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Weekend in Normandy - Itineraries to print

Gourmet discovery and Antiques hunt in the Perche region
From chateaux to villages around Saint Paterne
A gourmet and cultural day in the heart of Normandy, the "Pays d'Auge"
On the way to Mont Saint Michel (a step into Brittany)
D day beaches

Gourmet discovery and Antiques hunt in the Perche region

The Perche region makes one want to explore this beautiful area, filled with sumptuous manor houses, deep forests and green valleys. Our suggestion for a days outing is to help you discover this beautiful area and on the way to find several antique dealers that we particularly like.
Leave Saint Paterne and take the direction of Mamers, the capital of the famous speciality from the Sarthe department "the rillettes", and admire the medieval market stock "the halles".

Take the direction of Mortagne. At 5 or 6 km away take the direction of la Perriere. This beautiful village is worth visiting, go up to the church and admire the amazing panorama : the site " de l'éperon. ". This village has beautiful manor houses listed as historical monuments.
On the main square, you can have a brief visit of the netting museum. The Alençon lace has been invented by Madame de la Perrière and the Alençon lace started by a net !
Leave La Perrière through the Bellême forest until the town of Bellême, where you will find 3 antique shops with quite nice objects. At Bellême most importantly stop at the chocolaterie : Bataille . You will be overwhelmed.
Leave Bellême, taking the direction of Nogent le Rotrou during few kilometers until the sign : Préaux du Perche. In Préaux du Perche turn right just before the church and follow the signs of " jardin Francois ". Discover in a very bucolique setting a charming garden.
This garden has been designed by one of the most famous florist in Paris : Gérard Francois.
If by any chance you are there at lunch time go back to Nocé and taste the wonderful food of the Auberge des 3J. It's very surprising that in such a small village you find such fine gastronomy.
Leaving Nocé in direction of Dancé you can have a look at the brocante setted in the superb Lormarin Manor, just outside Nocé .
After this short visit go back on the opposite direction and take the direction of Maison Maugis, then Mortagne. Take the road on your left in direction of the Manoir de la Vove.
Follow the red signs for the antique shop wich is located in a water mill. You will find there, nice country furniture very well restaured .
Leaving this place go back from where you come from and take the direction of Boissy Maugis on the main road. Take the first road on your right between the huge trees in direction of Maison Maugis. Between the trees admire on your right the beautiful fortified farm so typical from this region, you will reach after one of the most charming manor of the Perche : Maison Maugis. Continue your way and go down, then immediatly right, and then at the cross road left in direction of Monceaux au Perche. After few kilometers you can visit a very charming garden, the garden of the manor of Pontgirard.
From Longny take the direction of Mortagne, capital of the black pudding, where you will find 3 other antique shops .
To come back from Mortagne to Alençon we encourage you to take the N12 and we will be waiting for you.

 

From chateaux to villages around Saint Paterne

You will find yourself heading towards the old town of Alençon two kilometers from here. Start your visit at the Tourist Office located in the Maison d'Ozé next to the Notre Dame church. This superb residence was once the townhouse of the noblemen of Saint Paterne. It is said that the two houses are linked by underground passages which were used as escape routes by the Huguenots during the Wars of Religion. The lace museum, is worth the visit, as the house of Saint Theresa, just renovated andthe visit very well done. Tourist office can  also give you an audio guide for your visit.

After visiting the town you can come have a salad or  lunch, a drink, a cup of tea, or diner in our very new restaurant RIVE DROITE.

RIVE DROITE is located on the river bank, with a very nice terrasse, next door to the old bridge ( 31 rue du Pont Neuf - Alençon tel : 02 33 27 79 73). this beautiful building from the 18th century used to be the lace museum of the alencon lace wich is now listed by unesco also during the second world war, this place has been used by  Marechal Leclerc headquarters for the liberation of Alençon August 12th 1944.

 A very nice atmosphere, a good "bistro" cuisine, and a warm hearted service sums up Rive Droite. We are open from Tuesday to Sunday starting at noon time.

Saint-Céneri-le-Gerei

10 km south west of Alençon is Saint-Céneri, a village classed as one of the most beautiful in France and which is really worth a visit.
This wonderful spot is located at the heart of the Alpes Mancelles, a picturesque, undulating region which resembles an alpine scene à la Normandy!! Visit La Mansonniere garden, which is wonderfully charming.

Take the road to Saint Pierre des Nids, then climb to the highest point in western France, the Mont des Avaloirs… and admire breathtaking views of the extremely well preserved Maine countryside.

Climb back down towards La Lacelle and turn in the direction of Carrouges. Here you will find one of the most beautiful châteaux in the Orne region.
We strongly recommend a visit to this château, which resembles a brick fortress.
Recently restored, the interior gives a good idea of the life of one family in a great château, over the centuries. The park is just as spectacular.

