Discover the charming village of Le Bec-Hellouin with half-timbered houses and an old abbey. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Normandy and deserves a detour to be visited. Below is my guide to help you plan your stop there.
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Why visit the village of Le Bec-Hellouin?
Le Bec-Hellouin is one of the most charming villages in Normandy:
- it is built around several rows of old half-timbered houses with different colors
- the village is niched in a valley with green hills on both side
- it is home to an old abbey with a fascinating gate and peaceful environment
It is a typical Norman village that is very well maintained for the pleasure of photographers. Look at that view!
Le Bec-Hellouin is officially one of the most beautiful villages in France. It has received the Label "Les plus beaux villages de France".
And it was definitively one of my favorites.
Below is a short video to give you a snapshot of what a visit can look like.
First you have the abbey and then the village.
Planning Tips - Le Bec-Hellouin Normandy
How to get to Le Bec-Hellouin
- District of Eure
- South of the Seine River, in the heart of Normandy
- Rouen to Le Bec-Hellouin = 45min drive
- Evreux to Le Bec-Hellouin = 50min drive
- You need a car to reach the village
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- Access is easy.
- Parking is limited near the abbey but there are more spaces near the river.
- Free access to the abbey or guided visits
- The abbey is closed on Tuesdays - more info on the official website: https://abbayedubec.org/visites/
- It is easy to walk around with only slight slopes.
- Plan 2h to enjoy the village and the abbey
- But you can also enjoy a good lunch at one of the restaurants.
- Find the best rated accommodations in the area on Booking or look for options on Airbnb
Norman half-timbered houses
Many towns and villages in Normandy have a few half-timbered houses.
But in Le Bec-Hellouin, there are several rows of them.
They are impressive and pretty. They all have different colors and are well-maintained.
They simply look charming, as you can see:
As you can see in the picture above, the village is surrounded by tree-covered hills. It is nestled in the Bec Valley. (The name Bec comes from bekkr of Scandinavian origin, which means stream).
Therefore it is quite green which compliments the beautiful houses.
Plus, as you can see in all the pictures, the village government and house owners are paying attention to their gardens and lands.
Flowers and beautiful landscaping make the views even better!
It was so charming that we had a morning stop at the little cafe below (blue building on the right). It was really nice.
We wished we had been there for lunch because of the atmosphere... you just want to sit and relax.
Abbey Gate & Village history
One of the most striking architectural pieces is the gate to the Abbey of Notre-Dame-du-Bec.
And they made it even more special with the landscaping of the square.
Below is the view of the gate from the outside.
You can see
- the 2 towers with different shapes and sizes
- and the square rocks in 2 colors
And below you can see that same gate from inside the abbey. You can see more clearly the difference in size of the towers.
Le Bec-Hellouin history
You have now entered the abbey. and this is where the history of the village began.
The abbey was founded in 1034/35 by a man called Hellouin or Herluin. He was first a knight and later converted to monastic life.
It quickly became a famous spiritual center thanks to 2 famous religious Italian men who drew attention to the Abbey:
- Lanfranc of Pavia, who founded a school
- Anselm of Aosta, who developed the Christian thought and spread the spirituality
They both later became Archbishops of Canterbury.
As often, a village developed around the abbey where workers helping in maintaining the abbey would live.
The abbey was still shining during the 14th century. Sadly, in 1417, fearing an attack by the English troops, the abbot destroyed the village.
It was reformed and re-established in the 17th century.
During the revolution, the buildings were turned into barracks.
Monks finally returned in 1948.
Now that you have learnt a little about the history of the abbey, let's have a look inside.
During a free visit, there is not as much to see as in other abbeys in Normandy.
However I really enjoyed the peaceful environment of the park surrounding it. I felt so relaxed after my walk around.
You enter by a tunnel under the building.
On the other side remains a tall tower that was part of the church: The Saint Nicolas Tower. It dates back to the 15th century.
The tower is square, 11m on each side. There used to be an arrow on top but it was destroyed by a fire in 1810.
It was the Bell tower with 4 large bells but they were destroyed during the revolution.
It is quite impressive to have it, so tall, standing alone like that.
Then you can enjoy the walking path with beautiful trees and views.
On one side the monastic buildings are quite impressive with rows and rows of windows.
They are from the 18th century.
If there is no service, you can enter the current church that is quite surprising inside the same building.
It has been set up in the old refectory.
There is hardly any decoration and the lengthy ceiling is quite fascinating in my opinion.
The aisle is 75m long.
Don't forget to stop at the shop. The abbey is famous for its candles and ceramics.
Otherwise at the center the village you can also see another religious building. A small church: Saint-André
It is quite austere looking. However, it is built on a slope, so it is quite original to look at.
Until the Revolution, the church was dependent of the abbey.
Note: 2 kilometers from the abbey, there is also a convent, following the rule of Saint-Benedict, in modern buildings.
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