Between the seaside and the Normandy bocage, the scenery changes but the charm remains like a link between the golf courses of Granville, Côte des Isles and Clécy, all three members of the Golfy network. Beyond the fairways, Normandy has many treasures and historic sites of the highest order, such as Mont Saint-Michel and the D-Day landing beaches.
Since 1912, the sea breeze has swept across the links at Golf de Granville. Stuart Hallett recently corrected a number of twentieth-century changes to Harry Colt’s historic design, restoring the original spirit of the layout. Since 1986, the 9-hole Dunes course, designed by Fred Hawtree in the spirit of the Links, has benefited from the same décor and maintenance as its predecessor. The courses have entered the zero-phyto era with pragmatism and realism, a success recognised by all. Behind the granite walls of a period clubhouse, the food is good, generous and friendly, just like this century-old club that is still young.
Inaugurated in 1990 and extended to 18 holes in 2016, the Côte des Isles golf course has enjoyed a new lease of life since its extension. Although it is still swept by the winds of the open sea, it has found its way through biodiversity. Didier Fruchet’s dune holes have been joined by a design winding between ponds, the imagination of Robert Berthet. Here, the fauna flourished while the flora was preserved in the wetlands. A compact 6-hole course completes the offer supported by the elected representatives of Barneville-Carteret in the Manche region, with the aim of opening the course up to as many people as possible.
In the heart of the Calvados region, the Domaine du Golf de Clécy was created in 1989, when Bill Baker took advantage of the relief of Normandy Switzerland to design a course that can be played in two versions, the Cabri or the Chamois. The layout offers views over a valley as green as it is wooded, with the Cantelou manor house serving as clubhouse, restaurant and hotel. Beware of the 18th, where strategy is essential, whatever option you choose, on this downhill par 4 and dogleg right… The Racloz family, who have been at the helm since the course opened, have never ceased to improve the course and its facilities, which now include a spa in the manor house. Enough to satisfy the whole family in this little corner of paradise.
Where to stay ?
In the heart of Granville, the Mercure Granville-Le Grand Large hotel has everything you need to make the most of the town, its port, its beach, its shopping streets and even its casino, located opposite the hotel. The decoration of the rooms and reception areas pays homage to the local boy, Christian Dior, whose museum is just a five-minute walk away. Rooms overlooking the sea have a balcony with a view of the Chausey islands. The solarium terrace, swimming pool, fitness centre and spa offer welcome moments of relaxation after a round of golf or a day at sea discovering the Channel Islands.
With its 19 rooms in the Cantelou manor house and its family gîtes, accommodation at the Domaine du Golf de Clécy is as varied as it is high quality. In this very ‘country’ Norman Switzerland, it’s great to be able to stay on the golf course and forget about your car for the duration of your stay. The restaurant menu gives priority to regional flavours, with the estate producing its own cider, pommeau and calvados to liven up the homemade apple tart. With its crème fraîche, camembert, andouille de Vire and apples from starter to dessert, “made in Normandy” is not an empty word! In case the meal is a little rich, the spa accessible from the rooms is perfect for a moment of relaxation. Around Clécy, a charming Normandy village, there are many walks, cycle rides and water rides open to all, a welcome way to discover the charms of this little-known region, just 30 km south of Caen.
Granville‘s coastal position and strategic location in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel meant that the town had an eventful history from the Middle Ages through to the Napoleonic epic, but it was only in the 19th century that the town and port experienced a remarkable boom linked to fishing and the popularity of sea bathing.
In 1912, just as the golf course was coming into being, the town had electricity. Let there be light! Nicknamed the “Monaco of the North” because the Grimaldi family was its governor for more than two centuries, Granville bears some similarities to the Principality.
For a long time, it was a cod port, but today it is the leading shellfish port in France. Then there’s the marina, with nearly a thousand berths. And its Upper Town – the historic heart of the town behind the Vauban ramparts – which is reminiscent of the ‘Rock’ overlooking the Mediterranean, even if the colour and temperature of the water are somewhat different. On the heights of Granville, many of the Belle Époque villas have retained their charm. Facing the harbour and the bay, they enjoy a magnificent view while the gulls rhythm their aerial dance with incessant cries. The most emblematic of them all is the childhood home of Christian Dior – an industrialist whose grandfather Louis was Minister of Trade in Aristide Briand’s 7th government. In the villa Les Rhumbs overlooking the bay, the Christian Dior museum has been hosting fashion-related exhibitions for the past thirty years, with the designer’s most beautiful dresses on permanent display. The museum was supported by the Dior Foundation, and is the only “musée de France” dedicated to a fashion designer. Its gardens are magnificent, and its rose garden exceptional.
Granville also has an island district, the Chausey Islands, France’s only Channel Islands. Just an hour’s boat ride from the mainland, this archipelago – only the Grande-Île is inhabited by around thirty people – is made up of around twenty islands and 130 granite islets that are uncovered at each tide.
Although Chausey is very popular for its fishing on foot at high tide – its tidal range is the highest in Normandy – it is now a very popular tourist destination. The only way around Grande-Île is on foot, along the Chemin de Garde, bypassing Louis Renault’s estate – an austere residence where the industrialist liked to recharge his batteries. Only a small hotel and a few guest houses offer accommodation on the island. It’s best to book ahead. Since 1987, the archipelago has been an ornithological reserve, with many birds nesting on the uninhabited islets. You can hear them all year round!
In Normandy, it is often said that there are more apple trees than inhabitants and cows combined! In any case, cider doesn’t just fall from the sky, even if its fermentation dates back to the time when monks processed apple juice in the shade of their convents. Around the year 1000, the great maritime transhumances brought apples to Normandy, both from Northern Europe with the Vikings and from Spain – a little later – with the more resistant and productive trees from Biscay. At the end of the 15th century, under the reign of Charles VIII, cider appeared on royal tables. Low in alcohol, it appealed to everyone, starting with Anne of Brittany, who attributed digestive qualities to it.
