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Review: Normandy has so much to offer
4:58pm Friday 4th November 2011 in Travel
MENTION Normandy as a possible holiday destination and you immediately think of the beaches which played such an important role in the Second World War.
But there is much more to this part of France than the D-Day landings.
Having spent a week with Keycamp at one of their excellent mobile homes in the north west of France we left with a feeling that we had merely scratched the surface of what is one of the less heralded but nonetheless fascinating regions of the land on the other side of the Channel.
Our base was the four-star rated Chateau Les Eaux in the village of St Pair-Sur-Mer.
Part of the prestigious Castels chain, the privately-owned site offers lodges and camping in its own right as well as being selected by Keycamp.
As the name implies, the site is in the grounds of a small chateau, which the owners still live in.
Having stayed at a number of campsites over the years, this has to be right up there with the best.
Beautifully maintained with its own fishing lake, some of the old buildings have been converted into a pleasant bar area, small shop and on-site takeaway.
As one of the smaller size parks in the Keycamp brochure with just 229 pitches, it’s got a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and with both a small outdoor and large indoor pool complex, complete with water slides, it’s a great base for families.
One point to note, like many French campsites with pools, swimming shorts are banned so it’s Speedos only boys if you fancy a dip!
We stayed in a Villagrand mobile home, complete with two shower rooms and with the potential to sleep eight.
As always with Keycamp, you want for nothing in terms of fixtures and fittings – we even had a gas barbecue waiting for us outside.
The rural setting was so nice you could simply while away your holiday relaxing without ever venturing forth.
But that would mean missing out on some hidden delights.
Although the nearest ferry port is St Malo, we did the traditional Dover-Calais crossing and then had an easy four-and-half-hour drive to our destination.
Travelling over a bank holiday, the £12 each we spent on booking P&O’s Club Lounge complete with free refreshments and newspapers was money extremely well spent.
The nearest town to Chateau Les Eaux is Granville which boasts a busy harbour with a fishing fleet and hundreds of leisure craft moored up like sardines.
The centre of Granville is packed with interesting shops, particularly of the upmarket clothes variety (gentlemen you have been warned!).
It is fitting then to discover that the town was where the designer Christian Dior grew up and his family home is now open to the public where original sketches and some of his catwalk dresses are on display.
The old town of Granville is a maze of narrow streets littered with cafes and offer great views over the coast.
Also it’s worth visiting on a Sunday morning when the roads into town are closed off and a giant car boot sale is held in the streets.
About 30 miles away is Mont St Michel the island community connected to the mainland via a tidal causeway.
Designated a World Heritage site, it is a must-see, even though every other tourist in France seems to be there.
The narrow, twisty streets leading up to the cathedral at the top resemble something out of Harry Potter and you do have to fight your way through the crowds.
But it’s worth the effort as it remains a magical place in spite of the shops selling souvenirs and endless coach parties.
The Normandy beaches are only a couple of hours away if that but we found so much to explore locally we ran out of time.
The Abbey de La Lucerne, just 10 minutes from the campsite, is a wonderfully tranquil place to spend an afternoon.
Built in the 12th century but with a church dating to Roman times it’s an oasis of calm in the countryside.
Driving around the region is straightforward with many of the country roads almost deserted. If you follow the coast road, you can access some very attractive beaches and very often you will have them almost to yourselves.
As a base, Chateau Les Eaux was the perfect spot from which to explore the region for the first time. For families, there is more than enough on-site to keep the children happy, and for grown-ups it’s a relaxed and attractive setting for a holiday.
Keycamp offers self-catering holidays to more than a hundred top parcs across 11 European countries, including Sardinia, Austria and Croatia, plus the USA and 11 parcs in the UK.
Each boasts excellent facilities and a choice of stylish mobile home, chalet, Supertent and even tree house accommodation.
Seven nights starting on June 2, 2012, for a family of two adults and up to four children staying in a Villanova mobile home with decking at Chateau Les Eaux in Normandy will cost from £599, accommodation only.
Ferry and fly-drive packages can be arranged through Keycamp at a supplement.
* For the latest deals, further information or to make a booking, visit www.keycamp.co.uk or call 0844 406 0319.