“A MAN WHO KNOWS A MAN WHO KNOWS A COZY INN…”
They say that fifty is the new thirty, the advantage being that at fifty, you’re so much wiser than you are at thirty. So when Freddy decided to surprise Helene with a modest chateau in Burgundy for her fiftieth, he knew it wouldn’t go to her head.
Freddy had secretly commissioned his butler Gerald, who was more trusty business manager than manservant, to bid for the property at auction. Gerald, considerably more frugal with his Master’s money than the Master himself, underbid and lost to a new-money Russian. What to do? Where to go? The birthday was a mere week away.
Often, song takes us where mere prose can never reach. And here’s where Gerald’s broad knowledge of musical theater came in very handy. He recalled these lyrics by Marshall Barer, set to music by Richard Rodgers’s daughter Mary Rodgers:
I can show you a beach where the peach blossom blows
And I know how to reach, a man who knows
A man who knows a cozy inn
A friendly place
With rows of windows facing the sea!
This time of year the air I hear is rare and clear and warm, in Normandy!
Keep your El Dorado!
And to Hell with Burgundy! Heaven was made… In Normandy!
A quick search, and Gerald found the man who knew this wonderful, ancient stone house in Normandy, perfect to rent for the week’s birthday celebration, and… let him hold onto the Master’s cash for a less whimsical investment.
Normandy is indeed a kind of Shangri-la, apart from its glorious connection to World War II as the site of D-Day landings and the restoration of French liberation. Its beaches are quiet and contemplative. Its people, similarly, not ostentatious, but hospitable. The pebble beaches here are luminous, untainted, and back up to cliffs that face Dover. Freddy and Helene could actually see the motherland from their vacation beach, but set in a whole other world.
This house in Rouen is a perfect place for a thoughtful, lovely, history-drenched getaway. There are prehistoric cave paintings in the region; a restored ruins of a Roman theater in nearby Lillebonne. The beach is a perfect place to stroll and figure out life’s vagaries. And when you return, the stone and wood beams of this cozy place will make you feel welcome and comfortable.
There are three delightful bedrooms up under the eaves in this charming old house, which is situated a few minutes from the village of Saint-Valéry-en-Caux, and less than a mile from the beach. The local field stone of which the house is constructed is at perfect ease with its native clime – cool in summer, cozy and enveloping in winter. Inside, warm wood, stone, and original beam and plaster construction everywhere you look make house feel like a fairytale creation. The salon features a huge fireplace and big couches, plus a long table with a banquette against the wall for inspiring, conversational meals.
An exposed curving stairway leads to the upper floor, where the three bedrooms are nestled. There’s a bathtub as well as a shower, all beautifully tiled and elegantly designed. The kitchen is sure to be a delight in preparing your locally sourced seafood and other goods… and of course, there’s that fabulous, rare, sea air.TripAdvisor property ID 3371379...Read more
Normandy is rich in historical sites as well as wonderful dining and shopping experiences. And of course the sea allows you to open up to more sportive possibilities. Just a few ideas worth exploring:
We have to start with Calvados, an apple-based spirit produced in the region, along with a whole spectrum of ciders, hard and soft. A Calvados tour might be fun, and would certainly connect you with the locals in a delightful way: http://www.calvadosbook.com/calvados-visiting-normandy.php
You may want to take an excursion to the dreamlike Mont Saint Michel. Here is the official website: http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/en/accueil.htm
Here’s a nice article from USA Today outlining a visit to the D Day beaches, as well as other local sites of historical interest in Normandy: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/visiting-dday-beaches-normandy-60380.html
And for more local pleasures, you’ll probably want to have a meal or two (or perhaps dine every night!) at La Barcarole, right in Saint-Valéry-en-Caux. Here is their Facebook page (‘Like’ them – and they’ll like you!): https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Barcarole/243849765654143
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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