Wednesday, 8 August 2012

J'adore la France

Warning:  Epic post with loads of pictures.  You might want to fetch a cuppa.  Or just give it a swerve altogether, I won't be offended!

We've been lucky this year and had two really lovely holidays.  We went off to Spain (blogged here!) towards the end of June and then we went to France at the end of July with my family.

It was my Dad's 60th Birthday this year and he wanted to have a holiday with us all to celebrate. (I think he'd had a bit of a health scare - that he kept secret from us - but he's definitely getting a bit soppy in his old age!)  

The front view.  To the right of the photo is the main outbuilding - the bit you can see is a little games room.
Said games room:  pool and table tennis.  There was also badminton and tennis equipment if you wanted it.
Dad booked an amazing gîte  in France for the week.  It was one of the best holidays ever, made all the more special for being able to spend quality time not just with Drew but with mum, dad, sis, bro-in-law and niece.  Of course we see each other a lot  - we all live within a reasonable driving distance of each other - but it's rare that we get the chance to just be quiet in each other's company, share a bottle of wine or a pot of coffee and enjoy the sunshine without any time pressures.  

Drew sprawled out on a blanket in the garden.  By the swing seat, there, is a delightful babbling brook. 
Cross stitch in the shade.  Heaven on earth.
The gîte was gorgeous.  It was huge with five big bedrooms, four bathrooms (all luxuriously kitted out) and an enormous kitchen/diner with the most heavenly scrubbed pine table to seat about 14 people.  It was decorated completely to my taste and had a kind of faded grandeur about it.  I spent the first hour of our arrival wandering around room to room exclaiming over the furniture and the objets d'art everywhere!

The entrance hall.  Made me go 'oooh!' immediately! 
If I could have sneaked this whole cabinet and its contents home, I probably would have, I won't lie.  I was besotted with it:

The kitchen had folding french windows which opened right out onto the decking and swimming pool area.  It was seriously lovely and the perfect place for some downtime en famille.  

Swimming pool and pool house.  Loads of loungers and a huge table again.  Lush.
The gîte was in a hamlet near the small town of Trun.  We chose the Normandy area because my Dad and Drew have a fascination with WWII and wanted to explore the Normandy beaches.  Trun was the nearest town in which to pick up our daily baguettes and whilst there we'd have a coffee at our favourite little cafe to watch the world go by:

The little cafe was right next to the boulangerie and it was lovely to watch people of all ages popping by to fetch their bread.  Children as young as 6 or 7 wandered past with great long baguettes! 

Apart from several days spent at our home for the week, we did make a couple of trips out.  Our first trip was to Caen to visit a Commonwealth cemetery and war museum.  

Caen was beautiful, with lots of quaint little buildings, a beautiful cathedral, pretty shops and restaurants.

I've obviously seen the cemeteries on TV and in films but you cannot comprehend the enormity of it until you are standing right there yourself.  Nearly 5,000 graves at this one alone; imagine each grave is a uniformed man, standing to attention.  It was indescribably emotional.  

My favourite day of the holiday was a day spent with my mum and dad visiting the trenches and the beaches.  We were out from 8am until 8pm in glorious sunshine.  My dad and Drew especially had a whale of time but mum and I found the trenches interesting too.  There were hideouts, guns and shiz:

Beach fortifications, part of the Atlantic wall built by the Germans on Omaha beach.

Big gun. :-)

The Dakota's pretty but look at that sky! :-)
Drew and me.
We took a tiny detour inland to find somewhere nice for lunch and found the lovely town of Douvres-la-Delivrande where we took our time over pizza, salads and wine in the shade.

My two favourite men ever. 
We drove back to the coastline to explore more beaches and before heading home we decided to find somewhere for a drink.  I had been telling my mum just that day that I wanted to buy a wicker basket for shopping at the local farmers' market.  As we drove past this little shop in Beauvron en Auge I literally squealed at my dad to 'stop the car!'.  

He performed a perfect almost-emergency-stop, swinging the car into the nearest parking space.  Turns out it was a good move.  Mum and I spent the rest of our holiday money in the Epicerie, we all had a wander round the town and then stopped at a little bar opposite the Epicerie for a glass of wine.   It was delightful.

A gorgeous row of shops including an antiques store and a small art gallery.
This little shop was closed.  It looked amazing.  Fromageries rule!
SO MANY lovely things in this shop.  Was sorely tempted by a polka dot scarf.

Our view as we quaffed ice cold white wine (the boys drank beer).
Of course one of the highlights of the holiday was to have a whole week with my gorgeous niece.  I got cuddles first thing in the morning and lots of splashing in the pool with her too.  My favourite moment was a bit of quiet time after we'd been in the pool together. I was lying on a sun lounger drying off when she trotted over to me with her mum's ipad, sat on my tummy, pinched the hat from my head and made me sing along to 'Bingo the Dog'.  

B-I-N-G-O and Bingo was his name-o! 

A moment I will treasure forever - the holiday was full of them.

Thank you, Dad, for an amazing holiday and happy 60th Birthday.  We love you loads.




