This Country is my second home and well the second dearest to my heart. France has always been there for all the Lebanese people and I am sure we all share the same thoughts about it.
A fabulous Country, magnificent culture, amazing food, stunning luxury brands and above all loving people. This is what France is. I would never imagine the World without its Capital Paris. This Capital that gave so much to the World and represents an Iconic Gem to all of Us.
Although Paris is well Paris, there is so much more to see in this country than its charming Capital.
With what will I start?🤔
To stand out a bit from the ordinary, I decided my first article to be about a road trip that I have done back in 2014. And it was one of the most memorable travel Experience.
So in this article I will be sharing with you the whole trip that I did in the Northern west side of the country during a week towards central France and its Loire Region. But wait a second have I said the whole trip? My bad, No its not gonna be the whole trip in one article because at some point am sure you will bail on me😅
So I am gonna tell you all about this trip in 2 separate articles. About the cities that I have been to, the experiences that I most liked and as usual some tips and extras just for you. While the first one will concern the Normandy area, the second one will be about Brittany and Loire Region.
So why wait any longer? Lets hit the road together to the Beautiful French Normandy.
I started my road trip by getting to Rouen City from Paris by train. The ride is about 2hrs to Rouen Center. This is the Capital of the Normandy and a city that wont fail to impress you with its Charm.
The second I stepped in Rouen I felt the great vibes and beauty of the city. Rouen has a lot to offer that deserves easily for you to stay at its heart for a couple of days. I can’t be telling you all about this beautiful city in a few words. But I will give you as much as I can a glimpse of it. And hoping by that to motivate you and pay it a visit.
I honestly had already visited Rouen previously and was impressed by the beauty and charm of this city. I never thought I would like a small City that is not widely known that much. The first thing that came to my mind was “WOW” this city has really some interesting things to offer and is in fact historical. Its old Town is beautiful, its Cathedral impressive and its people so friendly and kind. I could definitely say that I left a piece of my heart in Rouen.
Roam the streets of Rouen
The city is beautiful. Simply by roaming its streets you get transported by this beauty of the Normandy half-timber buildings and one of a kind architecture. The beauty of Rouen remains in the mix of its traditional aspect and the modern side of it. You can walk in the busy part of the city’s down town go for some shopping and come across many busy locals. On the other hand, head more towards the traditional stunning old Town.
Tip: Make sure to pass by the Rue de l’Epicerie.
And without any doubt, a visit to Rouen is never complete without checking it’s Gros-Horloge. This 14th century astronomical clock has one of the oldest mechanism in France and has been moving since 1389. Don’t miss out the chance to see the iconic gem of Rouen
Address: Rue du Gros Horloge, 76000 Rouen
The old Market Square
This is the most impressive square in the middle of center Rouen. Go ahead and take a stroll there, admire the beautiful traditional architecture and enjoy a sip of coffee in one of its cafes. The old Market square is actually the most famous spot in the city and has changed a lot since Joan of Arc’s death. It is actually where the Saint was sentenced to death.
Also the square is known for its oldest Auberge in France. This unique vintage auberge called La Couronne has been a point of interest for many tourists.
I would suggest that you go for a walk during the day to enjoy the square in daylight, but keep in mind that this area has a stunning charm at night. So why not have dinner there?😉
The Cathedral Notre-Dame de Rouen
This is one of the most captivating cathedrals in whole France. The Notre Dame Cathedral of Rouen, is the tallest Cathedral in France, a work of a genius, a masterpiece. You will be impressed by the exterior, but don’t stop there, go inside. This is actually where you will find the embalmed heart of Richard the Lionheart that rests in his tomb.
Discover St Joan of Arc landmarks
I didn’t know about that before actually visiting Rouen. But the Capital of Normandy witnessed the tragic death of Saint Joan of Arc and therefore you will find in the city several marks related to that legacy. So if you are a history lover what are you still here standing for? Rush and wander in those streets, follow Joan of Arc in her footsteps. And if you are wondering from where you should be starting, well head the Historial Jeanne d’Arc. It’s a 5 stories museum situated at 5min walk from the Rouen Cathedral and dedicated to Joan of Arc. You will walk through the history and the legend that is all about her.
