Tour de France: Normandy with Design Mom

For those of you who think having kids means the end of travel, think again. Gabrielle Blair, aka blogger extraordinaire, Design Mom proves that what some may think impossible, is possible. This winter Gabrielle and her husband Ben packed up the entire family – all 6, yes six, kids – and moved from Denver, Colorado to Normandy, France for the year. I’ve loved following her series on her blog documenting the family’s move and new life in France, and a life much different than mine in Paris (her sister Jordan is living in Paris for a year, don’t miss her look at the 7th arrondissement!). They’re about half way through their year abroad, and I’m so happy to have her today (on my 1,000th blog post!!!) to share a look at Normandy in the Tour de France series.

Image above: Chateau D’O

{Mont St Michel (image by Paul Ferney)}

From Gabby:

The first thing we heard when we moved to Normandy is that it’s referred to as the 21st arrondissement — it makes a lovely and convenient playground for Parisians and locals alike. We adore living here! The countryside offers nonstop picturesque views, rolling hills, and charming villages.

{circular out buildings at Chateau Medavy; right: country road dotted with wild poppies}

Our recommendations: Make a pilgrimmage to hard-to-believe-it-exists Mont St. Michel. Pay your respects at the D-Day Beaches and the military cemeteries. Rent an umbrella in chic Deauville for a day at the beach. Wander the tiny streets of perfectly preserved Honfleur and eat your dinner harborside. Visit Monet’s Garden at Giverny and see the cathedral he painted in Rouen. Picnic at one of the dozens of chateaux dotting the landscape — the ones we know best are D’O, Carrouges and Medavy (all within 15 minutes of our home!). Wander the grounds of William the Conquerer’s castle in Caen. And all the while, enjoy the drive through the countryside. The fields are ever-changing with wheat, sunflowers and corn. Picturesque livestock (cows, horses, sheep, goats) dot the landscape and wild flowers line the roads.

{entry building at Chateau Carrouges}

{Port of Honfleur}

{American Military Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach}

{Ranger Memorial and battleground of Pointe du Hoc}

{field of sunflowers}

Normandy is a dairy region, so be sure to sample some local cheese. Try Camembert, Carrouges and Creme de Mont St. Michel. Eat a Tarte Normande made from local apples. Do it all at a slow, calm pace — that’s what the Normandy countryside is all about.

{Deauville beach (image by Paul Ferney)}

Thanks, Gabby!

Guest post by Design Mom.

@designmom on Twitter

Don’t miss all the posts in the Tour de France series by guest bloggers in France, and the special Paris by Arrondissement guide!


  • Gabrielle’s adventures in France have been so fascinating, and impressive with such a large family! I still have not explored Normandy to the extent that I want to…Mont St. Michel is high on my list!

    Merci Anne & Gabrielle!

  • I just came back from this very trip that Gabby talks about. So I could read this great post over and over!!! It was my favorite trip to France ever, and I love the expression, “the 21st Arrondissement!” She and her family are so blessed to be living there for the year.
    Oh, and I just “liked” your facebook page with my facebook name of French at Heart :)
    Merci to you both,

  • I suppose everything you do with six kids is going to take extra effort, so you might as well go all the way! This place looks very peaceful, which seems perfect for the big family :)

  • It’s on my life list (bucket list) to live in France for a year. And I’ve been following the Blair family on their adventure. Just look at those pictures. Almost seems fake they look so perfect. What a blessing to all 6 of them. Thanks for sharing.

  • My mum is from Normandy, so i know the region quite well… One thing you didn’t mention, Christian Dior’s house in Granville ! It’s the house he lived in when he was a child, now it’s a museum about Dior and the garden is wonderful with lots of flowers ! You can also take a short course that introduces you to perfume and how they work, for free !

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