Created in 1956, when the former region of Normandy was split in to two, these two areas are well loved by British holiday homeowners. Often Normandy is compared with the countryside of England and it shares many of it’s characteristics. it is located on the central north coast of France and although steeped in history, it is the events of the second world war that it is mainly remembered for now, especially the dramatic invasion by the Allied forces in what became the greatest military operation of all time.
Normandy has some wonderful countryside and this has been a draw for Brits for quite some time, it’s the easiest to reach of all the French areas and this is one of the reasons that it is so popular. property prices in Normandy can be on the high side especially if you want to have a holiday home near the coast. It is a region that is very popular with the French themselves, it is only a couple of hours from Paris and the seaside resorts are considered to be chic with many fashionable shops and restaurants. Many Parisians have chosen to relocate to this area and commute to work in Paris every day. The area is synonymous with fine houses and here you will find many châteaux and mansions with of course an abundance of half timbered buildings which are universally loved and add much to the character of the countryside.
Much of the region is given over to agriculture and the area although oddly only 5 % of the workforce is employed in this sector. Around Caen which has completely been rebuilt following it’s destruction during the second world war, many electrical products are produced. In Basse Normandy, you will find chemical works oil refineries and nuclear power stations, industries that many find unappealing but of course are important. LeHarvre & Dieppe account for over 50% of Frances maritime traffic
As mentioned above if you want a holiday home in Normandy by the coast you may have to pay a high price for it, luckily, Normandy has over 360 miles of coastline and you may still be able to pick up a bargain a two. One thing to be very careful of is if you are intending to by a building is that the area is riddled with old mine workings which have now decayed to the point that many properties have suffered from subsidence. So unlucky people have had insurance policies that have not covered this peril and it has cost them many thousands of pounds to restore the building. Whilst having a survey is still not a guarantee that your prospective property purchase will remain subsidence free, your may find that a local surveyor will have a detailed knowledge of the area and may be able to allay any of your fears. If you do intend to buy a property in this area, make sure that you effect insurance and if possible pay any extra premium required to include subsidence cover.
The countryside and climate of this region are very similar to southern England, temperatures are quite mild although the summers can be a little hotter than in England. The landscape is gentle and much is given over to farming, apples are big business, especially to use in the production of local brew calvados. There are numerous waterways that criss cross the land and plenty of outdoor pursuits to keep most people busy. especially the keen fisherman. The coastline is very pretty and becomes more rugged the further you get towards Basse, inland, holiday homes and gites are to founded all over the place as are numerous camp sites and holiday complexes. Rouen situated on the banks of the Seine is famous for it’s large number of the half timbered buildings and is celebrated in French history as the place that the martyred Joan of Arc met her death.
The beaches of Normandy are especially popular and it is here than hundreds of thousands arrive every year to pay respects to the men and women that lost their lives in the biggest military operation of all time. On 6th June 1944 Normandy made it’s mark in the history books when the combined allied forces of some 135,000 men landed on the beaches which marked the beginning of the end for the axis forces occupying France. Much remains of this battle, and there are monuments dotted all over the region, it is all remarkably well organised and a visit to this area provides a thought provoking insight to the individual scarifies made to ensure the liberation of Europe.
One of the most famous land marks in the area is Mont St Michel and despite what you might read elsewhere, Mont Saint Michel is always accessible, the causeway is never recovered by the water. The water starts to rise up two hours before the high tide and most of time you can drive you car, park up and view the maze streets below the abbey. Even during the highest tides, the sea wall that links Mont-Saint-Michel to the continent is never submerged. Perched on a rocky islet in the middle of a massive sandbank and exposed to some of the worlds most powerful tides the abbey is considered to be a ‘Wonder of the West’, a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the abbey has a somewhat magical appearance which becomes even more appealing after dark when fully illuminated
Other places of interest include Monet’s home and garden at Giverny, although he was from Paris, he spent a good deal of his life at the house and here he painted some of his most famous works, there is a museum that it open to the public as well as his house.
As mentioned above it is easy to reach Normandy, ferry crossings are cheap and numerous. Flights to the region are not so easy to come by although Flybe now have a service from Southampton to Rennes & Cherbourg.
Guide to Basse Normandie/ Haute Normandie, France
76 Seine -Maritime
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