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Tourist Information Center
Our holiday advisers, true experts of the destination, offer you irreplaceable enlightened advice to make the most of your stay in Normandy. Documentation, sound advice, entertainment program, good addresses and tips… Before arriving and once there, the 5 Tourist Offices of Authentic Normandy are at your service. Welcome !
Lisieux Tourist Office
11, rue d’alençon 14100 lisieux, lisieux tourist office is open all year long :, april to may.
From monday to saturday : 9h30-12h30 et 13h30-18h00
Closed on sunday
June to September
Sunday : 9h30-13h30
October to March
From monday to saturday : 9h30-12h30 et 13h30-17h30
Closed on monday afternoons from November to March
Open during following bank holidays : May 1st, May 8th, May 21st, July 14th, August 15th
Orbec tourist office, 6, rue grande 14290 orbec, orbec tourist office is open all year long :, april to september.
From monday to friday : 9h30-12h30 et 13h30-17h30
Closed on satuday and sunday (except some saturdays and during October’s holidays)
- 40 spaces on the Place du parvis
- 1 disable person space in front of the Tourist office
Livarot Pays d’Auge Maison France Services
Tourist information point, 1 place georges bisson 14140 livarot pays d’auge, the livarot pays d’auge maison france services de livarot pays d’auge is open all year long :.
From monday to friday : 8h30-12h30 et 14h00-18h00 Saturday : 9h30-12h30 et et 14h00-17h30 Closed on sunday
Saint-pierre-en-auge maison de services au public, rue de l’abbatiale, saint-pierre-sur-dives 14170 saint-pierre-en-auge, the saint-pierre-en-auge maison de services au public il open all year long :.
Monday : 8h30-12h30 et 14h00-17h00 From tuesday to friday : 8h30-12h30 et 14h00-18h00 Saturday : 9h30-12h30 et et 14h00-17h30 Closed on sunday
Cambremer Maison de Services au Public
2 place de la mairie 14340 cambremer, the cambremer maison de services au public is open all year long :.
From tuesday to saturday : 9h30-12h30 et 14h00-18h00 Closed on sunday and monday
Contact the Tourist office
By postal mail :, office de tourisme de la communauté d’agglomération lisieux normandie, 11 rue d’alençon 14100 lisieux, tél. : (+33)2 31 48 18 10.
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Normandy Tourism, France
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Updated on 17 August 2021
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Get the most from your visit to Normandy with our digital brochures, maps and travel guides , designed to give you an in-depth look at what you can expect to find in our beautiful region. Search below for specific brochures, maps or guides to download, or browse the full collection. Find inspiration and information to plan your perfect holiday to Normandy, whatever your interests.
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Let Normandy put the spring in your step
The boardwalk of Deauville is legendary, tempting visitors to tread in the steps of the stars of cinema in between a spot of fabulous shopping in the town’s prestigious stores and a visit to the number one attraction in Normandy – the Mont-Saint-Michel . However, as extraordinary as it is, this icon of monastic art doesn’t totally eclipse other exceptional Norman treasures. When you visit Normandy you’ll discover bucolic countryside where delicious cheeses abound, majestic cliffs steeped in myth, and unspoiled seaside towns immortalised by the painters of the Impressionist movement. There are immense sandy beaches, some of which are memorials to key events of the Second World War.
A land of memorials.
At Omaha Beach , near Colleville-sur-Mer, 9387 surnames are recorded on simple white crosses planted in an ocean of pristine lawn: An homage to the American soldiers of World War II who fell during the Battle for Normandy in 1944. Between Sainte-Marie du Mont and Ouistreham, five Normandy landing beaches safeguard the memory of the largest amphibious and airborne operation of all time. And in Caen, at the Peace Memorial , extraordinary museography plunges visitors into the dark atmosphere of the greatest conflict in history. Go back much further in time to 1066 and The Battle of Hastings when William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, conquered England. The almost thousand year old history of the dramatic events is captured in the Bayeux Tapestry , a 70-metre-long embroidered chronicle and an incredible masterpiece of Romanesque art.
