Activities and Excursions
Activities and things to do in the area :
Horse riding : Equestrian Centre close by (12km) and local Horse Festival usually August/September
Walks : a large number of interesting walks of varying lengths and difficulty (some guided)
Water centres : local; one outdoor swimming pool in Caudebec
Golf - at least four golf courses within easy reach, of which one is the renowned links course at Étretat
Tourist circuits – by car and even by bicycle . . .
Local excursions :
Villequier : of course.
Barre-y-va : (2km) fascinating medieval church and featured in a well-known Arsène Lupin story.
Caudebec-en Caux : (4km) its church, described by Henry IV of France as ‘the jewel in my kingdom’; The Maison des Templiers; the remnants of its prison walls and other features; its local cafés and at least two very good restaurants. Patisserie Dufeuille is also ‘a must’! It also offers a delightful walk, particularly along its river front.
Notre Dame de Gravenchon : (7km/5mins) the Friday market is remarkable; several useful supermarkets.
Lillebonne : (11km/12mins) vestiges of Roman town; amphitheatre and museum. Excellent Wednesday market; interesting church and the keep where William the Conqueror planned his invasion.
Gruchet le Valasse : (20km/20mins) Abbaye du Valasse, twinned with Ipsley Abbey in Redditch Worcestershire, an interactive museum; an educational centre for Normandy, famous for its evening banquets and son et lumière every summer.
St Nicholas de Bliquetuit : (6km/7mins) Musée de la Nature (6km)
La Route des Abbayes de la Seine : (various) beginning with Graville in Le Havre and through Montivilliers, St Wandrille and Jumièges to St Georges de Boscherville, these are the five most important Benedictine sites along the river.
Forest walks and drive circuits : (various) forêts de Brotonne, Maulevrier, and around Rançon; thatched cottage, dovecote, orchard routes for day long excursions.
Jumièges : (20km/20mins) beautiful ruined abbey, excellent walks and excursion circuit (see above).
Apart from the three bridges across the Seine, Normandie, Tancarville and Brotonne, there are several small ferries plying across as well. These can be found at Quilleboeuf, Jumièges, Duclair, La Bouille and four other locations.
Local towns often have free parking and in August Le Havre also offers free parking.
Going further afield :
Le Havre : (46km/45 mins) modernist post-WWII architecture, now a UN World Heritage site; Abbaye de Graville; Appartement Témoin 1950; Merchant Ship Owner’s house; the beach, board walk and restaurants; Musée Malraux; Church of St Joseph and not forgetting ‘la Gallerne’ the “greatest bookshop anywhere . . . .”
Rouen : (45km/44mins) medieval city associated most with being the capital of Plantagenet England and the final destination of Joan of Arc; Cathedral of Notre Dame; Joan of Arc Church; le Gros Horloge; Musée des Beaux Arts; home of Gustave Flaubert and his parrot. . .
Étretat : (52km/56mins) the heart of Impressionism and the original home of Arsène Lupin (the French equivalent of Raffles); Guy de Maupassant’s house; very famous cliffs with, of course, several excellent ghost stories; monument to the flyers trying to do in reverse what Lindberg did, but who didn’t make it; great beaches and water-sports centre. A WWII raid on a radio installation occurred on the upstream cliffs. . . without loss of life apparently.
La Bouille : (38km/39mins) picturesque artists ‘colony’ with excellent galleries and restaurants.
Fécamp : (41km/48mins) fishermen founders of Newfoundland and Grand Banks fishing, celebrated at the Musée des Terres Nuevas, Palais Benedictine and the origins of ‘marketing’ and of course, Benedictine liqueur.
Yport : (47km/52mins) medieval fishing village also associated with Newfoundland, picturesque bay.
Varengeville : (62km/1h.10m) le Parc du Bois des Moutiers, the only example of a Gertrude Jekyll park with an Edwin Lutyens house on mainland Europe. Georges Braque is buried in their local church overlooking the sea and Dieppe, He had created some magnificent stained glass windows for it; Le Manoir d’Ango - the renaissance style home of Jehan d’Ango, a celebrated corsair from the time of Francois 1er.
Dieppe : (70km/1h.04m) delightful town for strolling and eating seafood; centre of the ivory trade; excellent castle museum and port area; home of a kite flying competition.
Honfleur : (50km/46mins) Impressionist centre; very picturesque tourist location with harbour; St Catherine, the sailors wooden church; Maison Satie; Musée Boudin; galleries and restaurants. The ‘scenic route’ can take anything from 2 – 5 hours?!
Deaville/Trouville and la Côte d’Albatre : (68km/1h) casinos; the ‘gay nineties’, Edward VII and of course; Marcel Proust country.
Le Bec Helouïn : (50km/45mins) still a monastery, but visits possible. Founded in 11th century. Three archbishops of Canterbury, Abbots Lanfranc, Anselm and Theobald came from here.
Vernon/Giverny : (95km/1h.12m) Claude Monet’s house and gardens, featuring the famous waterlily pond; le Musée de l’Impressionisme (previously known as the American Museum); the village walk; the church of St Radegonde and the cemetery where Monet is buried; Château de Bizy with its motley history.
Falaise : (135km/1½-2hours) a charming small town near the Swisse Normande south of Caen, birthplace of William (The Conqueror). The Castle is a fine example of medieval fortified architecture and William would have recognised the Keep, but the curtain walls, remarkable as they are, date from a later period. Pleasant square and walks, there is much to see, including a museum of automatons, such as those used in the grands boulevards in Paris at Christmas. This is where they made originally. A fascinating day trip with a drive in and around the Swisse Normande included.
WWII and D Day Landings excursions . . .
Caen : (102km/1h.17m) medieval centre still exists; Abbaye aux Hommes and Abbaye aux Dames founded by William and Matilda; Château de Caen which houses three museums of art and local history. It too was founded by William the Conqueror; The internationally acclaimed Peace Museum; The Museum of Modern Art.
Bayeux : (135km/1h.41m) medieval centre with excellent walking tour; the Tapestry and its palace; several ‘hotels particuliers’ and their courtyards still visible; a delightful Austrian style tea room, la Reine Matilde; Lace Museum; Museum of the Battle of Normandy; the Commonwealth war grave; some of the 1994 commemorative objects (50th anniversary of D Day).
Arromanches : (140 km/1h.49m) the landing beaches and their associated museum; the vestiges of the mulberry harbours; the viewpoint; the ‘360 degree’ cinema.
War Cemeteries :Ranville
Pegasus Bridge :Benouville; Bailey Bridge, The Story of Major John Howard, Horsa Gliders, Café Gondrée (still run by the same family.)
There are many other places along the Calvados coast that commemorate the D Day landings and are easily accessible from Villequier. . .
There are a great many châteaux of note in Normandy, 30 in Seine Maritime alone, many of which are within easy reach of Villequier and all are well worth a visit.
Last but by no means least . . .
Versailles . . . . and Paris : (164 km/2hrs) well obviously . . .
This is by no means an exhaustive list . . .
Restaurants in the vicinity: good/value for money/unusual
Norville – l’Auberge de Norville (4km)
Caudebec-en-Caux - Le Normandie ; La Marine; le Cheval Blanc ; Au fil du Temps ; Le Manoir du Rétival - a Michelin star restaurant - (approx 4km) ; Les Delices de Tanger (great Moroccan food.)
St Wandrille : O P'tit Troquet Toque
St Gertrude – Le Rendez-vous des Chasseurs (6km)
Duclair - Le Parc (10km)
There are a great many more in the area, contact details are available in the gîte.