Normandy by ferry
A short hop across the channel (under four hours by ferry), you’re greeted by 400 miles of stunning coastline; little wonder Normandy remains a beloved family holiday destination for Brits
It’s all about the great outdoors in France’s north-west region, where it’s fun to pack a picnic (include local cheeses camembert and livarot), jump on bikes and discover enchanting seaside towns and sweeping stretches of deserted dune-backed sand.
Spark the imagination of school-aged kids by visiting spectacular wartime beaches such as Omaha, where there are still underground trenches to explore, or world-famous gothic abbey Mont St-Michel, set on its own rocky outcrop with a labyrinth of steep alleyways to navigate. You can even explore Mont Saint-Michel Bay on horseback with an ornithologist or shepherd.
Those with younger children will appreciate glamorous Norman Riviera resorts Cabourg and Deauville, where toddlers can paddle in warm shallow water on the wide, flat golden sands lined with pretty Belle Epoque buildings, colourful deckchairs and cafés selling moules frites.
But it’s not all about the coast. Head inland and history comes to life on day trips to see the Bayeux Tapestry and medieval cities such as Rouen, where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake aged just 19. Wannabe knights will be keen to visit Château-Gaillard, a ruined clifftop castle on the edge of the River Seine, built by Richard The Lionheart, while budding artists can spend an afternoon at Monet’s former gardens in Giverny, the setting for his famous bridge-over-water-lillies Impressionist paintings. Finally, don’t head home without visiting Festyland, a funfair with pirate- and Viking-inspired rides and a prehistoric area with life-size dinosaurs, just outside Caen.
Normandy: The Lowdown
Where to stay
For a really wild experience stay at Cerza Safari Lodge, which has a choice of yurts, eco lodges which overlook a lake and ‘zoobservatories’ – wooden huts actually in the safari park so kids can see rhinos, siamang monkeys and wallabies though the window at breakfast. Fresh bread and croissants are delivered to your accommodation each morning and the park has a train and 3D cinema. Zoobservatories (which sleep four) from £97 per night for two adults and £25 per night per child, (0-2 years old go free).
How to get there
Ferry companies travelling from the UK to Normandy include Brittany Ferries, Portsmouth-Le Havre, Portsmouth-Caen, Portsmouth-Cherbourg, Poole-Cherbourg; Condor Ferries, Poole-Cherbourg; DFDS Seaways, Newhaven-Dieppe.
Two adults and two children (4 years old-plus) travelling from Portsmouth to Cherbourg by car, £210 (£105 each way) in May 2017 with Brittany Ferries
For more information
Check out why you should be holidaying by ferry with your kids