It’s official – these are the prettiest villages in Normandy according to the Plus Beaux Villages de France Association. They award the coveted recognition to a handful of villages that have to meet strict criteria. Culturally rich, population of less than 2000, rural location and of course exquisitely pretty!
Normandy has six recognised Plus Beaux Villages.
You’ll find Barfleur on the Cotentin Peninsula, between Cherbourg and Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue. The latter is itself an absolutely jewel of a town, famous for its oysters and UNESCO listed Tour Vauban de la Hougue, plus it was voted “favourite village of the French in 2019”. Barfleur is a small fishing village with a picturesque fishing harbour. With its carefully preserve old buildings, it’s a great place to wander, enjoy the sea views and take a break. It too is famous for its seafood, especially a type of mussel called “Barfleur blonde”. Enjoy it cooked in cream and eaten at one of the seafront restaurants and washed down with Normandy cider. Sublime…
Beuvron-en-Auge is full of authentic half-timbered houses dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. The main square is stuffed with art galleries and antique shops and every every Saturday afternoon there’s a farmer’s market. The Route des Cidres takes in this village, perfect for lovers of cider, nature, cheese, countryside and wide open green spaces peppered with beautiful mansions and castles.
Charming half-timbered houses dating from the 17th century, painted cob buildings and a glorious central market hall, dating from the 15th century make this a standout village visit. Just 40km from Rouen, this tranquil little village is in an enormous national forest of beech trees. Maurice Ravel lived here, Jean Renoir, son of the famous painter, a renowned film maker, featured the town in film in the film Madame Bovary in the 1920s. Later Claude Chabrol also used the town as a location in his version of Madame Bovary. Lyons-la-Forêt is also a Station Verte and village fleuri.
Le Bec-Hellouin is renowned for its imposing Abbey, built in 1034, it’s a classified Historic Monument. It’s inhabitaed by monks who create ceramics and candles that you can buy in the Abbey. The town is like a picture postcard come to life with its colourful houses and flower-lined streets.
In the heart of the Alpes Mancelle Regional Natural Park, this small village is astoundingly pretty. It’s not hard to see why painters, included Courbet and Corot, have flocked here. With the gentle river Sarthe flowing through town, an 11th century church and very pretty streets and houses, this is a fabulous place to spend some time. Not only that, the town is home to a “miraculous fountain”. Legend has it that water which sprang from a source here quenched the thirst of Saint Céneri, after whom the town is named. Great for fishermen and hikers as well as those who love pretty villages.
Veules les Roses
Between Fécamp and Dieppe, overlooking the cliffs of the Alabaster Coast, Veules-les-Roses sits between sea and countryside. The Veules is the smallest river in France and follows a lush green and flowery course through the mills and thatched cottages of the villages on its way to the English Channel. Villas and bathing cabins on the seafront evoke its past as a popular seaside resort in the 19th century, Victor Hugo was a fan!