Only halfway through February and the garden here is alive with birdsong, the snowdrops at their peak and the daffodils in bud, promising golden days to come. The tulips are pushing through the beds by the old barn and the staging in the kitchen window is groaning under the weight of propagators and seed trays, the tomato seedlings peeping through as if to see if it’s safe to come out yet.
Already we’re looking forward to spring, though winter may not have had its last throw of the dice – snow is not entirely unknown even in early March, so we have to be careful not to jump the gun. However, spring here is generally gentle and comes early, with temperatures truly warm by the end of April.
Spring in the southern Normandy and the Pays de la Loire is a wonderful spectacle thanks to the amazing natural beauty for which the region is known. The forests will soon be coming in to leaf, the rolling hills are already speckled with bouncing lambs, the rivers and lakes have been replenished after last year’s dry summer, and the willows are smothered in catkins.
In a few weeks the orchards for which the area is famous will be filled with glorious apple, pear and cherry blossom – a great time to explore the “Pear Route” and sample last year’s harvest in the form of apple and pear juice, cider and perry, bought direct at the farm gate.
Because La Basse Cour is only five minutes walk from the forest, at the drop of a hat we are able to experience nature in all its glory. On our little rambles it’s common to come across groups of more serious and leisurely walkers along the main paths at weekends, but in the week and of the main trails we can walk for miles in total solitude with only birdsong and the occasional rustling in the undergrowth to disturb the silence.
The area is also wonderful during spring because there is always an outdoor market in one or other of the local towns to enjoy, a “vide grenier” where people bring their unwanted goods for a of “boot sale”, and the many gardens and castles that closed at the end of last year are reopening for the season.
Spring is a great time to experience the area, when the countryside is fresh and green and before the main holiday season gets under way – so don’t delay, book that spring break before it’s too late!