An Art Gallery in Gavray, Normandy

Galerie Sur Le Pont is a recently established art gallery in Gavray in Normandy. There are two rooms dedicated to the gallery where you can browse and purchase artwork from local artists. There’s a wide range of styles and techniques on display and entry to the gallery is free.

art gallery in Gavray

You can also take art classes here too. English and French is spoken and all levels are catered for. On a Wednesday morning, there’s a life drawing class from 10am – 12.30pm. The Wednesday afternoon class is painting including watercolours, oils and acrylics. It runs from 2 – 5pm. Each session costs 8€ and you can pay as you go. Alternatively, there’s the option to pay for 4 classes which costs 30€.

art classes in Gavray

The gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday inclusive. Galerie Sur Le Pont is at 9 rue de la Liberation in Gavray and is above the Cadeau Craft shop. The shop also sells art supplies as well as other crafting materials.

Gavray art gallery art in Gavray

 

If you fancy exploring your creative side, then this is the ideal opportunity. Pop along to the art gallery in Gavray and try out one of the art classes or admire other artists’ work.

Normandy Liberation Celebrations

A range of events will be taking place from 31 July to 4 August as part of Normandy liberation celebrations.

Operation Cobra

The events will focus on the areas around Granville and Julloville which were both liberated on 31st July 1944.

Normandy liberation celebrations

Operation Cobra

Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army. The main activity took place from 25th – 28th July which was seven weeks after the D-Day landings. The aim was to attack while German troops were occupied in defending Caen. A huge, yet concentrated, aerial bombardment took place by Allied aircraft. As a result, German resistance collapsed and the offensive secured a victory in the Battle of Normandy.

Allied aircraft Allied aircraft

Event Highlights

Breville-sur-Mer – a reconstruction of an Allied military airbase Champeaux – a US military camp reconstruction
Granville – liberation parade, visits to the blockhouses and military camp at Pointe du Roc
Jullouville – International Airshow
Saint Pair-sur-Mer – Piper aircraft landing on the beach

Operation Cobra Normandy liberation celebrations

The liberation celebrations will end on Sunday 4th August with an airshow along the Granville to Julloville beaches. At least 40 planes and helicopters will take part. La Patrouille de France (the French equivalent of the Red Arrows) will also particpate. The timings are from 2 – 5pm. There will also be a static display of 350 vehicles from 10am to 5pm. At 5pm the vehicles will start the parade circuit. There will be parking restrictions and details of the route is on this website. There’s also additional information in English about the events here.

Normandy reconstruction camp Normandy reconstruction camp Granville blockhouse

This is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Normandy liberation celebrations.

The Colourful Gavray Market in Normandy

The Gavray market happens every Saturday morning from around 8.30am – 1pm. It’s not a huge market but is very much a focal point for residents. It’s a great event for visitors to really experience rural village life.

Gavray market Normandy market

The majority of stalls are in the square near to the church. They are predominantly fruit and vegetable stalls offering a wide range of produce. They try and keep the food miles down by growing themselves or supporting local producers when possible. There’s also very little plastic used so it’s very environmentally friendly. You take along your own shopping bag or basket to transport your purchases.

Gavray market French market produce

I took all these photos yesterday (20th July). At this time of year the Gavray market is bursting with colour. Cherries, apricots, melons, nectarines and peaches are all in season. Tomatoes, avocados, celery and lettuce are great salad ingredients. The tomatoes really are flavoursome.

market produce summer market in Normandy

There are also a couple of fish and seafood stalls and a cheese van. Sometimes you can buy plants, honey and cider from time to time. A coupe of food trucks grill sausages which are served in a baguette or with french fries.

French cherries summer fruits at the market in Gavray

The shops, bars and restaurants are also open so it’s very sociable event. A couple of the bars are opposite the market stalls so you can people watch while you enjoy a drink.

There’s a smaller Gavray market held on Wednesday mornings near La Place du Champ de Foire. You can buy fruit and vegetables here. Find out when Normandy market days are here.

 

Normandy’s Arromanches D Day Garden

The recently installed Arromanches D Day garden pays tribute to the veterans of the Battle of Normandy. The garden is known as D-Day 75 Garden and was first exhibited at the RHS Chelsea Garden Show in May 2019.

D Day 75th anniversary

It was officially opened at its new permanent site in Arromanches on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It now overlooks Mulberry Harbour and Gold Beach, which is one of the five D-Day landing beaches.

Arromanches D Day garden

 

Bill Pendell was chosen to represent the veterans although sadly he passed away aged 97 in December 2018. In 1944 Bill landed on Gold Beach aged 22. With his family’s blessing, two sculptures of him have been included in the garden.

