In the heart of Normandy, at the very end of a pretty farm track, banked in spring by yellow primroses and daffodils, sits a delightful water mill, Le Moulin, its old water mill wheel still in position and beside it, La Maison - The Mill House. Together, they make up Le Moulin Estate. These two beautiful buildings are now converted into top quality holiday accommodation.
Le Moulin Estate, Normandy, France
Style: La Maison - a traditional Normandy mill owner's house with some fine old french wall cupboards and furniture.
Le Moulin - the old mill building, the exterior much in its original state, the interior completely refitted to create a large boat house and above a beautiful riverside holiday flat, its balcony reaching out over the river.
One of privacy and exclusivity!
It is possible, even likely, that once you reach Le Moulin Estate you will not wish to leave. The estate is stunning, the garden a joy and even if it does rain you can enjoy a barbecue in the garden under cover in one of the two barbecue buildings, one situated beside La Maison, the other on the second of the two islands.
Not only are there lovely private walks along the river bank, a real joy in the early morning sunshine, but two rowing boats just beg to take you and your friends on a gentle meander up stream towards Tessy sur Vire.
There is nothing more relaxing than to sit in the garden with a glass of wine, or move quietly along the river in one of the boats watching the kingfisher, ducks, moorhens, herons, honey buzzards and grey wagtails flitting over the river, whilst water vole and musk rat slice silently through the water. Red squirrels chase one another up the trees while rabbits, and even the occasional badger and pole cat, can been seen if you keep really quiet.
Reading through the visitors' book it is clear that we are not the only ones to be transformed by the magical quality of Le Moulin Estate in Normandy.
If it rains, mists rise from the water, when the sun shines the trees are reflected in the rippling river. Le Moulin is described as "an artists' paradise"; the light is superb and the scene changes with the passing of the day and the nuances of the weather.
Children wax lyrical about their adventures - rowing and swimming being their favourite occupations on the river with family games around the dining table in the evening - old fashioned perhaps, but all the more of a treat for that.
Christmas is a joy here, summer a wonder.
Round and About in Normandy:
For those who do venture out of the valley, there is so much to see, a fulsome list of fantastic places to visit, restaurants to eat in and things to do - listed and regularly updated in the welcome notes, below is just a flavour of what you can do during your stay.
Bagnoles - A charming spa town at the source of the Orne. A holiday resort, with attractive thoroughfares leading to the central lake; a charming starting point for a tour of the Suisse Normande.
Balleroy - Surrounded by forests, the small village of Balleroy (some 20 minutes away) is dominated by a magnificent chateau, which is open to visitors at certain times (consult Tourist information). Balleroy was the birthplace of the hot air balloon and there is a balloon museum.
Bayeux - What does one say? World famous for the Bayeaux tapestry, but well worth a visit in its own right. In recent years the ancient buildings have been beautifully restored and presiding over all is the magnificent cathedral (visible from any direction as it rises above the town). Good for shopping, browsing and ‘museuming’ – a true pleasure.
Caen - The capital of Basse-Normandie some 45 minutes from Le Moulin. Much damaged in the war, the old castle survived to a miraculous extent. The best shopping in the region, with good restaurants, cinemas and a theatre.
A visit to the Memorial (a museum of the Battle of Normandy and much more) is a MUST. A dramatic, accurate and unbiased representation of the battle of Normandy, but also showing the pre and post history. Quite superb and suitable for all ages. Modestly priced and good eating inside. To get there take the A84 and when you reach the Caen périphérique go north and follow the signs. There is also a traditional museum and gallery within the battlements of the castle, with perhaps the finest collection of paintings in France outside Paris.
Cabourg - On the Cote de Fleurie, about 20 minutes from Caen, a most attractive, small but stylish sea side resort with a good beach.
Cancale - A favourite place for us; a small and delightful resort at the western end of the bay of Mont. St. Michel, with an array of excellent seafood restaurants at prices for all pockets. Featured in the T.V. series ‘The Darling Buds of May’ but thankfully not spoiled.
Carteret - There are excellent beaches at Carteret, one of which is known to be one of the top 10 in France, and has some very good restaurants. The Michelin star restaurant in the Marine Hotel is absolutely outstanding. Other good restaurants include: The Marine Jardin, Le Cap and the Kalikiki which is said to do the best moules frites in the Manche.
