It might only be a hop across the channel but Lower Normandy offers a wonderful destination for families seeking an authentic French escape: rolling fields, picture-postcard views, gorgeous traditional child-friendly cottages and miles and miles of empty golden sands makes it the perfect location for a break all year-round.
If you think a French holiday is just too much travelling for a young family to cope with think again. Long gone are the ferries of your youth and the school French exchange – today’s boats are like cruise ships and your holiday starts the moment you step aboard. There are lots of cruise companies now giving you ample choice. I know lots of people use Brittany Ferries and love travelling by boat, apparently you can choose from soft play areas to on-board magicians, cinemas and silver-service restaurants to keep the whole family entertained. And once you land you can be unpacking your suitcase within a half-hour of disembarking – no time for the kids to get bored in the back or need to stop for a loo break. It’s easy to stick to sleep and feeding routines and everyone arrives feeling relaxed and ready to go. Or why not explore on a train – Euro Star, or even fly (London City Fly to Deauville is one option but there are others – visit Normandy Tourism – how to get there page
Lower Normandy is a wonderful combination of coast and countryside. From chic resorts like Deauville to traditional small coastal towns you can experience glity Parisian glamour or low-key authenticly French escapes. Feast in Michelin-starred restaurants or munch on moules-frites at a beach-side bistro, Lower Normandy is renowned for its gastronomic delights and artisanal cooking.
The weather in Lower Normandy is similar to that of the UK although often a few degrees warmer and somewhat drier. Summers are pleasant and you can avoid the searing heat of the south or mid regions where being outside in the afternoon is often impossible. The road network is also fantastically efficient and you can escape the huge traffic jams that build up all around the southern half of the country throughout the summer.
So once you are there what to do? Hitting one of the many beaches is obviously a must and this can be done year round. Bundle up in the autumn and enjoy a bracing stroll or sandcastle-building competition without having to chase the kids around with sunblock. Or relax in the un-crowded sunshine even at the height of the summer season. The beaches are safe, clean and well-managed and you can nearly always park very nearby for free. In summer there are several lidos and inflatables are often installed on the beach along with pony rides and go-karting.
All kids will particularly love Festyland a theme park that has plenty of rides for little ones as well as a few for adventurous parents. Cerza Zoo is a world class safari park where you can admire the animals from the safety of a little train and feed the animals in the petting park.
Other ideas of things to do are:
Lots of farmer’s markets
Cider route – through the orchards and you can pick up cider made on the premises and Calvados – the local apple brandy.
Bayeux – beautiful city and home to the Bayeux Tapestry.
Chateau de Vendeuvre with its Magic Water Garden – beautiful gardens with secret water jets that are activated as you pass by.
Chateau de Falaise – a wonderful castle for all budding knights and princesses to explore.