Arromanches D Day garden

At the entrance to the garden, Bill sits on a stone plinth wearing his medals and beret. He looks across at another sculpture of his younger self about to land on D-Day. Four further sculptures of soldiers show them wading through the waves as they navigate the obstacles on Gold Beach.

Arromanches

D-Day sculpture

 

The sculpture of 97 year old Bill is carved from a single block of Millstone Grit. And the young soldiers opposite are constructed from thousands of individually welded metal washers.

Arromanches D Day 75 garden

75 years separates these two scenes. Visitors are invited to consider how it must have felt for veterans to reflect on the intense experiences they endured on D-Day and the days that followed.

D Day 75 garden

The photos probably don’t do it justice. It is hauntingly beautiful. There’s a fluidity to the sculptures of the young soldiers as if they’re there but not there. I found it incredibly emotive.

D Day

The Arromanches D Day garden was designed by John Everiss and in the video below you can learn more about how the sculptures were made. Also there’s more information about the project on the D-Day Revisited website.

Where To Find The Garden

It’s right next to the 360 Circular Museum in Arromanches. You can access it via rue Calvaire. There is paid parking next to the museum or you can park in the town and walk up the hill to the cliff top.

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

A Garden In Coutances With A Difference

The public garden in Coutances is just that little bit different. It’s one of Normandy’s oldest public gardens having been created in 1855. It’s also a mix of French and English styles. What really sets it apart from other gardens is the mosaiculture style used in the planting. This horticultural art creates topiary-like structures using bedding plants on wire frames.

Coutances garden

 

The theme changes a few times each year and new works of art are created. The current theme is French expressions.

Coutances garden

There are two panels showing the French expressions represented in the garden in Coutances.

Garden in Coutances

There are a couple of expressions relating to fruit. The middle one in the photo above shows a pear being cut in half. The French expression is ‘couper la poire en deux’. The English translation is to split the difference.

 

‘Avoir la banane’ means to be smiling.

Coutances garden

 

The centrepiece is a peacock. This represent the phrase as proud as a peacock.

Garden in Coutances

 

My personal favourite is the expression ‘while the cat’s away, the mice will play’. Although in French they dance.

Garden in Coutances

So, for some great fun improving your French do pay a visit to the garden in Coutances. During July and August it’s open until 11pm at night and is lit up so you can enjoy the floral displays.

Jardin des plantes Coutances Jardin des plantes Coutances

The garden is right in the centre of town not far from the cathedral. This is the view from the main gate.

Coutances

Longues sur Mer Abbey in Normandy

Introduction

In the quiet village of Longues sur Mer is a beautiful Benedictine abbey dating from the 12th century. The Abbaye de Longues or Abbaye Saint-Marie is nestled on the road leading to Bayeux. Although it’s not far from the Omaha and Gold D-Day landing beaches it wasn’t bombed during the Battle of Normandy. It had however already fallen into decline some centuries before. Nevertheless, there is a great deal to explore and you can see how the abbey would have looked in its heyday.

abbey church at Longues sur Mer

The Abbey’s History

The abbey was founded in 1168 in the Calvados department of Normandy. The first monks came from Hambye Abbey located some 70 kilometers away in La Manche department. Many of the the buildings date from the 13th and 14th centuries. The western facade of the Abbot’s House was re-done during the 18th century.

abbot's house at Longues sur Mer

The abbey comprised the following building/structures:- a gatehouse, coach house, barn, abbey church, cloister, chapter room, refectory, kitchen, scriptorium or library, infimary, lay quarters, abbot’s house, dovecot, farm buildings and various gardens. The cloister was in the centre with the other buildings accessible from it.

In line with many other Normandy abbeys, Longues sur Mer abbey fell into decline starting in 1526. Successive abbots didn’t invest in the abbey and by 1640 the nave of the church had fallen into ruin. As a result, the abbey eventually closed in 1782. Some of the stones were quarried and further decline continued until 1915 when it was designated as an historical monument.

Restoration

An American, Charles Dewey, bought the abbey in 1932 and started the restoration process. In 1964 the abbey was sold to the French d’Angeljan family. The family have continued to restore the Longues sur Mer abbey and so in January 2006 it was classified as an historical monument.

Visiting Longues sur Mer Abbey

Thanks to the efforts of the current and previous owners, you can visit the abbey today. During visiting times the wooden doors of the ornate stone gatehouse are open. The gatehouse dates from the 14th century. The owners often greet visitors and they speak English. I was fortunate to be met by Hannah, an American who was undertaking a summer internship at the abbey. We chatted as we walked over to the coach house which is immediately to the left of the gate house. I picked up a leaflet and Hannah gave me a laminated sheet about the abbey. English and French versions are available.

