Amazing Normandy and Brittany trip

Aug 27th, 2008, 11:11 AM
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Amazing Normandy and Brittany trip

Just got back from France-Belgium trip and the endless hours of internet research (an addict) really paid off, esp. for places to stay. Found two absolutely perfect places, B&B's not hotels, one in a relatively undiscovered part of Normandy, the Perche, and the other outside Dinan.
In the Perche, we stayed at Domaine de la Louveterie in Moutiers-au-Perche, for two days, with my husband, teenage son and mother. It was dreamlike: the grounds, the countryside, blackberries everywhere, a lovely pool, rooms in an old manor house that were furnished with beautiful antiques but never looked overly decorated. The hosts, Carol and Pietro, were so nice and informative -- and we had one of our best meals of the trip, a dinner that revolved around duck, first foie gras lightly pan seared and then duck a l'orange, followed by a fruit crumble with berries picked from the grounds. Wines were perfectly paired with each course; including a lovely sweet wine, no unlike sauterne, with the foie gras. So much attention to detail; warm butter cakes at breakfast and great yogurt and jams, including a homemade jelly from dandelions that was so delicate and special.
If you like authenticity and don't want to see other tourists or any tourist shops, this region is perfect. the towns are charming. the hikes beautiful.

Then we were off to Brittany, with only two days. We stayed very near Dinan, but in another, much more formal in style, manor house. Less farm, more interior decoration. It's called Les Mesnil des Bois, and it's on the only road going into the forst of Mesnil. In Tronchet, just outside Dinan, with easy access to restaurants there and easy drive to St. Malo or Dinard or Cancale. Much preferred being away from those towns, and all the tourists and the shops. This place would make Martha Steward proud. Very luxurious and extremely tasteful, and original too. Even the books on the shelves are stunningly beautiful. I couldn't believe what a great deal. I thought luxury like this wouldbe pricey but it was under 100 euros for a double.
We liked St. Malo more than Dinan, because it was bigger, more of a working town and less Disney. I've seen a lot of these preserved cobblestoned towns and though beautiful, they are overrun in august, when we usually have to travel. St Malo had the benefit of being on the beach, which meant you could walk away from the tourists. It was gray, then sunny, but very damp. Which was actually very beautiful for our walk. Also had one of those magic food moments at creperie whose name I can't remember.
astur is offline  
Aug 27th, 2008, 12:23 PM
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astur wrote: "We liked St. Malo more than Dinan, because it was bigger, more of a working town and less Disney."

Less Disney! Most of the old stuff in Dinan has that medieval look because it is medieval.

The case could be made that St. Malo is more Disney, simply because it was hammered in WW2 (one of the downsides of having a good harbour) and most of the town is a reconstuction. The local people (for a very wide definition of "local") are rightly proud of that reconsruction. While it is not adverted to very often, St. Malo is symbolic of post-war recovery.
Padraig is offline  
Aug 27th, 2008, 12:44 PM
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Yes, the "less Disney" surprised me as well. Saint Malo was rebuilt from 1948 to 1960.
kerouac is online now  
Aug 27th, 2008, 01:56 PM
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I see your historical point. But the size of st malo made me feel less tourist-crushed. Also, we tend to like towns that have a more mixed fabric of old and new. Ghent was a great example. Unlike Bruges, it had a mix of centuries, including the last one, all on the same block.
astur is offline  
Aug 28th, 2008, 04:03 PM
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Looking forward to more. This is an interesting read to me because we went to many of the same places in May--yet stayed in different places than you.

Don't these posts just make you wish you could spend one night each in every wonderful spot someone describes!
hopingtotravel is offline  
Aug 28th, 2008, 05:43 PM
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More, please!
Challiman is offline  
Aug 29th, 2008, 07:08 AM
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Well, here was one more great moment in Brittany. I had been looking for that perfect dinner in the country, the kind of place locals go for a nice Sunday dinner. I heard of a town Becherel, that is called the city of books. (may have spelling wrong on that) I then used google maps to find nearby restaurants and spotted a place nearby in Cardroc. It looked perfect and was listed in the Brittany restaurants au terroir, those that keep up the local traditions, as in the slow-food movement. The place was called Auberge Lucas, and the food was phenomenal. And as a special bonus, there was a wedding going on at the same time, so we heard lots of Bretonne music and occasional bouts of very loud singing! It was lovely, and the cake was a sight to behold. The waitress, when asked, said everything on the menu was good and she was absolutely right. I had a salad of melon and tomato that had been lightly sauteed and then cooled, with a bit of basil and a very light vinaigrette. Wonderful. My mother had brandade, which was so subtle and creamy. Four of us ate very well and drank wine; the bill was a wopping 76 euros. The food was better than what we had in Paris, too, though we didn't go anywhere very pricey there.
Best of all, though, we got a bit lost on the drive there from Tronchet (and on the way back, i might add; get that GPS!!!!). But the beauty of getting lost is discovering things. We got to see the beautiful church at Les Iffs, just as the sun was coming out after a late-day shower. A special moment.
THe nice thing, too, is that no matter how many people you tell about the restaurant or the church, they are isolated enough that they will never be overrun by tourists.
astur is offline  
Apr 18th, 2009, 08:02 AM
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Many many thanks Astur for your so nice comment about your stay at home.
We have just discovered your comment today. We keep a very warm and cheerful memory about your holiday at Le Domaine de la Louveterie.
The wine with the foie gras was a "Tariquet Premières Grives": it is a white Cotes de Gascogne - Vendanges tardives.
We are happy that you liked your stay in Le Perche.
Kind regards
Carol & Pietro
Louveterie is offline  
Apr 19th, 2009, 08:46 AM
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Lovely blog and the place looks really great !!
MagdaDaVinci is offline  

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