Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Travel: Plenty to Conquer; ANDY FLETCHER and His Family Hit the Road for a Week in Normandy

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Travel: Plenty to Conquer; ANDY FLETCHER and His Family Hit the Road for a Week in Normandy

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDY FLETCHER

PLAYING happily in the sand, my two boys were unaware of the depth of history beneath them.

The Duke of Normandy sailed from these shores not far short of 1,000 years ago, intent on waging war against England.

Nine centuries later, tens of thousands of men stamped their boots on to Normandy's beaches as another conflict unfolded.

And, roughly halfway between those two milestones, Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in the ancient Norman capital of Rouen.

But your average two-year-old boy has yet to learn of William the Conqueror, the D-Day landings or France's revered teenage saint.

He's more inclined to scoop up a handful of sand and think: "Hmmm, I wonder what this tastes like?"

We were enjoying the sea air in the pleasant surroundings of Villerssur-Mer, where the sun was shining, the breeze was welcome and the beach, apparently, was delicious.

Our journey to France had begun a few days earlier when we landed at Calais and drove the 200 or so miles to our home for the week.

Initial worries about French motorways soon disappeared - they are virtually empty - and once we were clear of Calais we cruised towards our destination, with only the toll stops every so often to slow us down.

After negotiating the autoroutes and crossing the Pont de Normandie, the giant sky-scraping road bridge straddling the Seine at Honfleur, we reached our holiday hideaway.

Tucked away down a narrow sloping lane just outside the village of Branville lies the Pierre et Vacances Garden Club.

Our spotless two-bedroomed chalet was basic, but contained everything we needed. And you know you're in France when you find an oyster knife and snail fork in the cutlery drawer.

The site has its own shop, restaurant and bar, and there are leisure activities for all ages.

Our twin boys loved the aquatic centre, a modern complex with four swimming pools, as well as Jacuzzis and a sauna.

Our stay, organised through Keyplaces, also coincided with the opening of a superb indoor play area - a godsend on our last day when end-of-holiday blues were being intensified by a depressing downpour. …

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