For most visitors to Normandy, especially on a first trip, touring the D-Day Beaches is an essential part of appreciating the region’s history. Honouring the sacrifices made by the soldiers who fought and died here in World War II’s crucial 1944 battle is a moving experience that everyone should have at least once. From Utah Beach to Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword Beach, visiting the memorial sites at these landing beaches represents a rousing, unforgettable encounter with one of the most crucial moments in world history.
To ensure that you experience the Normandy landings and their history in a vivid, immediate way, it’s essential that you hire a private local guide to immerse you fully and make your trip a truly exceptional one. The difference between large group tours and private, bespoke ones? The personal attention you get when you opt for the latter is far greater. What’s more, your private guide has the ability to adapt and modify your itinerary at a moment’s notice to suit your interests and needs, and point you to the best places to stay, eat and explore around Bayeux and the D-Day beaches.
If you wish to associate your exploration of the Normandy Landing beaches with a truly luxurious experience, we recommend that you consider staying at the sumptuous Chateau la Chenevière. Offering easy access to the D-Day beaches and to nearby Bayeux with its fascinating tapestry museum, this 18th-century mansion is one of Normandy’s loveliest places to stay. For food and wine lovers, the onsite sommelier and gastronomic restaurant helmed by Chef Didier Robin will be a genuine draw card, while the outdoor heated pool and green walking paths offer true opportunities for relaxation.
The country-style chateau’s 29 luxurious rooms and suites are appointed with a balance of antique and contemporary furnishings, and the mansion is is surrounded by lush green landscapes and formal gardens.
No trip to Normandy would be complete without tasting superior examples of its apple-based products. Home to calvados, the golden, apple-based brandy liqueur with a distinctively sweet and tart flavour, Normandy is also a proud producer of alcoholic ciders, whose numerous varieties each offer different surprises for the discerning palate.
A private luxury tour of Normandy’s Cider Route, stretching 40 km/25 miles to the east of Caen and winding through the picturesque Pays d’Auge region, is always in order if you want to visit the finest distilleries and taste its best liqueurs. The Calvados Pierre Huet distillery is notable for its ecologically friendly production practices, and its excellent calvados; other highly prized producers that can be visited on appointment include Calvados Dupont and the 16th-century Manoir du Grandouet. A stop at the lovely village of Cambremer and its breathtaking gardens and eco-museum is also recommended.
Indulge in Apple-Infused Treatments at the Spa Pom
For luxury lovers in search of a bit of local authenticity, enjoying a treatment or two at the Spa Pom allows you to enjoy a moment of total relaxation while benefiting from local Norman savoir-faire and ingredients. Enjoy apple-infused signature products and treatments and spend a few hours relaxing in the indoor pool, sauna and steambath onsite. This might precede or follow an afternoon of Calvados and cider tasting, forming a perfect apple-themed day of indulgence and self-pampering…
Plunged in the middle of the Perche natural park, the spa is situated in the Domaine de Villeray, a charming 16th-century country chateau only two hours from Paris, and another wonderful place to stay in Normandy that we strongly recommend. In addition to the Spa Pom, the Domaine features an onsite gourmet restaurant, paths for walking, horseback riding and other outdoor activities, and nearby canoeing facilities. For anyone who likes their luxury served in a cozy, countrified setting, this is an idea place to sojourn in the region.
Normandy is legendary for its soft, distinctive light, and impressionist painters from Claude Monet to Alfred Sisley immortalised the region in many of their most memorable paintings. For art and art history enthusiasts, a private excursion to the lovely city of Honfleur and its surrounds represents an ideal opportunity to visit some of the landscapes and places depicted in prized Impressionist masterpieces.
Honfleur once enjoyed great acclaim and favour among some of France’s most famous artists and writers. The elegant port town counted the poet Charles Baudelaire and Monet himself among its enthusiasts, yet it gets less attention these days from tourists than it should. It happens to be a place of understated and well-hidden luxury, however.
Stay at the Ferme St-Simeon
The 5-star Ferme St-Simeon is by far one of Normandy’s most prestigious places to stay– and it has an impressive connection to the legacy of the Impressionists, too. Honfleur-born painter Eugène Boudin frequented the elegant 17th-century inn nested on the banks of the Seine, bringing friends and fellow painters Monet, Sisley, Pissarro and Renoir to depict the lush landscapes in the vicinity. Today, the luxury hotel, restaurant and spa offers visitors an exclusive way to enjoy the area’s rich artistic legacy. The onsite restaurant and bar serves authentic local Calvados that is some of the region’s best, while the spa’s treatments prominently feature that noble Norman fruit we keep mentioning. You can even take painting lessons on the same banks where some of French art history’s masters imaginatively rendered the surrounds. This is truly an excellent way to meld luxury and authentic cultural discovery.
The classic Normandy resort towns of Deauville and Trouville are associated with old-world elegance and aristocratic savoir-faire. Even before the Cote d’Azur came into vogue, well-off vacationers would throng on the maritime cities for stays in luxurious hotels, seawater “thalasso” cures, luxury boutiques and glamorous evenings at the casino. To this day, Deauville and Trouville shine as the “other Riviera” proving that Northern France offers its own share of glamour and luxurious amenities. Only an hour from Paris, they offer an excellent foray into Normandy from the capital, even if your time is limited.
In Deauville, a stay at the Hotel Barriere Le Normandy guarantees an opulent and relaxing stay in the resort city. Blending classic Anglo-Norman and Belle Epoque design elements, the 5-star hotel features 271 recently renovated rooms, and boasts a new spa complete with luxurious treatments, indoor pool, thalassotherapy (water-based therapy) and yoga studio. Situated right on the beach, this is the perfect place to take in some restorative sea air, or go for a ride on horseback to reinvigorate your senses. The La Belle Epoque restaurant and Le Normandy bar are, meanwhile, wonderful spots to sample local cuisine and bespoke drinks, enjoying al fresco dining or perhaps an exclusive private evening.
In Trouville, known to be a bit more laid-back and quiet but still marked by old-fashioned elegance, consider staying for a weekend at the Cures Marines Hotel and Spa. Built in 1912 at the summit of the Belle Epoque, this hotel was originally built as one of France’s most glamorous casinos; it gained renown for its seawater-based thalassotherapy treatments, seen as a key to restoring health and vitality. Today, the hotel is favoured by many for its lovely spa, featuring a full menu of skin treatments with products from Filorga and Gemology in addition to its traditional water-based regime. The hotel also boasts elegant, bright but understated rooms, and 1-Michelin star restaurant, le 1912, headed by chef Johan Thyriot. With sweeping views of the boardwalk and sea, the restaurant offers delicious local cuisine with an emphasis on superb seafood dishes and seasonal vegetables.
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