Cinema in Normandy
Make your cinematic debut in Deauville! Just head to the famous boardwalk: 643 metres of wooden walkway which hosts the movie elite each September for the American Film Festival . Think Hollywood Hall of Fame meets Normandy as the names of the finest in film are featured alongside Deauville’s Art Deco boardwalk beach huts…
Located in a beautiful bay, the remarkable silhouette of the castle perched atop a rocky island is an unforgettable sight. If you visit Normandy then you’re sure to want to visit the Mont Saint-Michel . But how do you reach it when it’s cut off by the tide? One way is to take a free shuttle bus that drops passengers off just 400 metres from the entrance. But, for the most glorious views of the island, the best way to visit is on foot via the pedestrianised bridge. When you arrive, climb steep stairs which rise between the quaint shops and medieval courtyards to reach the highlight of Mont Saint-Michel: The Abbey. This major site of Christian pilgrimage has witnessed 13 centuries of history. Visit the former dining hall with its imposing chimneys, the scriptorium, refectory and cloisters from where you will have the most beautiful views over the bay.
Normandy, the cradle of impressionism
When you visit Normandy, you walk in the footsteps of Claude Monet , considered a leader of the Impressionist movement. He spent the winter of 1868 painting in the port of Etretat and was drawn by its beauty to return many times. The changing light and vistas on the dizzying white chalk cliffs inspired several artists to capture its splendour on canvas. But it was at Le Havre that Claude Monet created Impression, Sunrise - the painting which gave its name to the aesthetic movement. Facing the sea, the Museum of Modern Art André Malraux - MuMa Le Havre reflects this artistic birth: The Impressionist collection is the second most important in France after the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Monet lived in Le Havre and explored the Normandy coast from there for several years. But, it was in Giverny , a small village in the Eure not far from Paris, that he settled in 1883, sealing the link between Normandy and Ile-de-France, the two cradles of Impressionism . In Giverny, the Claude Monet Foundation today ensures that the artist’s house and gorgeous gardens are preserved as they were when he lived there. Don’t miss a trip to the Musée des Impressionnismes when you visit Giverny, here you’ll discover how the movement achieved global recognition.
Complete your exploration at the beautiful Castle Museum at Dieppe harbour, where the vogue for sea bathing in France was born. Impressionism is well represented here with works by Pissaro and Boudin who was himself a native of Normandy.
You can’t have great Norman cheese without great Norman cows . They’re a breed renowned for the quality of their milk. Normandy’s cheeses often have distinctive aromas, just think of Camembert which originated in a village of the same name. Since it was adored by Napoleon III, it’s success had the royal seal of approval. Click here to discover all about Norman cheeses.
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NORMANDY - an area guide
A short guide to the normandy region of france.
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The areas of Normandy
Towns and cities in Normandy
Getting to normandy :.
- By train from Paris Gare Saint Lazare. Buy tickets online at Trainline.com
- Direct access by ferry from the UK, to Cherbourg, Caen (Ouistreham), Le Havre or Dieppe.
- By air: access by plane to Paris or (for western Normandy) to Rennes, Caen or Deauville See Fly to France
Main tourist attractions in Normandy
- Giverny : (near Vernon, 27) Visit the home of the greatest Impressionist, Claude Monet, and the Giverny Museum of Impressionism - formerly the Museum of American art. There are more works by the major Impressionists in the museums at Rouen and Le Havre (see below).
- Caen (14), a large part of which was destroyed in the Second World War, has a Memorial museum of the Normandy Landings and the Liberation
- The Normandy Beaches (14) - the site of the D-Day Landings in World War 2 - Omaha Beach, Juno Beach, Utah Beach and the others. The landings are commemorated in monuments, museums and the war graves of the thousands who gave their lives. Normandy beach Coach tours depart from Bayeux .
- Bayeux (14), attractive old Norman town where the historic Bayeux tapestry was made, and is still preserved, 900 years after it was made. The museum is open 7/7. Departure point of coach tours of the Normandy beaches.
- Falaise (14) - impressive Medieval fortress with museum, museum of Civilian life during the War, birthplace of William the Conqueror.
- The Lower Normandy seaside (14) Between the Seine and Caen, the coast of lower Normandy offers a succession of genteel seaside resorts, including Trouville, Houlgate and Cabourg, etc. - resorts that flourished in the ninetenth century, as the closest to Paris.
- Honfleur (14) Attractive small port at the mouth of the Seine. Old harbour with picturesque quayside; Eugène Boudin museum. St Catherine's church, from the 15th century, is the largest historic wooden church in France.
- Rouen (76), with its quays on the river Seine, its picturesque historic centre, with half-timbered houses, an ancient clock, and a magnificent gothic cathedral, one of the finest in France. The Rouen Fine Arts museum - musée des beaux arts - has the best collection of works by the Impressionists outside Paris, plus a broad collection of old masters from 15th century to the 20th century, including Rubens, Velasquez, Poussin and many more. There is also the Joan of Arc museum .
- Le Havre (76) -In the 1950's, the old town, destroyed in the war, was rebuilt in concrete by architect Auguste Perret, to the wishes of the Communist city council. This example of postwar urban planning is classed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
- Le Havre: (76) Musée Malraux : one of the best museums outside Paris for impressionism & fauvism. Large collection of 19th & 20th century masters including Monet, Renoir, Boudin, Marquet, Pissaro and many others
- The White Cliffs of Etretat (76) - the most famous cliffs in France.
- Pays d'Auge (14, 61) - the archetypal Norman countryside, with its small villages and traditional half-timbered cottages.
- La Suisse Normande (14, 61) - the highest hills in Normandy, around 1000 ft., loved by hikers and ramblers - though they are a long way from being mountains.
- Le Mont Saint Michel , (50) the world famous medieval abbey built on a rock in the bay - a UNESCO world heritage site. One of France's most visited historic monuments.
- Le Cotentin: (50) countryside, cliffs and sandy beaches, on this granite promontory jutting out into the English Channel. The Cotentin coastline, from Juno beach up to Cherbourg, and then down again to Mont Saint Michel, has numerous attractive beaches and small seaside towns, many of them free from crowds even in high summer.
- Granville : (50) - small town on the west coast of the Cotentin peninsula, standing on a fortified promontory overlooking the bay of Mont Saint Michel. Fishing and pleasure port, modern art museum, aquarium, attractive old town and a Christian Dior museum of fashion.
- Le Cité de la Mer, Cherbourg : (50) Devoted to underwater exploration, the museum includes a visit of the Redoutable, the biggest visitable sub in the world, plus the deepest aquarium in Europe.
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The Mont Saint-Michel – Normandy Tourist Office is a team of 36 employees who are delighted to welcome you all year round throughout the Mont Saint-Michel destination.
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Normandy Travel Guide
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18 Best Things To Do in Normandy
Updated February 11, 2021
Normandy's attractions are spread across the region, so we suggest you either spend a few days in just one or two towns or you set aside a week or two, rent a car and see a cache. If you're a foodie, you'll enjoy the bounty in Trouville and Honfleur
- All Things To Do
D-Day Beaches D-Day Beaches free
World War II's successful Operation Overlord took place on the coast of France. Although there were heavy Allied casualties, this invasion turned the tide in the war and helped lead to the fall of Nazi Germany. Today this piece of coastline, which includes Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah beaches, is collectively known as the D-Day Beaches.
Visitors can tour the approximately 50-mile stretch of sand and pop by a number of museums, memorials and cemeteries that are spread out alongside the coastline either with a tour or on their own. If you're driving yourself, start in the town of Arromanches, which hosts two museums that help provide context for the battle sites. The American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer and the Pointe-du-Hoc bomb craters are also especially moving. If you'd rather let someone else do the driving, recent visitors recommend going with a tour guide to fully appreciate the area's historic importance and receive a comprehensive overview. If you're visiting in June, you'll likely come across several ceremonies and reenactment groups commemorating the anniversary. Thanks to Normandy's unpredictable weather, you'll want to dress in layers (no matter the time of your visit) and bring rain gear, according to past visitors.
Mont Saint-Michel Abbey (Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel) Mont Saint-Michel Abbey (Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel)
Surrounded by sea in the high tide and sand in low, Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel is one of France's most-toured sites outside of the popular Parisian landmarks. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its first incarnation was raised on the 264-foot-high rock beginning in the 10th century, but additions were added well into the 19th century. Today, you can tour the abbey and the little village at its base, as well as several museums. Tours are offered year-round, but you can also traipse the massive structure on your own.
Guided tours – which are included in the cost of admission – do not require advance booking and are offered in French and English year-round. Tours are also offered in German, Italian and Spanish in July and August.
Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen free
Dating back to the 12th century, this Gothic cathedral was the world's tallest building for about five years – 1876 to 1880. But its beauty in changing light is what drew the impressionist artist, Claude Monet, whose work can be viewed at the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rouen , to paint it several times. Today, the cathedral is one of the defining pieces of architecture in this part of Normandy. Aside from its striking architecture, it's also famous for its tombs – one of which houses the heart of Richard the Lionheart.
Visitors recommend going inside to view the many parts of this working Roman Catholic cathedral, including the lovely stained glass in the Lady Chapel, the transepts and the ambulatory monuments. Others add that it is worth coming at night in the summer to see the free light shows displayed outside. Reviewers also recommended reading up on the history of the church before you visit to enhance your experience and develop a better understanding of the many architectural styles on display.
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial free
Somewhere around 9,000 soldiers are buried in this Colleville-sur-Mer war cemetery, which overlooks Omaha Beach . Most of these lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. There's also a memorial that gives a narrative of the invasion, as well as a reflecting pool and a chapel. And about 1,500 soldiers who were missing-in-action are remembered on the Walls of the Missing, in a semicircle garden to the east of the memorial.
Recent visitors advised setting aside more time than you think you might need, as there is a lot to take in and you don't want to rush through such a moving place. Several others recommended visiting with a tour company to enjoy a more in-depth understanding of the site's significance. Companies like Normandy Sightseeing Tours , Bayeux Shuttle and Paris City Vision earn high praise from past visitors.
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen
The sprawling Museum of Fine Arts features paintings, sculptures, drawings and objets d'art that date back to the 15th century. Throughout the 19th century, generous donations made the museum home to one of the largest impressionist collections in France, with paintings by masters such as Monet, Sisley, Caillebotte, Pissarro, Degas and Renoir. Other highlights include works by Perugino, Veronese, Rubens, Caravaggio, Velázquez, Ribera and Poussin.
Recent visitors praised the museum's collection of impressionist works and the impressive range of styles represented here. For many, viewing Monet's paintings of the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen was a particular highlight. However, reviewers advised going in with a plan, as the museum can be a little hard to navigate.
Claude Monet's House and Garden Claude Monet's House and Garden
Who doesn't love water lilies, haystacks and gardens? Claude Monet, one of the world's most famous impressionists, lived and painted many of these subjects in his home in Giverny. Today, Monet fans can tour his excellently preserved home, studio and gardens. Among the highlights are the water garden (home to his famous water lilies) and the artist's house (especially the kitchen and the blue sitting room), which has been meticulously restored.
Recent visitors raved about the house and gardens, but many expressed disappointment with the crowds. If you want to avoid the onslaught of visitors, heed the advice of reviewers and visit right when the attraction opens to avoid the tour buses that descend in the afternoon. Others suggested visiting the lily ponds first and saving your house visit until the end.
Bayeux War Cemetery Bayeux War Cemetery free
The Bayeux War Cemetery is one of the largest of 18 military cemeteries in Normandy, with more than 4,000 graves – many of which mark the plots of soldiers who were never identified. These headstones are inscribed with "A Soldier Known Unto God." Keep in mind that if you're an American looking for your ancestors, you'll most likely have more luck at the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer . The Bayeux War Cemetery contains soldiers from the United Kingdom and "the Continent," including some from Germany.
Recent visitors found the cemetery to be quite moving and somber. Others said this is a "must-see," applauding the beautiful grounds.
Eglise Jeanne d'Arc Eglise Jeanne d'Arc free
This modern-looking church sits on the site of Jeanne d'Arc's (or Joan of Arc, to us Yanks) burning. The 19-year-old girl was burned at the stake for heresy in 1431. Today, you can tour this contemporary church built in 1979 (the exterior of which is reminiscent of fish scales) at Place du Vieux-Marche in Rouen. Pay attention to the building's design – the architect, Louis Arretche, wanted it to resemble the shape of an overturned boat.
Recent visitors loved the church's gorgeous stained-glass windows and say it was quite moving to be in the spot where Joan of Arc was killed.
Etretat Cliffs Etretat Cliffs free
These stunning white chalk cliffs have drawn people, especially artists, such as Claude Monet and Guy de Maupassant, to the area for eons. The cliffs are often compared to the famous White Cliffs of Dover. Visitors can hike along the top of cliffs, as well as on the beach to check out the striking sight.
Recent visitors were astonished at the beauty of the cliffs and recommended visiting at sunrise and sunset for spectacular photo ops. Others suggested hiking to the top of the cliffs for unforgettable views. Reviewers also reported touring the town of Étretat.
Museum of Modern Art André Malraux Museum of Modern Art André Malraux
This Le Havre art museum, located in a bright 1960s glass-and-metal building, boasts enormous plate glass windows that perfectly allow in the famous light that has fascinated artists for decades. This museum was actually the first to be built after the war. Le Havre's original Museum of Fine Arts was destroyed by bombing in 1944. Two local painters who immortalized the Normandy coast are highlighted here. The collection of works by Raoul Dufy includes oils, watercolors and sketches. Works by Eugène Boudin include his Normandy beach scenes and landscapes. It also has a number of works by Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley and Degas.
Past visitors raved about the museum's stunning coastal location and the collection of impressionist works. Others praised the friendly, knowledgeable staff.
Bayeux Tapestry Museum Bayeux Tapestry Museum
You might ask why on earth would you make a stop to see a tapestry when Camembert cheese, hard cider and the rolling Normandy hills are beckoning? Well, because the Bayeux Tapestry, an astonishingly long and beautifully made work of art, chronicles the 1066 Battle of Hastings.
The approximately 230-foot-long tapestry is displayed in a dark room with special lighting, so you can see every detail. Though it's described as a tapestry, it is actually linen cloth embroidered with wool thread. In another room of the museum, a permanent exhibition describes how it was made and gives an overview of the historical context and the Anglo-Norman kingdom in the 11th century. There is also a short 16-minute film, which details the making of the tapestry and includes reconstructions of scenes from the Battle of Hastings.
Mémorial de Caen Mémorial de Caen
This museum details events leading up to WWII as well as its decadeslong aftermath, with exhibits ranging from photos and documents charting the Nazi's rise to power in the 1930s, to life before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A tabletop map shows the location of the D-Day landings and a split-screen presentation of the D-Day invasion from both the Allied and Nazi standpoints gives a good overview. A 17-minute film, called "Europe Our History," is shown in a 360-degree theater and included with admission. Outside, you'll find three gardens dedicated to the memory of the Resistance fighters and Allied soldiers who died in Normandy.
Recent visitors appreciated the comprehensive and educational way the museum covers the war. Others said a visit here is a must before a trip to the D-Day Beaches as it provides important context to the sites. Reviewers said you should plan to spend half a day here to make the most of the museum's offerings and that the audio guide is essential. One particular highlight for travelers was the reconstructed underground bunker of a Nazi general.
Musée du Débarquement Musée du Débarquement
The Musée du Débarquement, located on the seafront where one of the most incredible achievements of WWII happened, shows how the prefabricated Mulberry Harbour was constructed. An engineering feat, the harbors were used to unload troops, vehicles and supplies during the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. While not much is left of the floating harbors, you can still see some remnants of the concrete blocks that were towed across the English Channel. Museum exhibits include models, mock-ups, and photographs depicting its creation and the D-Day landings.
Recent visitors praised the small museum's models and explanations of how the harbor was conceived. However, some said its exhibits are a little dated.
Palais Bénédictine Palais Bénédictine
Bénédictine liqueur is a big deal in Normandy and if you want to learn more about it, as well as take in the Palais Bénédictine – a Gothic- and Renaissance-inspired building erected in the late 1800s – this is the spot. Le Palais Bénédictine was built in honor of the Bénédictine liqueur by Alexandre Le Grand, a wine merchant from Fécamp who discovered a lost recipe for a potent elixir dating back to 1510 created by a Bénédictine monk. Le Grand named the liqueur after the monks. He also stocked the palace with his art collection.
Today, visitors can explore the museum on a guided tour, which features collections of sacred and ancient art related to the legacy of Bénédictine, as well as a room dedicated to its industrial history. After the museum tour, you head to the only Bénédictine distillery in the world and enjoy a tasting of the liqueur in the palace's Winter Garden.
Chateau Gaillard Chateau Gaillard
This castle fortress was amazingly built in a mere two years, between 1196 and 1198, at the direction of Richard the Lionheart, King of England and the Duke of Normandy to protect Rouen against the French. It was captured by Philip II after a six-month siege; Henry IV later ordered that it be destroyed. Today, its clifftop ruins are a reminder of its dramatic past and a fascinating place to visit.
Recent visitors were fascinated by the complex history of the fortress. Others raved about the views and recommend bringing a picnic to enjoy on the grounds. According to recent travelers, there is a large free parking lot within walking distance.
Historial Jeanne d’Arc Historial Jeanne d’Arc
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Cité de la Mer Cité de la Mer
Airborne Museum Airborne Museum
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14 of the best things to do in Normandy
Feb 27, 2023 • 15 min read
Here are Normandy's best experiences © LightFieldStudios / Getty Images
Normandy : the northwest region of France rolls off an English-speaking tongue as easily as a French one.
It’s known for its bucolic countryside and impossibly long stretches of beach where the famous D-Day landings took place during WWII. Beyond the shores lies much to discover: a rich literary history, four protected designation of origin cheeses, and of course, the iconic Mont St-Michel, a surreal Gothic abbey dating from the 13th century set on top of an island that appears to float like a mystical dream on water during high tide.
But the floating abbey is just the tip of an iceberg of things to do in the region, which can be divided into two main sections. There’s La Normandie Haut, or upper Normandy aka the Parisian’s Normandie, accessible by train and dotted with beachgoers and casino gamblers in Deauville and Trouville. Then there’s La Basse Normandie, or lower Normandy, which is much farther from the country’s capital and offers sights and tastes a bit more off-the-beaten-track. For those who are in need of a deep breath of fresh air, here are the very best things to do, eat and see in Normandy that’ll leave you wanting to come back for more.
1. Holiday like a Parisian in seaside Deauville
For those with busy schedules that want to carve out a weekend with fresher seaside air, a quick train ride will take you from the bustling French capital to the calmer and more relaxed shores of the Côte Fleurie. One popular destination is the glamorous beachside town Deauville. There you’ll find locals with their sunglasses on and sleeves rolled, strolling in loose linen outfits that perfectly match the white sand beaches dotted with colorful umbrellas. Along the shore you’ll find Les Planches, 1920s wooden art-deco changing cabins bearing the names of Hollywood stars who’ve attended the town’s yearly fall American film festival .
If proximity to fame makes you hungry, get the perfect meal at L’Etoile Sur Mers where you can pick out seafood that will freshly cookedand served (though the uni – or sea urchin – is exceptional raw). Equestrian fans can head to the Deauville-La Touques racecourse, where the fiberglass sand track allows for races even in the winter, or sit on a plush leather chair and test your luck at one of the many spinning bright lights of the slot machines at the Casino Barriere.
Planning tip: If you’re making the trip from Paris, book train tickets in advance online . You could also save up to 30% on train fares.
Explore Deauville effortlessly with GetYourGuide . Book your tour today.
2. Tour Caen Castle and visit the Caen Memorial Museum
Caen is the capital city of the Calvados department of Normandy and has a history going back to Roman times. Today you can still spot stone houses from the Middle Ages in the Vaugueux neighbohood, and history buffs should check out this unique tour with Viking specialist, Laurence. With tours available in both English and French, you’ll visit the castle , town hall, and both the men’s monastery ( L’Abbaye-aux-Hommes ) and the nunnery ( L’Abbaye-aux-Dames ).
On rainy days (chances: high, bring an umbrella), you can head inside to the Caen Memorial Museum that sits atop an old German bunker. One of the most visited memorials by the French, this sprawling museum covers an immense amount of ground (plan at least three hours). Despite the breadth of information, there is an uniquely intimate glimpse of the past offered through artefacts: shoes and uniforms that belonged to the actual soldiers, newspapers and propaganda of the day and even a wartime wedding dress made from a parachute.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Le Bouchon Du Vaugueux for a taste of traditional dishes of the terroir made from locally-sourced seasonal products in a snug and convivial space – hone your French-listening skills by eavesdropping on neighboring conversations.
Planning tip: The Memorial Museum, despite a deceptively grand entrance, can get really crowded in the mornings with tour groups. Visit in the afternoon for more breathing room.
3. Sample Camembert on a Normandy cheese tour
In French, there’s a saying “en faire tout un fromage” , which essentially means to make a big fuss, or cheese, out of something. It’s used in a chiding manner, but let’s be real: French cheese is something that deserves a big fuss. Normandy doesn’t lack in the cheese department, and each of the famous four has a hometown you can visit. There’s the world-famous Camembert, which is creamy and soft. Livarot, which is a soft and stinky cheese made from the local Normandy breed of cows. Pont l’Evêque is a square and soft cheese that reached the height of its fame during the 14th century, and offers a subtle hazelnut taste. Finally, there’s Neufchâtel, another soft cheese made from raw milk that also has the honor of being the oldest cheese from the region, and usually comes in a heart-shape. All are worth a taste, but a visit to the Fromagerie Reo in Lessay merits a visit above the rest. Tour the factory to see first-hand how Camembert is made there with a brilliant English-speaking guide and best of all, at the end, you get a to sample the cheese.
Detour: If you’ve got enough dairy and have an interest in antique vehicles, head to the nearby Paul’s Classic Cars , where you can look at vintage collection cars like a 1961 Austin Healy and a 1966 Ford Mustang. While there are many Americans obsessed with French cheese, it’s charming to meet one Frenchman obsessed with American cars – most of them are imported from California.
4. See the famous 11th-century tapestry in Bayeux
Before there was Netflix, there was the Bayeux Tapestry , an 11th-century 70m-long (230ft) scroll of hand-embroidered wool thread on linen that tells the story of the Norman Conquest of England. And incredibly, this rare piece of art is just as mesmerizing as it ever was. At the museum, you enter a dark and cool chamber wrapped with tales of 1066: warfare, kings being crowned, kidnappings, farming, and even a comet. This one-of-a-kind piece radiates with a strange magic; since it was commissioned shortly after William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings, it’s as if the emotions of the time were captured through thread and needle by those who lived and witnessed the events.
5. Frolic at the colorful beach huts at Gouville-sur-Mer
Sometimes the most beautiful sights are the unexpected and unassuming: impressive Gothic cathedrals are nice, but after a while all of that grandeur can tire the eye. Take refuge in the pleasing line of white beachside changing cabins with bright primary color roofs in red, yellow and blue that turn the natural landscape of Gouville-sur-Mer into a painting one can meander in. The cabins were originally built for vacationers in the 1920s, disappeared during the German occupation and were reinstated post-liberation – now, there are about 70 in total. Nearby, you can lunch at L’azac, where you’ll find unpretentious and delicious food at affordable prices served by friendly staff.
Detour: Coutances is a 15-minute drive from Gouville-sur-Mer and is home to one of Normandy’s best creperies, Crêperie Le Râtelier, which has been around for over 20 years. Call ahead to reserve a table (+33 2 33 45 56 52) since it's often fully booked and ask for the soubise , a simple crepe of confit onion and butter.
6. Eat oysters fresh off the beach at Barneville-Carteret
For the French, prendre l’air , or to get some fresh air, is a key concept to good health, and there’s no better way to do that than to go for a long stroll on a Normandy beach. Clear your mind in Barneville-Carteret , a town that won’t be teeming with tourists, where you can even find fresh oysters in the water to eat if you can shuck ‘em by hand.
An easier-to-eat fresh and free sea treat are the calyptraea chinensis, also called the Chinese snail hat, which are often found clinging on to the sides of the jagged rocks poking out of the shore. All you need to do is pop them off and you can eat the flesh immediately for a taste of the Normandy sea. Keep walking north past a row of blue-and-white cabins until you see the ruins of an old church then look for Le Russel, a cozy and intimate bar à vins with comfort foods like quesadilla and large wedge fries. Wash everything down with a perfectly mulled wine on cooler nights.
Detour: Pick up dessert at La Maison du Biscuit , a charming store that transports you back to 1903. The family-run business offers artisanal cookies, which you can enjoy with a coffee in the tea salon.
7. Sip on Calvados and chug down AOP cider
Apples are abundant in Normandy, and with the plentiful harvest the locals have turned the fruit into liquid gold. Calvados is a brandy that must be made in Calvados to merit its AOC status (Appellation d’Origine Protégé). Get a taste and tour at Calvados Roger Groult , a family-run distillery that’s been around since the beginning of the 19th century and has been distilling apples over wood-fires for over five generations. The estate is impressive and the tour is infused with passion without being overly salesy – but the tasting at the end works its own magic.
