We have to admit that at Iggy & Burt we are certified Francophiles, from the fashion to the incredible food. With Summer coming to a close and the beautiful mellow Autumn afternoons just around the corner, here are our tips for a short stay over the Channel.
Not many have heard of Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët but for us, this little market town in southern Normandy is the quintessential authentic French experience. At about 50 miles northeast of Rennes, and with cobble lined streets, and impressive array of boulanangeries, restaurants and local shops, St Hilaire could be easily missed. Swing by on Wednesday morning when market day takes place. Take the opportunity to sample the local calvados, locally made cheese, meats and sweet treats– you won’t know what to pick!
Our recommendation would be to stay in any one of the stunning surrounding villages (in particular we love Mantilly or Domfront) for a true opportunity to relax and unwind. You will find on offer are a mix of hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites for all budgets and tastes. Try the excellent Hotel le Lion d’Or which is also an incredible place for lunch or dinner, both available at a reasonable price.
Bagnoles de l’Orne
A short drive away, and the ideal place for a day of an Autumnal stroll is the thermal spa town of Bagnoles de l’Orne, set in the magnificent Normandie-Maine Regional Nature Park. Bagnoles offers the idyllic mix of nature and culture, all in a very chic French setting.
Bagnoles has long been the choice of the discerning and its elegant promenades, shops and walking trails quickly reveal why. A day in Bagnoles will not be easily forgotten.
We would recommend that you explore on foot, which is manageable for all abilities and ages to truly get the sense of the place. When the feet ache a little, take the opportunity to stop into any one of the many Chocolatiers for a taste of something truly decedent and positively luxurious. For those looking for the ultimate relaxing afternoon visit the B'O Resort and Spa and enjoy a reinvigorating and restorative treatment (we highly recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment).
After your afternoon of exploring, make sure that you wrap up warm - it’s the perfect place to rock a chic chunky knit, such as our lovely Iggy Lambswool Roll Neck Jumper. Enjoy the sunset over the lake with an aperitif at any one of the bars and restaurants to see out the day, our particular favourite being the timeless La Potinière du Lac.
After a day of culture and relaxation at Bagnoles, you could be forgiven for wanting a slow start and some retail therapy in any one of Normandy’s plentiful brocantes. Our choice of location for the best on offer is in and around the charming village of Ville de Villedieu les Poêles. Combined with winding and beautiful lanes full to the brim with local artist’s shops, restaurants and cafes, this is the perfect place to spend a day taking in the change of season and adding something authentic and lovely to remember your trip.
You may also want to try any one of the local cafes which offer the most incredible crepes and sweet treats. We’ve tried dozens of them and still can’t make our mind up as to which is best!
We guarantee that after one trip to Normandy you will be clambering to get back and explore this beautiful corner of the world further.