A long weekend in Normandie is enough to restore your faith in the humanity (or at least in French people). Therefore we end up going there time and time again. There is also something quite nordic about Normandie, rough wind, unruly sea… not to mention the red nosed wannabe sailors. Maybe that’s why I always feel like home there.
Distance by train from Paris is reasonable, most destinations are not more than 2-3 hours train ride away from the center of Paris. But be aware, we are not talking about comfortable TGV high speed trains but the infamous Intercité or TER connections… This means no marked seats, no extra place for luggage.. so avoid going back to Paris when everyone else does if you can. Yesterday afternoon our train Rouen – Paris was so full that one grandma actually fainted.
This Easter we discovered Dieppe, a recommendation from a friend who used to live in Rouen. The city didn’t instantly charm us, but the people did. The first time we stopped and hesitated which way to go to our Airbnb, a lady approached us asking if we need help, and proposed to give us a ride our accommodation as she lived close by. When we ventured out from our place to lovely Esplanade du Château, people greeted us with “Bonjour” whenever we passed them. Also our B&B hosts were just lovely. After Paris, such kindness almost brings tears to my eyes. While in Paris people try so hard to not to see other people that they almost walk over them and often lack the most basic manners, it feels good that people acknowledge your existance. We had a smile on our faces for three days in a row and again sweared that we will move outside of Paris or at least get a summer house in Normandy (we say this everytime and everywhere when we go outside of Paris).
If you are after the sea, delicious sea food, relaxing walks and avoiding Parisians as we did, Dieppe is a perfect destination for you. The falaises surrounding the city are grand and the beach is quite impressive. In cute port de plaisance, the harbour area, you will find plenty of relaxed restaurants serving fresh fish. But don’t expect anything lively, we were the last couple in a restaurant when it was closing, around 10 pm… I can recommend “Les bains de Dieppe”, they have heated outdoor pools and spa sections with a few different pools, sauna and hammam. They propose different treatments too, but you better book well in advance. With unexpected sunshine on Sunday, Dieppe was for us exactly what doctor ordered, a very positive experience. The city may not be the most pittoresque destination in Normandy region, but it is a sympathetic one.
If you are looking for a more animated destinations you better choose something like the twin cities Trouville and Deauville. If you are after great views over the falaises, try hiking around 20 km over the cliffs between Fécamp – Etretat. And a wild card, that is technically not even in Normandie but in Picardie (who knows the difference) is lovely Somme region, last year we spent Vappu (1st of May) weekend in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, it was just perfect. So cute village and you might see some seals if you are lucky! We have tested and highly approved all the mentioned destinations and would be glad to go back anytime.
Next up in my plans is Bretagne, we never set a foot in there yet…