In this part about the sights around Annecy, let’s look north and see there the long “home” mountain of Annecy called Semnoz, the gorge du Fier river, Montrottier castle and the Secret garden in the village of Vaulx. More details about each below.
Annecy, like many cities with canals, is called the second Venice, in this case adding “Savoy”. You can spend a day on beautiful Annecy old town. Menton castle, gorge du Fier, secret gardens, Mount Sambuy – another three days. If you want to relax and swim in the lake, you can spend 10 days not boring. It’s quite expensive though, in my opinion. More available with car. But as a base for regular trips to Chamonix, Annecy is not suitable even with a car – too far away. Just one visit to get to know.
The section of the Loire cycle route from Tours to Villandry deserves a your attentioin, even if you’re not a big fan of cycling. Idyllic landscapes, not too tiring road through the fields with poppies and cornflowers along the slow river and at the end of a beautiful castle with Renaissance gardens.
Villandry combines fine with other castles – as a bicycle, car or bus route to several points.
Rouen old town is full of half-timbered houses and in general a nice, green city. I cannot remember cities of this size with so many unkilled half-timbered houses. It is all the more surprising that the city had a rather turbulent life (they could have burned or destroyed everything) and a good income (they could have rebuilt everything in stone).
Nearby hamlet, north of Fecamp, Senneville-sur-Fecamp. I knew that there was access to the sea, but where exactly was not clear. There are no signposts. I pointed my finger at a promising dead end on the navigator.
List of villages with “hanging” valleys can be found on the map of attractions.
Main Upper Normandy tourist attractions are a picturesque Alabaster coast with chalk cliffs. The castles here and there are in most cases not the most outstanding and more like the estates of not too rich nobles. Nice villages with old houses. Calvados and Camembert. Gardens planted by talented gardeners. The beaches are pebbly, in some places at low tide you can find sand, which becomes more in the north.
Feсamp is one of the largest cities on the coast. The next to the south is Le Havre, to the north is Dieppe.
All cities, towns and villages are arranged according to the same principle: high gypsum banks (Alabaster Coast) are cut by a river of greater or lesser strength, a large or small gorge is formed and also an exit to the water, houses grow around this exit. If the river is larger and there are several of them, the exit is wider, and the city is larger. It stretches along its ravines and turns out to be much longer in length than in width.
Further to the north, the shores become lower, the exits to the water are wider and there is more and more sand on the shore, but in Fecamp itself the coast is covered with large pebbles. I think this pebble is poured specifically to protect the port. In smaller cities and less visited places, this pebble is interspersed with sand and, in general, the coast is more pleasant.
Attractions Calvados deserves a closer look: cider, cheese, calvados, picturesque old towns and trendy resorts nearby – all within daytime road trips. And the beaches are wonderful everywhere. The whole line of beaches is also connected with the history of D Day, for the places of which I give a separate map.
Perhaps few will get to Orne, it is too far from the sea, but it makes sense to study the map of Orne too – maybe you will want to stop there for a couple of days on the way.
We were in Brittany and Upper Normandy, but Lower Normandy remained unexplored for us. Let’s look, what interesting is there and begin with Manche attractions.
The beaches are beautiful and sandy almost everywhere, but Manche has also rocks.
There are two maps in this post.
Etretat the essence of the Alabaster coast of France, the best of the best. Let’s see what you can see there and how to get to Etretat.
There are many such cozy small resort towns on the Normandy coast. It is to this one that people go to look at the amazingly beautiful white cliffs that form large arches in this place. Famous writers and artists have been here, including Delacroix, Monet, Manet, Offenbach, Dumas, Hugo, Maupassant. There are several paintings by Monet dedicated to Etretat.
According to legend, the St. Archangel Michael appeared to bishop Ober in a dream and ordered to build a church here. And that was done: in the 8th century a chapel appeared on the rock. However, the Archangel Michael is unlikely to have anything to do with the transformation of the chapel into a fortress, which we see today. The place was strategically and economically profitable, and the abbots were smart enough to use it. But the main merit, of course, belongs to those architects from the 11-16 centuries who managed to unit the man-made and nature so poetically.
Writers and not only they admired Mont-Saint-Michel, called it the eighth wonder of the world. At number one, it entered the UNESCO list.
Brittany (Bretagne) on the maps seemed somehow quite easily “explorable”, especially since the first time we decided to take a car, remembering from previous trips that traveling in France without a car creates some, in some places significant, problems. In reality, the region turned out to be huge and interesting. However, the vast distances make it impossible to explore Brittany in any detail in a week.
You have to choose what is characteristic of Brittany and drive a lot, or explore one small piece, hoping to see other parts next time.
This post is about Dinan sights and a little bit about Cote d’Armor. Dinan is really worth seeing: old houses, flowers, a scenic descent to the lower town, no crowds of tourists… Many details just ask for the camera.
If you are traveling through the Loire Valley by public transport, the Tours city will be the best choice for accommodation. It is a very pretty city in itself. There are enough hotels in it. Tours is also located in the very center of a large group of castles – getting to any of them will not be difficult:
- upstream of the Loire – castles Chambord, Blois, Chaumont, Cheverny, Ambois;
- downstream – Langeais, d’Usse, Saumur, Angais, Brissac, Montsoreau, Fontevraud;
- on the river Cher, also passing through Tours, – Chenonceau, Loches, Villandry и Azay-le-Rideau;
- on the river Indres – Chinon
They are not all that far from the Tours and from each other. But combining several places in one day is not so easy if you are without a car, due to the unconvenient transport system in the region.
The last day in Brittany was disgusting. The weather didn’t just turn bad. Cold, if not frosty, june morning began with thick fog combined with light rain. But sitting in the same bottle, that is, in the house, with a little genie was not possible. So we set off towards Paimpol and the island of Brehat in the hope that the weather will improve.
On the way, we stopped at Pontrieux and the Roche-Jagu castle. This part of Brittany left the impression of being wild and more authentic than the nearby resorts of the Pink Granite Coast. Although, perhaps, the weather is to blame for this.
In this post all interesting, what you can visit around Paimpol.
The main thing to come to Loire Valley Chambord castle for is the amazing architecture. A fantastic jumble of towers, stairs, bells, carved windows, twisted railings make it look like a cake that came out from under the hands of a pastry chef with a particularly sophisticated imagination. Chateaubriand saw in him a woman with flowing hair. Victor Hugo wrote about the castle: “All sorts of magic, poetry, even madness are represented in the admirably bizarrerie of that palace of fairies and knights.”
Wealthy and powerful nobles of the 15-16th centuries, deciding to get a permanent residence in the Loire Valley, obviously found a special charm in the fact that their castle was surrounded by water.
The swift waters of Cher, flowing around the arches of the covered bridge attached to the Château de Chenonceau, make it perhaps the most graceful of the Loire valley castles.
The pink granite coast got its name because the coast and islands are made of pink granite of various shades, from very light, almost gray, to dark, almost brown.
The entire coastline is practically one continuous developed resort. There is where to walk, there are beautiful beaches and there is something to see.
The Crozon peninsula (Presqu’ile Crozon) was unexpectedly too large and expectedly beautiful. It is better to come here for two or three days and stay in Camaret or Morgat.