Normandy with dog - Holidays on the Alabaster Coast of France
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White cliffs, harsh weather, pretty villages. Normandy is also the perfect winter destination if you like to spend time outside and don't let a little storm spoil your mood. We spent a week here over the turn of the year and I can say: vacationing with a dog in Normandy is a great idea. Please imitate!
- Planning for a week Normandy
- Fécamp: The rough fishing town on the Alabaster Coast
- Étretat - the most spectacular cliffs in Normandy
- Rouen - is it the most beautiful city in Normandy?
- The coastal villages of Yport and Veules-les-Roses
- Long-distance hiking on the GR21
- More things to see in Normandy
- Is Normandy dog friendly?
- New Year's Eve with a dog in Normandy
How to plan your vacation with your dog in Normandy
For our time in Normandy, we wished for three things above all: Spectacular hikes on the white cliffs, leisurely strolls through small villages and spending as little time as possible in the car. That's why we made a list of places in advance that we definitely want to see and which we would also do without. Because Normandy is really big. From Étretat, for example, it takes about three hours to get to Mont-Saint-Michel - too far for us. It quickly became clear to us that the Alabaster Coast around Étretat is the perfect starting point for a week in Normandy with a dog. Here the cliffs are at their best, there are countless pretty towns along the coast and a hiking trail connects them all. And for a bit of a big city feeling, Rouen is still within easy visiting radius. On Airbnb I even found a beautiful, dog-friendly tiny home in the (former) fishing village of Fécamp.
Fécamp: The rough fishing town on the Alabaster Coast
Fécamp is strongly characterized by the port and fishing. The waves crash here in front of the highest cliffs in all of Normandy, seagulls screech, the wind blows. At least that's how we got to know Fécamp on the first day. On our second day, we realized that Fécamp can do something completely different. Here Fécamp showed itself to be sweeter, with one of the most spectacular sunsets we have ever seen. The harbor looked much more picturesque in direct sunlight and the colorful little houses shone brightly. Incidentally, it is also worth exploring Fécamp off the harbor promenade. The Benedictine Palace, for example, the pretty city center or one of the many museums. And those who want to see the city from above should walk to Cape Fagnet, which rises 95 meters above the city. There are u. a. Remains of bunkers from German radar sites of the Atlantic Wall from the Second World War can be seen with many explanations. By the way: If you want to experience Normandy from an authentic side, Fécamp is definitely the right place for you.
Tips for Fecamp
- Hike to Cape Fagnet 95 meters above the city.
- Go to the lighthouses by the sea (warning, not recommended in windy conditions).
- Stroll through the harbor and along the seafront.
- look at the sunset just wow.
- Check out the Benedictine Palace. He also has a super pretty cafe.
- Go to the Fisheries Museum.
- Stroll through the pretty city center.
Étretat - the most spectacular cliffs in Normandy
Around 20 minutes from Fécamp, what is probably the best-known town in Normandy nestles by the sea. Etretat. Untouristy is probably the last word to use for Étretat. But you quickly understand why so many people stray here: nowhere else do the cliffs form such spectacular formations. Nowhere else is the half-timbered house so pretty. And it's no wonder that Étretat has already inspired countless artists.
We went straight to Étretat early in the morning. We parked just outside the center on the main road. Here you pay five euros for the whole day. Parking in the town center is significantly more expensive. Directly from the town center you can access the hiking trail that leads up to the cliffs. The hiking trails are well developed and you even have the opportunity to go to the rocks that protrude into the sea. It always takes your breath away. However, the wind and the gusts should not be underestimated, so you really shouldn't step too close to the vertical cliffs. Incidentally, in the morning there were only a few other people there, and there was absolutely no trace of overtourism (yet).
Of course we also looked at the place. We really liked the narrow streets and cute half-timbered houses, but more and more tourists came to the city, which definitely influences the flair. Like Étretat and almost all the villages in the region, Étretat also has a promenade that stretches out. We decided without further ado to walk on the promenade to the opposite cliff and hike up to the church that towers over the city. The sun had meanwhile fought its way through the cloud cover and the light was suddenly completely different. The ascent was more than worth it for us. We made a small picnic before our visit to the city ended.
