I know we just headed off to Oviedo, Spain, for the next couple months, but we had a getaway from our summer retreat anyway. Why? Because. That’s why!
Actually, my parents were heading over for a visit, and my dad has always wanted to see Normandy. So we thought, Hey, let’s all go up there for a week. And then, well, we did.
So, off we went, into the wild blue yonder, with fantastic views of the Picos de Europa mountains as we headed out of Asturias. To Barcelona. And then, to Paris.
Once we landed at grand ol’ Charles de Gaulle airport, we found that the airline had lost my parents’ luggage on their way from the U.S. to France. Great. After some hand-wringing, the airline promised they’d deliver the bags at some point during our stay. Well, okay then.
We then grabbed our rental car from the nice folks at the Europcar desk, and made our way through traffic and into the Normandy countryside.
While I’ll have more posts for you about our visit, this one is strictly about the village of Grandcamp-Maisy. When Ang and I were looking for a place for all of us to settle for a week, we checked out various towns and middle-of-nowhere vacation homes, trying to find the best central base with which to explore all of the D-Day sites and all that.
We originally booked a house in the town of Honfleur, but the lady was kind of a flake and we told her to hoof it. We instead found ourselves in luck with a house in a fishing village we’d never heard of before. And that village is Grandcamp-Maisy.
Even though I visited Normandy during my youth, I didn’t know the town and wasn’t all that familiar with where all the sites are in a general sense.
We checked out Google Maps and figured we were close enough to everything to be just fine. And the internet (and our landlady) told us there were restaurants and stores within walking distance. Great.
Several hours after leaving CDG – stops for groceries and traffic included – we arrived several hours later than originally planned. Thanks, late Air France flight and lost-luggage fiasco.
It was already nightfall and I had asked our landlady if we’d be able to eat anywhere given our arrival was after 10pm. She assured me it wouldn’t be a problem, but I was skeptical in a small town.
Of course, she knew better than us. She knew much better. How better? Well, our fatigue and hunger helped me forget to take photos, but she had graciously gotten us some gourmet food from the fine-dining La Marée restaurant in town, and had brought it to the house for us. Yes indeed, a great start to our week in Normandy.
As previously stated, I didn’t really know anything about Grandcamp-Maisy. We figured we’d just have a decently, centrally located base camp for all of our adventures and day trips. We didn’t really know that it was smack-dab in the middle of everything.
It’s really just down the road from the famous Omaha Beach, and it’s the home of the recently discovered Maisy Battery. It’s also only about an hour to 90 minutes from Mont St. Michel. We more or less had it made.
So yeah, first things first. This was our house for the week in Grandcamp-Maisy. A superb landlady and a short walk to the center of the village.
This two-bedroom place had its own garage, sitting room, full kitchen, balcony, and a huge back yard for Louis to run around and get crazy in.
In the town itself, we found a small port surrounded by restaurants and cafes, the latter of which was an immediate priority for us.
We spent time walking around, watching the boats and tide come in and out, and even got to see them dredging the channel to the port.
The main street in town, just off the oceanfront, is full of shops and bakeries, and plenty of old architecture.
We spent a lot of time imagining what it was like during World War II, and how it managed to host thousands of tourists every summer, yet still feel like a proper French village.
We also benefited from killer sunsets each evening just before or just after dinner.
And, while this area is known for its rainy weather, the clouds and drizzle parted after the first couple days, making way for some great walking around weather.
In addition to the port that acts as the center of life in town, there are sprawling and very quiet beaches that hug the town’s northern edge that make it even more apparent how the town and the sea complement each other.
Oh, and the restaurants. Of course. This being a fishing village, seafood is of high importance and we indulged as one should when in this region. We had some great food and great hosts at the variety of restaurants in town.
Here are a few shots of our catch from La Belle Marinière, which has been run by Patrice and his family for decades.
This guy is a real kick, doing tricks and playing jokes during our few-hour affair in his establishment.
We also made it to L’Estran on more than one occasion, as it’s a bit more casual but still provides a bevy of delicious treats for your face-hole. Including delicious moules-frites – mussels and fries – which are a must-have when you hit pretty much anywhere in France.
From here, we were able to take short drives to all the D-Day sites, the town of Bayeux, and the aforementioned Mont St. Michel. We couldn’t recommend it more. Seriously. We had a blast and had a wonderful hostess for our time in Grandcamp-Maisy.
If you’re headed to Normandy to see all the sites and you want a relaxing place to stay, head to this town. You will not regret it, and you’ll feel relaxed and refreshed after what’s usually a hectic and touristy visit in this region.
Stay tuned for follow-up posts from our Normandy vacation. Au revoir!
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Have you ever been to Grandcamp-Maisy and/or Normandy? If so, what’d you think? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!