Chartres - Further afield (approximately 3 hours’ drive) but in our view worth a 2 day trip with a brief stop at Alencon (superb chocolatier – Pedro – near the church in the town centre). The cathedral is one of the world’s finest and it is easy to see why – with perhaps the best mediaeval stained glass in the world. Le Vieux Quartier (route supplied by the Tourist Information Office) is beautifully preserved and a meal at Le Moulin de Ponceau alone makes the trip worthwhile. Market day is Saturday and offers the most wonderful variety of produce, superbly presented.
Cherbourg - Worth making time for on a return journey. The old town centre has survived and whilst difficult to penetrate, it can be done – just take a small lane and follow your nose!
Deauville - A ‘tres chic’ resort. For those looking for high fashion shopping without going to Paris, a stroll around the vicinity of the Casino could prove expensive. Lively cafes, excellent restaurants and the famous promenade. The Hotel Normandie is a vast but splendid edifice offering jazz brunches on Sunday.
Dinan - Unmissable. The road in across the viaduct high above the Rance and winding up the ancient battlements is a worthy taste of what is to come. The town centre is wonderfully preserved, the ancient buildings crowding in on each other. Visit the Jardins des Anglais by the church, look down to the river far below and the old road down to the port. This very steep mediaeval lane has wonderful buildings on either side and ends at the small port where several colourful restaurants can be found.
Fougeres - A delightful small mediaeval town, possessing a magnificent castle. The view of the castle from the ‘jardins publiques’ next to the church of St. Leonard near the town centre is worth the trip on its own – as is the church itself (fine modern stained glass and much loved). The journey goes through beautiful countryside (from Villedieu take the scenic road through Brecy and St. Hilaire – notable for the remarkable number of ancient barns and farmhouses) and takes a little over one hour. An early start on Saturday morning is recommended to allow a visit to the small but colourful market.
Les Gorges du Vire - If you have a couple of hours spare, a drive along the Gorges du Vire is well worthwhile. The countryside is beautiful and unspoiled, with many lovely views. Go from Tessy to Pont Farcy and when you reach the main road in the village centre go straight across. After a short distance turn left, signposted Gorges du Vire and thereafter just follow the signs. When you arrive at Campeaux you can either turn left up the hill and head for home or continue on through more lovely countryside following your map and the signs.
Granville - This important seaside town and port is very popular with the French and provides good and varied shopping and many restaurants. Our favourite is the Daiquiri on the Port de Plaisance and is invariably full of French visitors. Go for the seafood which is always fresh and delicious. The old town is well worth a visit as is the Christian Dior museum and garden, which has a spectacular position overlooking the sea.
Honfleur - As with Dinan, not to be missed and to us, a source of constant pleasure. Head straight for Le Vieux Bassin, enjoy the scenery and ambience – a place for artists, antiques, fishing boats and fine restaurants – with the emphasis on superb seafood. About the same journey time as Deauville (80 minutes) and very easy to combine the two in one day.
Monet’s house at Giverny - For those who are enthusiastic about Impressionist paintings, a visit to Monet’s house at Giverny is a must. The house has been restored by the expert who restored Versailles and is now as it was when Monet lived there, whilst the garden has walked out of the painting. The journey takes about 2 hours using the Caen, Rouen, Paris motorway (which you leave south of Rouen, signposted Giverny) and from Giverny the route is well marked).
Mont St. Michel - Described by the French as ‘the wonder of the Western World’ and a classified ‘World Heritage Site’. Magnificent, but suffers badly from an excess of tourists. Go if you haven’t seen it – but go early. Journey time – about one hour.
Porte en Bessin - Only 10 kilometres from Bayeux, this is a traditional fishing port full of working boats. Very picturesque, with a fish market on Sundays.
Portbail - This is a small, lovely and ancient village on the Atlantic coast of the Cotentin, just south of Carteret. The beach is very attractive and the ancient church in the centre of the town is well worth a visit. There are several places to eat.
Rennes - Since the completion of the A84 to Rennes, this beautiful town is now within reasonable striking distance (approximately 1 hour – 1 ¼ ). The town centre is full of elegant architecture with the added attraction of an old quarter. The shopping is undoubtedly the best in Western Normandy and Brittany and you should go suitably prepared. As always, there are lots of restaurants and cafes available to restore your spirits if not your bank balance.
