La Conciergerie

Beach-front house in Normandy

La Conciergerie as seen from the beach
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Things to do . .

La Conciergerie in Reville, Normandy, is the ideal holiday house for exploring the Cherbourg Peninsular, one of the most traditional and unspoilt regions of France. As it is only 35mins drive from Cherbourg, your holiday begins the moment you disembark. Cherbourg is the gateway to an area of Normandy rich in historical associations. Drive to Reville via Barfleur and you can stand at William the Conqueror’s point of departure, climb the lighthouse at Gatteville with its spectacular views over sea and land and still arrive fresh at the house in time for aperitifs on the terrace in the warm western sunset. Alternatively you can save it for another day!

Take a trip inland and discover Valognes, the Versaillles of Normandy, with its impressive buildings, great shopping and fine market in the square on Friday mornings. Normandy is a gourmet’s paradise, with many tempting eateries to suit all budgets offering the freshest fish and tastiest market garden produce, lush cream, butter and cheese, excellent cider and complex, appley calvados. There are markets every day at various towns and villages where local producers bring their wares and attract loyal followings of canny French housewives – it’s a food-shopper’s delight.

For those who love old buildings, there are many fine chateaux and abbeys to visit and explore. Drive South and inland and visit Briquebec where the monks make honey and beer(?), St Sauveur – le –Vicomte, the Abbey of Montebourg and Lessay Abbey, all fine architectural sites and cultural centres which host art exhibitions and concerts as diverse as the Rachmaninov Vespers sung by the St Petersburg Choir and Celtic music festivals with artistes from all over the world as well as exhibitions of local crafts, potters and painters. At the base of the peninsular is the magnificent Mont St Michel, a whole community on an island accessible at low tide across the causeway; it marks the entrance to Brittany and its sister monastery is St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. Many of the country houses open their gardens throughout the year and there are plenty of gentle walks through wooded landscapes or more demanding rambles for the determined walker all across the peninsular.

History buffs will find much to interest them in the Cotentin. Not only is there a wealth of Roman and Norman connections but it is also the site of the Normandy D-Day landings and Utah Beach is only 40 mins drive down the coast. The memorials and museums are impressive and accessible – there is even a piece of parachute still attached to the tower of the church at St Mere Eglise, and the Museum of Occupation at Quineville brings life in France during WW2 vividly to life. Continue on to Bayeux and see the world-famous Bayeux Tapestry as well as a charming Mediaeval town centre and Cathedral.

Sporting types will find something for everyone in the Cotentin. Sailing at St Vaast is some of the safest on the Manche and the sailing school runs courses for all levels of sailor, including for catamarans. Reville has an equestrian centre for riders, and those who don’t ride can sit on the terrace and watch their friends or children ride out over the sands of the tidal bay at low tide, while enjoying a glass of local cider and a plate of oysters harvested from the bay. If horseracing is a passion, the racecourse at St Lo is only an hour away. Golfers can check the links course at Quineville (Simon’s first round since leaving school saw his opponent hook his ball over the coast road onto the beach) as well as larger courses further afield. Cyclists love the lanes and long, straight Roman roads of the Cotentin. The French are keen cyclists and give room and respect to those who cycle around the area. Walkers, too, are welcomed at the little Auberges, cafes and bars that pepper the countryside. Alternatively, if you wish to be lazy and lie on the beach, La Conciergerie is the best place for it, as it faces South and the swimming is perfect at high tide – or sail off the beach to the island of Tatihou with a picnic and collect shells on the beach below Vauban towers and watch the wildlife in the nature reserve.

On the other side of the peninsular, the landscape is totally different, with long, wide windswept beaches, similar to Norfolk, and flatter, marshier inland areas. These, too, have their secrets just waiting to be discovered such as the castle at Pirou and the ferry to Alderney or Jersey for that fascinating day-trip to the Channel Islands – a slice of England in France as it were. Up towards La Hague, the coastline becomes rocky and full of tiny coves hidden between precipitous cliffs. This was a favourite haunt of some of France’s writers and painters in the 19th and 20th centuries.

These are only some of the wide variety of things you can do in Normandy and you will find no better base than La Conciergerie, 2 Route des Monts, Reville,
Bon Voyage et Bonnes Vacances!