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This vast region on the coast of the English Channel was the first to introduce the seaside resorts much loved by the French. As the inventor of seaside holidays, it symbolises rest, relaxation and enjoyment. The countryside should not be left out - agricultural and forest land, intersected by rivers where the good life is omnipresent.
Traversed by winding trails scented with the aromas of thyme and oregano, the Côte d’Opale – “Opal Coast” – is known for its diaphanous light, the muted glow that gave rise to its name. Along the shore near Berck, Le Touquet and Boulogne sur Mer, the outlines of the land and the horizon merge in a tableau of pastels and halftones. In this constantly shifting landscape of dunes and estuaries, burnished by the tides, the cliffs stand as enduring landmarks. Cap Gris Nez, a massive sandstone promontory and the closest point in France to the English coast, overlooks one of the world’s busiest sea lanes. Beyond the cape, water and earth resume their eternal rivalry in the Audomarois marshes, a peaceful refuge for some 200 species of aquatic birds. This maze of lakes and reed beds, plied by traditional flatbottomed boats called bacôves, is also France’s last cultivated marshland, a cornucopia for cauliflower, endive, celeriac, rhubarb, leek and artichoke.
The region’s foremost ambassadresses have large gentle eyes and coats in cream, sandy beige or nearly black. Normandy owes much to its cows. They offer us a thick, exquisite cream, a butter of legendary smoothness and cheeses whose unique qualities have made them world-famous. Throughout the countryside, they add mobile splashes of contrast to the pastures that give the region its distinctive color: the deep green that characterizes a rich terroir. The half-timbered cottages here still have their thatched roofs, farmyards that look like a scene from a children’s book, and apple presses for making artisanal cider.
Hotel and restaurant in a village. Lindsay and Christian Germain, the owners of this manor house just a stone’s throw from Le Touquet and the Channel Tunnel, have combined the best of England and France to make a visit to the Château de Montreuil an absolute must. When English charm meets French fine dining, it makes for a seriously enjoyable stay. Lunch on the terrace, dine with friends, or simply relax in the flower garden with a book, a glass of champagne, or a cup of tea, at what was once the country retreat of the Wooster/Rothschild family. A stroll along the ramparts of the town and some of the finest beaches on the Opal Coast await. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. Château d’Audrieu, located between Caen and Bayeux, offers the opportunity to travel back in time. This 18th century edifice, listed as a historical monument, offers the warm welcome of a family home. The elegantly proportioned château is set in an extensive 25 hectares of wooded grounds and gardens. Hesitate not a minute longer, all the charms of Normandy await you at Audrieu! Turn the pages of history and discover not only the beaches of the D-Day landings, but also Bayeux and its famous Queen Matilda's tapestry, Caen - the city of the Dukes of Normandy -, and Mont-Saint-Michel - a treasure of French heritage -, not to mention the restaurant’s gourmet delights. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. The rooms open out to an enclosed garden, a small oasis of greenery where the organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables that supply the restaurant are grown. Stunningly, this is in the heart of Old Lille, in an 18th century private mansion with beautiful classic lines. Protectors of an undeniable charm, ceilings, floors, and antique woodwork have been conserved and are boldly married with the contemporary decors of the rooms, as well as works of art scattered throughout the hotel: it was indeed designed to be a genuine cultural space. At the restaurant, the chef produces a creative and "astounding" cuisine emphasizing local and seasonal products. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. Once a refuge for impressionist painters, La Ferme Saint-Siméon is celebrated for its bucolic surroundings and beautiful Seine estuary light. Monet and Courbet would come here and work on their colours, and Baudelaire would flee the melancholy of Paris in search of inspiration. The farm, close to the old harbour of Honfleur and the Eugène-Boudin Museum, has now been restored throughout and provides an outstanding spa with beauty and relaxing treatments based on organic ingredients such as milk and Normandy apples. “Oh, Saint-Siméon”, exclaimed the painter Eugène Boudin in one of his journals. Indeed it is hard not to love the place, and even harder to leave it behind. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. La Grenouillère, originally a typical regional family restaurant, has become under the amazing starred Chef Alexandre Gauthier,one of France's most inventive chefs, a place which is definitely out of the ordinary. The century-old buildings have been preserved, but two sleek new metallic marquees by architect Patrick Bouchain have redesigned the property. The restaurant, which now opens out onto the garden and greenery, serves a radical cuisine, one that is rooted in the local area and uses freely and imaginatively ingredients from the sea and from hunting and gathering. You can extend your sensory experience by staying in one of the huts in the garden. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in a park. The Château de Beaulieu is an architectural gem with elegant facades and interiors in a romantic park, one hour from Le Touquet, between the Opal Coast and Belgium. The subtle balance of classic architecture and contemporary art makes this the perfect setting for what is one of the top restaurants in the region. Chef Marc Meurin pays tribute to Pas-de-Calais producers by using ingredients like Boulogne-sur-Mer scallops, Étaples bass and other fish from the North Sea. Meurin believes that “because of the currents in the nearby sea, the fish become strong and daring, which enhances the quality of their taste”. Savour his creations in two glass-roofed restaurants. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a village. Le Clos Parc & Spa in Verneuil-sur-Avre, which was in English hands during the Hundred Years War, is on the road from Paris to Mont-Saint-Michel, and is near Chartres, Le Perche Regional Nature Park and Giverny. It is quintessentially English. This château, with its Anglo-Norman conical turret roof and flambé-glazed bricks, inspired by Viollet-le-Duc, is nestled in a park with ancient trees which leads to two restaurants. The rooms are elegantly appointed, with period furniture and elegant wallpaper evoking the world of the horse. Le Clos offers a delightful new wellness area and a charming Gustave Eiffel-style ironwork conservatory for breakfast, a bistro and tea room. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a village. Formerly an inn, at one time a grocer’s shop, and then a country delicatessen; this ancient Normandy manor house has already lived several lives. In the little village of La Saussaye, with its half-timbered houses and turrets, it is today an intimate hideaway, romantic down to the finest detail. The rooms boast a balcony with a view of the landscaped garden and in winter you can enjoy a crackling fire. Stroll under the willow trees and enjoy the collection of vintage mini-bars. An hour from Trouville, Honfleur and the garden of Claude Monet, this is the ideal starting point for sampling the best that the region has to offer, visit Rouen and discover the loops of the Seine. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in town. Born in Normandy, two-star Chef Gilles Tournadre has remained faithful to his region. This progressive Chef knows everything there is to know about the culinary traditions of Normandy. On the banks of the river Seine, close to the cathedral painted by Monet, he adds his personal touch to the local style, joyfully reinterpreting the classics and giving them a new twist, as with his version of the traditional Normandy pressed duck recipe and his Rouen-style roasted pigeon. A staunch defender of top-quality and locally sourced products, he will always prefer to serve a fresh line-caught fish, brought to shore by the local fisherman, rather than an exotic fish from overseas. ... Learn moreless