Les Jardins d’Angélique

Montmain, Normandy

Just south and east of Rouen in the small town of Montmain are “les Jardins d’Angélique (Angelica’s Gardens) which we visited in early October 2014.

Les Jardins d’Angélique comprise two wonderful gardens situated in the Normandy countryside .  Originally created by Gloria and Yves Le Bellegard in memory of their daughter Angelica, the two separate gardens are very distinct in character.

South of the manor house is a formal garden with walkways and clipped hedges, Italianate in style with box-edged beds of perennials and ornamental grasses, punctuated by yew topiary and a central fountain.

To the north is a flowing “English-style”  garden, dreamy, romantic, with grassy paths winding between hundreds of  shrubs, plants and trees.

Yves loved roses and the garden contains over 2000 different varieties.  Since her husband’s death, Gloria has continued the task with the help of her daughter Clair.

Benches and seats are thoughtfully dotted throughout les Jardins d’Angélique.  I imagine it is beautiful at any time of year (the images in the slideshow are photos we took in October 2014, just before it closed for the season) but Gloria recommended we come back to visit the garden end of May/early June when the roses are in their first flush. Despite her protestations that it was past its best, we still loved this garden in October.

Opening hours

Open daily except Tuesday 1 may to 15 October, 10am – 7pm. Also Tuesdays in May and June – presumably because this is when the roses are in their first flush.


Route de Lyons

Tel : 02 35 79 08 12

Rouen Bridge Reopens

Pont Mathilde will reopen to traffic at 5pm today, 26th August 2014, 22 months after the important Rouen bridge was damaged in a fire leading to major diversions around Rouen for drivers.

Opening ceremonies will take place on the bridge between 11am and 3pm today before it is cleared and made ready for vehicles to cross.

In October 2012 a petrol tanker crossed the central reservation, crashed and caught fire on the Pont Mathilde; several vehicles beneath the bridge were destroyed in the conflagration and while no-one was seriously injured, the damage to the bridge was severe. Work to repair the bridge had started in September 2013.

In October 2013 the driver of the lorry was given an eight-month suspended sentence for causing the accident.

“Le Bois du Puits” Garden

A New Garden at Bellême

I’ve been meaning to write about le Bois du Puits, a garden only recently opened near Serigny-Bellême, since we visited it the last weekend of May this year, but have been so busy that I’ve only just now got round to it.  The owners are recently retired nursery owners, who decided to create the le Bois du Puits garden on the site of their previous business in order to occupy them in their retirement.  At 4.5 hectacres (over 13 acres)  it is going to be a full-time job!

Le Bois du Puits is a botanical garden, meaning all the plants are labelled with their Latin names. Over 2000 different plants are grown. The whole is sub-divided into different gardens including the “Flirty Garden”, “For the Birds”, “In Mirror” or “Trompe l’oeil”, “Easter Island” and many more.

The garden is very young so as it matures it will rapidly change – it’s good to be in on it at the beginning to see how Bois du Puits will develop.

The time we visited we had experienced some very heavy rainfall and parts of the grounds were soft underfoot – bear it in mind if you go after heavy rainfall!

Garden Plan

Bois du Puits

Practical Information

Garden Opening Times

Le Bois du Puits is open from May 1 to September 30, Friday / Saturday / Sunday and National Holidays, afternoons from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.


Garden entry is 6€ for adults, under 12s free.


Le Bois du Puits
Route de Nogent le Rotrou

D-Day Diary 2014

A clear guide to events taking place in Normandy for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in 2014.

D-Day 2014

D-Day Commemorations 2014

The 2014 D-Day anniversary will be marked by a large number of commemorations and festivities including firework displays, parades, parachute drops, recreation of military camps, musical concerts and more. In addition to those described here, there are commemorative ceremonies and the laying of wreaths (“depot de gerbe”) in towns up and down the coast on 6th June.

June 2014: Special Events for D-Day 70th Anniversary

31 May – 9th June: Military Camp Reconstruction

Military camp and display of vehicles at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont: afternoons only.
Club du Souvenir Militaire – 02 33 71 56 54

31 May – 10th June: Reconstruction of Camp Méautis

Reconstruction of the “Bloody Gulch” camp at the Manoir de Donville
Click here for more information

1 – 8 June 2014, 9am to 7pm: Reconstruction of American Air Force Camp: Sainte-Mère-Eglise

Camp reconstruction representing the American airborne forces in Normandy.
Demonstration of equipment, vehicles and more than a hundred participants in period costume. Featuring a field hospital, communications post and a field cinema.

4th – 11th June: Military Vehicle Encampment at Hillman Bunker, Colleville-Montgomery

A large camp of WW2 military vehicles and the reconstruction of a WW2 field camp. Also chance to visit the restored Hillman bunker. Organised by the Friends of Suffolk Regiment.
Click here for more information

4th – 8th June: Parachute drops from DC-3/C47 aircraft, various sites

Memorial parachuting from a large number of Douglas DC-3/C47: the aircraft arrive directly from England under the “Dakotas over Normandy” programme.