Returning to Saint Paterne, take the road to Sées in order to reach Alençon via the Ecouves Forêt. Or if you have time, make your way to the Château d'O, a Renaissance style château famous for its beautiful trompes l'œil. Unfortunatly it's not possible to visit the château's interior anymore but you might go a little further in direction of Argentan in order to visit château de Sassy : The French gardens designed by Duchêne, which can be viewed from the château windows, are a typical example of a gardening style that above all aimed to control nature. The result is quite spectacular. The château's interior is also very interesting and includes an exceptional library.

On your return, don't miss the spectacular Sées cathedral, a masterpiece of Normandy's Gothic art. The producer Luc Besson recently shot part of his film Joan of Arc here.good antiques shop in front of the cathedral
You can pass through Alençon again by crossing the magnificent Ecouves forest. On your way, you will see the Médavy cross and possibly a tank from the Leclerc division. This is a souvenir of the Second Normandy landings, when Alençon was the first town to be liberated by the French Army on 12 August 1944.

 

A gourmet and cultural day in the heart of Normandy, the "Pays d'Auge"

You can choose to combine gastronomy with tourism. Why not take time to visit the Pays d'Auge region.
From Alençon, take the road to the Ecouves forest, stopping at the Château d'O, then continue first towards the Médavy château and then Haras du Pin. After Haras du Pin, carry on towards Argentan as far as the village of Bourg Saint Léonard, where you can visit a beautifully furnished, typical 18th century château. Then make your way to Donjon de Chambois and then towards Mont Ormel. It was on this very spot that the allies won the Battle of Normandy and where the Battle of the Poche de Falaise took place. A Memorial gives visitors a detailed explanation of this decisive battle in the history of France.

After Mont Ormel, continue for 8 km before taking a right towards Camembert. You are now in the heart of the postcard Normandy with cows, apple trees, green grass and of course… Camembert. And how about lunch in a farm inn located a few kilometers away, at Crouttes…

While you are there, visit one of the many farms that produce calvados and pommeau. One of our favorite is owned by Monsieur Ollivier, who always gives a warm welcome to visitors on his breathtaking 17th century farm.

You can then visit the gardens of the Saint Michel Priory, whose rose garden was designed by Louis Benech, or discover the charms of one of our favorite châteaux, Vendeuvre.

The castle of Vendeuvre was built in 1750. This Historic building was transmitted from father to son and is still occupied by the same family. Attributed to architect J.F. Blondel, this chateau is the perfect illustration of a leisure residence and has managed to preserve its decoration and furniture of origin.
Each part approaches a topic of the everyday life, presented by automats.
In the greenhouse of the château, the Museum of Miniature Furniture presents more than 700 small pieces of furniture and thousands of small Lilliputians objects. This internationally reknown collection was created by the Countess of Vendeuvre who received, at age seven, a marvellous miniature 18th century bureau in marquetry. It was the starting point of this splendid collection illustrating, on a reduced scale, the decorative arts from the 16th century to 1930.
You will discover three gardens around the castle : a garden in the french style, a utility garden, and the famous "Surprise" water gardens
Coming back by Falaise, make sure you take a look at the château where William the Conqueror grew up. And then come back directly to Saint Paterne in order to enjoy your dinner !

 

 

On the way to Mont Saint Michel (a step into Brittany)

Go first to Alençon and then take the direction of Rennes until a small town called Pré en Pail. At the exit take right, the N176 in direction of Mont Saint Michel until Couterne and then turn right in direction of Bagnoles de L'Orne. A few kilometers later, take the direction of Tessé la Madeleine, and admire on the way the beautiful little brick château. It still belongs to the Marquis de Frotté, one of his ancestors was the chief of the famous " chouannerie " during the French revolution. Fabulousl by its proportions, this small château is one of the master pieces of Norman architecture.