Les Roches de Ham - Follow the signs across the bridge from Chappelle sur Vire to this vantage point high above the river. It is only a short drive through very rural country and the views are superb. In the summer there is a small café serving excellent pancakes.
St. Lo - The administrative centre of the Manche and almost destroyed in the Second World War. Despite this, it is an attractive town in many ways and good for shopping. Intermarche, Carrefour, Le Clerc are all represented. All provide excellent fresh fish, magnificent dairy products, good selections of wines and a very wide range of meats, groceries and household goods. A visit to St. Lo on Saturday morning is outstanding value as this is market day. You can buy your frites and saucisses from the market which also offers excellent fresh produce.
The Tourist Information Office is located in a glass fronted building in the middle of the Grand Place about 200yds from G.B. We suggest an early visit to the Tourist Information Office to find out about seasonal events and attractions in the region.The French national stud is at St. Lo (on the main road from Caen) and is open to visitors.
St. Malo - This ancient port with its massive battlements is full of interest. The picturesque route is via the coast from Mont St. Michel past Cancale and on arrival in the old town (intra mures) you will find many excellent shops and restaurants. The beaches are also very good.
Tessy sur Vire - ‘Our town’ and meets all everyday needs. There are three boulangerie/patisseries and the one we like most is the smallest which is to be found going out of Tessy up the hill towards Hambye. There is a small but excellent Carrefour supermarket from which just about anything you need can be obtained. It is about 300m along the road to Pontfarcy and the A84 (bear left at Credit Agricole) on the left hand side. Other good local shops include the ‘creamery’ supplying good vegetables, flowers and excellent dairy products. The delicatessen opposite the Pont Farcy road is also very good and the meat is excellent. There are several other specialist shops, together with a medical practice, notaire, pharmacy etc.
The ‘Bar Routiers’ in the square is typical of its kind and useful for coffee, breakfast, lunch etc. as is the bar/cafe on the Pont Farcy road.
Villedieu-les-Poeles - The copper town of France, Villedieu is extremely picturesque and less than 30 minutes away. Very well worth a visit. It provides a unique opportunity to view and buy wonderful copper kitchenware at unbeatable (in the U.K.) prices. There is a small museum of Norman furniture and the bell foundry is famous.There are several restaurants bars and a salon de thé/patisserie. The Villedieu market on Tuesdays is a very good one, well supported by locals.
Vire - Another major town in the vicinity with part of its mediaeval battlements still preserved and the largest town in the ‘bocage’
- Sleeps 10
- 5 Bedrooms
- 4 Bathrooms
- 2 Well-behaved pets allowed
- WiFi available
- Saturday changeover
- Open fire/woodburner
- Bed linen provided
- Towels provided
- Washing machine
- Tumble dryer
- No smoking
- Nearest shop 6.9 miles
- Nearest pub 5 miles
- 26.4 miles from the coast
La Maison - The Mill House
- GROUND FLOOR
- The beamed living room takes up half the ground floor and would once have been two rooms. A large glazed door opens on to the garden with views over the river, the wooded gardens and the covered barbecue with its array of mill stones staked outside. The sitting room has a magnificent fire place with large log burning stove (logs are provided). There are sofas and arm chairs, coffee tables and lamps. The dining area has a large wall mirror which reflects the light beautifully and at night gives the impression of two log stoves, not one. The extending dining table will seat at least ten people and there is a further table ideal as both a sideboard and serving table. French doors open onto the garden with views over the millstream, weir and river. Wall cupboards store an excellent supply of board games, jigsaws and books as well as lots of information on the region of Normandy Manche.
- The kitchen has loads of cupboard space, a dishwasher, fridge with freezer compartment and electric ceramic hob and oven. There is a microwave, cafetiere, toaster, kettle etc and a breakfast table with benches. French doors lead from the kitchen to the garden with views over the old mill, its mill wheel still in place, the sluices and the river.
- A door from the kitchen leads to a corridor with plenty of storage for coats and shoes etc and a large wall map showing the entire Normandy region with Le Moulin almost at its centre. Another door takes you through to a utility room with washing machine, tumble dryer, sink and overhead dryer.
- FIRST FLOOR
- Master suite - Windows on three sides overlooking the millstream and the river make this large room light and airy. The super king double bed with canopy, is really comfortable. There are bedside cupboards and sidelights, as well as a small table and two easy chairs, a large built in wardrobe and door leading to the en-suit shower room.