  1. My heart just stopped. I read it at the beginning as "it was my 60th birthday" not your dad's! Oh my goodness, my immediate thought was "WHAT! NO WAY!?". Hahaha silly me.
    It looks soooo nice there, I've always wanted to go to France.
    That fireplace is to die for! & I really want a little car like that as well!
    I totally forgot about that little song actually! I'll now be annoying my mother for the rest of the night!!
    Glad you had a lovely time :)

  2. What a quaint beautiful place indeed! AND sunshone too - lucky lady. :-)

  3. Swooooon!! What a wonderful time you had, it looks absolutely idyllic!!

    I love how the French seem to take their baguettes for a walk!!

    Bless your little niece, I feel like you about my niece - I adore my boys but I do like some girl time!!

    S x

  4. What a wonderful post. It looks such a beautiful place and wow what a stunning house. Deb xxx

  5. Gorgeous post :) I adore France not to mention the culture, food, weather, buildings the whole package really.

    We normally go every year to the South of France in a place called Grasse (perfume capital) Wish i was back there this year.

    Love the photos x

  6. Oooh this looks gorgeous Nicki! Lush pics and your family are lovely.
    The Princess used to sing the Bingo song too, funnily enough when she was being driven through France aged 5.
    "Bee eye en gee oh, bee eye en gee oh, bee eye en gee oh and Bingo was his name OH!" God it drove me nuts by the end!!!
    I love the pic of you and Drew.
    When I first started out in journalism, I was sent to Normandy with photographers and other reporters to cover D Day. It was so emotionally draining and your description is bang on, when you look at each grave as a standing man in uniform, it is easier to appreciate the loss.
    Am going on hols myself soon with my parents, sis and bro in law and we all equally get on like a house on fire and I know Anna will be with the Princess, like you and your niece. There is a special bond. Embrace it.
    x x x

  7. Gorgeous, gorgeous post Nicki. What a lovely place you stayed in. I'm so jealous! Happy birthday to yor dad! He doesn't look 60. Xxx

  8. What a beautiful, beautiful place, gorgeous shops etc. I would have been so happy walking around taking in all the sights, sounds and smells. I can almost taste the baguettes with brie and glass of cold white wine....delicious. Lovely holiday with your family, great 60th for your dad.
    xx Sandi

  9. Sounds like you all found a little spot of heaven for a few days, looks totally amazing.

  10. It's sounds and looks gorgeous there Nicki! I Love a good family holiday. When we go to Florida we usually go with my parents, my grandparents & uncle, it's so nice just to spend some proper time with them : )

    Gemma xxx

  11. Wow its looks amazing! Its all so beautiful!

    I lived in Germany for 3 years before we moved back to Cornwall this April and we used to love to go to the bakery for breakfast and watch all the people buying their fresh bread for the day, young and old. They really have it right on the continent don't they!

    That basket shop looks like my idea of heaven, I am currently lusting after a French Basket for using when I do the shopping, I’ve seen some at the Duchy garden centre so will have to grab on next time I pop in.

    Oh and I really don’t know how you managed to resist now nabbing everything from that dresser...dresser included!

    Emma x

  12. A lovely post - I felt I was there. For so many years I travelled through Normany en route to somewhere else but, when I finally had a holiday there, I loved it!

    The Dakota made me smile - my first flight ever was in one of those from Exeter to Jersey! Got to the end of the runway and a mechanic rushed out with a toolbox to adjust something!

    Yes those beautifully-tended war cemeteries certainly take your breath away.

  13. Family holidays are the best and you picked a perfect it all! :0)

  14. It looks just like heaven :) Such a gorgeous place x x x x

  15. It looks so beautiful here! Do you know the name of the place you stayed/where I can find it? My family is due to go on a joint holiday next year and this looks perfect! x

  16. All of your photos are beautiful, and the place you stayed in - oh my. What a beautiful place indeed!

    I'd love to visit here one day.x

  17. Looks so beautiful!

    That basket shop also looks amazing, you didn't show us if you bought one??

  18. Looks like you had a wonderful holiday. Lovely pics xxx

  19. oh that looks beautiful! France is on my 'to visit' list and spend some proper time there instead of weekends now and again. You scored with the weather too - lucky you!
    BH x

  20. Oh my what a lush house, you sound like you had a perfect holiday! My grandad is buried in one of the cemetries there ( I always call him that even though I never obv knew him) my brother went over and found his grave, I imagine its very peaceful there x

  21. Oh wow. Just beautiful x looks like you all made some wonderful memories!!!!!

    Jojo x x x

  22. Looks really beautiful and sounds like you had a fantastic time! x

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  24. Oh wow. My Dad and Step Mum have a house in Normandy. We stayed there last year and found so many pretty little villages including one somewhere between their house in Lisieux and the landing beaches. But when we went again this year we just couldn't remember the name of the village or exactly where it was. And there it is in your latest blog post - Beuvron en Auge and I did exactly the same as you squealing to my hubby to stop as we drove through. So pleased I read your post and have rediscovered this lovely little village. If you're there again another really pretty place to visit is Le Bec-Hellouin.xxxx ps I'm susiew65 on IG

  25. I have got BINGO BINGO BINGO stuck in my head now. t'll be there till October, I swear.

    I think I need, yes, ned to replicate this holiday. It looks so great.

    What did you buy in Eoicerie> I also NEED to know that.

    I'm glad your Dad's secret health scare was just a scare.


  26. It looks like a heavenly place, and all that sunshine!

  27. That really does sound like the perfect holiday, and I love the look of that grocery store in Beauvron en Auge with all those baskets outside, gorgeous :D

  28. Looks completely gorgeous!!!! Would love the name of that place if you would be so kind xxxx