Combined 30th and 60th birthday celebrations.

October half term 2011.

We have tried to find somewhere which satisfies the following criteria, as far as possible:

Enough accommodation for everyone who might want to come, with enough bedrooms to sleep two to a room, roughly speaking.

A decent sized dining room which can fit everyone in for a meal.

Reasonably accessible to everyone, bearing in mind that some people may only be able to come for two or three days and wonít want to spend too long travelling. Strangely enough, almost all of the workers are now south of Lancashire, and itís mostly retired folk with time on their hands who live north of the ship canal.

A pleasant place with some interesting things to do in late October.

Reasonably priced.



There is a large, old, and externally rather tatty manor house at Ypreville-Biville in Normandy, which is let through the official Gites de France organisation. Inside it looks lovely. Ypreville is fairly easy to get to. It is 150 miles from Calais, and all but the last 8 miles is on the motorway, so it should only take a couple of hours. Alternatively, it is 40 miles from Dieppe, 30 miles from Le Havre and 130 miles from Boulogne. The main line trains from Paris to Le Havre stop at Yvetot, which is 12 miles away. There are trains every hour or two, and they take an hour and a half from Paris and half an hour from Le Havre.

This part of Normandy is pleasant enough. Ypreville is 7 miles from the sea, and 17 from Etretat, where Monet, amongst others, used to idle his time away ( It is within walking distance of the tiddly little town of Valmont, which seems to be able to manage a large monastery and a chateau, and not much else.



You can find a description of the house, complete with photos and video clips, on Type in Ypreville Biville as the commune and set the next box to Ďsur placeí. The house is number 2010. It has 7 bedrooms, sleeps 15 and takes at least one dog. It has a dining room which it says will take 50, though on the video clip of it there are only places at table set for 20. The old manor has actually been split into two, and it looks as though the other half is currently used as a farmhouse. The half used as a gite has its own driveway, access to the farmhouse being from a different direction. With a bit of persistence you can find it on google earth. From Ypreville Biville go north on the Route de Valmont, turn right on to the Route de la Chapelle, turn left at the cross roads (Sorquainville will be to the right) and then immediately turn right across the middle of a field. Pass through the gate between two buildings and the road bends round to the left to the turning circle at the front of the house.

This house would not be enough to sleep everyone who may wish to come, but there is an old farmhouse a couple of miles away, as far as I can pin it down, which is split into two sizeable gites which would do for extra sleeping accommodation. You can find it on the gites-de-france site by putting Riville as the commune. The gites are numbers 1010 and 1231. One has 4 bedrooms and sleeps 9 and the other has 5 bedrooms and sleeps 10. The best plan of action would probably be to book the manor house and then book first one half and then the other half of the farmhouse if sufficient people expressed an interest in coming.




The final cost will obviously depend on how many people come and how neatly they fit into the accommodation. It would also perhaps seem reasonable to charge the people who can only stay for two or three days less than those who will stay the full week, but we would need to think about that. I donít think that we would be able to rent any of the gites for just the weekend, as it is the half term holiday, so we will have to pay for the full week whatever. There isnít actually much difference in cost between a whole week and a couple of days anyway.

I think that at worst it would be an average of about 100 Euros per head, including heating, dropping to about 70 Euros if the number of people coming matches the space well.

The cheapest and most convenient way of getting there is probably four people in a car, taking the Dover-Calais crossing. The tunnel will cost you between £50 and £70 each way for a car full. There is a short section of toll motorway south of Boulogne, but I think it only costs about 7 euros. Of course you should easily be able to recoup the transport costs by slipping a few 5 litre boxes of Ormes de Cambras Merlot ( in the boot on the journey home.

One point to note is that the houses are let Saturday to Saturday. If, come October, there is nobody booked into one of the houses the week before we are going then I would think that we could easily negotiate a Friday to Friday let for that one, which would give early arrivers somewhere to stay.

What to do next

Please tell Lyndsay if you would like to be booked in, and how long you think that you are likely to be able to stay for.