One of the picturesque spots on the Normandy coast, Honfleur’s picture-perfect harbour is lined with townhouses courting again to the Sixteenth century. It’s simply the place for lengthy, sunlit lunches and dinners of fish and seafood pulled from the ocean earlier within the day. Dip into the Eugene Boudin museum to find the city’s wealthy inventive historical past, with works by artists together with Monet, Dufy and Boudin, and take a stroll throughout the breathtaking Pont de Normandie, an unlimited cable-stayed bridge, which reaches 7,000ft and has fantastic views throughout the Seine estuary. Keep at Le Manoir, a beautiful 18th-century manor home with a superb restaurant (doubles from £167 B&B, sawdays.co.uk). Ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, dfds.com.
If you wish to go out and in of glittering Deauville and Trouville with out really staying there, this charming village 10 minutes alongside the coast makes a terrific place to remain, with an extended stretch of seashore and a small, pedestrianised excessive avenue with a clutch of wonderful fish eating places, boutiques and foodie emporiums. An awesome base for walkers, the vacationer workplace has maps of 12 round walks, with 35km of marked lanes to discover on foot, bike or horse. Afterwards, settle in at Le Café de France (2 Rue du Général de Gaulle) for moules frites and glorious native wine, and keep at La Mascotte, a pleasant home a couple of streets again from the seashore (doubles from £100, sawdays.co.uk). Ferry from Portsmouth to Caen, brittany-ferries.com.
Seafood lovers and followers of historical past ought to make a beeline for Barfleur; a standard Norman fishing port, that’s performed a pivotal position in Anglo-French historical past for over a century, well-known for its wild mussels. Sunny evenings are finest spent at one of many picturesque fish eating places on the harbour, whereas days will be loved on the three sandy seashores near the village, with crusing and diving each on supply close by. Keep at Fleur et Mer, an enthralling chambre d’hôte with 4 rooms (some sleeping as much as 4), with bikes, baby trailer and child seat all obtainable to rent (doubles from £75 B&B, fleuretmer.fr). Ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, brittany-ferries.com.
If you happen to’re on the lookout for an actual sense of escape, this pleasant village, steeped in over 1,000 years historical past and surrounded by one in all Normandy’s oldest and largest forests, is right. For hundreds of years the vacation retreat of alternative for Norman Dukes and French kings, because of the wonderful searching, Lyons is dwelling to a vibrant 14th-century lined market, and its streets are lined with medieval buildings, now housing vintage emporiums, tea retailers and eating places. Monet’s backyard at Giverny is inside simple attain as is Château Gaillard, and La Licorne – a Sixteenth-century constructing with spa, indoor and outside swimming pools and famend restaurant – makes an excellent base (doubles from £92, hotel-licorne.com). Ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, dfds.com.
Ninety minutes’ drive from Dieppe, Amiens is a perfect base for a short-break; steeped in historical past, dwelling to one in all France’s most stunning cathedrals, with a clutch of wonderful eating places lined up alongside the banks of the Somme. Take a ship journey to find the distinctive hortillonages – 300 hectares of floating gardens that blaze with color in spring, illuminating town’s community of canals – and go to the Museum of the Somme, specializing in life within the trenches, within the close by city of Albert. Keep at La Marotte, one of many metropolis’s most upscale handle, which has lately added a brand new spa and bedrooms, housed in a former Banque de France constructing (doubles from £178, hotel-marotte.com). Ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, dfds.com.
If retail remedy is excessive in your checklist of weekend break pastimes, Lille – an hour and quarter-hour’ drive from Calais – is a superb alternative. France’s fourth largest metropolis is dwelling to the largest flea market in Europe, La Grand Braderie de Lille, in addition to the huge Euralille mall and an enthralling outdated city dotted with boutiques, homeware shops and mouth-watering patisseries. Elegant Flemish-style buildings home traditional brasseries together with extra up to date eateries, and the city’s glorious prepare connections make it preferrred for exploring additional afield. Keep at Mama Shelter, a hip, inexpensive design lodge with a buzzy cocktail bar and restaurant (doubles from £92, mamashelter.com). Ferry from Dover to Calais, dfds.com.
Preferrred for a household break, Boulogne is simply 20 minutes from Calais, and combines loads of bucket-and-spade alternatives with a fantastically preserved outdated city, dwelling to cobbled streets filled with glorious eating places, bars and boutiques. Stroll or cycle the close by Route de la Corniche for superb sea views, or discover the rippling sand dunes that stand up behind the seashores. Older children can strive kite or windsurfing, whereas the entire household can discover the coast by canoe or kayak. Keep at L’Enclos de L’Evêché – a Nineteenth-century mansion within the coronary heart of city, with 5 charming rooms (doubles from £85 B&B, enclosdeleveche.com). Ferry from Dover to Calais, dfds.com.
Preferrred for a car-free break, this fortified metropolis provides a beguiling mixture of historical past, nice meals and lengthy, sandy seashores. Start with a stroll alongside the ramparts of Intra-Muros, the traditional walled city, earlier than exploring the medieval streets, dotted with crêperies promoting the area’s trademark galettes, oyster stalls and cider bars. At low tide it’s attainable to stroll to the 2 picturesque islands that lie reverse the city, whereas the Plage du Sillon – a 3km stretch of sand – is ideal for lazy afternoons with an ice-cream and a ebook. Keep on the Villa St Raphael, an elegant Seventeenth-century villa with 5 glossy bedrooms (doubles from £85 B&B, villa-st-raphael-saint-malo.com). Ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo, brittany-ferries.com.
The area’s cultural coronary heart, Quimper combines a placing cathedral and well-preserved outdated city with a vibrant, arty vibe. Well-known for its faience – pottery with distinctive, Breton designs – town has potteries and workshops you may go to, alongside the Musee de Faience, dwelling to over 500 items. Picturesque, half-timbered homes flank the banks of the Odet river, with flower-decked bridges spanning the 2 sides. Dip into the Musée de Beaux-Arts, which incorporates a number of works by Gaugin, and take cider and galettes for a picnic within the fairly Jardin de la Retraite. Keep on the family-run Hôtel Kregenn, a stone’s throw from the cathedral (doubles from £78 B&B, bestwestern.com). Ferry from Portsmouth to Roscoff, brittany-ferries.com.
If you happen to’re extra fascinated about Brittany’s bucolic hinterland than its busy seashores, Fougères makes a terrific base for exploring the northwest of the area. Well-known for the 1,000-year-old fortress that looms above it – the biggest in Europe – the city is an atmospheric tangle of fairly cobbled streets lined with conventional half-timbered buildings. Certainly one of Brittany’s most stunning châteaux, Rocher Portail, is close by, as is Rennes, the area’s capital, with its spectacular Place de Republique, and vigorous bar scene, because of the 20,000 college students who name town dwelling. Keep on the 14th-century Château de Montbrault, which oozes traditional French fashion (doubles from £118 B&B, chateau-de-montbrault.com). Ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo, brittany-ferries.com.