But this is not all! At Rue Bouvreuil, 76000 Rouen, you will find the former dungeon where she was locked. It is in fact, this tower is the only leftover of the 13th-century castle where she was imprisoned. And of course the Church that you have probably passed by in the town’s old Market square. This one being a unique piece of art with its stunning glass windows.
Tip: The Outside statue of Joan of Arc, is believed to be situated in the very spot where she was set on fire.
The dining experience in Rouen
You basically have everything there. From simple cozy restaurants to so other Michelin starred ones. So you have plenty of choices and prices are more affordable than Paris. Now if you want the best dining ambiance experience, you should be eating in central Rouen around the Cathedral.
Now am sure you are waiting for my recommendations, well happily I have two for you😊
This is actually for the Pizza lovers like me😋 even though well obviously its not the region specialty, they have one of the greatest pizza place with the coolest ambiance. What is it called? Pizzeria drugstore! Maybe it’s like a drug it makes you come for more, but in any case it offers a wide variety of delicious pizzas with great wine and a cool ambiance. Address: 2 Rue Beauvoisine, 76000 Rouen
The duckling Experience
Oh and my second recommendation is a general one. Don’t leave Rouen without trying its famous dish called the Rouen duckling. It original recipe was made back in 1933 and it consists in a pressed duck cooked with a mix of red wine and Cognac. The result is simply delicious.
My suggestion for you😊
If I have to give you one advice, it would be to go to La Couronne which is a traditional restaurant and the oldest auberge in Rouen. They serve the best duck in town and have many other menu options for those of you vegetarian or simply not a fan of this meat.
The museums experience
Finally, the Capital of the Normandy also has some nice and unique museums to offer. So when I tell you, everything could be found in Rouen… trust me. So for those of you art lovers I would suggest that you visit the Museum of fine arts ” Le Musee de Beaux-Arts”. This is where you will find the 2nd largest collection of the Impressionist Art in France.
Address: Espl. Marcel Duchamp, 76000 Rouen
On the other hand, for those of you who wish to learn about the natural history all you have to do is head to the Natural History Museum of Rouen. Address: 198 Rue Beauvoisine, 76000 Rouen
Tip: There is also a small museum for all the pottery lovers, that is called the Musée de la Céramique.
After spending time in beautiful Rouen, we headed first thing in the morning towards The Normandy Coast. It took us about 1h drive to reach destination. And what was that? Nothing else but the charming Deauville.
One the best Towns for a relaxed vacation at the beach. Deauville is a well known Seaside resort on the French Normandy Coast. It is visited by tourists and by the French themselves especially in summer. At 2hrs drive from Paris, Deauville has made it to the top destinations for an upscale holiday.
How much time does Deauville need?
As much time as you want for your relaxation on the French coast. What you will also enjoy there is Deauville’s Grand Casino, the golf courses and the great sea food. So if you want my opinion, I would Recommend 2days in this beautiful town.
The Town’s Architecture
I haven’t seen any pictures of Deauville before visiting it and that is why I was surprised once I got there. The beauty of this chic destination remains in its impressive and unique architecture. So basically stroll down the town’s streets and enjoy what each one of them has to offer.
Hey! Make sure to pass by those outstanding places:
Deauville’s famous hotels
Le Normandy Deauville and Le Royal Deauville. Check out the beautiful architecture of those luxurious hotels and have your afternoon drinks on one of their terraces.
This is one of the most original Villas I have ever seen. I was built for Baron Henri de Rothschild and overlooks the horses racetracks. The villa is listed today as a historical monument and it can be rented for any occasion.
Casino Barrière de Deauville
The iconic Casino is one of the main landmarks of Deauville. With its beautiful façade and impressive royal interior, the casino became a symbol of this French resort town. So whether you are here to try your luck or not, make sure to have a glimpse of Deauville’s famous casino.
Tip: The casino also offers a variety of restaurants, don’t hesitate to take a look.
