Normandy Chateau 2008

What did we do

After I’d shown the fifth family around Le Chateau, I finally felt I knew my way around this wonderful place to stay for the week. With its two kitchens, games room, croquet lawn, swimming pool, lake and childrens dressing up room, it struck me that cycling may be purely optional.

With everyone safely arrived, 23 adults and 23 children set out on Sunday for a trip to the beach. Through Periers, and aining for Pirou Plage. The cycling was pretty flat which was ideal, as the first morning is always tricky, due to many families having never cycled in this large a company. Soon though, children paired up, adults chatted away and we all enjoyed the very quiet roads. We stopped at Pirou Plage for 2 hours. On the other side of the peninsular from the Normandy landings, the beach was windswept and the surf was definitely up. Armed with swimming costumes, several children braved the waters and buckets and spades were unloaded whilst adults munched sandwiches or explored the Sunday market. On the way back we took in the 12th century moated chateau at Pirou, where all clambered to the top, and during August a lovely tapestry in the style of Bayeaux was on display relating the taking of Sicily.

We took a shorter ride on Monday through the lanes north of Periers, scene of extensive fighting in WW2. This was brought home by the ruined church at Nay, where only the doorway remained. The weather was sunny and so the majority had a café stop in Periers before returning to the chateau for a swim or a game of croquet. The evening saw a softball game on the front lawn which definitely proved that in this case the mothers were more competitive that the fathers. Tuesday took us to St Germain-sur-Ay-Plage, along the greenway. France too has seen railway closures and we took the converted track to Lessay, before taking to quiet roads to the beach. Windswept again, having fought the headwind there we flew back to our place of residence Wednesday is a traditional day off, giving time to explore the local area. Some chose to relax, others went to the tapestry at Bayeaux, whilst some visited the Normandy landing beaches and graves that are a sad reminder of when France wasn’t quite so peaceful.

St Lo was the next days target. As home to Frances largest national horse stud, it was a natural place to visit, with the added attraction, its annual show. About half of us chose to go the 34 miles there and back. The others took the more relaxed route via the German war cemetery at Marigny. With Louise in tow we made it to St Lo and were treated to carriage driving, dressage and jumping. It was reasonably impressive, however quite long winded, and maybe the theme to Rocky wasn’t quite appropriate as it blared out on the speakers during the dressage. A third group had developed as the fathers sneaked off to a bar in town and together we cycled back to la Chapelle-en-Juger where all the children were taken back by car to the chateau, as a family had started from this point. The French don’t have tag alongs or kiddiback tandems and were naturally curious, though what they thought of adults dragging empty tag alongs, one can only guess.

The last day beckoned, several families took the day off preferring the delights of the lake, pool…… the rest of us headed for Coutances via one last beach at Gouville-sur-Mer. This was an almost perfect day ride. Starting at 0930 we got to the beach by 1100, giving an hour and a half to go for a swim, which most of us did in the sun. Some stayed, preferring to spend the day here, which is fine as after all this is a holiday. For the other 7 families we headed into Coutances. Site of a stunning double spired cathedral and a wonderful Salon de The next door, who could ask for more. The ride back was lovely, parallel to the main road was a little used sunlight dappled lane, a lovely end to the weeks cycling.

We finished the week with an American supper. All cooked a little something, the wine and beer flowed and maybe we’ll do it all again next year, however to find another venue like this will be a hard act to follow.

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