  • June 4 2014 at 14h in the area of Ouve Bridge, Carentan
  • 5 and 6 June 2014 at 19:30 at the Museum of Utah Beach, Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
  • 5 and 6 June 2014 at 22h at Foucarville Prison Camp
  • 6 June 2014 behind the community hall of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
  • 7 June 2014 at 14h at the Hangar Site of Ecausseville
  • 8 June 2014 at 9:30 am at Sainte-Mère-Eglise

More info: Round Canopy Parachuting Team Website

5th June: Coastal Fireworks: displays at 24 towns along the D-Day Landing Beaches

24 major firework displays synchronised between all the 24 mains sites of the D-Day Landings
Click here for more information

5th – 9th June: Concerts for Freedom: Caen, Sainte-Mère-Eglise, Sées, Lisieux, Cherbourg

A musical evening with the regional orchestra of Lower Normandy featuring 150 young musicians playing the Mass for Peace by Karl-William Jenkins; illustrated with images from the archives of Caen Memorial.
Click here for more information

6th – 8th June: Reconstruction of a British military camp: “Gold Beach Camp” at Ver-sur-Mer

Reconstruction of a British military camp by the “Gold Beach 60 Years On” Association. The re-enactors wear the uniforms of the Royal Navy, Army and Air Force. Regiments who landed on Gold Beach King will receive awards.
Click here for more information

6th June: IMAX film ‘D-Day Normandy 1944′: Zénith, Caen, Calvados

40 minute 3-D IMAX film on the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy
Click here for more information

7th June: Procession of military vehicles: Grandcamp-Maisy & Isigny-sur-Mer, Calvados

Procession of Jeeps, Dodges, GMCs together with heavy equipment (14:00)
Click here for more information

7th June: Fireworks display: Sainte-Mère-Eglise, Manche

On the Place de l’Eglise
Click here for more information

7th – 9th June: Liberation Tattoo: Zénith, Caen

First military music festival bringing together 650 French, Belgian, Canadian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, British, American and German musicians
Click here for more information

8th June: International Parachute Jump: La Fière, Sainte-Mère-Eglise, Manche

Major military and civilian parachute drops on this 1944 drop zone
Click here for more information

D-Day Normandy Beaches

D-Day Normandy Beaches

Further Exhibitions concerning D-Day 70th Anniversary 2014

Until October: ‘Leaving the War behind. From the Battle of Normandy through to Reconstruction’ exhibition: Calvados

Travelling exhibition visiting 14 towns, bringing together local inhabitants and those who lived through the war, plus lectures and various events
Click here for more information

Until October: ‘Cherbourg… and Freedom came from the Sea': La Cité de la Mer, Cherbourg

Photo exhibition showing American troops in the days following the liberation of the port of Cherbourg
Click here for more information

Until December: ‘Grandma what was it like during the war?’ exhibition: Juno Beach Centre, Courseulles-sur-Mer

War-time experiences of Norman and Canadian civilians, mainly of children, from 1940 to 1944
Click here for more information

Until December: ‘100 objects from the 100 days of the Battle of Normandy’ exhibition: Caen Memorial

This exhibition recounts the conflict which led to the Liberation of Paris and Western Europe putting the emphasis on objects which are remarkable or previously unseen
Click here for more information

World Equestrian Games 2014 Normandy


Tickets for the World Equestrian Games 2014 go on sale to the general public from 19th November 2013 – at the moment tickets are only available to members of the French equestrian bodies such as the FFE and FFP, games sponsors and equestrian clubs.

Tickets can be bought online directly from the organisers at this site: https://ticket.jemfeialltech2014normandie.fr/

Calendar of Events

The World Equestrian Games opening ceremony takes place on Saturday 23rd August 2014, with competition starting on Monday 25th August running through until the closing ceremony on Sunday 7th September 2014.  The individual disciplines comprise:

  • Carriage driving
  • Eventing
  • Dressage
  • Endurance
  • Para Dressage
  • Polo
  • Reining
  • Show jumping
  • Vaulting

In addition, Horseball – football on horseback –  will feature as a display event.


The venues are :

  • Caen
  • Deauville
  • Sartilly (Mont St Michel)
  • Haras du Pin (which is also the National Horse Stud Farm)

The Haras du Pin is the closest 2014 World Equestrian Game venue to us, though we are also only 1.5 hours from Caen.  The Haras is hosting the prestigious “Eventing” discipline – an equestrian triathlon, eventing combines show-jumping, dressage and a cross-country. For the cross-country test, the competitors must jump obstacles spread out over an all terrain course of 6.5km at an average speed of 35kph (20mph).

