When you mention Normandy to the Brits they most often think of D-Day landings and the beaches of World War 2, Mont St. Michel and its Gothic Abbey, the Bayeux tapestry, Monet’s garden in Giverny, Camembert cheese, cream and cider. Certainly all of these things are amongst the many attractions which the region has to offer but what many people do not know is that Normandy is considered to be the home of the art movement known as Impressionism. So why did artists flock to Normandy to set up their easels and paint? Firstly, it is the unique light which the region enjoys, especially along the channel coast, secondly its is beauty and mystery. As artists began to move out of the confines of their studios and into the ‘plein air’ to paint, so many of them chose the coast line of Normandy and the banks of the River Seine in this region.
The Beauty of Normandy
The beauty of Normandy, that made these artists want to immortalise it in paint, is also the main reason that people from the U.K opt to choose Normandy for their homes in France. The proximity to the U.K. is another important factor, especially for people who, in deciding to buy a property in France, are having to leave important family members back in the U.K. Knowing that you can get to ‘blighty’ to visit loved ones can be very reassuring. However, it is the lifestyle that is the major reason people are drawn to move to Normandy. As in so much of France, people who have a home in Normandy often cite the lack of commercialism and the friendliness of their neighbours as being the major change in their lives following their move.
People of all ages decide to make the move to Normandy and for those who have a good level of French it is not too difficult to find work making it an attractive destination for young families as well as to retired couples.
Bringing up children in France is very appealing, there is still a focus on traditional family life, being in the woods and fields and making dens seems to feature much more than playing on a smartphone, school life is disciplined and fun and there is so much more proper food than the obese making snacks which we so often see schoolchildren in Britain eating. Having brought up my grand daughter in France I realise how lucky she was and what a huge difference it has made to her life now that she is a teenager living in the U.K. For people who choose to buy a property in Normandy once they reach retirement age they nearly always quote the return to traditional values as being one of the most important features of their new lives. They report enjoying the simple pleasures of life, the gardening, shopping in the market, sharing meals with neighbours and new friends and basically getting away from so many of the changes in U.K. life which they have found difficult to come to terms with. The final factor in people deciding to buy a home in Normandy, of course, is the incredible value for money which the housing offers. Amazing houses in lovely settings at low prices, why not move to Normandy?
The Culture of Normandy France
However, for all the focus on simple pleasures let’s not forget the huge focus on history and culture that is offered in Normandy. There is no need to become a country peasant, if culture is what you are after there is so much of it to enjoy. Personally I envy everyone who will have bought a house in Normandy by early 2020. From April to September 2020 the third national Impressionism Festival will take place throughout the whole of Normandy. There will be exhibitions, films. concerts, tableaux depicting the famous paintings, Son et Lumieres, theatre and literature. I so wish I could spend those months in Normandy!
Villedieu-les-Poêles has been denoted as the Ville et metiers d’Art by the French government in recognition of the tradition of copper working since the Middle Ages. You cannot fail to be impressed by the huge selection of pots, pans and everything else made in copper that is on display in every shop in the town. By the 19th century more than 700 families in the town were involved in the copper pan making business and this led to the town changing its name from Villedieu-les-Saultcheveuil to Villedieu-les-Poêles meaning Villedieu of the pans!
Le Roc is the name given to Granville’s dramatic headland. Walking around the headland gives you fantastic sea views across the Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel, although the actual Abbey remains tantalising out of view. Granville has a lovely long beach of white sand, traditional beach huts and a bustling port lined with little fish restaurants. For those in search of something a little different from other beach resorts head up above the beach to visit the pink villa where Christian Dior lived as a child