Apr 02, 2023

An Idyllic Home In Normandy To Reset For 2023: La Maison Plume

La Maison Plume in Normandy, right on the river.

Normandy often conjures up images of sweeping beaches or rolling green countryside, but this beautiful little guesthouse close to 19th century writer Victor Hugo's summer house, is tethered to a loop of the Seine River, where it curves inland one last time before reaching the English Channel.

Hanging off the river banks, La Maison Plume is right on the water. At breakfast, guests tuck into croissants, locally made jams and cheeses, and fresh apple juice squeezed from fruit grown in nearby orchards, while looking out at the river, the tide carrying it to the open sea.

It's the only meal of the day served at the house, but the owners have tons of restaurant recommendations, from the local pizza joint to a Michelin star restaurant in an old Norman manor. There's an honesty bar downstairs in what used to be the house's kitchen, and cozy couches for enjoying a night cap while leafing through books on homes in France and further flung places in a separate living area.

The views of the river from La Douce room at La Maison Plume guesthouse in Normandy.

In 2016, when owners Jeanne and Simon Lozay were toying with the idea of leaving Paris for a quieter life back in their home region of Normandy, heard that the former boarding house was for sale, a landmark for Jeanne who grew up in nearby Villequier, they jumped at the chance to move in. It's known for having welcomed French writers including Guillaume Apollinaire, Louise Faure-Favier, René Dalize and André Billy, as well as artist Marie Laurencin who all sojourned here together in 1917.

Two years and two children later, the couple opened La Maison Plume with three rooms at first, adding two more later, and they will be opening a yoga studio in the coming months.

The still, soothing atmosphere in the mornings.

Surrounded by water and trees staggered up a hillside often ringed with halos of blueish mists in the early morning, the pace of life here ticks to the slow-moving river, which seems to carry away life's stresses on the water along with bits of dead wood and leaves as you look out, nestled under a blanket with a steaming cup of tea. The best view in the house is from the creaky wooden balcony upstairs outlined by a white wrought iron balustrade that wraps around L'Amour room.

All five rooms, La Douce, Le Nid studio room, Brume with its double windows looking out onto the river, the cozy La Parisienne and L'Amour, each have an enveloping warmth and restfulness about them. Painted petrol blue or blush pink, which offset the well chosen deep brown timber flea market finds dotted about the place, along with cheerful patterned linens and throws from French linens brand Le Cerise sur le Gâteau, rooms are uncluttered and tastefully put together.

The guesthouse bar and a village street nearby.

Less than an hour's drive from picturesque seaside towns of Etretat and Honfleur and the port-city of Le Havre, there's plenty of exploring to do, including taking walks along the river to Victor Hugo Museum, the Maison Vacquerie, where the writer's daughter and her fiancé liked to retreat from city life. It's also nearby that they tragically drowned, which had a great influence on Hugo and his subsequent work.

A creaky wooden house that smells like a home, being here reinstills balance and the notion of real time passing with the changing light. The rooms dim with the morning mists on the water and glow gold at sunset. A sweet little abode two hours from Paris, it's the place to come to properly reset and explore a part of Normandy that's managed to have flown under the radar.