I’m always surprised when I come upon lots of people visiting places that are interesting yet rarely written about. They must know something the popular travel guides don’t! The Top 10 guides mention the D-Day beaches, Caen, Mont Saint-Michel, and Honfleur, but what about this quaint coastal village in Normandy: Veules-les-Roses? One guide only had 2 sentences about it. I made a visit last year and decided that this village is a hidden gem that many tourists should add to their lists.
One Of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”
The small, charming village of Veules-les-Roses (Department: Seine-Maritime) is actually deemed one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). It is only one of 6 villages in Normandy that has been given this title. The other 5 villages are:
- Beuvron-en-Auge (Calvados)
- Le Bec-Hellouin (Eure)
- Lyons-la-Forêt (Eure)
- Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei (Orne)
- Barfleur (Manche)
Coastal Village Of Veules-les-Roses
The Côte d’Albâtre, which has those wonderful white, alabaster cliffs including the ones by Etretat, spans the coast of Normandy for 130 kilometers. Veules-les-Roses is on this coast of the English Channel and is located between Fecamp and Dieppe. I took a drive from Etretat and it only took me an hour.
While the population of this seaside village is under 600 (in 2015), the numbers climb significantly in the summer when “those in the know” head to its beaches and walk along the river that meanders through the town.
Highlights About Veules-les-Roses
One of the main reasons I like Veules-les-Roses is that it is small but it is very pretty. I was fortunate to visit when it wasn’t overrun with tourists (like me) and even with the weekly market in full force, it still had a lot of charm. Here is some information about the village:
The Veules River
The Veules River runs through Veules-les-Roses. It is the shortest river in France that flows into the Channel: 1194 meters long from the source to the sea; super clear water where you can see brown trout.
The “Champs Elysée”
The walking path is called the “Champs Elysée”. It follows the river through woods and you can see old half-timbered cottages with thatched roofs, stone houses, gardens overflowing with flowers (especially roses), restored water mills, and the town’s main church.
On the sign at the beginning of the path, it states that the town was once “home to the Parisian bourgeoisie and a source of inspiration for 19th-century artists”…..hence the association with Paris’ “Champs Elysée” street.
Constructed in the 18th century, the Moulin des Aieux watermill was used to make oil until 1789. It was left unused for 10 years but then it was turned into a flour mill in 1806. It was a working mill until the 1950s.
The Moulin du Marche was turned into a flax mill in 1846. By 1910 hydraulic energy and turbines were incorporated to provide electricity to the town.
Seafood And Art
You’ll find plenty of fresh oysters, crab, and seafood to buy from local merchants or to eat at one of the many restaurants in town.
- Artists and writers, such as Victor Hugo often visited this seaside location and the town continues to attract artists to the area where there are a number of art galleries including a very popular pottery shop
- Water at the source of the Veules River is used for ponds that grow cressonnieères (watercress beds)
The town can be extremely crowded (cars and pedestrians) especially on weekends. I went on a Wednesday in July and it was busy mainly due to the weekly market where stalls filled many of the streets
Things To Do In Veules-les-Roses
- Be sure to walk along the “Champs Elysée” and discover the history of the area with its watermills, Norman houses, and flower gardens.
- Take a walk to the cliffs for beautiful views of the coastline and cliffs. You’ll be surprised to find the “Bois Le Neve” and a healthy pathway (“Parcours Santé) where you can use various pieces of equipment to do exercises like chin-ups and ladder climbing.
- Have afternoon tea at one of over 2 dozen tea rooms.
- Have lunch or dinner with some fresh seafood.
- Spend time at the beach. Just remember that there isn’t much sand. It has large pebbles, like the ones in Etretat.
- If you’re there on market day, enjoy browsing through the fresh produce and the maritime clothes that are for sale.
- Check out the recently restored church in the center of town, Eglise Saint-Martin. It supposedly dates back to 1026 and during its lifetime, the church has been restored and destroyed twice. The only part that remains is the bell tower from the late 12th century. There are also carved sandstone pillars and an organ from 1628. The most recent renovation occurred in the 16th century.
Do you have a favorite small, quaint coastal village in Normandy? Please share!
Looking for more things to do in Normandy or other villages deemed “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”? Check out these posts:
- Designated “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”–The Most Beautiful Villages
- Visiting Some of The “Plus Beaux Villages de France” in Provence
- Two Of The Best Ways to See The Cliffs At Etretat
- Where To See The Best Bastille Day Fireworks In Normandy
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