Normandy holidays

Travel

The best walks in northern France: readers’ travel tips

Canals, wetlands and amazing coastline in Normandy and Picardy offer great hiking – plus excellent fish cafes and crêperies for refuelling in afterwards

The GR21 running 186km from Le Havre to Le Tréport takes in Normandy’s classic coastline, green countryside, architecture and second world war sites. I recommend taking the boat to Le Havre and doing the first few days up to the beautiful port town of Fécamp. You will see the best of the stunning white cliffs, vistas painted by Monet at Étretat and a wealth of history. As an official GR path, the walk is clearly waymarked in red and white, but there are handy maps at the tourist office in Le Havre. It’s easy to find accommodation and supplies at the towns en route and buses and trains back to Le Havre are regular and take around an hour.
seine-maritime-tourisme.com
Savas Arici

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Architecture

Le Havre, a short break built on concrete chic

Le Havre is celebrating its 500th anniversary, but its architectural gems are modern masterpieces built from the ashes of war – and now a world heritage site

Few cities make you want to stroke their walls, but in Le Havre it’s hard to resist caressing the concrete. All but obliterated by allied bombing in the second world war, France’s second-largest port city was entirely rebuilt according to the meticulous vision of Auguste Perret, supreme master of liquid stone and tutor of Le Corbusier.

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Travel

Normandy conquest: all-action family fun in the French countryside

On a group family holiday at a Normandy chateau, a sceptical dad is pleasantly surprised by how much fun the entertainment and activities are – and that doing nothing is an option, too

Call it an exercise in contrasts. At the summit of Mont Saint-Michel, the bronze statue of the archangel is glinting in the midday sun, sword raised and wings outspread. At the foot of Mont Saint-Michel, a small jam-smeared boy is wriggling through a tiny window in the fortress wall and idly breaking into the courtyard of a gendarmerie. The archangel is the protector of the mount. The boy is my son.

Four of us – me, my wife, our four-year-old daughter Bethan and seven-year-old apprentice cat burglar, Joe – have come to western Normandy to join 15 other British families on an all-ages adventure break. This group day trip is a mere bit-player in the week’s itinerary. The holiday is primarily based 45 minutes inland, at an old countryside chateau near Les Chambres on the Manche coast, near Brittany. It’s a wholesome setting in which rabbits hop, peacocks preen and mobs of croissant-fuelled children tear around, brandishing makeshift lightsabers.

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