This area was made for sports enthusiasts. Whether you are an expert or a beginner you will find a wealth of options. Being on the coast, sailing is naturally very popular, as is windsurfing. But if you prefer ball games there are outdoor and indoor tennis courts in St Vaast and two very good golf courses within thirty minutes’ drive. The Presqu’ile du Cotentin, more familiarly known as Quineville or Fontenay, has recently been extended to an interesting 18 hole course, part links, part marshes. But if you really want a golfing challenge try the international 36 hole course at Omaha Beach which is an hour away.
Stand on the terrace at the top of the garden and you see sport laid out before you. On the left is the Pointe de Saire beach for windsurfing and swimming, in the centre is La Hougue and its seaside tennis club – and to the right is Fontenay, our favourite Links golf course.
Between Jonville and the Pointe de Saire.
If you like sandy beaches ours take some beating. Our 3 favourites lie between Jonville and the Pointe de Saire. We rarely go elsewhere. From these idyllic spots you can swim, snorkel, and sail or just sunbathe or sit outside the Goëlan café at the Pointe de Saire and watch the sail boats. From the Pointe de Saire to Barfleur are never ending stretches of long sandy beaches which face in the opposite direction to the Jonville beaches, so that it is always possible to find a wind free spot. The beaches are never overcrowded and you will never have to struggle to find a place to lay your towel. This is not the South of France and life generally is more relaxed and easy going.
Individual beaches have been described in some detail in the section on Children. A map at the house details directions to the beaches.
(Equipment Hire - Centre Nautique de Saint Vaast)
Tel: 06 75 74 45 10
The bay between Jonville and St. Vaast is regarded as one of Normandy’s prime locations for windsurfing and kite surfing. When the conditions are right professional wind and kite surfers descend on the beach with their boards and zoom across the bay at great speeds. Happily, most of the time the wind isn’t so strong and the less able of us can jolly on the water at more reasonable speeds.
Equipment can be hired in season from the Centre Nautique directly on the beach at Pointe de Saire. It is part of the Centre Nautique de Saint Vaast and is always open in season.
(Equipment Hire - Centre Nautique de Saint Vaast)
Tel: 06 75 74 45 10
In season, Kayaks and Catamarans, plus other small dinghies (and buoyancy aids) can also be hired on an hourly basis from the Centre Nautique de la Baie de Saint-Vaast (also the sailing school). Catamarans and canoes can be hired from the beach at the Pointe de Saire.
The Yacht Club - St. Vaast.
Tel: 06 09 43 71 85
Can organize Regattas and Cruises. The centre is certified by Federation Francaise de Voille and is a sailing school.
There is a formal scuba diving club in Cherbourg which will take guests subject to them having the appropriate qualifications. Separately, the region is well known for adventurous wreck dives with a lot of English diving clubs arranging specialist dive tours locally. The Barfleur Base Nautique can arrange diving.
Long stretches of straight hard sand, which made the area the best location for the D-Day landings, are ideal for sand yachting. Sand Yachting centres can be found at the Quineville Sail Club or best are the beaches between Utah and Omaha.
Half an hour away in Cherbourg there are plenty of nautical and sailing centres offering diving, sailing and an array of water sports including water ski-ing.
For more detailed information see:
Yacht Club of Cherbourg - www.yc-cherbourg.com
Ecole de Voile de Cherbourg - www.ev-cherbourg.info/nk
Association Sportive de la Marine - www.asamplongee.com
The Station Nautique.
Offers over 20 nautical activities, rentals and training courses www.cherbourg-hague-nautisme.com. Sand Yachting, Sea kayaking and Kite Surfing are also popular in the region.
La Manche has over 34 Golf courses and several are within easy reach of Hibou Blanc. Three favourites are listed below and green fees can be paid for on the day.
Presqu’île du Cotentin
Known locally as Fontenay or Quineville, is the nearest.
It is a twenty minute drive from the house and has a dramatic beachfront starting location and views across the bay to the Vauban Towers. The course has recently been extended from 9 holes to 18 and has sea views from the 6th, 9th and 12 fairways. The new 9 holes are on marsh land; although the fairways are wide don’t be surprised to lose balls amongst the reeds or in the lakes. The course is a delight for bird lovers and wild flower enthusiasts – these are pleasurable distractions which can extend playing time. If you have to let French players through they will say to you ‘Bon parcours’.
The Clubhouse is friendly and provides a good simple lunch in season. There are a couple of buggies for hire and the club is open all year round. A day ticket currently costs 30€ and the local golf pro, Olivier, is a firm favourite – brilliant teacher in attractive Franglais!
We try and play late morning around 11.30 am when the locals are just finishing and going off for lunch. The French take their lunch seriously and you may be lucky and have the course much to yourselves.
1, La Brèche, 50310 Fontenay-sur-Mer. Tel: 02 33 21 44 27
Omaha Beach Golf Club
Only a few hundred yards from the famous D-Day landing beach of Omaha there is an international quality, 36 hole course. You can choose any two i.e. 18 hole round, but you cannot play just 9 holes. (However, they’ll fix it so you can stop for lunch at the pleasant restaurant half way round!) The restaurant is of sufficient quality, with outside seating that many people come just for lunch and the views.
The first 9 holes are towards the sea offering breath-taking views over the sea with remnants of the Mulberry Harbour. The second 9 overlook the Manoir du Baron Gerard. Some of the holes are so steep they wouldn’t be out of place on a ski slope. It is for this reason that most people hire a buggy. The final 9 are in the Bocage. There are 35 driving ranges, 3 putting greens and buggies available. Prices vary according to season. For any keen golfer this is well worth a day trip and is about an hour's drive from Hibou Blanc. There is a bar and a good restaurant so you can fortify yourself between rounds (see above). Also a shop selling good quality golf clothes and shoes. You do need to book in advance.
La Ferme Saint-Sauveur, 14520 Port-en-Bessin. Tel: 02 31 22 12 12
Cherbourg Golf Club at La Glacerie
Locals consider this ‘the most beautiful 9 hole course in Normandy’. Situated on the high plateau overlooking the port of Cherbourg, this course offers 9 holes, 2 putting greens, driving range, snack bar and pro shop. The fairways on this course are lined with the most wonderful trees making the course simultaneously challenging as well as beautiful.
Prices vary according to season – but are usually in the range of 24- 32 Euros for a Day Pass.
Domaine des Roches, 50470 La Glacerie. Tel: 02 33 44 45 48
Visit www.normandie-tourisme.fr for a full listing of all golf courses in the region.
There are 6 all-weather tennis courts at the St Vaast Tennis Club located on the Hougue at the far side of St Vaast, and visible from the garden. The courts are beneath the second Vauban Tower and in the summer there are informal tournaments. There is also an indoor court in the town, operated by the Mairie.
Tennis Hougette. Tel: 02 33 54 42 54
There are a few public swimming pools but we recommend a great new public and children friendly indoor pool at Bretteville/Tourlaville, Piscine De Collignon. Beside the sea to the east of Cherbourg port. Men and boys must not wear voluminous bathers i.e speedo’s are mandatory. Be aware that the pool, as with shops, closes over lunchtime and also for school use, so time your visit to avoid disappointment. But happily it is next to a windsurfing club on the beach which in season has a basic café.
Tel: 02 33 44 23 44
There is a pleasant medium sized, heated, outdoor pool in Valognes.
Cycling along the coastal routes, or up into the depths of the rolling country side is a joy. Bikes can be hired from shops in Saint Vaast and Quettehou. Or use ours at your own risk. The council have created over 1,000km of special trails for cycling, with over 37 cycle loops taking in untouched country side, D-Day landing beaches and French architecture. Detailed maps are at the house.
See www.manchetourisme.com for more information of cycle routes around the local area.
Both sea and fresh water fishing are available in the area. Most mornings in season you will see locals going out to check on their lobster pots or walking out at low tide to collect cockles or mussels. It is also possible to take a tour of the Oyster beds, though this doesn’t really count as fishing.
If you want to have a fishing lesson, contact Mouches Les Cotentines in Cherbourg for professional instructors.
The Yacht Club in St Vaast (beside the Marina Restaurant) can also provide information about local fishing supply shops, boat and equipment rental. Alternatively ask at the Touriste Centre in St Vaast.
This area of Normandy is a walker’s paradise and is populated with well-marked footpaths. At the house are maps for some of the best walks within the peninsula, both coastal and inland. Alternatively, visit www.manchetourisme.com/gps to download free coordinates then set off to find them via GPS.
Reville – Centre Equestre du Val de Saire. This friendly centre is close to the beach at Jonville. They take riders of all levels. A common sight is to see riders on the beach having a good canter. In summer you may also see youngsters in swim suits riding their ponies into the water for a swim.