Continue your road to Tessé la Madeleine, turn left in direction of the little church, where you can park. There, you must make a stop, just in front of the church at Boulangerie Lenoir in order to taste one of the most fabulous macarrons that we know ! ! They are worth the stop. Then go back to Bagnoles de l'Orne : this very funny little town is a typical spa town from the 19th century. Oldfashioned, this town is a good example of the Anglo Norman architecture that you can also find also in Deauville or Cabourg .
Leave the lake on your right, pass the casino and take the direction of the forêt d'Andaine. You can make a gastronomic stop at the famous Manoir du Lys (one star michelin), where all the Quinton Family will do their best to make you happy ( tell them that you are coming from Saint Paterne !)
Drive along the golf course, have a look on your right at the early 20th century house on the left " the Gué aux Biches ", and continue your road through the forest until the " Carrefour d'Andaine ".
Turn left in direction of Domfront.
Due to its strategic position, this medieval city was during centuries one of the most important donjon in France. The old city is full of small details telling us this prestigious history.
Leaving Domfront in direction of Mont Saint Michel, you will drive in front of one of the masterpieces of Romanesque art in Normandy : the little chapel of Notre Dame sur l'Eau.
You will drive then through a county called the " domfrontais " which is listed as a " site remarquable du goût " , an area where the local produce is particularly tasty : specially the pear cider ( the poiré ) and the famous calvados.
At the exit of Domfront you will be able to taste some in one of the local cellars, " Comte Louis de Lauriston (he is my uncle). The calvados from Domfront is known for having 30% of pear in it, which results in a calvados not as strong as the other ones.
Driving towards Mont Saint Michel you will drive through Saint Hilaire du Harcouet which was bombed tremendously during the Second World War.
You will arrive then in the bay of Mont Saint Michel. In order to have a fabulous view you should go to the German cemetery at the far end. The view from there is really great .
Arriving to the Mont Saint Michel try to park your car as close as possible to the fortifications. Climb to the abbaye through the 2nd porch next to the fire departement, you will be the only one and you wont be bothered by all the tacky shops ! !
If you have time or if you like sea food you might want to 'step into' Brittany and taste a fabulous seafood platter in the town of Cancale. If you go there take the road towards Saint Malo, then when you arrive in Cancale take the touristic road towards the port. The view from there is fabulous .
In Cancale if you just want oysters go to the end of the pier, where you will find some ladies selling dozens of oysters for few euros.
Or you can make a stop in one of the restaurants on the harbour. We personally prefer the " Phare " and the " Continental ".
If you want to splurge and have an outstanding meal, you should go to the restaurant of Olivier Rollinger. However, you need to book in advance. He is one of the most famous chef in France.
After Cancale, enjoy a view of the Brittany coast by going to the Pointe du Grouin, or go to Saint Malo if you have time.
On the way back from Mont Saint Michel you can stop in the copper town of Villedieu les poeles where you will be able to buy all sorts of cookware made in copper.

 

D day beaches

As you leave Saint Paterne, turn left in direction of Alençon. At the roundabout continue towards Alençon until the 3rd roundabout, then turn right direction Caen, Rouen.
Follow the direction of Caen, you will be on the N 138 until Sées ( admire the cathedral !). In Sées turn right direction Caen, go through Sées,Argentan, Falaise (the town where William the Conqueror was born. You can see the château on your right from the ring road).

Arriving in Caen follow the ring road called Peripherique, and take 1st the direction of Cherbourg.
Stay on the périphérique until Exit N°7. Then follow the direction for the Memorial.
This fabulous museum is worth the trip by itself and we really encourage you to visit it.

The Memorial of Caen remains the only museum to give an overview of History from 1918 to our days. From the beginning, the Memorial has been dedicated to the causes and consequences of the Second World War, and today the perspective widens.
Thanks to 2500 m² of new exhibit areas, the visitor will be able to carry on with his trip through one of the most striking events of the second half of the century : the Cold War. At the end, the visitor will finish his trip through History in a place devoted to peace, an ideal place for thinking and meditating.
Innovative in its presentation, the Memorial of Caen combines History with a resolutely modern concept.

The first part places the 1944 Normandy landing in the general context of WWII recalling the remote causes involved in the conflict and its many consequences.

1) The collapse of the peace (1918 -1939)
Following the Treaty of Versailles, the creation of the League of Nations, Mussolini coming to power in Italy in 1922, from the 1929 economic crisis to the rising of Nazism in Germany, 20 years were enough to set minds on fire. This area built as a spiral stands for the chain of events which led to the inescapable conflict.

2) France during the Black years (1940 -1944)
An underground, dark, austere and threatening area plunges the visitor into the atmosphere of the years of German Occupation. Those years were marked by Repression, transportation, and collaboration with the enemy, a time when French people had to improvise their daily life while the Resistance was setting up.

3) World War - Absolute war (1940 -1945)
This space, which is completely different from the previous one, opens up to light just like the revival of hope experienced when the USA joined the war. Here the setting represents a whole factory involved war and the implication of the nations taking part in it, especially the civilians in order to free themselves from the yoke of the Enemy.

Then you can see different movies :

a) D-Day, June, 6th, 1944 - The Normandy Landing
There are two simultaneous pictures on the screen. One the left, the visitor can see the Alliés, last preparations for war. On the right, he can see the German defense getting ready on the Norman coast.
The visitor can witness the confrontation between the two armies in the morning of the 6th of June.

b) The battle of Normandy between June 7th and August 21st
Projected on a fully digital medium, this document was created through an editing of both pictures and animated maps. It reminds the visitor of the fact that the war and the suffering of men did not stop on June, 6th, 1944.

c) the wiped- out towns
In this room, which links the original part of the Memorial to the new areas, the visitor is immersed in the deafening anguish caused by a bombardment.