- En-suite shower room with under floor heating, large wet room shower with two showers, washbasin and w.c. and large heated towel rail
- The master bedroom leads into a dressing room with dressing table and stall, corner cupboard. Ideal room for the baby, close by but separate.
- Bedroom 2 - another large bedroom with super king double bed with canopy, bedside tables and lamps, a wardrobe, dressing table and chair. More wonderful views over the river
- Bedroom 3 - Another sizeable room, it has two full sized single beds, and a third single sleigh bed, bedside table and lamp and large wardrobe. Both windows overlook the mill stream
- There are two further bathrooms, thus allowing each bedroom to have its own bathroom. Both have shower, washbasin, w.c. and heated towel rail.
Le Moulin - The Mill
- Cross the bridge to the first island and then a further bridge to the second island. A straight wooden staircase takes you to a wooden balcony
- The sitting room, with its vaulted ceiling, makes the very most of the fantastic views, the entire river facing wall is glazed. There is a large and comfortable sitting area with sofas and coffee table.
- The dining area has a table and six chairs, large sideboard with board games, cards and jigsaw puzzles.
- The kitchen area is separated by a wooden unit with cupboards, electric oven and hob, microwave, dishwasher, fridge and an ample supply of cutlery, china, pots and pans
- A hallway leads to the bedrooms
- Super king bed with bedside cabinet and lamp, built in hanging cupboard and dressing table and stall. The window looks down river.
- The twin bedroom has two full sized single beds, a built in hanging cupboard with shelves and dressing table with stall. Views up river towards Tesse
- There is a good sized shower room with shower, wash basin, w.c. and heated towel rail and underfloor heating.
Le Moulin Estate
- The house is reached by following the long drive which runs parallel to the river bank.
- Outside La Maison is a garden table and seating. There is a covered barbecue area with table and seating overlooking the river beyond the sitting room. A further barbecue building is situated on the second island, once again this is covered and has table and chairs. There is another open seating area on the first island (reached via a bridge)
- Two rowing boats are available for holidaymaker use. There is a weir on the river just below Le Moulin
- Please note the river is not fenced and Le Moulin is reached by two bridges over the mill stream, the building itself is situated on an island
- There is a wooden area to one end of the garden and lovely river side walks from the house
- La Maison is centrally heated, Le Moulin by electric heating.
- Bed linen (synthetic) and thick fluffy towels, shower gels, hair wash and even cotton buds are provided as well as a nice welcome pack. There is a hair dryer.
- Please bring swimming towels
- There is plenty of parking in the drive
- Logs for the wood burning stove are provided
- For the children there is a travel cot and high chair.
- Wi fi and TVs with British channels
Where to go and what to see
- I had always promised myself a visit to Bayeux, and the tapestry did not disappoint. As for the town itself; in recent years the ancient buildings have been beautifully restored and presiding over all is the magnificent cathedral.
For a seaside trip I would certainly recommend Carteret. It took just over an hour to get there but we avoided all motorways, a pleasant scenic route with very little traffic and lots to see. Carteret and the Point de Carteret remind me somewhat of both Padstow in Cornwall and Blakeney on the north Norfolk coast. Houses and hotels are perched on the headland overlooking the sandy beaches, rumoured to be the best in France, and, like Blakeney, an inlet reaches into the town itself, the local fishermen landing their catches on the harbour wall beyond which is a yacht haven.
We were advised to eat in the restaurant in the Marine hotel, Michelin starred and we were told, excellent value - but it was closed so we went to L'Hermitage near the harbour entrance and sat in the sun (March) watching the catch being landed. The mussel soup and the fresh sole were out of this world.
One of the wonders of the Western world and now a World Heritage site is Mont St Michel, which sadly pales our own St Michael's Mount in Cornwall into insignificance. Climb the steps and visit the Abbey even if you are not looking for a miracle, it will certainly get the heart muscles going and the views are superb, but be warned it does attract a lot of tourists and the food prices are somewhat over the top. Best seen when the tide is sluicing in, you cannot fail to be impressed by its magnificence. Drive along the Baie Route on your way back to Le Moulin Estate, from where there are excellent views back over Mont St Michel.
How to get to Le Moulin Estate from the UK south coast
- By Brittany Ferries
- A real treat is to go via St Malo from Portsmouth on the overnight Brittany Ferry (Commodore Class) .
- By Channel Tunnel
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