What to do and see nearby?
August, 1944, two
months after D-Day, it was the scene of battles between tanks and
soldiers with fighting also taking place in the direction of
a town 15 minutes away, particularly famous for the battle outside the
town when several hundred American troops defended a hill against a
massive German counter-attack. Nowadays Mortain is a bustling market
town with restaurants, shops and spectacular views across the
countryside in the direction of Mayenne.We
recommend visits to the Cascades - spectacular, rocky waterfalls on the
outskirts of the town and also to the Petite Chapelle which, situated
high above the town on a rocky outcrop, on a clear day there are views
to le Mont-St-Michel. In an area where spectacular panoramic views are
commonplace, the views from la Petite Chapelle are exceptional.
markets are always good fun for the range of locally produced foods and
good, plain people-watching. Sample a galette
saucisse from one of the mobile barbecue vans. This is a freshly
cooked, locally-made sausage simply wrapped in a Breton-style galette.
Quality fast-food though there are some vans whose produce is not as
good as others - always choose the van with the longest queue. Their
customers are willing to wait for good reason.
are excellent weekly markets
at Vire (Friday), Avranches (Saturday), St-Hilaire-du-Harcouet
(Wednesday) and Villedieu-les-Poeles (Tuesday). Our local market town of
Sourdeval also has a busy market on Tuesdays and that's our destination
of choice but Sourdeval is a matter-of-fact little town, largely
re-built after suffering a lot of damage during the war and
Villedieu-les-Poeles is a more interesting town with medieval courts and
alleyways that mostly escaped the fighting and damage during June of
Tuesdays, Sourdeval also has the area's weekly calf market - marché de veau -
where the young calves, frequently only a few weeks old are sold. It is
an interesting event - the market is popular with dealers who are not
(officially!) allowed to make any deals prior to the siren going off at
11am. You then watch the dealers literally running from their "pen" to
get the pick of the best calves, handing over the transaction slips to
complete the deals to the farmers. Let me be honest: you need to go with
a "pragmatic" view of livestock management because the animals - often
clearly scared by their first encounter with the outside world - are
often handled in a very brusque way, but the weekly market is still a
vital part of small scale farming in France that is now mostly missing
in the UK and is worth a look for that reason.
the market, take yourself off to one of the local bars and order a café
- or something stronger - with the farmers whose animated discussion of
who did well with their animals... and who didn't will completely pass
you by as the conversations are mostly conducted in a fast, Norman patois that even after 10 years
completely passes me by.
To the north of Perriers-en-Beauficel (about 15 minutes by car) there is the beautiful Lac de la Dathée where you can take a gentle walk around the banks, in the summer there are sail boats for hire, there's an 18-hole golf course open to visitors and set in the hillside above the lake... or you can have a leisurely drink and a meal at the Butte aux Cerfs restaurant.
There are plenty of reasonably-priced French restaurants in the area specialising in regional menus but one particularly worthy of mention is conveniently located in the valley below La Fosse, at Brouins - l'Auberge du Moulin at the Moulin de la Sée. It is just a few minutes drive away. The food is excellent and I've provided a link to their website here. www.aubergedumoulin.net
About 15 minutes away is Le Moulin de Jean at Cuves. A restaurant perfect for a special occasion, it was opened originally by well-known chef Jean-Christophe Novelli who thought it would be an interest for his parents who lived nearby. Apparently they weren't as interested as he'd hoped so he sold his interest to his partner in the venture and the restaurant has built on its high profile origins to become one of the best restaurants in the area. www.lemoulindejean.com
We do realise that phoning restaurants to make bookings can be a little daunting - though staff at l'Auberge and Le Moulin do speak English - so we are always happy to make telephone bookings on behalf of guests. Just ask.
For walking and cycling, the Forest of St-Sever is about 15 minutes drive from La Fosse. There are 1500 hectares (that's about 3700 acres) of forest, mostly down to beech, oak and conifers. There is a small arboretun, an ornithological reserve to the north, and there are pedestrian, equestrial and mountain bike paths and "health" circuits where, as you follow the path, there are exercise obstacles to stretch your muscles... or just walk past briskly! There's a lake and, during the warmer months, a little restaurant in the forest where you can get a drink, an ice cream or a meal.
Towns of interest locally are Domfront - a medieval, walled town with panoramic views, elegant Granville on the west coast of the Cotentin peninsula which, apart from beaches, lots of good restaurants, excellent shops and a casino, has the Christian Dior Museum, particularly worth visiting in June as the rose garden is beautiful. www.musee-dior-granville.com
Another garden worth visiting is le Jardin de Jumaju which is about 15 minutes to the north of Vire. This garden has been created by a French couple and monsieur has planted about 650 roses... along with many other plants, trees and shrubs. He describes his obsession with his roses as a "maladie"! www.lejardindejumaju.com
About 30 minutes away from La Fosse is the town of Villedieu-les-Poêles - which translates literally as "God's town of the Frying Pans". A further indication of the importance of food in daily life in France. Villedieu is an attractive town which dates back to the time of William the Conqueror - there are still medieval courtyards and allies to be found - and there's a bell foundry and copper workshop open to the public.
Website for Manche Tourism - English language www.manchetourisme.com/medianet-uk.htm
Website for the Vire area, including tolf at Lac de la Dathée. www.vire-tourisme.com/pages.php?language=GBR
Le Mont-St-Michel - Which is about an hour's drive from La Fosse. We particularly recommend visits to Mont-St-Michel in the evening or early morning before it becomes too busy. http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/accueil_gb.htm