1. Barfleur - for people who appreciate the better things in life
WeatherTo start with, don't visit Barfleur if you like noise, heavy nightlife or very brash commercialised places! (Please, please don't - we don't want it spoilt!) Also as this is a rural area, it helps if you do make the effort to speak French. I've visited Barfleur regularly for over thirty years. It's one of the prettiest places in Normandy, has links to our own history, and for those with small children it's only 21 kilometres from the ferry port at Cherbourg. The weather is similar to ours - don't expect very hot sun, and as it's seaside it can be windy. The excellent Tourist Information Office by the church does a detailed weather forecast each day,(in French) with details of the tides and the tidal range, and also any local weather warnings. (And local birthdays!)
Most holidays there will be one or two days of rain, but there is plenty to do for families who like a quiet contemplative holiday with some walking, cycling, history, natural history, sailing, fine restaurants and pretty beaches that are clean and quiet. It's livelier in the summer, where there are often sweet, ice cream and hot food stalls along the quay, and a roundabout (really old fashioned, I know!) by the high street. Every Sunday, the local butcher cooks your meat over a wood fire if you order it, and there is a good little Shopi supermarket, an excellent fish shop, and a newsagent that sells English papers (a day late).
HolidayThere are plenty of good gites in and around Barfleur, and some hotels; there is also Camping Indiana, which opens in the summer and is directly opposite a short lane that leads to La Sambiere beach. La Sambiere has two crescents of white sand separated and closed at either end by granite headlands with rockpools full of fish, sea urchins and interesting wigglies of all sorts. The beach faces east, and the sandy bottom of the bay slopes gently out. The water is clean and clear, if cold, but it's ideal for teaching children to swim as long as you don't go further out than the headlands' end. Don't allow children on small boats or lilos unless roped from the shore - if they go beyond the headland and the current gets them they'll be out to sea in no time. We always swim on an incoming (flow) tide, not on the ebb. I WOULD NOT SWIM ANYWHERE ON THIS COAST WITHOUT CHECKING WITH THE LOCALS FIRST, however I have proved La Sambiere over many years, and with care it is safe. You need to take everything with you - there is nothing to buy, and nowhere to pee other than the tamarisk bushes at the landward side of the beach. (For fainthearts, the town loo is a gentle ten minute walk away.) It's quiet and beautiful, but not the place for people who like noise and a lively atmosphere. Loud music is frowned on, and people make sure they don't 'camp' too close to you, so you'll have privacy if you want it.
Places RecommendedMost of the Normandy landing beaches are within an hour's drive, and Bayeux and Caen are possible in a (long) day. La Pointe du Hoc and Sainte Mere Eglise have fascinating WWII remains. Nearest large town, apart from the city of Cherbourg (also worth a visit) is St Vaast La Hougue, beloved of yachties:( famous for oysters and seafood, and with a busy market on Saturdays. For eating, I'd recommend for anyone who wants to splash out restaurant France et Fuschias (but don't expect to pay less than about Â£180 for four). Also visit Maison Gosselin, the most fabulous delicatessen and wine caves, where the recommendations are always good, (and English is spoken) and will also be tailored to your pocket (small in our case!) Plenty of places to eat on the harbour front, of varying prices. St Vaast is also linked to the island of Tatihou - a wild life sanctuary that is reached by an amphibian ferry, or by walking if the co-efficient is high and the tides go far enough out. There are many other places to visit, (see Tourist Office) and a good programme of cultural events, but if you have only a week then I'd suggest a few days idling and enjoying the sun in Barfleur, a walk to the massive lighthouse at Gatteville le Phare, especially if you have a stormy day, a trip to St Vaast on Saturday for the market - drive out by the coast road past Montfarville with its lovely frescoed church, and back by the inland route past Quettehou and the main Intermarche supermarket, and maybe one visite to La Pointe du Hoc for history's sake.
But I repeat - don't go if you want lots of nightlife or noise, or tacky celeb-style venues. Leave Barfleur to those of us who enjoy a quiet, elegant, very French and natural beauty.
Recommend Barfleur to others