Step #1: Authentic and off the beaten path, the Cotentin Peninsula
Our excursion in Normandy and the Opal Coast begins on the Cotentin Peninsula, in Saint-Vaast La Hougue, which the French voted their favourite village in 2019. This hotspot for oysters and wild mussels – the “blonde de Barfleur” – is also the third-largest fishing port on the English Channel. In an authentic atmosphere, this picturesque rural village offers up pristine granite façades. We first embark aboard an amphibian boat heading for L’Île Tatihou, a bird paradise with a well-protected natural setting. First we explore the pretty coastline off the beaten path, from the famous mussels-and-chips eateries of Barfleur to the imposing Gatteville lighthouse, the second highest in Europe.
Step #2: A landsailing regatta along “Riva Bella” of Ouistreham
We start with an early-morning tour of Caen and its exquisitely charming historical district with a thousand-year architectural legacy. Then, Charlotte – always ready when there is speed and a sail involved – invites us to discover landsailing along the “Riva Bella” of Ouistreham. We discover a wide expanse of fine sand lined with white beach huts and wild grasses. We take our places aboard the sand racers, and Charlotte immediately goes into competition mode. The race is on through the open air, and the thrill of landsailing turns out to be the overall win!
Step #3: Romantic Cabourg, from earth to sky
Charlotte invites us to discover Domaine Dupont, 74 acres of orchards dedicated to cider and calvados, where traditional techniques and excellent expertise give pride of place to quality, not quantity. Then we fly over the copses of Normandy and the shores of Cabourg, among dunes, beaches and wild marshes. We dine in the Belle Époque atmosphere of the Grand Hôtel de Cabourg, made famous by Marcel Proust who loved to stay there; and we finish the evening on the beach for the not-to-be-missed ritual of this romantic capital, the sunset. The sky blazes over the English Channel in a burst of yellow, orange, pink and violet.
Step #4: The kingdom of horses and city of arts, Deauville the passionate
Deauville offers a magical atmosphere. With the seaside as a backdrop, we stroll along its emblematic Planches in the charm of this Art Deco setting. We admire the well-protected architecture of this authentic city, a favourite destination among film-makers, writers, artists and photographers. Deauville offers a bustling cultural life, from concerts to festivals and from exhibitions to live performances. Completing the city’s unique, elegant personality is an equestrian activity of international renown. Take in an enthralling horse race, a spectacular polo match, or an international dressage competition; gallop along the sands and paths of the Pays d’Auge or simply tour the stables.
Step #5: Trouville, fishing port and queen of beaches
We must say that Charlotte falls in love with Trouville-sur-Mer, also known as “queen of beaches.” Edged by the eclectic architecture of its magnificent late 19th-century villas and sprinkled with colourfully striped beach tents, the Promenade des Planches possesses a unique old-fashioned charm. When night falls, we head for the quays to discover the friendly, authentic atmosphere of the fish market. Here, typical neo-Normand architecture and market stands brimming with fish and seafood beckon to our senses. In this temple to the ocean and the good life, professionals offer tastings of their wares on this bustling market, which is open every day of the year.
Step #6: Wild dunes and gourmet indulgence in Touquet-Paris-Plage
We have now reached the Opal Coast, in Touquet-Paris-Plage, an elegant spa resort where villas stand along wooded lanes, the tops of dunes, and shady hollows. This is a favourite spot for water sports, but instead of kiteboarding, Charlotte proposes a horseback ride to discover the splendid natural reserve of the Baie de Canche. Amid this estuary and its stretch of well-protected dunes, grey seals romp alongside deer. To finish our tour on a gourmet note, we dine at Base Nord. To picture this setting, imagine the perfect holiday house: shabby chic decoration, a cosy brick fireplace, old hardwood floors, and a complete panorama of the Baie. Oh, and fresh, creative cookery, of course!