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Recent Blog Posts

Ideas for the Kids in Lower Normandy

There is plenty for the kids to enjoy during your stay at La Merveille. These are just a few of the activities and visits that we can recommend. Click here

Our Guide to the Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches

Visit the Landing Beaches from La Merveille and follow our recommendations.
Click here

The Top 5 Restaurants

Need a few tips? Check out our selection of the best restaurants in the area!

Food and Barbecue Nights

We can now offer hot evenings meals and Barbecues

Click here for more details

Golfing Holidays

Use La Merveille as your base for a relaxing Gold break Click here for details

Exploring the Mont St-Michel

January 2nd, 2015 by Roger in Local News, Mont St-Michel

Spend a full day exploring The Mount

A trip to Mont St-Michel used to start with driving over the 1km causeway that links the island to mainland. The original thin natural land-bridge used to be covered during high tide, isolating the Mount, and following construction of the causeway you were safely directed to the appropriate car park by the walls, but not any more!

A visit to Mont St Michel starts today from the newly built car parks some 3 kilometres from the Mont. A charge of 12 euros here allows you to travel for ‘free’ on the shuttles (buses) that are parked close by. The shuttles take you along the new causeway (opened December 2014) stopping 300 metres short of the entrance to the Mont. The last stage of your journey involves a short walk across the recently constructed bridge. The end result being that once again the Mont St Michel will appear as an island with just the bridge crossing connecting it to the mainland.

On entering the Mount’s protective walls through the Boulevard Gate, and then the King’s Gate fortified with its portcullis, you continue up the narrow winding Grand Rue (Main Street) which leads up through the medieval 15th and 16th century village. Along both sides are arrayed a variety of boutique and souvenir shops as well as several restaurants including traditional pancake snack-bars right up to 5-star silver service with stunning views overlooking Mont-Saint-Michel bay. There are also a few hotels tucked into the walls if you fancy a truly memorable overnight stay.

Further up you reach the 15th century parish church of St Pierre (the patron saint of fishermen) and then four different museums within the walls of the Mount:

  • Archéoscope – The construction and history of Mont St Michel;
  • Maritime Museum – Discover the 12m tidal range in the bay and the massive works to restore the maritime character of the Mont Saint-Michel;
  • Museum of History – A series of collections of weapons, paintings, sculptures in some of the prisons and dungeons of the Mount;
  • Tiphaine’s house – Furniture’s, paintings and tapestries from the 14th century residence that Bertrand Duguesclin had built for his wife Tiphaine.

Finally you reach the Grande Degre (Grand Staircase) which leads up to the Merveille (literally ‘marvel’) the 3-storey 12th century monastery and abbey that crowns the hilltop. You can walk round the abbey either unaccompanied using the supplied guide booklet, or for a small supplement there’s an audio-guide tour available in English as well as French.

Mont St Michel is open every day of the year apart from the 1st of January, the 1st of May and the 25th of December.

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland!

January 3rd, 2011 by Roger in La Merveille, Local News

Having lived most of my life in the South of England I am, of course, thoroughly unaccustomed to the sight of snow.  I remember the odd winter snow shower, followed by enormous traffic jams and the resulting chaos. But I can never recall actually enjoying the stuff. It was always such a gross inconvenience!

So it came as something of a shock to find my Normandy home temporarily hidden one morning by a blanket of heavy snow that turned the whole scene into an astonishingly beautiful winter wonderland.  No need to worry about any traffic chaos. The road was closed and that was that!!

 

For the village children the snow brought  great news as there was no sight of the early morning school bus. By lunchtime, with every farmer and his dog nowadays in possession of the very latest in farm vehicles and equipment, a few heavy tractors were heard churning their way down the lane followed by a clutch of grateful cars taking advantage of an unsolicited act of road clearance. Despite the passing of a few brave drivers and their vehicles, the snow settled and the village was virtually cut off for three or four days. It was gloriously sunny and the snow was so soft in our temporary village hideaway.

The winters tend to be long over here in Normandy and the pace of life always seems so relaxed that is seems inconceivable that things could get any slower.  But when the snow falls everything comes to a standstill. For a few days it is possible to do absolutely nothing and just sit back and enjoy a fabulous landscape and a few days of complete solitude. Never thought you would hear me say it – but I just love to see the snow and a chance to go walking in my winter wonderland.

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A Visit to Villedieu-les-poeles

January 3rd, 2011 by Roger in Local News

With its granite architecture and picturesque quaint cobbled passageways and courtyards , Villedieu is a fascinating place to visit. The original copper techniques are still used today and it is possible to visit the Bell Foundry, the Atelier du Cuivre  (Copper Workshop) and the Maison de l’Etain (House of Pewter), all of which are both interesting and educational.  