You can then walk round the abbey at your own pace following the numbered arrows. However, take some time to look at the information boards and photos in the coach house. They give more information about how the abbey used to look and the history of the buildings you’re about to discover.

The Visit

If you stand in the main courtyard with your back to the gate house this is what you’ll see.

Longues sur Mer abbey

The abbey church is on the left. The abbot’s house is in the centre and to the far right is the refectory. The abbot’s house is now lived in by the French owners so it’s not possible to visit. However, you may be lucky enough to be invited into the La Salle de la Source and see the spring water running underneath the building. The western facade of the abbot’s house is particularly stunning. It was re-done in the 18th century to create a good impression because this side of the building is what guests would have seen.

There’s a central path down to the remains of the abbey church and this is the first stop on your visit.

The Abbey Church

As you walk towards the church’s ruins you’ll be walking where the nave used to be. The nave was attached to the abbot’s house and created the south side of the cloister. What remains of the abbey church is the choir or chancel and part of the northern transept. As you reach the choir, remember there would have been a lantern tower here. You can visit the transept but not the choir. You can, happily, see into the choir but it’s not safe to go inside. Pause to look at the architectural details here.

Longues sur Mer

The Cloister and the Chapter House

Follow the route past what remains of the southern transept. You’re now walking along what would have been the galleried cloister. To your left are two windows which are the remains of the chapter house.

chapter house Longues sur Mer

Before you continue, take a look at the rear of the abbot’s house. The eastern side of the building is very simple and in stark contrast to the western facade.

The Gardens

The gap in the hedge leads to the first of three gardens. The first garden is a formal garden of box hedges and flowers. It’s on the site of the former cemetery and affords a wonderful view of the southern side of the abbey church. Continue through to the vegetable garden and finally into the medicinal herb garden.

benedictine abbey church

The Monks’ Refectory

This huge barn was constructed in the 14th century. The refectory would have completed the south side of the cloister.

It originally had 3 floors; the ground floor was the refectory, the first floor was the dormitory and the top floor was a small chapel. There’s some fascinating architectural detail in the refectory. The displays of glazed floor tiles and three tombstones of the abbey’s benefactors are wonderful. These were discovered in the ruins of the abbey in 1932 by Charles Dewey. There are also interesting decorations high up on the walls. Leave through the main door, exit through the garden and you’re back in the abbey’s courtyard. If you walk along the south side of the refectory you’ll see the remains of a staircase on the far corner of the building.

Practical Information

Longues sur Mer abbey is located at 17 rue de l’abbaye, 14400 Longues-sur-Mer. There’s a car park that is clearly marked from the main road. Park here and then walk back to the main road through the gate you’ve driven through. The buildings adjacent to the car park are private although they belong to the abbey. The entrance is via the gatehouse.

Longues sur Mer abbey

The abbey is open from May through to July from Tuesday to Saturday inclusive. Opening hours are 2 – 6pm. There’s more information on this website or you can follow the abbey on Facebook @AbbayedeLongues. It costs 5€ to visit and under 18s go free.

The abbey has been selected to participate in the 2019 heritage lottery for some much-needed restoration funds. You can watch the video below to see an aerial view of the abbey. But do go and visit in person to experience the calm and serene surroundings as you’re transported back through the centuries.

If this has whetted your appetite, then here are 10 more Normandy abbeys and castles to visit.

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

A Family Friendly Farm in Normandy

There’s a family friendly farm less than 10 minutes from Gavray that’s suitable for younger guests. It’s called La Ferme de Lucie and is run by Céline and Benoît Hachler in Le Mesnil Rogues.

Normandy farm shop

 

I was kindly allowed to take photos of the animals which included goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, lambs, llamas and peacocks.

Family friendly farm in Normandy

Some of the animals such as the chickens are in pens but others roam free. Sensible shoes are therefore recommended as you may come across animal droppings as you wander round.

Normandy farm shop

There’s also a farm shop where you can buy honey, sweet spicy cake (pain d’épices), jam, cider, calvados, apple juice, cider vinegar and duck pâté. The apple products are all produced locally in Normandy.

If you’d like to pick your own seasonal fruit and veg, this is also available and is priced by weight. Strawberries are available from June through to the end of September. Simply pick as much as you want so there’s no waste.

Where To Find The Farm

The farm’s address is 46 Rault Bidel, 50450 Le Mesnil Rogues. It is located just off the D7 than runs from Gavray to La Haye Pesnel. Opening times from June to September are Wednesday and Saturday morning and afternoons. On Thursday and Friday it’s open in the morning only. Morning times are 9.30 – 12 noon. Afternoon opening is 2 – 6pm. Their website has more information about the pick-your-own produce and the animals you can visit. It costs 4€ for children and 6€ for adults to visit the farm.

