Below, we hope to give you a taste of a few of the things to do and places to visit further afield from Le Haut Fresnay. So, if exploring and sightseeing are what you like to do on holiday, we can keep you busy!
Mont-St-Michel (about 60kms away) is the most visited attraction outside Paris and can easily be incorporated into a day trip to the tourist beaches of the Cotentin peninsula. Children love the wide, sandy beaches just south of Granville, and there are wonderful walks along the cliff tops and delicious seafood to sample in the restaurants.
Bayeux, with its world-famous tapestry, cathedral and mediaeval centre is a little further away but still within easy reach. Nearby are the evocative 1944 D-Day landing beaches. Anyone who has spent a day visiting this area will know what a moving experience it is.
Haras-du-Pin near Argentan is a must for all horse lovers. Known as the Versailles of the horse, it is especially interesting to visit on Thursday afternoons in the summer when you can watch the "Spectacle du Cheval".
Le Mans is to the south of Le Haut Fresnay. It is reputed to have the most complete mediaeval town centre in France and is often used for film sets. Home of the famous 24-hour race, Le Mans also has an interesting automobile museum – and in the summer, the free light and illuminations show, "La Nuit des Chimères", is an amazing experience!
Jublains, on the way to Le Mans, is a complete Roman town with an interactive visitor centre and Ste-Suzanne is a hilltop fortress town with a reconstructed mediaeval village below. Further south still are some of the northernmost Loire châteaux, where you can taste and buy the local wine and still be home in time to drink it with supper!
Alençon and Caen are our own beautiful cities and give opportunities galore for visiting castles and cathedrals with some terrific retail therapy thrown in. Fougères and Vitré should not be missed by the real enthusiasts.
Paris is possible if you don’t mind an early start. The 7.40am train from Laval will get you to Paris by mid-morning and a mid-evening train will return you to Laval before midnight.
Ornamental gardens are everywhere in the area. For every season, you will find a garden to visit – from the rhododendrons of Mont-de-Cerisi, to the autumn colours and pumpkins of Gorron. Even Monet’s wonderful garden at Giverny is just a day-trip away.
Walkers will love the woodland walks through the Forêt d’Andaines, the towpath walks along the River Mayenne and the nearby "Artists’ Walk", which celebrates our own local Impressionist painters, Pisarro and Piette. Some of the paths and tracks can be used by cyclists, as well. The towpath walk is also accessible for wheelchair users.
Food & Drink: if your interests include good food, then you will not be disappointed. We have some wonderful restaurants close by and we are always happy to book a table for you if necessary. Normandy cuisine has an excellent reputation and the local cheeses are second to none. Although not a wine producing area, the Normans are justly proud of their cider, poiré (pear cider) and calvados. Our own local area specialises in poiré – and calvados domfrontais is made from a mixture of cider and poiré. Visits to local producers, with tasting a prelude to purchase, can be highly enjoyable and a good way to discover the character of Normandy and its people.
Adventure Activities: if you want an active holiday, the area has something for everyone. There are swimming lakes, the seaside beaches on the Cotentin peninsula, outdoor pools at La Ferté-Macé and Ambrières and two state-of-the-art aquatic centres. If you like to fish, it is possible to buy day tickets for several of the local lakes. For some gentle white water adventure, you can hire a canoe near Domfront. Bagnoles-de-l’Orne has a lovely golf course and a tennis centre – or you can hire a tennis court by the hour in Céaucé. Fôret des Andaines has miles of paths to be walked or cycled along. It is an area of forest to the north which is a wonderful place to spot birds, butterflies, forest animals, wild flowers and, when in season, mushrooms. You can, of course, explore the verdant Normandy countryside by walking or cycling from your own cottage front door – and the wildlife in our own grounds takes some beating!
For the Children: there is always somewhere interesting to take your children in the area. As well as beaches and swimming pools, St-Malo has one of the best sea aquariums you will find anywhere and Mont-St-Michel has a reptilarium. The zoo at Champrepus makes visitors feel thoroughly welcome and provides both indoor and outdoor picnic areas – they’ll even lend you a wheelbarrow to transport your picnic from your car! The Enchanted Forest at Bellefontaine is a fairytale experience for little ones. The Garden of Surprises at Le-Château-de-Vendeuvre keeps everyone amused – young and old alike. Nearer to home, you can spend a couple of hours pedalling your way along the Velorail railway track at St-Loup-du-Gast. And in summer, Ste-Suzanne puts on a mediaeval spectacle which provides entertainment for all ages. Children are, of course, always welcomed in the local restaurants which often offer a children’s menu.