After spending a few days in the Loire Valley we hopped into our Renault and headed west to Normandy. We drove through picturesque farmland and watched in amazement as the architecture changed from classic stone buildings to rustic, timbered Norman homes, resembling something you might find in Beauty & the Beast. It never ceases to amaze me how the regions of France, some within literally miles of one another, each have such a uniquely defined sense of place. From the cuisine, to the architecture, to the dialects, each region has its own distinct culture.
We rolled down our windows and, smelling the briny Norman air, knew that we were near our destination – the beautiful seaside village of Étretat. I had booked our accommodations quite quickly and had honestly nearly forgotten where we were staying, however the second we pulled up to Les Tilluels 1738 I knew we were in for a treat. The historic mansion is located just two blocks from the sea and looks like it was pulled straight out of the pages of Elle Decor. The architecture itself is spellbinding, and the proprietor Gilles – a former movie set and costume designer from Paris – has decorated it absolutely immaculately. From the stunning color palette to the beautifully ornate oil paintings to unique combination of formal French antiques paired with exotic Turkish and Moroccan textiles to the perfectly-curated cabinets of curiosities, stepping into Les Tilluels 1738 feels as though you are stepping into your impossibly chic and well-traveled best friends home. And in a way, you are, as the property is also where Gilles and his husband Franck vacation when they aren’t in their Parisian flat.
We stayed in the beautiful Claude Monet room, a stunning space covered with shades of blue and grey inspired by the sea and skies. Two French windows opened onto the balcony overlooking lime trees and rose bushes where we enjoyed a crisp bottle of Vouvray that we had purchased while in the Loire valley. After a sunset picnic overlooking the sea, we walked back to Les Tilluels 1738 and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning drinking tea by the fire with Franck and their two French bulldogs.
In the morning we were awoken to the first rays of light streaming in through our French windows and enjoyed a delectable breakfast prepared by master chef Gilles before jumping into our car and heading to the final stop of our French road trip – Paris. Ryan and I were absolutely enchanted by Étretat and the beautiful Les Tilluels 1738, and are already looking forward returning and spending more time exploring the beautiful Norman coast and countryside.
For more of my adventures in France: Provence Sunrises | Gordes in Provence | Loumarin in Provence | Fields of Poppies | The Towns of the Loire Valley | Staying in a Loire Valley Chateau | Chateau de Chenonceau | Sailing the Mediterranean | Etretat, Normady
Images by Molly Carr Fine Art Photography