With the excitement of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games ™ on the horizon, Normandy is definitely the place to take a well-earned break this year. This is the first time the Games have come to France, and Normandy is the natural choice of host region as the French home of the horse. Whether you are looking for a girls’ getaway, a romantic weekend or a family holiday, Normandy ticks all the boxes.

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Endurance in France5 great reasons to come to Normandy in 2014

1. The World Equestrian Games 

From 23 August to 7 September, 1,000 horses and athletes will take part from over 60 countries in the 8 official disciplines. The main stage will be held in the city of Caen which will become a huge equestrian stadium where 7 of the disciplines will take place.The impressive 100-mile endurance ride will start at the elegant Haras du Pin in the heart of the countryside and finish against the impressive backdrop of the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel. 2 demonstration events, horseball in Saint-Lô and polo in Deauville, will round off the variety of the show on offer. Save the date now! Find out more here:  

2. Normandy — the ideal holiday destination 

This part of France can rightfully boast an impressive equestrian heritage. Normandy is home to two of France’s prestigious national studs, the Haras in Saint-Lô and Le Haras du Pin and the region also has a worldwide reputation as a breeding centre of excellence.

Haras du Pin

This is why horse lovers feel very much at home here. Don’t miss the majestic displays this summer at the two haras and find out how Normandy thoroughbreds have maintained their long-standing reputation.

And if you would like to saddle up, you’ll be spolit for choice. Why not trek along the Stud Route which runs between the two Haras? Or follow William the Conqueror’s route from the Cotentin to his birthplace in Falaise, a ride which took him just under a day in1046 ? Do feel free to take your time and soak up the local atmosphere. Stop off overnight at one of the Cheval Etape along the way where you and your horse will be made most welcome.

Chateau at Caen

3. History comes alive 

A trip to this region is the chance to go back in time to retrace William the Conqueror’s footsteps from his birth in Falaise to his glory days in the city of Caen with its ducal castle and abbeys. Then on to Bayeux with the epic story told in the tapestry. Other medieval musts include the Rouen with its masterpiece of a cathedral, the unique Mont-Saint-Michel and Les Andelys, Richard the Lionheart’s stronghold. Take time out to walk along the D-Day Beaches to see and better understand for yourself where this crucial turning point of World War II was played out in this special 70th anniversary year. Art lovers will be delighted to soak up the impressionist ambiance at Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny, and head for the costal fishing villages of Honfleur and Etretat which have often inspired the Impressionists.

4. Food Glorious Food

No visit to France would be complete without sampling some of the fantastic food and drink on offer. Normandy, with its camembert and calvados, is a true gourmet’s paradise. You’ll be spolit for choice with the wondrous seafood including oysters and scallops and the tasty salt marsh lamb from around the Mont-Saint-Michel. Picnic al fresco in the apple orchards after a forage around one of the markets in search of local specialities or simply relax and enjoy a sumptious meal at one of the many traditional bistros.

5. So easy to get to

Normandy is a short hop across the Channel. Regular ferry services bring you straight into one of Normandy’s 4 ports and there are direct flights to Deauville from London City. If you prefer the train, there are frequent connections from Paris to Normandy’s main cities and the journey from the Channel Tunnel couldn’t be easier: it’s only several hours’ drive away.

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Photographs by Thierry Houyel, E.Benard, O.T. Cabourg, FEI Kit Houghton, Beboy fotolia.com, Philippe Millereau KMSP, Danielle Dumas and A. Loh

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