Vire, in the department of Calvados (Normandy region) is in what is known as the Bocage, that is an area of France centred on St Lo. The word refers to a kind of cultivation in which hedgerows are rooted into earthen walls of a metre or more in height. It was effective as small hold farming in earlier times.
The area is within very easy reach of any of the Channel ports (Caen and Le Havre) and a variety of beaches from smooth sand to pebbly inlets.
The town has all the usual things you would expect in a place of this size, but many of the shops are individually owned which has a charm sometimes missing in the U.K. There is also a large swimming complex with outdoor slides for the more energetic. 6km south is the Lac de la Dathée where there are paths to follow or sailboats and windsurfers to watch or join. The river Vire runs through the town on its way to the sea The Vire valley is known as little Switzerland and is a favourite with both bikers ( mountain bikes can be hired) and hikers. The spectacular Mont St Michel is about 45 minutes away.
As in all parts of France there are numerous local festivals to enjoy – the annual blessing of the sea for one, nearby Deauville has an American Film Festival and there are also Promenade concerts for the musical. There is horse riding, volley ball and even botanical walks looking for local orchids, so plenty to keep you busy and lots of chances to really enter into the spirit of France – and I am not just talking about the Calvados. There is golfing all around for its aficionados. For the gardeners among you the area has a climate similar to that of southern England, which means you can grow similar plants as well as try a few new ones and these won’t be scorched by southern heat. Buy a book about French Gardens open to the public – lots of these are in the north and will give you lots of ideas for your own new plot.
Food and Drink
The guide books will tell you that the town is worth visiting for the food alone – from its sausages to fresh river trout. Salmon come from a local dammed lake. The Friday market consists almost entirely of food.
Hôtel des Voyagers , Avenue de La Gare, Vire, Tel no: 31 68 01 16, 15€.
Hôtel du Chevel Blanc, 2 Place du 6-Juin-1944, Vire, Tel no 31 68 00 21, 14€
This would be a great area for those who want to enjoy all that living in France can hold, yet who need to maintain links with the U.K. Sextant _Properties will link you with a bi-lingual local estate agent, one who knows this area l well and who can discuss with you exactly what it is you want, how far you are prepared to go along the ‘Needs some renovation’ track and who will accompany you to suitable properties whether your choice is a small pied de terre for occasional weekends, an investment property or a future home. They can show you farms in the Swiss Normande and hamlet, village and town houses as well as new builds.