It was cloudy when I woke but nothing could distract from the loveliness of waking to the tranquillity and beauty of Manoir de Laize, deep in the heart of Normandy. This is an area, straddling the Calvados and Orne departements known as Suisse Normandie. There are no ‘Swiss’ mountains but it’s certainly hilly and pastoral. The 17th century farmhouse is surrounded by meadows, orchards and woodland that runs down to a small river. The manoir is approached from the road by way of a long pine-lined drive.
Manoir de Laize is run by Jean-Michel and Claude Guyon. There are chambres d’hotes and two gites. We’re staying the Le Pressoir, once a cider press (where better to stay in Normandy!). It’s really beautiful and so much thought and care has gone into making it a lovely home for one’s holiday and the Guyons are ever keen to do anything to make our stay as happy as possible. The gite itself is very well equipped and there’s a good-sized heated pool, bikes, table tennis and other games. Two goats roam around freely and delightful to watch; there’s an old pony in the meadow and chickens and geese.
Our first excursion in the day was to nearby Ussy to buy bread and croissants at the boulangerie. Back at Le Manoir, we took things easy after breakfast; had a swim later in the morning, and then decided to head into Falaise to find lunch. Falaise is our nearest town. The 1027 castle was the birthplace of William the Conqueror. The drive there, through pretty villages, was lovely. There are less of the dark timber-clad houses typical of Normandy and many old houses – like Manoir de Laize – are built in a pale gorgeous stone. Approaching Falaise along a long straight road we were immediately struck by its beauty and nobility. It’s a stunning town and as much was closed on Sunday we’ll be heading back again another day to see more of it.
I took the photo of the butchers after lunch when it had closed, if you’re wondering! We didn’t want a large lunch as we were planning a big meal in the evening for when Jonathan and Lyndsey arrived so when we caught sight of a creperie we decided that was a perfect option. It was also busy, which is always a good sign.
I’m not really a cider drinker and can’t say I really liked it but think I should try some more while here. On the way back to the car we passed a lovely Boulangerie-Patisserie and bought some Tarte Normande – apple tart with a custard base – and a rhubarb tart.
Then it was back to Le Pressoir for a gentle afternoon of reading and relaxing. It was Sunday after all. I summoned enough momentum to get cooking early evening in preparation for Jonathan and Lyndsey’s arrival at around 8.30. It was nothing fancy – a simple roast chicken – though I did made ratatouille too.
And of course there were delicious French pastries for dessert. Which we sat with in front of the TV watching the Olympics closing ceremony, rather weirdly listening to German commentary in France as we couldn’t find an English of French channel with it on. A cosy and lovely end to another good day.