As you know, we aren’t full-time travellers and we actually like our day jobs quite a lot. This is why, week-end trips are our elixir of life. Sometimes you just need to open your eyes and see what is around you.
Normandy, and more specifically Deauville, is a typical week-end destination for Parisians but also from Brussels it is only 3,5 hours by car. You are looking for beautiful white beaches, historic places and authentic villages? Then this is your place to go.
Day 1 – Deauville and Trouville
Deauville is a great starting point for discovering the area. This small but glamorous city attracts tourists with its beautiful sand beach, its lovely city center and its majestic casino. Due to its location close to Paris, Deauville has long been home to the French high society’s summer houses and in its city center one luxury boutique is placed next to another.
When walking along the famous “Promenade des Planches” at the seaside, it feels like a better version of Hollywood Boulevard, as the place is lined with beach huts with the names of the film stars who have attended the Deauville American Film Festival which takes place every year in September and is open to the public.
If you travel on a budget, you might want to look for an accommodation outside the city as the place is quite expensive.
From Deauville you can take a small boat to get to Trouville in only 5 minutes. This more popular fishermen village with its wide sand beach, is also definitely worth a visit.
At the quays, one restaurant next to the other offers the possibility for a great culinary break. Sea food and the famous Norman Crepes are on the menu. Also don’t miss the local market, wich offers twice per week (on Wednesday and Sunday) fresh fish and other local products.
Day 2 – Honfleur and ETRETAT
At a 25 minutes drive from Deauville, is situated the beautiful village of Honfleur which attracts every year almost 2 million visitors, spending some hours in this harbor village.
Wander around the small streets with its traditional Norman houses. You cannot really get lost and you won’t miss the authentic main square of the village with its majestic Saint Catherine’s church, the biggest wooden church in France, and its bell tower.
The most famous picture of the village is its old pier with its small boats and restaurants. After walking around the city, this is where you can recharge your batteries before continuing the day.
You can then take the famous Bridge of Normandy (Pont de Normandie) and continue your road to Etretat, another small and beautiful village at the sea side. During high season, you better use the free parking for visitors around one kilometers from the city center away as parking spots are rare once you get closer and you can easily get stuck in a huge traffic jam.
The city center of Etretat is beautiful but tiny and consists of bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. On the other side, you will discover the beautiful beach with an amazing view on the famous White cliffs and its arches.
The best thing to do is to walk on the indicated paths to climb up the cliffs. From the top, the view is just breathtaking. Count around one hour for each side of the beach. While climbing up the right side of the beach (coming from the city center), we discovered a small beach which looked a lot like a paradisiac island with white sand and crystal clear water. We never thought that we would find those so close from home.
Day 3 D-Day landing and Memorial
You cannot spend a week-end in Normandy without learning more about its history and its determining role during World War II, when the allies landed on Normandy’s beaches in order to chase the Germans from the French territory and, thus, played a key role in liberating Europe.
We would recommend to begin the day with a history lesson in the Memorial Museum in Caen where different areas explain different parts of the war. Don’t miss General Richter’s headquarters, an actual bunker situated beneath the museum, the souvenir gardens and the brand new 360° cinema playing the film “Europe our history”.
After spending the morning in the museum, you can visit one of the five D-Day landing beaches and cemeteries in the afternoon: Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Sword Beach, Gold Beach or June Beach.
We chose to visit Omaha beach with its American cemetery. When arriving there, you feel like actually changing countries as American military oversees the place. Soon the atmosphere changes, when you see the thousands of crosses (9,380 to be exact) well aligned on a surface of more than 150 acres.
It is true that this might not be the most funny end of the week-end but it is definitely an important part of trevelling to Normandy.