It is always a pleasure to return to this quaint little town which displays a large variety of antique shops and some of the best cafés and eating places in Lower Normandy. There is so much to see that you could well spend the whole day there. If you have the time it is recommended that you visit the working copper shop. We  saw this sign and had to go in –  Atelier du Cuivre. It was a combination museum and workshop and was in full swing with men pounding madly on sheets of copper while others were melting and pouring it. We signed up for the tour which was very interesting. I must admit a highlight was the owner’s dog. He had a tennis ball and had free run of the workshop. He was amazing and he never went where he wasn’t allowed. Great fun!

 

Every Tuesday throughout the year Villedieu has one of the best markets in Manche.  At the height of the summer season the town is packed with both locals and visitors,  and there are stalls selling everything from local farm produce to mens’ and ladies’ clothes! The market finishes around lunchtime with the smell of barbecued food usually proving  irresistable.

There are plenty of good eating places in the town. Le Fruitier is just one example. This large hotel now boasts a Bistro serving excellent lunchtime snacks and a restaurant that offers both comfort and some excellent local Normandy cuisine. If you get the chance – sample the lamb. A real treat!!

                              Le Fruitier in Villedieu-les-poeles

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Le Mont St-Michel repels the English!

December 27th, 2010 by Roger in Local News, Mont St-Michel

According to a 10th century manuscript the first shrine to Saint Michael was created at what is now Mont Saint-Michel after the Archangel Michael came to Bishop Aubert of Avranches in 708AD and commanded him to build a church on the rock. When the Bishop expressed doubts, the angel pierced a hole in his skull with his finger! 

In the 10th century the Benedictine monks settled in the abbey, constructing the Romanesque abbey church with its high vaulted ceilings and moulded arches, monastery and crypts at the apex of the rock, whilst a village grew up below its walls at the bottom of the mount.

Through successive centuries of the Middle Ages and with increasing numbers of monks and pilgrims both the abbey and village were extended until in the 13th century they stretched down to the foot of the rock.

By the 14th century and the Hundred Years war, the abbey had to be protected behind a massive set of military ramparts, enabling it to hold out successfully through many English sieges lasting over 30 years and in doing so the Mount became a symbol of French national identity.

In 1421 the original Romanesque chancel (choir) of the abbey church collapsed and was replaced in the 15th century by a flamboyant Gothic structure, marking completion of the last major construction works at the mount. The abbey today is thus an exceptional example of the full range of medieval architecture.

 

Over the 16th and 17th centuries religious ideals waned and the number of monks dwindled until by 1790 the monastery was disbanded and the monks left the mount. This paved the way for the fortress to be turned into a prison in 1793, a situation which lasted through the days of the French Revolution and Empire until imperial decree in 1863 finally overturned the sacrilege.

In 1874 Mont Saint-Michel was designated as a French historical monument and major works have continued now for over a century to restore the mount to its former splendour, improving both the abbey interior and exterior. With the celebration of the monastery’s 1000th anniversary in the year 1966, a religious community returned to the mount, perpetuating spiritual prayer and welcoming the mount’s original vocation.

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From our B&B in Le Luot to the Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysees!

December 20th, 2009 by Roger in Christmas, Local News

It is by no means impossible during your Christmas stay at La Merveille to take time out for a day In Paris. With a fairly regular train service from Villedieu station you can be at Paris Montparnasse station before lunchtime. For the second year running there is a fabulous Christmas market on the Champs-Elysees, described as one of the most attractive festive events in Europe, and expected to attract 12 million visitors this year.

Christmas Shopping

Between the roundabout of the Champs-Elysees and the Place de la Concorde until December 28, some ninety  individual tents provide displays of  handicrafts  and local products – everything from  traditional Russian dolls to jewelry , and from tanners art to  Christmas decorations. You will also discover  festive tables of delicious food  with  Norwegian salmon, caviar, oysters, foie gras, meats, breads spices and chocolates.

Recreation & Games

Several restaurants offer sustenance and there  are many attractions  reserved for children  including a roundabout with wooden horses, a miniature train, a giant sledge and, of course,  the essential home of Father Christmas.

News 2009 

 A special Ice Magic  scene is the feature this year  in a refrigerated tent, with  the main monuments and buildings of Paris displayed  in ice and snow. This year  a tribute is also paid to  musicians in a  space called the Gypsy Camp. Here every night  guitarists, including Thomas Dutronc, David Reinhardt and  the Gypsy Angelo Debarre  will play.

 The avenue of the Champ-Elysees will be decorated and full of Christmas lights. Somewhere else that becomes a must  to visit if you  make it here next year!