Les techniques de fabrication ont évolué depuis le Moyen Âge mais la base demeure la même, la pomme. Selon l’implantation des vergers, la variété des pommiers et la durée de fermentation, les goûts diffèrent, plus ou moins sucrés, acides, amers, moelleux, voire même rustiques. Aujourd’hui, on compte environ 400 variétés de pomme à cidre en Normandie. Les variétés les plus répandues sont les Frequin, Marinonfroy, Bisquet, Bedan et Saint-Aubin pour une production annuelle d’environ 250 000 tonnes sur 9 000 hectares de vergers. La filière cidricole française fait vivre près de 12 000 producteurs, essentiellement en Normandie et Bretagne. Très désaltérant, le cidre se boit à toute heure, il accompagne aisément les galettes mais aussi des recettes normandes comme les tripes à la mode de Caen et des plats mijotés, des ragoûts, des joues de porc. Il s’accorde bien avec les fromages. Un cidre brut avec un camembert… vaut bien des petits vins ! Sur la teurgoule, ce riz au lait normand cuit à feu doux et caramélisé, le cidre donne du peps à ce dessert roboratif. Apprécié à tout âge, le cidre connaît depuis quelques années un regain d’intérêt lié à une production bio, responsable, locavore, des arguments dans l’air du temps.
In June 2024, the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings will be celebrated, and few people will still be around to remember that day of 6 June 1944. But that won’t stop official commemorations, moments of remembrance, emotional memories along the beaches and in the vastness of the cemeteries, where the swarms of white crosses leave no one indifferent.
While the Germans thought that the Allies would land in the Pas-de-Calais, the American, British and Canadian forces, not forgetting the Kieffer commando – 177 French volunteer sailors – created a surprise on the night of 5 to 6 June by bombing, parachuting and then landing between the Cotentin peninsula and the west coast of Calvados, cutting breaches in the Atlantic wall, claimed to be infallible by Nazi propaganda. Although too many soldiers did not have time to set foot on the Normandy beaches, shot down by German machine guns, the element of surprise and sheer numbers – around 150,000 men – overcame the enemy forces in battles on the ground, in the air and at sea. In the days following the landings, the Allied forces structured themselves across Normandy, advancing and destroying pockets of German resistance until they reached Caen six weeks later, after extremely violent fighting. Then Saint-Lô and the port of Cherbourg were liberated in August 44, before the troops advanced towards the capital and the liberation of Paris on 25 August 44.
While a few landing craft along the coast and as many German bunkers still bear the scars of the fighting, the main remembrance sites are the Caen Memorial, smaller museums such as the D-Day Omaha Museum in Vierville-sur-Mer, the Maison de la Libération in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, the Pegasus Bridge Museum – the bridge at Bénouville over the Caen Canal won by a British regiment – and the Café Gondrée – the 1st house in Normandy to be liberated – and, of course, the cemeteries that pay tribute to all those young men who gave their lives to liberate Europe. The Colleville-sur-Mer cemetery, overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel, contains 9387 American soldiers in the perspective of their white crosses, not to mention the Garden of the Missing and its enumeration engraved in marble… 1557 unidentified “boys”. Every year, more than a million visitors – many of them Americans as June approaches – pay their respects in these lands of intergenerational remembrance.
This year, Mont Saint-Michel celebrates its millennium! A thousand years since the iconic silhouette of the abbey dominated the bay, encircled by the waters – the highest tides in continental Europe, with a maximum tidal range of 15 metres.
Between sky and sea, this 157-metre-high belvedere has always fascinated visitors. From the first monks who built the Romanesque abbey church to the construction of the spire surmounted by the archangel Saint-Michel slaying the dragon of the Apocalypse, built in 1897 and, more recently, to the creation of the new jetty in front of the mountain, relegating cars to a little further away, the mountain has had a rich history. Wars, conquests and invasions, all of which the icon of the Christian West has withstood against all odds…
The site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Behind the ramparts, in the main street leading up to the abbey, the stalls of the Temple merchants, laden with religious and tourist trinkets, go on and on where the crowds throng. Mère Poulard’s table has not changed the recipe of her ancestor, the cook Annette Boutiaut-Poulard, who made her omelette a success in the 19th century. One hundred and fifty years later, it’s still going strong!
In this millennium year, numerous religious celebrations, historical and theological conferences, cultural exhibitions, concerts, sound and light shows and dance performances are scheduled throughout the season, from May to November.
Details of the festivities at : https://montsaintmichel.gouv.fr/programmation-du-millenaire
From 9 to 14 February 2024, the Granville Carnival – the 3rd most popular, after Nice and Dunkirk – will be celebrating its 150th edition. Historically linked to the departure of the Terre-neuvas for cod fishing, it was the big party ashore around Mardi Gras.
A chance to feast, drink, dance and give birth before the great Atlantic crossing and the icy winds of the Arctic. Even though conditions have changed a great deal, the sense of festivity and derision, and the pleasure of dressing up, endure for five of the most unbridled days of the year. Each year, His Majesty the King of Carnival, perched on the float of the Demoiselles Terre et Mer, receives the keys to the town. This is followed by the parade of the children of Calvaire, while the brass bands cheerfully trumpet and drum. For Mardi Gras, the great Cavalcade gives free rein to the most delirious imaginations, as satirical as it is humorous, right up to the great confetti battle to music for the grand finale of five days and nights of festivities and fun shared in good spirits.
For more information, visit www.carnaval-de-granville.fr