Keeping in touch easily with family and friends in the UK is an important consideration for many people moving or retiring to France, so choosing to buy just across the Channel could be the answer. Even if you're looking for a second home or holiday bolt-hole, quick and easy access from the UK has many benefits.
Manche is the most westerly department of lower-Normandy, and is near enough for family and friends to visit, without staying for too long! Similarly, if you're buying a home or second home in the area, it's an easy hop between the UK and your pied-a-terre across the Channel. You get all the ambience and lifestyle of Normandy and France, but without a long drive.
Named because of it's important position in the English Channel, Manche is the most westerly department of Lower Normandy and is accessible by ferry from both Poole and Plymouth to Cherbourg, while neighbouring Caen and St-Malo provide further travel options.
With 330km of coastline, the department has a wealth of beautiful beaches along its shores, many of which have been awarded European blue flag status. The local economy is based very much on agriculture and Manche also has a truely rural feel, with vast expanses of lush green countryside. Flat marsh areas are known for their bird-watching opportunities, while the area around the capital St-Lo has a reputation for horse breeding and training. Covering 145,000 hectares, of which 30,000 hectares are made up of wetlands, the Parc Naturel Regional des Marais du Contentin et du Bessin extends across both Manche and neighbouring Calvados.
Manche’s vital role in the D-Day Landings has secured the department’s place in history books, and there are a number of museums documenting the famous events of June 1944, such as the Utah Beach Museum.
Keen cyclists can follow a marked trail along the D-Day beaches, which ends at Mont-St-Michel, arguably one of France’s most recognisable landmarks. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the third most popular tourist attraction in France and is visited by three million people each year. And speaking of cycling, Manche will host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2016.
With an abundance of seafood, cheese and apple-based dishes on the menu, there’s plenty to look forward to when you’ve worked up an appetite after all that cycling and fresh air, while local tipples include cidre, pommeau and calvados.
Many of the department’s festivals revolve around these specialities, such as the seafood festival Toute la Mer sur un Plateau in September, while other annual celebrations include Jazz Sous les Pommiers in May, the biggest jazz festival in western France, and the D-Day commemorations in June.
Here are some great examples of typical Manche properties, well worth a look to get a feel for property in this beautiful region of France.