After almost eight straight months in Paris, we decided on a quick weekend getaway to Carolles, Normandy. I love Paris, but it was so nice to get out of town – even just for a couple of nights. It’s amazing what a little change of scenery can do. The weekend left me feeling so refreshed and I’m already planning the next weekend trip to Normandy.
We spent the entire first lockdown in Carolles last year, so returning during spring felt special and familiar. Although “normal life” is still limited in France, compared to where we were a year ago it’s much better. Last year we could only go outside for one hour/day, within one kilometer of home, and with an attestation form.
Lately I’ve been feeling pretty frustrated by how far behind we seem to be in France on the return to normalcy. I’m trying to remind myself that perspective is important, and while we may be on a slower trajectory, eventually we’ll get there. Our weekend getaway in Normandy made me think of how much more freedom we do have relative to last year.
How to Get to Carolles, Normandy from Paris
There are two ways to get to Carolles from Paris. Option one is taking the train from Montparnasse to Granville. The train takes about 3.5 hours and does stop along the way. From Granville you can get a taxi to Carolles (I would reserve in advance). Taking the train to Normandy is a pretty easy option. It’s especially good if you don’t need a car or have access to one.
I think it’s helpful and practical to have a car when you’re there, so I recommend driving from Paris to Carolles. The drive normally takes about 3.5 hours, although it can be longer if there’s traffic. Carolles is a tiny town and a wonderful home base, but there’s so much to see and do in the area that chances are you’ll want to have a car.
What to Do in Carolles, Normandy
Carolles is a great place to be outdoors. There are plenty places to walk, run, hike, and bike. We decided to do a run and hike combination and pretty much followed this route. The views are really incredible, especially on a sunny day. You see everything from Granville and the beautiful white beaches in one direction to Le Mont-Saint-Michel in the other direction. This took up our morning and afterwards we had a delicious and fun lunch outside in the garden.
In the afternoon, we went into Granville to buy some of our favorite seafoods. We stopped at the garden at Musée Christian Dior. The garden and the views from Christian Dior’s childhood home are so beautiful. I go every time I’m in town.
Another must-do on my weekend getaway to Carolles list was to sit by the beach. I love being near the water and listening to the waves. In the evening, the light on the water is gorgeous as the sun goes down. We didn’t stay until the sunset (because there’s still a curfew in France and we had dinner), but it’s something to behold.
We left just after lunch on Sunday, but made sure to make the most of our morning. Every Sunday morning I head to Le Friand in Sartilly for the best croissants and pain au chocolats. I’m not exaggerating when I say they’re the best – this is the croissant I would pick for my last meal. All of the pastries are also fait maison (homemade), so I picked up an assortment for us to have after lunch.
We took advantage of the beautiful morning and did the same hike/walk as we did on Saturday, just in reverse. Seeing the views in a different way was another good reminder of perspectives for me.
What to Do in the Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel Area
There’s tons to do in the La Manche region of Normandy. More time is better than less time. A three-day weekend is always going to be better than a normal weekend. However, even two nights is still worth it!
For a short weekend, I recommend visiting the Musée Christian Dior in Granville if it’s open, or just the gardens if not. While in Granville, walk through the old part of the town. It’s filled with charm, local artisans, and fabulous views.
If you have extra time, there are lots of charming towns that you can drive through and wander around. Jullouville is a picturesque Normandy beach town with some great shops and even a brewery. I find Genêts particularly charming, and it looks directly onto Mont-Saint-Michel. You can also visit Mont-Saint-Michel, which is absolutely something you should do at least once. There are several very unique and special ways to see it, and I’d be happy to help you organize a visit.
There is so much to do in the Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel area that a weekend really isn’t enough, although it sure is better than nothing. I’m already dreaming of my next weekend getaway to Carolles and Normandy!