Just where hedged farmland gets lost into the blue of the English Channel, Upper Normandy leads us to cultivate its memory and visit its heritage.
Your stay in Upper Normandy will take you to Dieppe, the eldest of French seaside resorts. Patronised by the aristocracy on account of its waters, the town quickly extended to the neighbouring countryside. This brought attention to the charms of Varengeville, where before his death, Georges Braque signed the church’s stained-glass window.
Lighthouse enthusiasts should not miss the Cap d’Ailly structure in Sainte-Marguerite, just prior to escaping to the Petit-Ailly gorge, trailing the Alabaster Coast reclaimed from the sea, or roaming the cliff-side valleys (“valleuses”) of the Pays de Caux.
Then you should explore Le Havre, facing Honfleur across the estuary, and cross the Pont de Normandie, a bridge as long as the Champs-Elysées. Your journey through Upper Normandy should then bring you to Sainte-Adresse Fort, known locally as “Napoleon’s Hat”. On a clear day, the site offers up one the most stunning views over the Calvados coast.
From there, you should follow the abbey trail, leading from Le Havre to Rouen. As you leave Le Trait, you will notice the Forest of Brotonne, tucked inside the river’s meanders. In nearby Caudebec, the tidal bore is spectacular during the great tides of the equinox.
In Giverny, the refinement of Claude Monet’s “pink and green” house will delight you, unless you would rather daydream by the Nympheas pond and its water lilies. Running along the Seine banks, a road links Rouen to Vernon. Finally your stay in Upper Normandy will lead you to the curiosities found in the Norman Vexin: the “Gravier de Gargantua” menhir, the two-lovers’ coast, the locks at Amfreville...
Take the opportunity during your stay in a charming hotel to find out about other sites that you will doubtless find surprising. In Rouen and Evreux, there are still miraculously salvaged relics from the Hundred Years’ War. Those with an interest in quaint attractions will appreciate the Bec-Hellouin Abbey, founded by the anchorite knight: the small, decorative churches in the Le Neubourg plain and the Roumois plateau emerge from the bushy shadows of their cemeteries. The houses with wooden sections, found in the Old City in Rouen, still recall Joan of Arc’s trial.
Château Gaillard and its keep, built in Les Andelys by Richard Lionheart, dominate the Seine Valley. The old Gallo-Roman ruins of Evreux, watered by the Iton River, stand in marked contrast with the modern architecture of this city rebuilt after WWII.
In all good inns, the Chefs will offer you products from the terroir: duck in blood sauce in Rouen, Dieppe-style sole on the coast... Shellfish and seafood enthusiasts can treat themselves to mussels, lobsters and oysters throughout their stay in Upper Normandy.
And who can possibly resist the promise of a crusty apple tart served with a nice glass of "bère", that delightfully thirst-quenching cider which is supposed to stay quiet in the bottle and produce very little foam when served.
Escape to Upper Normandy and book your stay at a Logis hotel restaurant in the region.