We could have stayed in a hotel, of course, but, on this trip, we wanted to do something different. It was Jeanne who introduced me to AirBnB when she wrote about a charming cottage in New Hampshire that she stayed in last summer. Jeanne's blog, Collage of Life, is always a source of inspiration and, if you're not already a reader, I suggest you head over there and subscribe today. But back to where I started. So what is AirBNB? Put simply, it is a website where people can list, find and rent lodging. The concept is to find a home away from home and the cool thing about it is that no two listings are the same. In my opinion, the best thing about AirBnB is that there are some very unique properties in which travellers can stay.
After a rather long search, our choice fell on a charming apartment situated on the grounds of Le Vaumicel - a manor built in 1551 by Guillaume Canivet - and whose farm buildings today house a stud farm. The apartment is located on top of what was once probably a barn and it is full of natural light. We did have to drag our luggage up one flight of rather narrow, wooden steps to get to it but it was worth the temporary inconvenience.There were two things that I immediately fell in love with: the wooden floors and the absolute absence of any noise.
Apart from the light, the windows provided gorgeous views of the manor and its spacious, well-tended grounds. The apartment comes with its own private garden, which we did not make use of because it was cold and rainy but it would have been perfect for a summer vacation. Valerie, our hostess, let us have all the privacy that we needed and although I know that my friend the Contessa would have somehow contrived to invite herself over to the manor for coffee, I decided to resist the temptation and satisfy myself by peeking out of the windows at the building, just a stone's throw away, that seemed to be conjured into reality right from the pages of my story-books.
The apartment itself had a few flaws, of course (nothing is ever perfect). We could not get the stove top to heat up properly (not sure whether it was defective or whether we are so used to a gas top that we were too impatient to wait for it to reach the required temperature) and the WIFI connection was mostly erratic but they were minor inconveniencies and our overall experience was very positive - especially with a view like this:
Le Vaumicel is located in the little town of Vierville-sur-Mer, just ten minutes away (at most) from Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. This area of Normandy is quite isolated and renting our own transport in the shape of a snazzy little Renault Captur was a definite must. As I mentioned in my last post, March is off-peak season in Normandy, so parking was never a problem and the biggest crowd of people we ran into was a bus-load of students visiting the American Cemetery with their teachers. When you come from an over-populated island, isolation sounds like a special kind of magic and Le Vaumicel, located somewhere in the countryside of Normandy, provided us with just the right dose we needed to calm frayed nerves and organise chaotic thoughts. We could not have chosen a better place for our short stay in Normandy.
Some information on Le Manoir du Vaumicel:
Places of interest in and around Vierville-sur-Mer (about 10 minutes away):
Les Braves monument
Further afield (30 to 45 minutes):
St Mere Eglise (the first town in Normandy to be liberated in 1944)
Le Vaumicel, Vierville-sur-Mer, Basse-Normandie, France