The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

8 months ago


  • Text
  • Good life france
  • Loire valley
  • French food
  • Brittany
  • Normandy
  • Paris
  • Provence
  • France
  • Wines
  • Alsace
  • Vineyards
Brimming with fabulous features combined with stunning photographs – inspiring, entertaining and informative destination features - Provence, Loire Valley, Normandy, Lyon, Brittany, Alsace and more. Delicious recipes, culture and history, what's new, the best tours and much, much more...

draught horse used for

draught horse used for farming and hauling timber, and a lighter animal used for riding, driving and competitions. As someone who has ridden all my life but rarely experienced carriage driving, I booked a two-hour excursion from the Ferme de l’Absoudière in Cordon for a taste of traditional horsepower. And what power! Seated up beside the driver, I watch two sets of powerful hindquarters sway rhythmically to the sound of jangling harness as we trot down country lanes and forest tracks. It’s a magical if slightly bumpy way to travel! But horsepower is just one way to explore the Perche. There’s a wealth of inspiration at the Maison du Parc, administrative centre and visitor facility for the Regional Nature Park which stands in the grounds of the Manoir du Courboyer, a 15th century turreted manor house a short drive from Cordon at Nocé. Meet other local livestock breeds, buy artisan products, and sample regional farm produce such as cider, honey and cheese. This rural corner of Normandy is bisected by the GR22 and GR35, two Grande Randonnée long distance hiking trails, as well as the Chemin de Chartres leading to Mont-Saint- Michel. Or try the 220km Tour des Collines du Perche which splits neatly into eight segments for walkers and four for cycle tourists. Too energetic? Then follow one of nine tranquil driving routes that include Forests and Abbeys, Chateaux and Lakes, and Valleys and Mills. The Perche may be a rural area of farmland and forest, but it also boasts a long industrial heritage. The woods provided charcoal, the rivers powered mills and foundries, and the ground yielded raw materials of iron and clay. Watch out for the label Savoir-faire du Parc Naturel Régional du Perche to identify crafts people still using local materials. Nothing in the Perche proves to be much more than an hour from my base at the delightful Hôtel du Tribunal at Mortagne-au- Perche, a buzzing market town of just 4,500 inhabitants that was once the administrative centre for the Counts of Perche. Today the Manoir Courboyer Belleme in the Perche PNR medieval rampart walls have mostly gone but the historic streets are still dotted with fine buildings, not to mention 27 sundials. Follow the numbered panels on the Circuit du Patrimoine and prepare for some surprises. The modern medical facility, for instance, has retained the exquisite cloister of a 16th century convent. Take in the wooden roof timbers shaped like an upturned boat before heading inside the vast painted chapel. Enjoy the panoramic countryside views from the public gardens behind the Town Hall and maybe sample the town’s signature foodie treat – black pudding. Every producer has his own secret recipe. The Saturday morning market is also loaded with local foodie temptation, an atmospheric way to absorb the area’s gastronomic traditions. The Perche forests are full of impressive giant trees – particularly oak and beech - but equally arresting are the lofty twin towers of the Chappelle de Montligeon, built between 1896 and 1911 by parish priest Abbé Buguet. His aim was to deliver souls left in purgatory and promote social justice and whilst the basilica is today a place of pilgrimage, it is also a business centre based on the printing works that he founded. Pop inside to admire the stained-glass windows. Local commerce is largely small scale. Expect small, artisan businesses such as antique dealers and galleries, bookshops, woodworkers, and furniture restorers, not to mention family-run restaurants and tea rooms. Outside Mortagne-au-Perche, I find Chez Nous Campagne, where Cécile Schmitt combines a boutique selling interior décor items with a tearoom and gîte business, all in one tempting package. And there is more retail temptation in Bellême, former capital of the Perche, and in nearby La Perrière. Both have been labelled Petites Cités de Caractère by the Orne department along with Longny-au-Perche. Gifts to take home? Try La Savonnerie de La Chappelle in Bellême for soaps, candles, and a whole lot more, and don’t miss Chocolaterie 32 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 33