Retro, trendy, old-fashioned, timeless… the 2CV is a French icon renowned around the world for its vintage charm, noisy engine, clunky gears and cheerful paintwork. For many people, the image of a 2CV trundling down a country lane epitomises France almost as much as the humble baguette. Now you can experience the 2CV for yourself in Normandy’s stunning Pays d’Auge as part of a package offered by the Domaine des Geffosses. Holidaymakers Serge and Emmanuelle went to test it out…

Staying at the Domaine de Geffosses

What could be better than a country retreat? One where famous novelist Gustave Flaubert used to live, that’s what. The beautiful Domaine de Geffosses in the Pays d’Auge has eight rooms, a terrace for relaxing on sunny days, and three gites. Our room boasts two lovely views, one of the pond and one of a field full of donkeys, goats and ponies. It’s idyllic and quiet, yet just a short walk from the town of Pont-l’Evêque. Plus there are deckchairs in the garden just waiting to reclined on!

© D. Dumas

Mastering the ‘umbrella on wheels’

The next day, we meet Solenn, who gives us some pointers on driving a 2CV. We make a mental note of everything he says, but soon realise just how different it is once we get in the driving seat! It’s kind of how I’d imagine driving a tractor. Once keyless ignition is turned on, the engine emits its signature roar and it’s time to try and master the old-school gearstick, which could be a challenge but should be a laugh at least! After confusing first with second gear a few times, which actually turned out to be fourth (only we thought it was third), we decide to take the car for a trial run around a roundabout, so appropriately situated it’s like it was put there to test 2CVs. The seats sway as we turn the corner, then we’re on our way to explore the small country lanes of the Pays d’Auge.

Now we’re used to the 2CV, we can fully enjoy our bucolic surroundings as we cruise at the leisurely pace of 25mph. Our first stop is lunch at Le P’tit Beaumont in Beaumont-en-Auge. This chocolate-box village is absolutely stunning and its countryside bistrot does not disappoint. The owner is welcoming, our table is perfect, and the food is both of a high quality and reasonably priced. After lunch, we’re excited to spy the sea from the look-out point next to the village square, before setting off for Deauville, once again sticking to the country lanes.

Star quality

With the sun now high in the sky, we decide to fold down the roof, which is straightforward enough despite the old-fashioned design. Our trusty 2CV takes us to the family beach in Bénerville before continuing down the the Boulevard de la Mer towards chic filmstar hotspot Deauville. It’s impossible to go unnoticed here, and we attract lots of looks as we pass by. We then head for the heights of next-door Trouville-sur-Mer, where the panoramic views are just exceptional, before stopping off for a ‘waffles and refreshments’ pitstop on the famous boardwalk.

Back in the car, we take the scenic route back to Pont l’Evêque, passing through Touques, Bonneville-sur-Touques and Englesqueville-en-Auge, and stopping in the pretty village of Saint-Hymer to see the former laundrette of La Mère Denis, a local celebrity. We finally return to our hotel just in time for dinner at the nearby Auberge des Dominicaines in Pont l’Evêque.

A LASTING IMPRESSION

In conclusion, we absolutely loved exploring the Pays d’Auge in our 2CV! Funny how we now refer to it as ours… It’s slow, it’s beau, it’s vintage, and judging by the looks we got from the people we passed, it still evokes so much happiness and nostalgia.

The Pays d’Auge

The Pays d’Auge is archetypal Normandy, with its picturesque apple orchards and chocolate-box villages, among them Beuvron-en-Auge (one of France’s most beautiful villages), Cambremer and Camembert. The Pays d’Auge extends across three départements – Calvados, Orne and Eure – and is home to Normandy’s Cider Route as well as three out of the four famous Normandy cheeses.

Landscape of Beaumont en Auge in Normandy, France © Delphotostock/Fotolia.com

Where to stay

Domaine de Geffosses
14130 Pont-l’Évêque
domainedegeffosses.fr

Open all year round

A full day (9am-6pm) costs around €240
Rooms start at €71
Breakfast starts at €9.90

Where to eat

Restaurant Le P’tit Beaumont
20 rue du Paradis, 14950 Beaumont-en-Auge
le-ptit-beaumont.com-book.com
€17 for a three-course set menu (lunch)

Auberge des Dominicaines
63 rue Saint-Michel, 14130 Pont-l’Évêque
normandie-tourisme.fr/restaurants/auberge-des-dominicaines
€20 for a three-course set menu (dinner)

Terms & Conditions

To benefit from this package, 2CVs must be booked via the Domaine de Geffosses

You will be asked to pay an advance safety deposit of €1,500

Drivers must be 21 or older

Please bring a form of photo ID and a photocopy of your driving licence otherwise you will not be allowed to drive.

The iconic 2CV

Affectionately nicknamed ‘deudeuche’ and ‘umbrella on wheels’ by the French, the 2CV first came out in 1948 just after World War II, and after over 40 years of manufacture, has asserted its place in the automobile hall of fame among the most iconic cars of all time.

Cocktail-making at the Benedictine Palace

Cocktail-making at the Benedictine Palace

Aqua walking in Normandy

Aqua walking in Normandy