10 January 2013 by Chris Jones
Cottage, Barneville-Carteret, Normandy
“A comfortable, bungalow-style gite at Barneville-Carteret on Normandy’s unspoilt western coast. Easy-to-get-to, it has 2 bedrooms sleeping up to 4 guests looking for a holiday amongst history, nature and good food.”
Breathtaking coastal walks, lazy days on stunning beaches, good local food from a range of local markets and restaurants… Barneville-Carteret, a small town facing the Channel Islands and just 25 miles south west of Cherbourg – has all these in abundance. But for many visitors, it’s not what’s here but more what isn’t that counts…
The unspoilt Contentin Peninsula
Here on the western seaboard of the Cotentin peninsula and facing the Channel Islands, there are none of the hordes which you might find in France’s bigger resorts. And there’s none of the sprawling development of beach front arcades, casinos and burger stalls.
Barneville is uncrowded and unspoilt – whilst the village is bustling with shops and restaurants, the miles of beach are lined by golden sand and rolling waves on one side, and on the other by wild stretches of dune rich in flora and fauna. And that’s the draw.
Our property this month is a 2 bedroom bungalow almost in the centre of Barneville-Carteret, but just off a lane, ensuring peace and privacy but with everything in easy reach.
The building itself is modern and benefits from a range of amenities including, thanks to the proximity of Jersey, British television channels. There are 2 bedrooms – a double and a twin. The bathroom features a full-size bath with overhead shower, and the kitchen is equipped with a host of pots and pans.
A large L-shaped lounge includes a dining area with plenty of space to spread out, as well as large patio doors opening out onto a neat and tidy garden complete with mature planting, and outdoor furniture for al fresco dining. The grounds aren’t fully enclosed, and won’t therefore be suitable to families with very young children.
Barneville-Carteret attractions and amenities
Many guests come here simply to enjoy the quiet, the wildlife, the beauty of the coast and the warm hospitality of the locals. But those looking to sight-see, shop, and explore will find plenty to fill their days, with easy access to vibrant towns like Coutances and Bayeux, and world-class historic sites including the D-day landing beaches and Mont St Michel.
Nearby amenities include shops, health facilities, and a post office, as well as the local markets – always a popular feature with guests, many getting to know the stallholders by name and making a point of visiting them on each visit.
Must-have local specialities include cider, oysters, goat’s cheese and biscuits. And in the main season there’s seemingly a festival for every day and everyone, with celebrations ranging from carrots and oysters to the sea and seafaring – there’s even a donkey festival. Guests also enjoy the tourist train linking Barneville with the pretty seaport at Portbail, as well as the windmill at Fierville-les-Mines, the only working windmill in the area where you can even buy a bag of flour to take home as a souvenir.
Eating in Barneville-Carteret
The gite is semi-detached to owners Steve and Sheena Greenwood’s own house, and they are always discreetly on hand to offer advice on any number of local subjects including the important matter of where to eat out. For friendly service, good menus and value for money, Sheena singles out 2 eateries in particular – Le Jardin Martin in Carteret, and the Berlingot on the road to Bricquebrec.
Many guests also enjoy cooking for themselves in the gite, buying vegetables, meat, fish and seafood from the market and then cooking what they’ve bought in the local style. Sheena has translated a selection of her favourite local recipes for her guests; “It’s surprising how many like to try them out” she explains, “and then I get some of their favourite recipes in exchange so the system works a treat!”
The Contentin Peninsula – a special area
Steve and Sheena moved here in the mid-nineties. “We’d both taken early retirement,” Sheena recalls. “At the time we already owned a small holiday cottage a few kilometres up the coast and felt at home in the Cotentin – there’s something special about the area that pulls people back here.”
The warmth of the Norman people also played their part in Steve and Sheena’s choice of location. “They’ve always been particularly welcoming and helpful, and we’ve had good advice from them over the years. They’re just genuinely lovely people, which goes towards making our guests feel welcome too.”
“The beaches, the food, the attractions and the people – not forgetting the peace and quiet – all this adds up to a holiday experience which many guests like to repeat year after year. “Many of them have become really good friends over the years,” Sheena says, “We even know their tastes in wine!”
A week’s stay in the cottage ranges from £270 to £360 per week, depending on the time of year.