Sustainable tourism in Normandy
This post is in collaboration with Atout France, Normandy Tourism Board and France Tourism Board.
Sustainable tourism is probably one of the best newer "trends" in the travel world and I am here for it! I have tried to travel as sustainable and supportive of the local environments as I can for more than 10 years, so the fact that there's now finally a bigger focus on it is just amazing.
I had the pleasure of going on a trip through Normandy with Atout France (Danish website here), the Normandy Tourism Board, France Tourism Board, Rouen Tourism Board and other partners. I was part of a group of 7 influencers and travel writers, and we went on a 5 day trip from Paris to the coast in the beginning of October 2021. If you are craving some early fall vibes with nice weather, then it's the perfect time to go.
I will take you through our itinerary and route, so that you can hopefully get some inspiration on how you can travel sustainably through Normandy.
We flew into Paris, where we got picked up in rented electrical cars, that would drive us to Rouen, which is considered the capital of Normandy. The drive from the airport took approximately 2 hours and it was a nice way to see some beautiful landscapes on the way.
When we arrived in Rouen we checked in at Hotel de Dieppe 1880, which is a charming old hotel, located right across the street from the central train station - in other words the perfect central location. The hotel is nice and cozy, with newly renovated rooms and very welcoming staff. If you go to Rouen, this is definitely a good place to stay!
After we all checked in, it was time to go on our first adventure. A short 5 minute walk from our hotel was the Donjon de Rouen, which is the last standing tower of a 13th-century castle, where Joan of Arc was imprisoned. As if the tower wasn't cool enough in itself, they have made an escape room in it (and if you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen that I'm OBSESSED with escape rooms)! We did the escape room and it was like nothing I've ever tried before, because it had Virtual Reality elements included! During the game we had to put on VR-goggles to solve the next steps - and shoot the enemy, trying to storm the castle. It was so fun, and a really good activity to do in Rouen if the weather is bad.
Again only a 5 minute walk from Donjon de Rouen was our restaurant, where we were having dinner - In Situ. It's a very cute and stylish place, just across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts.
Tour around Rouen
Some of us started early the next morning, because we had booked a running tour with Run & Visit Rouen, which was such an amazing activity! If you want to do something active and discover the city at the same time, this is definitely a must try! We got to run through the quiet city streets in the morning, just as the city was waking up. One of the things I love most when travelling is to get up early, and just watch the place come to life!
We ran through the old streets of Rouen (with a lot of stops for pictures of all the beautiful houses and churches), before reaching the foot of Sainte Catherine hill. We climbed (walked) up the hill and arrived at the top at an amazing viewpoint of the whole city. From here you get a good view of the Seine, as well as both sides of Rouen, where you can clearly see the aftermath of the bombings during World War II. This view point is famous for something else too, as Monet would come here to paint. He painted his "Vue générale de Rouen" ("General View of Rouen") at this hilltop.
On our way back to our hotel, we ran down the cutest little street - Rue Eau de Robec, which you can see on the picture below. It's definitely a street to explore during the night, where you can eat sitting around the little stream.
After a nice shower, it was time to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch at a restaurant called Hygge. The owners were not Danish (I asked), but one of their best friends lives in Denmark, and they really love our Hygge, so they named the restaurant after it. The vegetarian food was very asian inspired and it was so good! I got a carrot soup as a starter and a mushroom noodle soup for main.
After our lunch it was time for a walking tour around Rouen. You can find many options for tours through Rouen Tourism Board or websites like Airbnb or Tripadvisor. We walked down some of the same cute streets as we saw on our running tour, and it's pretty safe to say that every corner of Rouen just is so cute and beautiful. You can easily dream yourself away to a faraway fairytale land.
Some of the places you have to see in Rouen is St Joan of Arc's Church, and the square behind it, Place du Vieux Marché, which is also a great place to experience the nightlife of Rouen. Another thing you have to see in Rouen is Le Gros-Horloge, which is a huge clock not far from St Joan of Arc's Church.
A place I can recommend you to eat is Cancan, which is located in the end of Place du Vieux Marché. It was definitely a different dining experience, where each dish was presented in amazing ways. I had the Cod in a crust of smoked butter & petits paris,
Oyster mushrooms & Duclair Shitake, in a fir needle emulsion - and it was AMAZING! Every single bite was just so good, I never wanted it to stop. Some of the other girls got an Entrecote, that was smoked with hay AT OUR TABLE! It was a very funny touch. Some of the desserts were also melted and smoked at the table, so again it was just amazing presentations of the food. You can see videos of it all in my Instagram highlight of the trip.
Yoga at Manoir de Surville
The next morning we left Rouen and took our electrical cars to the countryside. Some of us drove to the charming boutique hotel Manoir de Surville, where we were going to have a yoga class.
We drove in through the gates of what can only be described as a countryside dream. Manoir de Surville is a historic farm dating back to the 16th century, with houses located in the heart of a two-hectare garden. A dream I'm telling you.
We were greeted at the parking lot by the sweet owner Camille, who - hold on to your seats - grew up on the farm! Her and her husband decided to renovate her childhood farm and transform it into a sustainable boutique hotel, where you can experience true peace and wellness, which it's safe to say that they succeeded with! Manoir de Surville is also a proud holder of Clef Verde (Green Key), which is an award, that marks the leading standard for excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry. It's hard to get and it shows that Manoir de Surville truly cares about the environment and sustainable practices.
We got taken into the main room with a big fireplace, where we could help ourselves with drinks of any kind (if you're an overnight guest, then you write it on your room number). Not long after, we got shown to the neighbouring building, where we were going to have the yoga class. Here we got greeted by Daphné, who was our yoga teacher for the next hour. We each got a mat and a blanket, before starting an hour of a mix of Hatha and Flow yoga, where everyone could follow. After we finished, we were so calm and it was just a perfect peaceful environment when walking around the farm afterwards.
We got back to the main building and the fireplace, where we were served an assortment of nuts, fruit and juices, before we got a tour of the place by Camille. Each room at Manoir de Surville is different than the others and it's all decorated with the environment in mind and only sustainable materials. Outside you can also find a heated pool (May-September), an apple orchard, a fireplace and a terrace, where inside you can find a spa with a selection of treatments.
If you visit Normandy, you cannot miss out on staying at Manoir de Surville. It's only 100 km from Paris, so no matter what, it's worth the trip!
Michelin guide lunch at La Longère
On our way from Manoir de Surville we met up with the rest of the group in the small city Le Neubourg, where we were treated to an amazing lunch at L