Normandy Coastal Path- GR 223

Mention Normandy to most Americans and they will recall D-Day and the Invasion of Normandy during WWII.  Our nation has a definite connection to this piece of french real estate and rightly so.  Travel to the west, where few Americans venture, and Normandy may surprise you.

Miles of beautiful beaches, rocky promontories, bird sanctuaries and lovely countryside abound.  AND, there is a long-distance hiking trail, the GR223.

The route begins where Brittany ends, at the Bay of Mont-St-Michel which means you can start your hike by staying on Mont-St-Michel itself.  Be prepared.  This is one of the most visited places in France.  Remind yourself- you’re doing the “tourist thing” for one night.  Rooms will be small and expensive.  Food will not inspire.  But still, this is an enchanting place and once all the tour buses leave in the evening, you’ll have it to yourself.

Staying here will set you up for your hike as I believe Mont-St-Michel becomes more and more beautiful as you walk away from it.  The path picks up at the mainland and circles The Bay of Mont-St-Michel’s grassy border.  Gone are the crowds, the t-shirts and the traffic.   Except for some sheep, the walker is alone.  The further away you get, the more mystical MSM becomes in the distance as it takes on a watercolor hue in a sea of glitter, the latter the reflection of  RVs.

The path circles the bay for two and a half days before bidding farewell and heading north up the coastline.  The favorite attraction is now the sea.

This is a splendid coastal path with beautiful, varied terrain, just enough lodging and few larger towns.  You’ll feel as though you’ve discovered a secret.  The location is perfect for combining a walking tour with a visit to the WWII beaches and museums.

How It Stacks UpThis was the first and the best coastal path I’ve ever done.  We had wonderful weather which I’m sure played a role.  I went back a couple of years later and did the first five days around the bay and up the coast.  I wondered if I would love it as much as the first time.  Yep- maybe even more.