A mere 45 euros (3 hours by train) from Paris, Granville offers a relaxing antidote to the frantic pace of Deauville and its Parisian bling-bling.
M selected the Hotel de la Baie, a 4 star Hotel and Thalosso Spa on the Bay Mont Saint Michel in Donville Les Bains. Rooms can be rented without meals, or full or demi pension, but an excellent chef makes it easy to choose the buffet breakfast and dinner.
Don't be deceived by the Stalinesque exterior, (local law prohibits modification of exteriors and the hotel was formerly a bowling alley) the rooms are refreshingly modern with bleached wooden floors. Our room came with a deck and a view of the bay and the beach that was a few steps away.
Our welcome was warm, the young staff were professional and charming, and the food was unexpectlly top notch, with a 31 euro menu (included in our demi-pension) that featured cod, monkfish, sole meunière and a superb foie gras with red onion confit and cassis sorbet.
After a relaxing dinner at the hotel and good night's rest, we took a 45 minute walk along the beach and up the cliffs (via stairway) to Granville. It was here that my 96 year old friend, John Davis, who landed with our troops in July 1944, met fifteen-year old Jeanette. After a six year epistolary courtship, he reurned to Granville and they were married.
Our first stop was up to the medieval, walled, Haute Ville, created by Charles VII to serve as a defense for Mont Saint Michel.He encouraged locals to live inside the walls by offering a tax free exisiece. Today it is home to cafés, bistros, the Museum of Art and History and The Musee d'Art Moderne Richard Anacréon.
The history museum is closed for renovation until 2017 but the Anacréon was superb. Born in the Haute Ville in 1907, Anacréon moved to Paris, where in 1922 he opened the bookstore L'Originale that became a hangout for Valery, Colette and Cocteau. His collection of the work of many of the Monparnasse artists of the twenties forms the permanent collection.
It was now time for lunch and par hasard we discovered Au P'tit Mareyeur, a bar à huitres that has been a family affair for twenty-five years. Betty and Pierre served us 12 oysters, shrimp and bulots with three glasses of wine for under 30 euros for two.
You start from a base of 6 oysters + wine for 9 euros or 12 for 13 euros and add elements of your choice , sold by weight. They provide seafood to many local restaurants, including our hotel, where we also had the succulent Ile Chausey oysters.
On the way back to our hotel we stopped at the childhood home of Christian Dior. Sitting on a cliff,with a view of the Channel Islands, this charming house has become The Museum Christian Dior, featuring many of his creations and photographs of the celebrities who wore them. The adjoining gardens are maintained by a full-time gardener and offer a lovely way to relax before returning to your hotel.
In fear of eating every selection on our hotel menu, we found a change of pace at the adjacent hilltop La Cambuse, where we were served mussels and a 50cl carafe of Chardonnay for a mere 27 euros.
And to make the meal more memorable, we were served by Miss Manche in the Miss France competion, to be decided later in the year. She gets my vote.
For our last day we decided to take the beach route,that began with sand and the become rocks as we passed a falaise.
Go at low tide and perhaps take a dip in the eight lane, saltwater pool.
For our last lunch of this trip we chose the Restaurant du Port and began with our customary carafe of Muscadet.
M was delighted with her choucrute de mer, a seafoood variation on the classic Alsace specialty.
I oredered a simple but delicious mixed grill of salmon, sea bass, haddock, shrimp and coquilles Saint-Jacques.
We loved the serenity of this experience and are already making plans fro a return.
With us or without us my friends at the Hotel de la Baie will welocme you with a special package designed for my readers.