 

For more family friendly activities in Normandy, read this blog post.

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

A Normandy Chocolatier

On World Chocolate Day let’s visit a Normandy chocolatier. In Granville there are two outlets for Yver Chocolatier who make exquisite chocolate creations for every occasion.

Yver Chocolatier in Granville

 

In the centre of Granville is the shop À La Marquise de Presles. It’s at 26 rue Lecampion. This is one of their chocolate counters.

Normandy chocolatierThey also make delicious melt-in-the-mouth macarons.

Normandy chocolatierAnd as if that wasn’t enough, they also have a range of delicious pâtisserie.

Granville patisserie

The quality is excellent and if you’re looking for a present or to treat yourself, then this Normandy chocolatier is the place to go. There’s even an ice-cream parlour next door.

 

A little further out of town towards Yquelon is La Chocolathèque where you can discover the origins and history of chocolate by taking a tour in French. This shop also sells a wide range of delicious chocolates as well as macarons. They are at 189 route de Villedieu and have onsite parking.

Their website is here. You can drool over their entire range of chocolates, chocolate nibbles, macarons and pâtisserie without consuming a single calorie. Yver Chocolatier have been making chocolates since 1946.

Summer Events in Normandy

Brochures for summer events in Normandy are now out. I picked up two brochures this week; one was for Coutances and the other for Villedieu-les-Poêles.

Normandy in the summer

Highlights in the Coutances area include:

  • Guided tours of the upper parts of the cathedral in English every Tuesday afternoon at 4.30pm. They run from July 9th to August 27th and cost 8€ for adults. Booking essential.
  • The 40th Marché Normand will take place on Saturday 13th July. The town is closed to traffic as classic cars, tractors and cows parade through the main street. There’s traditional dancing, a Normandy wedding and plenty of people dressed in traditional Normandy costumes.
  • Zic sur le Zinc is a series of free music concerts. There are 9 events happening across the summer months.
  • A 3 day family event in the elegant seaside town of Coutainville from 2nd – 4th August. Art, sports, food, music and fun for all the family is guaranteed at this free event.Summer events in Normandy

There are also events specifically for children, firework displays, exhibitions, guided tours, walks and much more. The brochure is here giving full details of all the events.

In Villedieu and the surround area, events include:

  • Free Tuesday evening music concerts in Villedieu in the main square (Place de la République)
  • A tourist train which will run from 1st July to 31st August around Villedieu. It costs 3€ for adults and 2€ for children and you can hop on an off as it goes around the town in a loop.
  • Pony rides for children on Friday afternoon in Villedieu. 2,50€ per child.
    Guided tours and demonstrations at some of the artisan museums in Villedieu. These include the bell foundry, the copper museum and the lace museum.

The brochure with full details of the summer events taking place is here.

Marché Normand in Gavray Marché Normand in Gavray

 

 

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

Exhibitions In Villedieu-les-Poêles, Normandy

There are two exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles happening right now.

Exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles

The first exhibition is in the Tourist Office and is called Souvenirs de nos campagnes (Memories of our campaigns). It’s a tribute to the soldiers of World War 2 who liberated Normandy towns and villages after D-Day.

Exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles

The exhibition is the work of Monsieur Gabriel Bossard who is a private collector. Among the memorabilia are a uniform from a French soldier and an American one. Also included are everyday items such as toiletries, rations, first aid kits, toiletries and even a French/English phrase book. Descriptions for the display items are in French and English.

Tourist Office in villedieu

There are also photos of Hambye, Percy and Villedieu after D-Day.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Exhibition

It’s free and is only on until Friday 28th June but is well worth going to see. The tourist office is in La Place des Costils in Villedieu-les-Poêles. Their website is here.

The second exhibition is called 1944 – 2019 and commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the liberation of Villedieu. It’s an outdoor exhibition in the Jardin des Lavoirs. The garden is on the rue des Quais by the river Sienne.

Jardin des Lavoirs

Panels written in French give an overview of these two events and are illustrated with black and white photographs. Villedieu-les-Poêles was liberated on 2nd August 1944. The exhibition is also free and runs until 2nd September.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Exhibition

There’s also a display on the steps of the Mairie (town hall) to commemorate Villedieu’s liberation. What a fabulous display! These two exhibitions in Villedieu-les-Poêles are definitely worth taking a look at.

Villedieu-les-Poêles Mairie

 

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE