The Ferme de la Rançonnière at Crepon, near Bayeux and Arromanches, is a fortified farm, well placed for visiting the D-Day beaches (Arromanches, Ver-sur-mer etc.) - and no smallholding. The oldest building is 13th century and the final touches were added sometime in the 15th century. The buildings form three sides of an enormous courtyard, and the fourth side, on the road, is guarded by a crenellated wall - obviously a safe haven for the farmers and their stock in more troubled times. Even out of season when we visited, both restaurants (one beamed and one barrel-vaulted) were bursting with French families who had driven out into the country for Sunday lunch. A new dining room has recently been added and it's just for family parties, which means that the other two dining rooms can be more peaceful. Readers' comments on this new arrangement are welcome.

 The original 35 bedrooms, some in each of the four buildings, are mostly baronial in size and much of their furniture is appropriately massive. Rugs on the tiled floors and tapestries on many of the walls also help to keep the 21st century firmly at bay. Despite their thickness, the walls might not shield you entirely from the popularity of the dining rooms: there is now an annexe in separate farmhouses (600 m away), the Manoir de Mathan, which might suit those for whom peace is a priority. The salon-bar, a spacious room lit by an impressive fireplace and furnished with leather armchairs, is a sympathetic environment for relaxed evenings.