As much as I love living in Paris, it’s nice to get out of the city for a weekend. There are so many wonderful places to visit in France, but I especially enjoy hopping in the car and being by the ocean within four hours. One of my new favorite weekend escapes is Carolles in Normandy and neighboring town Granville (home of the Musée Christian Dior).
You can’t talk about Normandy without talking about the food – especially the seafood. However, on our first trip in October we arrived late so we ate at McDonald’s (I’m not knocking McDonald’s. Especially in France…try the potatoes with Creamy Deluxe Sauce). Luckily when we went a few weekends, ago Romain’s family was there and had prepared a fabulous meal.
We started with rosé champagne and bulots (a version of a snail…I’m a fan) with homemade mayonnaise for l’apéro. That alone would’ve been a perfect meal for me, but the French don’t skimp when it comes to food. After, we ate seafood that all came from Granville. A large spread of fresh oysters, araignée de mer (spider crab), camembert cheese, and mini desserts.
I woke up the next morning to the sound of birds chirping – heaven. I went outside to enjoy my morning espresso overlooking the garden. Weekend mornings in Paris are my favorite because of the calmness, but nothing even begins to compare to a weekend morning in the countryside.
We drove into Granville for lunch at Au P’tit Mareyeur and had more of the freshest seafood I’ve ever had. Pretty much everything we ate with the exception of the langoustines came from sea that same morning. We picked exactly what we wanted and the exact quantity and they built a seafood tower. We ate every last bite and took some coquilles Saint-Jacques back for lunch the next day.
Musée Christian Dior
Next, we headed to the Musée Christian Dior in Granville which is an absolute must if you’re in the area. The museum is located in Dior’s childhood home and overlooks the sea, which on a sunny day is turquoise. From this gorgeous vantage point, one can see why Granville is regarded as the “Monaco of the north.” In 2019 the exhibit was “Grace of Monaco: A Princess in Dior.”
Even if you just visit the gardens, Musée Christian Dior is a must-see when in Granville.
Everything is a lot less expensive in Granville (and Normandy in general) than it is in Paris, so we went to Carrefour. It’s the closest thing I can compare to going on a Target or Wal-Mart run in France. We wild on things from laundry detergent to paper towels to even Cointreau for margaritas. I miss buying in bulk, but it’s difficult without normally having access to a car (and I don’t have space in my apartment to store anything extra).
Once we got back home, it was straight to the beach with Dalton. It’s only about a five-minute walk from Romain’s family’s house. Dalton has been going to the beach since he was a puppy, so he led the way. I found lots of shells and sea glass for my collection because the tide was so far out.
The orientation of Carolles is perfect for watching the sunset. There are two spots to sit and that overlook the ocean. La Croix Paqueray is an observation deck that’s right on the edge of the water. The other is a little off the beaten path, but Romain made me promise not to tell where it is. Both places are fantastic and perfect places in my opinion for a little apéro.
We spent our last evening outside on the patio enjoying the weather and inside around the table. As for the French…I understand (for the most part) what’s being said. Because of the pace, I can’t contribute much to the conversation spontaneously at this point. Luckily food is a universal language. I never realized that this part of Normandy is also known for lamb, specifically “agneau de prés salés,” because the lambs are raised in the salt meadow marshes.
We drove back to Paris the next day and it surprised me how excited I got when I caught my first glimpse of the Arc de Triomphe in the distance. It reminded me of the feeling I get driving back to Dallas and seeing the skyline. It’s always good to be home, but if I could, I think I would spend every weekend in Carolles.
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