I was met in Portsmouth by Alison who works at the Normandy Tourist Board and I was introduced to the other tour operators on this trip and soon enough, we were ready to board our ferry. Brittany Ferries were so very kind to provide us with a delicious evening meal and cabins for both journeys. The sea was a bit rough and none of us had the best night’s sleep but it did not stop us from waking up in a great mood the next morning.
TOP TIP: Visit the amazing Mont Saint- Michel for a truly magical experience.
We were all looking forward to seeing the magnificent Mont-Saint-Michel. After meeting our coach driver, Ludovic, and Alison’s colleague Ophélie, we were ready to go. Words cannot describe the beauty of this place! The Abbey is one of the first UNESCO Heritage sites and one of the most visited tourist attractions in France. I would highly recommend you to book a guided tour if you have a little extra time in your itinerary. We learnt countless interesting facts about the place and the life of the monks along the centuries.
After lunch, we visited La chèvre qui rit à Granville, a goat farm in Granville. It was a pleasure to see that the owners were so eager to share their passion and knowledge with school groups. Children can learn how to look after goats, milk them and find out how to produce cheese. You can even have a tasting session. The cheese was really yummy!
The next stop on our itinerary was the bakery at Le Jardin du Clos Fleuri for a bread making presentation. Virginie, the owner, bakes her bread in the old traditional brick oven. She is so welcoming and enthusiastic that I am sure all the pupils will be captivated by her presentation
After a long and exciting day, we headed to la Portes des Iles in St-Pair-sur- Mer for our overnight stay. The centre is next to the sea and can arrange various activities for groups. We had a lovely meal of local specialities. I had never eaten oysters or snails before, but I must say I love them now.
We started our day with a visit to Utah Beach Museum. The museum is built on the very beach where the American troops landed on the 6th June 1944. The museum recounts the story of D-Day from the preparation to the final outcome. It provides a wonderful record of the landings and has an impressive display of articles from medals and uniforms to mini tanks and even an aircraft that flew during the Operation Overlord.
Next, we visited the biscuit factory in Ste-Mere-Eglise. The production line was closed because it was Saturday but we still had a quick tour of the factory. At the end of the tour, you get to try their lovely biscuits in their own shop. We bought bags full of treats to take home. I would suggest building in some extra time for the shop visit; it proves too hard to pick just one biscuit!
After lunch, we were off to Caramels d’Isigny because you can never have too many sweets in one day! We visited the new exhibition centre and were all presented with a gift box of caramels to take home.
Next was a quick tour of Longues sur Mer battery, the German coastal defence battery which includes a firing command post and four bunkers. It played a strategic role during the landing of the allied forces on the 6 June 1944.
The last stop on our busy itinerary was a visit to the Bayeux Tapestry which relates the story of William the Conqueror and Harold, Earl of Wessex, the men who led the Norman and Saxon armies in 1066. William’s defeat of Harold at the Battle of Hastings ensured the success of the Norman invasion of England. There is also an extra exhibition dedicated to each particular scene from the tapestry. It can be pre-booked for your group.
We started the day with a visit to Arromanches 360° cinema. It was an extraordinary and moving experience. Even if you already visited this museum in the past, they are showing a brand new movie now and it’s certainly a must see, so don’t miss out, book your trip for the next year now!
Our lunch was hosted by Château de Canon, a perfect place for a primary school visit. The kids can have a workshop on calligraphy, landscape design or even a dressing up, photo-session.
Our last stop for the day was Falaise, and it’s brand new museum, Mémorial des Civils, dedicated to the life and survival of civilians during WWII. The museum is situated next to the medieval castle, Château de Falaise, which was a fun and exciting place to finish the day.
On our last day, we had a workshop at the Mémorial de Caen where we met suppliers from all over the Normandy area where I had a chance to learn about some new attractions. I also met face to face our regular suppliers with whom I usually communicate by phone and email.
After the workshop, we managed to get a quick tour of the museum. An absolute must see! We run out of time and had to leave which was such a shame as you can definitely spend many hours there examining all the wonderful artefacts!
On the way to catch our ferry we had a quick stop at Pegasus Bridge Museum. A very interesting place indeed!
All in all, I absolutely loved Normandy, it has so much to offer. I will be definitely back and very soon.