Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Spring sale at Normandy Cottage - come inside?

Still got a touch of post festive cabin fever? Longing for a different view on those glorious hill walks... or maybe jumping on the train for a day trip to Paris? This place... could be your base. And what's more, there's a spring sale on right now.

Our first ever sale means you could stay a week in this cosy, comfy Normandy hideaway for just £235 this February and March. It's a little three storey detached cottage in the tiny hamlet of Breel, right in the heart of Suisse Normande's prettiest walking and cycling country, but less than an hour from the Caen-Ouistreham ferry port.

And talking of boats, if you book with Brittany Ferries and stay here, you'll get a discount off your sailing.  

The cottage has had a busy first year of bookings, and some great feedback from guests. It's just up the road from the famous Normandy beauty spot, the Roche D'Oetre, and is perfect for two, (also a great solo escape if you just want to get away from everything. And everyone!) Almost everything you need is here waiting for you, so you can literally contact me....throw some clothes in a bag...and leave. That's how I love to travel. You too?

How about coming for a look around?

OK... this Normandy stone cottage is called Les Deux Sabots - probably something to do with the footwear the farm workers wore, way back when.There's even a tiny pair of clogs nailed to the front door, as a reminder.

Vino veranda looking down on garden
Opens out into large double!

Wooden steps lead up to the main front door and to the tiny vino veranda where you can sit out and have a bottle or two, or a cup of coffee and a quiet read, and another set of steps, in stone, lead back down from this level into the garden.

Step inside the front door and you're on the middle level of this three storey cottage. It's a beamed and full height sitting room, with a large, open log fire. plus two highly effective radiators (full central heating throughout) You'll find a couple of comfy sofas in cream/neutral shades, loads of gorgeous cushions and throws, and a dining table beside the shuttered window, overlooking gardens, Jacques' selection of chickens, geese and ducks... and apple orchards beyond.

One of the sofas opens out into a good size double bed, and you can curtain off this area if separate sleeping accommodation's needed on this floor. There's a neat flat screen TV, an i-pod dock, books, CDs, DVDs, maps, tourist guides... and the little orange vides greniers calendar which will tell you where to find these lovely jumble/carboot/fetes events throughout your stay - and all year.

Made up and ready.

There are open, twisting wooden steps up from the sitting room straight into the a large, light, airy bedroom, with the same neutral shades and a few splashes of blue. 

At one end there's the double bed and bedside tables and lamps, with a new wardrobe and chest of drawers, and at the other end, a Velux window overlooking those garden and apple orchard views, plus a little sofa and a wicker chest, perfect for you to put your feet up and read, or rest your morning breakfast tray. Your bed will be made up and ready for you with freshly laundered linen - no need to bring your own.

The other end of the bedroom...breakfast is served...?!

Breakfast table in the kitchen
OK, back down into the sitting room and there's another set of open, twisting wooden steps down into the beamed kitchen.  It's a bit lower in height than the other two floors, but has everything you need... including, as a thankyou for booking, your first couple of bottles of vino. There's a cooker and microwave, breakfast table and chairs, fridge and separate freezer, washing machine and tumble dryer. 

Also on this level are coat hooks and a utility store, the loo/shower room, and a lower door out into a tiny gravelled area and the lane beyond that. The three storey cottage is perfect for couples, and a secret, spacious escape for solos but has had one or two adults plus a couple of kids staying too. Bear in mind that the steps make it unsuitable for toddlers or if you're frail though - and the 'feel' of the place is pretty open plan.
From the veranda down into a private, sunny garden

The small, lawned garden, which is at the side of the cottage, is very private. There's a gravelled parking area and double gates, which open onto the lane, and a little garden store under the stone steps with a barbecue and chairs and a parasol or two. On the other side of the cottage is a second or alternative parking area, the open fronted stone garage/log store. It's on a private little lane with just five houses, one of them owned by the lovely Jacques and Annick, who, as you`ll hear, keep an assortment of chickens, ducks and geese (oh and you might hear from the donkey at the top of the lane too...! ) ...our neighbours seem to be almost self sufficient in poultry as well as fruit and veg, like so many other families in rural French communities.

The cottage boasts a lovely walnut tree - help yourself if you're there at the right time!

The lane leads straight into a network of footpaths and ramblers' routes - all just metres from the front door. This is a real beauty spot, and walkers, cyclists and horseriders amble past from time to time and sometimes ask how they can book a stay, which is nice!