Location: 2 rue Edmond Blanc, 14800, Deauville, France
Called ” The Parisian Riviera”, Deauville is most famous for its sandy beach and calm cold waters. This is the main reason why all kind of travelers chose it as their getaway. You can actually spot this large beach from a distance. And what makes it unique is its colorful umbrellas all along the sand. Simply by walking along the coast, feeling the breeze and the waters on your feet you get transported to a relaxed world of serenity and beauty.
Here are some tips for you to know about!
- The beach can be packed on weekends. So make sure to head there the earlier the better to find your perfect spot.
- Bring with you anything you might need like a towel, your sunscreen…. because you wont find any vendors in the area.
- The Water can be Cold even in Summer. And the Weather is unpredictable. So make sure to check the forecast before heading to the beach.
Hey if you thought that Deauville is only about the relaxation at its sandy beach, well its not! It also has 2 ports and a Yacht Club. You can simply head there and enjoy the view of the sailors from the deck or go on a 2hours sail yourself.😉
The Deauville Yacht Club actually offers a sail for travelers over the age of 3.
Location: Quai de la Marine, 14800, Deauville, France
The Food Experience
You can’t possibly visit the “Parisian Riviera” without enjoying its great sea food. But here is your little secret! If you want the best of seafood, you need to get to the nearby commune called Trouville sur Mer. At 10min by car or about 30min walk you are there.
- I would suggest that you go there for lunch and enjoy your meal on one of the outdoor terraces.
- Don’t hesitate to get creative and try some delicious “Homard” or Langoustine. The one you see in the picture is an Amazing tasty Homard
- The restaurants can be a bit expensive but are really worth it. So make sure to check the prices before getting there.
- Check out Chez Alain or Le Marche aux poissons, for a great and delicious experience.
If you are looking for a local experience, check out the covered market at the Place du Marché. The market offers a wide range of merchandise from fresh food to homemade crafts and among that some of the best French wine.
The Market is closed on Sundays. So if you wish to visit it, make sure to head there on Saturday morning.
Location: Place du Marché, 14800 Deauville, France
- Base yourself in Deauville and make some day trips from there. I would recommend that you visit Honfleur. And if you want some unique nature wonders drive a bit further to Etretat.
- Check the weather before planning your trip to Deauville. It can be unpredictable even in summer and you wouldn’t wanna visit the coast without enjoying its beach.
After spending a pleasant time in Deauville, and before heading towards Mont Saint Michel, we have previously decided to spend a night in Cabourg. This small French commune is at about 30min drive from Deauville and situated along the English Channel.
So actually, this is not one of the main touristic areas, but it is still a vacation destination. I really enjoyed my day there. Cabourg has its charm, its beautiful sandy beach and its own Casino. It basically offers some of Deauville’s main attractions but on a smaller scale. The highlight of my experience there was that we spent our night in a “Mobile Home”. It was a first for me and I really enjoyed the French way of travelling within their country.
Is Cabourg worth the visit?
Although it is not one of the main touristic areas in the French Normandy, it is always nice to visit Cabourg on a sunny day. For you to make the most of your trip, I would recommend that you combine your visit there with another one to the historical city of Caen. And while in Cabourg, make sure to enjoy its beautiful beach and pleasant walkway.
This French commune has a unique and beautiful waterfront. You will get to enjoy the Cabourg beach by lying on its sand and bathing in its cool clear water. Also make sure to walk along its Marcel Proust sidewalk, that offers the most magnificent views over the sea. The beach waterfront is also known for its small peninsula called “Pointe de Cabourg” and its water activities.
Cabourg Main activities
Although the main purpose of your visit will be to enjoy the beautiful sandy beach and its water activities, Cabourg offers a little more than that. In fact it is known for its Golf Club. So for any of you Golf fans out there, this is a nice destination for you. There are both a mini Golf court called Miniature Golf Cabourg and the main Golf club. Hey you can also entertain your night by visiting the well known Cabourg Casino.
The camping experience
As I mentioned previously in “My experience” this was actually the highlight of my visit to Cabourg. There is a whole camping area that offers different types of accommodation. I got the chance to try the “Mobile Home” experience but you can also chose to stay in a small cottage or a cabane. Make sure to check the area and make early reservations. There are many spots but all gathered in the same neighborhood, one of them is the “Camping le point du jour” where you also get access to an enclosed pool.
