Normandy, north of Paris, is known for its traditional cuisine, local food markets and as a place that produces some of the best cheeses in the world. Anoop Bhuller takes a trip to Normandy to explore what’s on offer.
Waking up at 4am always seems so much easier when it’s to go on holiday – it certainly is for me anyway. As it was my first time travelling on the Eurostar I was so excited to experience a new way of travelling. No little plastic bags that you have to squeeze your liquids into, no suitcase weight restrictions worries or trying to get to the front of the queue for boarding.
Not only did this form of travel alleviate some of the usual chaos, going via the Eurostar also releases 90% less carbon emissions compared to flying, making it a more environmentally friendly option.
On this particular trip, I travelled Premium Business Class on the Eurostar. This includes access to a separate queue to get through security – I completed all the checks very quickly in under 10 minutes. This meant that I was able to spend more time helping myself to the food and drink on offer in the lounge and relaxing ahead of boarding.
The seat on the Eurostar in Premium Business Class had more space than the standard seating areas and I was looking forward to a three course meal courtesy of Raymond Blanc, who collaborated with the Eurostar to create a delicious menu for Business Class passengers. The English breakfast did not disappoint and it was a needed energy booster following the early morning start.
A quick two and a half hours later and I was standing in the centre of Paris.
My home for the next few days was Chateau Lazuline, a 17th century chateau located in the countryside near the town Bourg-Achard. Driving through the gates to the pristine white chateau seemed like something you’d only see in a movie. With six bedrooms and five bathrooms, the property displays a mixture of modern and traditional design. The conservatory features a ‘La Cornue’ kitchen with views of the spectacular heated pool outside. I spent every morning sitting in the conservatory while eating the fresh pastries that were delivered from a bakery in Bourg-Achard.
My room for the weekend was a large suite on the top floor of the property. It was big enough for a whole family – with a spacious living area, bathroom and king-size bedroom. Featuring antique furnishing and large glass windows looking out to the countryside, it was everything I had imagined a luxury French Chateau would look like. Postcards lay around the room showcasing older images of the property and perfume bottles had been placed in the bedroom and bathroom – a lovely little touch from the owners.
The facilities don’t stop there – on the lower ground there was two cellars that have been restored and made into a wine and cheese tasting area. The grounds also contain a pond, 10 acres of land and al fresco dining space. The first afternoon was spend wandering around and making new discoveries about the property. Everyone was fascinated by the cows that gathered on the field behind the chateau. The property had the perfect balance between being both luxury and rustic.
Farmhouse Lazuline is located just behind Chateau Lazuline. This 19th century property was previously an old stables, it now offers four bedrooms and a large living space for up to eight guests. We enjoyed a champagne reception here on our final night, the secluded garden makes for a lovely space to have a drink and relax.
The first night in France was occupied with a cooking class with Michelin star chef, Frederick Poyer. The highlight had to be the delicious almond and peach cake. All of the dishes made by Frederick were enjoyed later on in the evening by all the guests at dinner.
Rouen is a short trip from the chateau, where you can experience the beautiful architecture dating back to the 17th century. We participated in a gastronomic tour through the town led by the Rouen Tourist Board, stopping at a cheesemonger and a famous French bakery to try their delicacies.
Fancy something more active? I spent an afternoon kayaking on the River Seine. The views while I was gently paddling along were spectacular, taking in the bright green woodland and small houses along the river bank.
Benedictine Palace offers a cocktail making workshop which includes a historical tour through the building’s history. I learnt how to make cocktails using the different types of Benedictine, and enjoyed a visit to their on-site bar.
We took a short journey over to L’Amandier in Bourg-Achard to enjoy a three course dinner. I sipped on the finest French wines while enjoying a perfectly cooked duck breast followed by a souffle that melted in your mouth. It was lovely to experience an authentic French restaurant in a small village where the owners hospitality went above and beyond.
The final night of the trip was spent taking in the glorious views from the chateau while a talented chef from DineIndulge prepared a five course meal for dinner. The starter, crab ravioli and calamari was a delight. Not to mention the vanilla crème brûlée that was served for dessert. The experience of indulging in an expertly crafted menu in your own space was certainly one I’ll never forget.
Nightly rates for Chateau Lazuline start from £9,589 for a week for 12 people. olivertravels.com
Nightly Rates at Farmhouse Lazuline start at £3,339 for a week for 8 people. olivertravels.com