World Equestrian Games 2014 Accommodation

La Basse Cour is near Alençon in the Orne department of Normandy and offers “chambres d’hôtes” – this is like “bed and breakfast” in Britain and other English-speaking countries.  If you prefer self catering accommodation then in French this is “gîte rural” (pl. “gîtes ruraux”) – please consult the Gites de France website.

La Basse Cour B&B accommodation is 50km or half an hour from the Haras du Pin venue for the Equestrian Games 2014.

Manoir de Couesme

Manoir de Couesme

Manoir de Couesme

The Manoir de Couesme is a manor house on the outskirts of Ancinnes dating from the end of the 15th century.

Originally a feudal hall, it was converted into a Renaissance residence by Charles de Couesme, Captain of the Free Archers under King Francis I.  Towards the end of the 20th century the manor house fell into disrepair and was used as farm storage space until it was bought by Thierry Edward and Pierre Alleaume in 2003, since when the manor has been beautifully restored and the outbuildings converted for receptions and exhibitions. http://www.manoirdecouesme.fr/

The Manoir de Couesme is in walking distance of us, halfway between La Basse Cour and Bourg-le-Roi.

Art Exhibition “Hors Series”

Manoir de Couesme - Hors Series

Manoir de Couesme

Every September the manor house and its grounds host a month-long art exhibition by a featured artist. 2013 is the seventh exhibition and the artist is Edith Meusnier, whose works are made from a variety of everyday materials,  metal skeletons capable of being rearranged in different shapes or forms, decorated and brought alive by brightly coloured canvas, cloth, wire and ribbons stretched across the frameworks, and which may be attached to trees and buildings or free standing.

Based on our experience of previous exhibitions (we haven’t missed one yet) we can highly recommend a visit to the Manoir de Couesme this month. The exhibition, entitled “Hors Series”, opens this Saturday until the last weekend of the September, a rare opportunity to admire this delightful manor house and meet the owners.

To Visit the Manoir de Couesme

Hors Series is taking place from 7th to 29th September at the Manoir de Couesme, 5 minutes by car or a pleasant 20 minutes walk from La Basse Cour, on the road between Ancinnes and Bourg-le-Roi.  Entry free, open 10am to 6pm daily.

Le Mans Old Town

Le Mans may be world renowned for its motor racing track, even featuring in a classic Steve McQueen film, but the old town of Le Mans with its beautifully preserved medieval architecture is still largely unknown, despite being used as the backdrop for other films like Leonardo di Caprio’s “Man in the Iron Mask”, Gerard Depardieu’s “Cyrano de Bergerac”, Al Pacino’s “Bobby Deerfield” and many French films including “Molière”, “Les Dames Galantes” and “Michel Vaillant”.


Plantagenet City

The old town of Le Mans was renamed “Plantagenet City” in 2002, in recognition that Le Mans was the seat of the Plantagenets and the birthplace of the Henry II, first Plantagenet King of England.  Richard the Lionheart’s widow Berengère also lived in Le Mans after his death, where she founded the Cistercian Abbey de L’Epau to the east of the city.

Features of Old Le Mans

Overlooking the river Sarthe, the Le Mans old town is protected on that side by the longest surviving Gallo-roman wall in France, whilst the magnificent Cathedral of St Julien dominates the skyline above the walls – one of the largest and oldest cathedrals in France, it should not be missed as it matches Chartres with its splendid architecture.  The cathedral also houses a magnificent stained glass window of the Ascension, one of the oldest and dating back to 1160, and boasts a stunning 14th century frescoed ceiling showing the choir of angels. The cathedral stands on a former pagan religious site and a menhir can be seen leaning against the cathedral wall.


Cathedral Menhir

The medieval heart of Le Mans is largely unspoilt, with a maze of beautiful buildings, both stone and half timbered and dating back to the late middle ages or early Renaissance, pretty cobbled streets, stepped alleyways and narrow lanes.  The paved streets and limited traffic access make the old town of Le Mans a nice place for strolling, while there are many good restaurants for lunch or evening meals.  Steep inclines and steps do mean that some of the streets are unsuitable for the disabled, but most parts are accessible by alternative routes.

Le Mans Rillettes

Rillettes, a kind of spiced, shredded pork paté, is the culinary speciality of Le Mans and it tastes much better than it sounds. You can buy rillettes in every butcher’s and supermarket in town, and it makes for a perfect picnic snack when spread on some fresh “baguette de tradition”.

Nuit des Chimères

In summer as dusk creeps into the streets and squares of the Plantagenet town, the old medieval buildings come to life with a magical spectacle of light, colour and sound called “La Nuit des Chimères”.

La Nuit des Chimeres

La Nuit des Chimeres


Just a couple of suggestions where to eat in the old town of Le Mans – but there are plenty of others to choose from!

La Baraque à Boeuf
Le Bistrot d’a cote

Tourist Office

The Tourist Office in the heart of the Plantagenet City:

Pilier Rouge, 40-41 Grande Rue, Le Mans



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