Built in 1631 by the famed architect François Mansart at the instigation of Jean II de Choisy, the Château de Balleroy and its village form one of the first urbanisation plans that inspired other châteaux, including Versailles. In 1970, major American press tycoon Malcolm S. Forbes acquired the château and completely restored it. Today, his four sons and his daughter have taken the baton.
Just 20 minutes from Bayeux, the Château de Fontaine-Henry is a family estate that feels like a journey through time, with a sense of wisdom in the air and a range of curious objects dotted around. This characteristic is the result of the château having never been sold to a third party, instead being passed down from generation to generation.
Brécy has maintained a strong medieval flair with its separate, walled gardens, its acquisitions from the Renaissance and its sculptures and embroideries, all a grand introduction to the great compositions of the classical French gardens, closely tied to the residence. It dates from the second half of the 17th century. Legend goes that the architect Mansart, while working on the Château de Balleroy, created these gardens.
In the natural surroundings of the Castillon Valley near Bayeux, discover the themed Castillon Gardens, created for visual splendour and to showcase knowledge of plants. Wander from the garden of fragrances to the oriental garden, passing by the English mixed border or the octagonal pond on your way.
The first route heads east of Bayeux. Passing by Vienne-en-Bessin, discover Saint-Gabriel-Brécy with its horticultural college within its priory. Founded in the 11th century by the Abbey of Fécamp, the priory was intended to manage the lands, mills and fisheries owned by the abbey in the Bessin district. You can admire the garden of the Château de Brécy nearby. It dates from the second half of the 17th century. It is one of the rare examples of the era remaining in France. Continue your journey towards Lantheuil and its château. The history of the place will take you on a journey back in time, letting you discover how our ancestors lived amid the elegance and good living of a glorious past. Whether the forest, plains, park or gardens, everything here seems to harken back to the joys of the hunt. Finally, be charmed by the 12th century church in Thaon, then visit the Château de Fontaine-Henry, with the highest roofs in France. End your day at the Château de Creully, where you’ll step into a medieval setting that is a testimony to the history of Normandy. Its atypical architecture makes it an exceptional site.
The second route, more relaxed, heads southwest of Bayeux. Discover the Castillon Garden, a complex of spectacular themed gardens. Wander from the garden of fragrances to the oriental garden, after passing by the English mixed border and the octagonal pond. It is listed as one of the most beautiful gardens in France. Then stop at the château and village of Balleroy, one of the first urbanisation plans in France, and which inspired other châteaux such as Versailles. End at Mondaye Abbey, a beautiful 18th century complex by the River Aure. It is still home to monks of the Premonstratensian Order.
Hotel Villa Lara is the most wonderful hotel. The staff goes above & beyond to make your stay with them both special & unforgettable. A perfect location with beautiful, comfortable rooms with all the amenities. We can't imagine staying anywhere else in Normandy. Five star plus!
Exception service and accommodations. From the moment we arrived we were welcomed and assisted at every turn by the marvelous staff. Last minute dinner reservations were no problem. We enjoyed the comfort and appointments of our room with a view of the abbey. A great location to explore Normand
Room was lovely. Location was perfect. But what was most impressive was the welcoming staff!! Not just a “how can I help you attitude” but a “I want to help you”. Everyone greats with a Bon Jour and a smile. And with in a couple days know your name. You will not want to leave