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Houlgate Travel Guide

Houlgate is a resort town in the Calvados region of French Normandy[1], situated in the valley of the Drochon, which is used mostly for grazing. The higher grounds of Houlgate are covered by the wood forests of Le Bois de Boulogne and Le Bois de la Butte de Caumont.[2]

Today, tourists come to Houlgate and find many attractions. The Casino de Houlgate is one of the main draws. It is a casino situated on Houlgate’s seafront and features slots, restaurants, nightclubs, and sea side bars where concert performances are not uncommon in the summer.[3]

Many visitors also like to visit the “Vaches Noires” (“Black Cows”). These seaweed-covered enormous boulders sit below cliffs and are famous among geologists for their rich fossil deposits.[4] These dark-colored cliffs also separate Houlgate from two other communes, Dives-sur-Mer and Villers-sur-Mer.[5]

The 19th century Manor of Beuzeval is another point of interest. The manor was built on the site of an older medieval castle called the Château de Beuzeval. This former castle served not only as the fief of the Aché family for centuries but at one time was the refuge of William the Conqueror in 1066 when a storm struck while he was passing by on a journey.[6]

The Château de Dramard is another interesting site of Houlgate. This 17th century manor house built with limestone is just less than two miles from the town’s center. Prior to its construction, the site hosted an older, medieval castle called the Priory of Mennetot. This manor is now used as a hotel and visitors can stay overnight there.[7]

Houlgate’s main street, La Rue des Bains, is the town’s hot spot where many of the bars and restaurants are found. Notable are the seafood and gastronomical eateries. The main street is also lined with a number of traditional shops and meat and seafood market stalls. The seafood at La Rue des Bains are always fresh off the shores of the Normandy coast.[8]

Houlgate used to be a village called Bovalis back in the Dark Ages. Up until the late 19th century, the town consisted only of a few small houses and farms surrounded by gardens and wild hedges. In the late 1800s, with the construction of the railway running near Houlgate and the increasing popularity of coastal towns as retreats in France, Houlgate soon became a weekend and holiday escape for many French residents from Caen and Paris. After the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and WWI, many luxury homes, hotels, and shops were built. The town has since become a resort retreat for the wealthy and has welcomed many celebrities and royalties over the years including Queen Ranavalo of Madagascar, Queen Isabelle II of Spain, Queen Victoria, U.S. President William Taft, and Empress of Russia, Alexandra Fyodorovna.[9]

Gaudez, René, Hervé Champollion, and Angela Moyon. Tour of Normandy. Rennes: Éditions Ouest-France, 1996. ISBN: 2737317185.

“Houlgate.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houlgate>

[1] Gaudez, 45
[2] Houlgate
[3] Id.
[4] Gaudez, 45
[5] Houlgate
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] Id.

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