However, this was not the last time we were here. We decided to come again for sunrise. And what was offered to us cannot be expressed in words, only in pictures:
Tips for Etretat
- Come early in the morning, you will still experience the place without crowds
- Park in the (reasonably) cheap parking lot on the main road
- Hike along the cliffs
- Have a picnic in the grass
- Stroll through the narrow streets
Rouen - is it the most beautiful city in Normandy?
Rouen is often described as one of the most beautiful French cities. We were therefore happy to take the hour's drive. But admittedly it was more like love at second sight.
The cityscape is characterized by medieval lanes, closely packed half-timbered houses and the impressive Gothic cathedral. However, it bothered us that the city center is still a classic shopping city. And glowing advertisements and medieval architecture don't quite go together after all. Rouen is really full of history. The French national heroine Joan of Arc was burned at the Altmarkt in 1431, a stone commemorates her cruel fate.
After exploring downtown, we were almost on our way back. But somehow we had the feeling that there must be more to see here. So we walked a little further and suddenly found ourselves in neighborhoods that we liked a lot better. Small cafés lined up, the streets became narrower and the city more authentic. And so slowly he came up with the flair we had hoped for from Rouen. By the way, we were still in the city center, just slightly above the city center.
Sights in Rouen:
- Le Gros-Horloge - the great astronomical clock in Rouen
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- The Church of Saint Joan of Arc
- The Place du Vieux Marche
- The Old Market and
- The Joan of Arc Historical Museum
- The quays on the Seine with numerous restaurants in the former docks
The coastal villages of Yport and Veules-les-Roses
Along with Étretat, Yport and Veules-les-Roses are among the most beautiful villages in Normandy. After Yport we made a short detour. Maybe it was the time, it was still quite early in the morning, but the place didn't really grab us. In summer, however, there could be a very nice atmosphere here. We couldn't visit Veules-les-Roses due to time constraints, but the pictures we saw promise a lot.
Long-distance hiking on the GR21
One of the most famous long-distance hiking trails in Europe, the GR21, runs through Fécamp. This starts in Le Tréport and leads to Le Havre, passing Étretat, among other places. The 190 kilometers do not always go directly along the cliffs - but often. We have therefore specially picked out the passages that promised a particularly beautiful view of the sea. That was around Étretat, among other things, but particularly beautiful sections of the hiking trail also start in the small towns of Valleuse de Vaucottes and Les Petite Dalles. And unlike in Étretat, you are completely alone here. Incidentally, it is also worth making a short detour to the beaches before climbing up the steep cliffs. By the way, nothing is secured on the cliffs. And through the tall grass, it's not so easy to tell when the cliff drops. So always keep your distance.
And otherwise: worth seeing excursion destinations for a holiday with your dog in Normandy
- Mont Saint Michel
- Monet's garden at Giverny
- The Flower Coast with Deauville, Trouville and Honfleur
- The D-Day landing beaches and the Colleville-sur-Mer military cemetery
- Le Havre
- Markets with Calvados, Cider and Camembert
- Norman Switzerland
Holidays with dogs in Normandy: Is Normandy dog-friendly?
Of course, the answer to this question should not be missing from this blog. Basically, Normandy is dog-friendly. Nevertheless, we have often experienced that dogs are not allowed on the beach. In Fécamp there is at least a small section for dogs on the northern side of the beach. On the southern side of the beach, where the long promenade ends, we followed the local dog owners to the beach despite the prohibition signs. We just assumed that there was a little more tolerance in winter. In Étretat there was not an inch that was allowed for dogs and quite obviously, everyone has kept to it. But we also found dream beaches without any prohibition signs, for example in Valleuse de Vaucottes and Les Petite Dalles. Since we were out and about in winter (no outdoor catering) and during Corona times, it is difficult for us to assess dog-friendliness in the catering trade. Since I didn't find much information online either, I would do better to ask before going to a restaurant. In outdoor gastronomy, on the other hand, there should hardly be any restrictions.
New Year's Eve with a dog in Normandy
There are probably only a few places that are better suited for a New Year's Eve trip with a dog without firecrackers. Because in Normandy, like in most regions of France, firecrackers are completely forbidden. We had the most relaxed New Year's Eve with a dog that you can imagine. No fireworks. no annoying banging on the streets. Even a night walk was easily possible with a dog. Absolute recommendation.
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