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Picturesque fortified town

The town of Domfront, in the Orne department of Basse-Normandie in northern France, is a mediaeval jewel with a truly historical ambience. The town has some of the best preserved ramparts and fortifications in France, and is well worth a visit if you haven't been before. The countryside around Domfront is picture book Normandy, and it really is just as you might have imagined it to be. Feast your eyes on green, pretty meadows, with a wonderful proliferation of beautiful horses. Close to Domfront you will find more dramatic scenery, with dark oak and pine forests and fast flowing rivers which provide an exciting backdrop to this part of the department.

Historical and modern

Even if you have been to Domfront before, it is the sort of place that draws you back time and time again, as if there is no end to its charms. Domfront offers the beautiful mediaeval quarter for those who love the sense of living history that this provides, and for others there is the more modern part of town, with its host of attractive cafés and bars where you can spend an idle hour or two, soaking up the atmosphere.

Feel the past…

Take a walk around the old Cité, which has some lovely half-timbered and carefully restored townhouses and pretty squares. However, you may feel the past come to life as these deceptively tranquil cobbled streets were once the site of fierce and bloody battles, and you begin to get a sense of this as you make your way around the town. The battlements are superb, with much remaining which gives a good feel for the traumatic times that the town saw during the middle ages, during the Wars of religion, and then again during the French Revolution. There is an English prison in the town, which was used first by the English, in the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, to house their prisoners of war, then by the French in the later wars. There is a haunting feel about the place, and it perhaps doesn't sit comfortably to dwell too long on the terrible things that must have taken place within the granite walled cellars!

Eating, shopping, and drinking

Whether you say, "eating, shopping and drinking", or "drinking, eating and shopping", or… you get the picture. It gives away your priorities, but any way around these three activities are a very enjoyable part of life, particularly in France. This is certainly the case in Domfront, where there are some excellent facilities for shopping, and some really lovely bars and restaurants too. In fact, this mediaeval town is well equipped to supply everything you need in the twenty-first century, so welcome to Domfront… you may never wish to leave! And when in Normandy, of course, you really must try the Camembert cheeses and Calvados apple brandy… which Domfront is more than happy to supply!

Out and about

Sports fans will be pleased to find that many sports are available in Domfront or at least nearby. You can play golf, ride horses, swim, sail, fish, cycle and walk the trails which afford you a unique view of this delightful part of France. The National Stud is also not far from Domfront at Argentan, so if you like these magnificent animals make sure you put that on your list of places to visit.

Endless possibilities for exploration

Meanwhile, the situation of Domfront in the north-west of the Orne department also offers the opportunity to take a trip to the coast, or to Brittany, or to the Pays de La Loire, just to the south-west and the south respectively. And infact the whole of the Basse-Normandie region provides an intriguing amount of possibilities for exploration as there are many lovely towns and landscapes waiting to be discovered.

How to get there

To reach Domfront by air you will need to fly to Rennes or to Cherbourg with flybe or Aer Lingus, or to Paris with a variety of airlines. Probably one of the easiest ways to travel to the town is to take a ferry, as the ports of St-Malo, Cherbourg and Le Havre are all easily accessible from Domfront.

Property prices and availability in and around Domfront

Property prices in the region as a whole are rising as it becomes more and more popular. Brittany is becoming overpriced and British buyers in particular are looking to Normandy for that accessible weekend property. There are many types of property available, including traditional farmhouses for renovation, although they do tend to be snapped up quickly!

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Domfront AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Domfront?

Domfront lies in Basse-Normandie, or Lower Normandy, which is in the north of France. The town itself is found in the north-west of the department of the Orne.

Domfront Property Map


Lower-Normandy Guide

Lower-Normandy Property Map


Orne Guide

  Orne Map

Population: 4,800

Access: By air: Fly to Cherbourg, Rennes or Paris with a variety of airlines. By boat: Sail to the ports of St-Malo, Cherbourg or Le Havre.

Economy: In common with most of Normandy, the town bases its economy on agriculture, although tourism is now a significant factor.

Interesting fact: Domfront was the birthplace of Eleanor of Aquitaine.

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