Address: Route de Cabourg, 14810 Merville-Franceville-Plage, France
4- Mont St-Michel
The highlight of my trip! I always heard about Mont St Michel and how it is a beautiful and one of a kind place. The stories are true, but the experience takes you to another dimension. The Mont St Michel is really an iconic place. And if you would want my opinion, this should be on top of your list for a trip from Paris.
We hit the road from Cabourg towards Mont Saint Michel early morning. It was a pleasant drive of about 2hrs through the well known city of Caen. And while approaching the iconic landmark, the nature scenery started to change. Until we reached destination and I was in total fascination.
A Magical Wonder
And there it was, perched on an island surrounded by heavy tides and a small village, a real but Magical Wonder! A Gothic-style abbey dedicated to the angel St Michael, standing proudly on its hill spreading charm and beauty.
What makes it so special?
The whole scenery is breathtaking. But the specialty of this place remains in its changing tides through out the year. Mont Saint Michel is known for its “Maree haute” & “Maree basse”. Depending on the season you chose to visit, you will get your related scenery.
My experience! I went there during summer and the low tide season. Although I was told the scenery is super unreal and amazing in high tide, I really enjoyed it this way. It was interesting to see the surrounding commune with sand and to actually walk around the perimeter and witness the landmark from a different point of view.
The Mont Saint Michel Abbey
This is the main reason why everyone comes to Mont Saint Michel. People from all around France and the whole world come to see its iconic Abbey. From its courtyards to its magnificent halls, the Abbey stands out of the ordinary. It really is Beautiful!
Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the abbey had to withstand all the natural requirements of its unique site and adapt to its atmosphere. It is both an artistic and technical work of a genius.
We had to climb up many stairs and walk through the narrow cobbled passageway to reach the top. The way to the top is a bit steep and trying but trust me it is really worth it and you wont feel tired.
If you wish to visit the inside of the Abbey which I highly recommend, you will have to pay a small fee of around 10 euros. But trust me this historical Monument is really worth to explore. You won’t go all the way up and stand at its door feet.
Tip: Go for a walk along the Abbey Ramparts and make sure to go towards the West Terrace for panoramic views.
La Grande Rue
Translated to English “La Grande Rue” means the big street. But what it really means is the Amazing street coz this is what it looks like. This is the Mont Saint Michel’s main street filled with little shops on both sides and outstanding small cafes. The vibes are extremely enjoyable and the place is blended with tourist.
I remember really enjoying my walk there and stopping by many cool shops. It marked me as one of the most beautiful narrow town street I have ever visited. But keep in mind that the street is a bit steep and the walk up can be a bit trying. So make sure to be wearing something comfortable and stroll up at your own pace.
Tip: If you wish to enjoy the beauty of that street, go there during the eve when its less crowded.
Lunch at La Mere Poulard
Mont Saint Michel is known for its special cuisine that includes Omelets & Crepes. And when you visit a new town or a city you can’t miss out on its specialty can you? On this island you will get the chance to eat at this incredible authentic Omelet Restaurant called “La Mere Poulard”.
This well known establishment dates since 1888 and have been making the most delicious fluffy omelets since then. They taste as yummi as they look!😋 Enjoy your lunch there, Oh and make sure to keep a small place for their buttery cookies.
La Mere Poulard is located near the main entrance and displays a large selection of those tasty buttery cookies. So even if you don’t feel like having lunch there make sure to drop by for box of those yummii cookies as a souvenir.
Tip: I suggest that you reserve a table in advance because it can get really busy.
- Although it is feasible for you to make it as a day roundtrip from Paris, I wouldn’t recommend it. The drive is about 4hrs and you wouldn’t enjoy the maximum of the experience.
- I suggest that you either sleep in Mont Saint Michel or on the coastal town of Saint Malo.
- Make sure to wear a good pair of walking shoes, because there are many stairs to climb up there.
- Make sure to be there for lunch time! It’s a nice experience to eat up there overlooking the wonderful scenery.
- If you are a fan of crepes, I would recommend “Crêperie La Cloche”. But keep in mind that eating in Mont Saint Michel can get a bit expensive.
What are you waiting for? Hit the Road already😍