online and checked some apps and travel books for campgrounds in the region but ended up not to book any of those. We wanted to stay flexible when touring around and not having the campgrounds fixed or booked. This gave us much more freedom with our decisions on what to do or where to go next.
Normandy and Brittany are so very well and perfectly organized for camping cars and RVs. Along the road and or when entering a town you will see signs and directions for campgrounds, parking areas for camping cars, or just facilities for getting fresh water or taking care of your waste disposal. For these waste disposal stations you might need a token that you will have to purchase at the regional office of tourism or they just require a credit card. That’s how easy it is.
NOTE: Most of the bigger campgrounds, that are fully equipped, close at the end of September to April. But there are many other campsites or parking areas that will be open.
We don’t want to list the campgrounds that we stayed because as mentioned before, there are too many campgrounds at amazing locations and you will get some good locations from our other tour diaries “Normandy” and “Brittany”.
There was no campground or RV parking area where dogs wouldn’t be allowed. How great and easy is that? We loved it and sure our Tiger, too. Some beaches, like any other beach areas don’t allow dogs in the summer months or show signs that your dog must be on the leash. But in September and October the beaches are open for dogs as well.
SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS
Also see our detailed diaries on Normandy and Brittany for tips on places that must be seen.
THE GREAT ARCHES
We couldn’t wait to get to Etretat to see the amazing cliffs and the impressive arches. Also known for famous impressionist that painted these characteristic arches. Take walk on the seaside of the town with its pebble beach, watch the fishermen, or the surfers. You can also plan great walks on top of the cliffs with amazing views. Etretat is a charming town with little streets, to stroll though, nice seafood restaurants, extravagant hotels, and nice little cafes with terraces to rest and enjoying a crepe.
MUSSELS IN HONFLEUR
Honfleur Honfleur … My mom was crazy about this town and told as over and over again to visit this charming and beautiful city, which we also seen many times on brochures and postcards. Its located only 23 km south of Le Havre via the “Pont de Normandy” and tucked away on the southern side of the Sein’s estuary.
Very enchanting with its harbour, the “Vieux Bassin” located in the centre of the village with lots of sailing yachts and surrounded by great seafood restaurants.
It is the perfect place to have lunch. And the specialty for the area is mussels and French fries. No question, we sure did have our first dish of “moules et pommes des frites” . They come either just steamed with onions and white wine, or a Camembert or Roquefort sauce. YUMMY!
Behind the quays with a very picturesque setting are little streets with shops offering articles from the region; galleries with great art; and again great restaurants with terraces a long the way across the cobbles. The quarters on the different sides of the Vieux Bassin have a very charming and enchanting atmosphere and are worth visiting.
THE QUEEN OF BEACHES
A beautiful drive to Trouville with all the great villas when entering the town from the north through the winding roads down to the centre, gave us a very good impression on the wealth of its inhabitants and the beautiful 19th century architecture and its characteristics.
It offers great shops and many quality restaurants, especially for seafood. Monet and Boudin painted scenes of the 19th century bourgeois promenading a long the beachfront.
Deauville is attached to Trouville and as well know to the rich and famous, especially the Parisians for a great seaside holiday. In 1975 the American Film Festival was inaugurated in Deauville and began bringing stars and many fans to the city. The city is recognized for its great and luxury hotels in the Anglo-Norman timber-frame style, bathing facilities, beautiful 19th century villas, the casino, upmarket shopping, art galleries, Polo, horseracing, and again many quality restaurant.
The place we stayed for the night:
The Normandy and D-DAY
Along the coastline of Normandy British, American and Canadian flags in many towns and on beachfronts will remind you to the D-Day Landing. You can still see the many bunkers and gun emplacements along many beaches. Memorials, museums, cemeteries and other sites are set along the coastline of the D-Day landing beaches. The museums are very impressive and show very good material, films, images, and plans on the D-Day landing.
The invasion began in the night of the 5th to the 6th of June 1994.
The Normandy coast west from the Orne River Estuary to the Cotenin Peninsula was chosen for its flat beaches of this invasion and the area was closer to Britain.
The 60-mile coastline was divided into 5 sectors, which were nicknamed: Sword, Juno, Gold, Utah and Omaha Beach
Go and visit some of these impressive and memorial sites.