Breel's bloomin' lovely - this was a cycling festival

The paths take you to some beautiful, steep, breathtaking scenery with stunning views, woodland routes and the occasional beautiful house along the way, some of them thatched. Just up the road is the Suisse Normande's famous Roche D'Oetre - you can stand on the cliff top and gasp at the sheer drop below and hear the rushing waters of the River Rouvre. Then scoff an ice cream at the restaurant/coffee shop adjoining the tourist centre there in late spring and summer months. Nice little gift shop, too.
There's also a (terrifying, frankly, but I don't like heights...) series of rope ride adventures through the forest, just up the lane, suitable for all ages from little children to adults - I've heard great reports about them!

The pretty village of Breel boasts a collection of stone houses and cottages, the Mairie's (mayor's) office with the French flag flying proudly outside, and the most beautiful 16th century Church - well worth a visit. Your fresh croissants and crusty baguettes (and a pastry or two for later...) are just a few minutes' drive away in the village of Segrie Fontaine, where there's also a butcher's shop, a little convenience store (avec vino, naturellement...) a hardware shop, a village school and church, and more lovely views.

I-spy a historic Falaise 

There are other little villages close by, offering a pizzeria and a couple of bars, other mini-supermarkets, and a beautiful cider farm run by a young family. You can buy apple and pear cider here - it's great to support them and brilliant to bring home a bottle or even a box or two for your friends. When you need bigger supermarkets, the larger towns of Flers and Falaise are only 15-20 minutes drive away.

Falaise is particularly rich in Normandy history - its castle with strong William the Conqueror connections is fascinating. The railway station at Flers (20 mins from the cottage ) takes you off to the coast in one direction (an easy beach day out at Granville) or straight into Paris if you head east. There's a train around 7am from Flers which gets you to the capital around 9 - plenty of time for a warm croissant, strong coffee and an entire day out in this fabulous city. Oh and the parking's free all day at Flers station, too.
Fromage at one of the great shops in nearby Flers

Both of those towns, and plenty of others,such as Conde Sur Noireau, have vibrant, bustling markets which are perfect for fresh fish, meat, fruit, veg, spices, pastries, cakes and most things you'll need to rustle up a French feast. Delicious.

Frites with your mussels? Honfleur is a beautiful day out 

The cottage is also well placed for visits to the cities of Caen and Rouen, Monet's Giverny, the Normandy landing beaches, dotted with stark, chilling reminders of conflict, the classy, chic coastal towns of  Honfleur (above), Deauville and Trouville, and further south, the chateau studded Loire Valley.

If it's spring and summer, check out a vide grenier or two, the French equivalent of a car boot sale (a different kind of clutter...really good fun to browse and haggle...). Most have coffee and hot, barbecue style food stalls with tables for a lunchtime re-fuel. Occasionally there'll be a band playing too, and even a little impromptu dancing...!

Pastries on board your Brittany Ferry (discounts available!)
Breel's within an hour of the ferry port at Caen-Ouistreham, with an excellent Brittany Ferries service to Portsmouth (ask me for a discount code if you're thinking of staying here, so you can get a quote online), with new, `no frills`  BF sailings to Le Havre, still within range. Or you might prefer to book the shorter, cheaper crossing from Dover to Calais and drive down to Normandy. You can choose dates and length of stay... from a night or two, to a leisurely few weeks - and there'll be a couple of bottles waiting for you on the kitchen table.You won't find the cottage on loads of holiday websites because just enough bookings to cover some bills and my vino/ fromage habit will do nicely, thankyou.

If you're not there, I almost certainly will be: out in the garden reading a book, walking the local footpaths, catching some rays in the garden or treating myself to a shot of city culture in Paris. Book a break? Bet you'll  love it as much as I do. 

Want to find out more?

@normandycottage on Twitter
@janemcintyre12   on Twitter

Or call me: 07791 669889

PS: If you've found this through Twitter, could you possibly RT the link for me? Thankyou... or tell a friend about the place?  And did I mention that I LOVE travelling? In the UK as well as abroad... London especially but love seeing other cities and adore the coast. So... if you ever fancy swapping your apartment/house/cottage with Les Deux Sabots, then get in touch!

1 comment:

  1. Looks lovely.Not on twitter, but have shared on FB.x