BARFLEUR WILD MUSSELS
The majority of mussels nowadays come from mussel farms. We scoped many on our trip through Normandy and Brittany. But on the eastern side of the Cotentin Peninsula are still natural mussels banks providing the popular “Moules de Barfleur” or also know as “Barfleur blondes”. The mussels are harvested from fisher boats. Check the local restaurants for the season of the mussels. They are not available all the time because they are coming from natural banks.
Restaurants around the picturesque port are good places to taste them. They are cooked in three different ways:
- À la marinière – a classical white wine sauce with shallots.
- Cooked in a cream sauce with Camembert cheese.
- À la normande – with a fish stock, butter, egg yolks and cream.
Mont Saint-Michel is located 600 meters off the coast, at the mouth of the Coueson River near Avranches. It is 100 hectares in size. Since the 8th century it has been the seat of the monastery. Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNSECO list of World Heritage Sites. More than 3 million people visit it each year.
It is an amazing landmark and must be seen. You can also take a flight around the bay.
Here is a video that we found on this monumental landmark:
SAINT MALO – LONGCHAMP
And the surrounding towns are worth visiting. Nice shopping, great restaurants and art galleries. The many villas on the various hills overlooking the bays will give you a great impression of the beauty of this region. We stayed for one night at Camping Longchamp.
THE ABBEY DE BEAUPORT and PAIMPOL
It was time to rest for two days after more than 1,300 km driving along the coastline of Normandy and up on the Brittany coast to Paimpol. Paimpol was a good place and very nice and charming town for the next days. A nice little marina in the centre surrounded by quality seafood restaurant invite you for a good lunch with moules. Many little shops with products from the region will attract you when strolling through the old streets.
THE ABBEY was on our map for a walk. It was built in the 12th/13th century. The ruins of this old abbey make a good picture with a nice view on the bay in the back.
The Campground is located right next to the abbey and is just perfectly located for a walk to the town.
WANDERING AT CAP FRÉHEL
Cap Fréhel is a peninsula in Cote-d’Armor in northern Brittany. It extends off the Cote d’Emeraude into the Golf de Saint-Malo. No towns are situated at the peninsula but two lighthouses from the 17th century and 1950 are located at the tip. It’s an amazing peninsula surrounded by high cliffs.
This was the place to slip on our hiking shoes and go for a long extensive walk on trails on top of the cliffs with amazing views. If you want you could walk all the way over to “Fort la Latte” on the other side of the peninsula.
THE BEAUTY OF BEACHES OF KERFISSIEN
A must see. Unbelievable beautiful. Take picnic basket and spend a couple hours at this amazing beach, especially during low tide.
NATURE PURE AND WANDERING AT POINTE DU VAN
Again a great place to stop and walking the trails with astonishing views. It pulls you off from the drivers seat and gives you time to breath. There is a little chapel to take nice pictures towards the light tower of Point du Raz.
Pointe de la Torche is THE place to go surfing or at least watch the surfers from a plateau above the beach. Great waves attracts many surfers to even stop by in the late afternoon towards the sun goes down. It’s a great hang out.
THE BEACHES OF GUIDEL and FORT BLOQUÉ
Long flat and white beaches, watch the surfers, or visit the Fort du Bloqué, great long walks along the beach or play around of golf at a beautiful located golf course in the back of the beach.
Saint-Pierre-Quiberon was our last stop on the coast of Brittany and we stayed four days on the peninsula. This peninsula is a must see with its beautiful drive on little roads along the breathtaking wild coast Cote Sauvage, the sandy beaches and coves. The peninsula stretches for 14 km. Many campsites are on the peninsula. So don’t worry. We found one right of the beach. The town of Quiberon is very charming with great restaurants, marinas, shops and galleries.
THE CHATEAUS OF THE LOIRE
On our way back to Berlin we went partly along the Loire River to see some of these amazing chateaus. We stopped for the night at AMBOISE with its impressive château overlooking the Loire. The town is charming and invites for a nice dinner with regional food in quality restaurants.
We found this marvelous video on the chateaux on YouTube:
SEE ALSO OUR DETAILED TRAVEL DIARIES ON:
Links and sites to visit in the region
Normandy tourism site: http://en.normandie-tourisme.fr/normandy-tourism-1-2.html
Honfleur tourism site: www.honfleur-tourism.co.uk/
The official site for Brittany Tourism: www.brittanytourism.com