Two hours' drive to the west is Ciderie Claids , is a cidery that’s been around since 1992. A visit here is a full-body apple-trip; you smell them first and then the fizzy flavors dance on your tongue. You can even take home a bottle that’s been made a certain year, just like wine.
8. Visit the charming harbor town of Honfleur
Another Upper Normandy port village to visit with cobblestone streets and houses made of timber, Honfleur oozes with charm. It has been around for over a millennium, but unlike other port cities, it is situated at the end of the Seine, which means it’s at the edge of the sea and riverside. Lining the harbor are tall and narrow slate roof houses that are reflected in the water lined with boats by day and glowing with amber street lights by night.
Meander towards the town hall, where you’ll find a decadent carousel from 1900 that remains frozen in time; lions, giraffes, horses and old-world glamor carriages spin around and around as the sailboats drift by. From the historic center it’s a nice uphill hike to the 17th-century chapel (which may be difficult for young children or those with mobility issues) Notre-Dame de Grâce , where you can see model ships, an ancient organ, and views of the sea and the Pont de Normandie.
Planning tip: From Honfleur, it's a 25-minute bus ride to the neighboring port city Le Havre . Famous for its artistic inspiration, Le Havre is where the Impressionist painting movement was born thanks to Monet. Cinephiles may recognize the city too as it's been the backdrop to over 100 films, including the French classic The 400 Blows (1959).
9. Immerse yourself at an interactive old manor turned museum
Part immersive-theater, part-history lesson, kids and adults alike will giggle and delight in the poetic and playful adventure-meets-spectacle that takes place at Le Manoir du Tourpe . Located in La Hague, this 16th-century manor covers local history, legends, and origin stories through characters that quite literally come to life. Nestled atop a tranquil and lush countryside where the grass stretches for miles, this free museum also offers craft workshops for children, temporary exhibitions, a cafe-hotel-restaurant Auberge des Goubelins , a library, guided hikes, and even a seed and plant library, where you can bring and swap seeds and plant cuttings.
Detour: Lovers of French romanticism can pay homage to famed poet and screenwriter at Maison Jacques Prévert and daydream of an idyllic, creative existence, about 15km (9 miles) away in Omonville-la-Petite. After a morning of writing under exposed wooden beams, take a leisurely walk along stone-paved paths through a garden perfumed with orange tulips, daisies and lilies until you reach an old church and cemetery to ponder the ephemeral nature of life.
10. Walk the rocky cliffs at Étretat
For a contact high with nature, head straight to the falaises of Étretat to enjoy the staggering sights of the dizzying chalk cliffs, made up of a type of porous limestone that inspired the likes of painters Claude Monet and Gustave Courbe. Due to the fragile nature of the stone, walking underneath is not allowed, but there are numerous hikes in the area for those who want to take in the natural splendor of the rocky arches. The well-paved hike of Porte d'Amont Loop that begins at Chemin de Criquetotis is suitable for any fitness level and takes about an hour (though allow longer to really soak in the mythic scenery). For more hardcore hikers, the Roc Vaudieu loop , which takes about four to five hours, offers incredible views of the massive cliffs that emerge from the water.
Detour: Aspiring writers may want to visit La Guillette, a villa built by short story writer Guy de Maupassant after he achieved publishing success. You can see the house where Maupaussant worked on Bel Ami and Pierre et Jean, but for actual visits inside contact the association via this form .
11. Spend a day in Rouen, Normandy’s capital city
Like other charming port cities of Normandy, Rouen has endured since Roman times and is brimming with medieval architectural charm. Art-aficionados will particularly appreciate the Museum of Beaux-Arts , which offers a range of idyllic landscape paintings, homages to ecclesiastical greatness, and of course Impressionist masterpieces. Best of all: admission is free. If contemporary art is more your speed, Rouen is also known for its street art – follow the map for a glimpse of urban and contemporary art in an ancient city.
Next, be awed as you stand underneath the 14th-century astronomical clock in the city center as the bells ring. A guide is available to explain the intricate detailing of the clock thoroughly, though at €7.50, it is somewhat steep for the brevity of the tour.
Detour: If you just want to get a taste of the slow life, book yourself a stay at a Parcel tiny house . It’s under two hours from Paris but offers a true nature escape to the middle of an apple orchard haven. Through a partnership with the neighboring organic farm Jardins de la Thillaye , you can taste Saint-Émilion wine, the best butter of the region, locally made calva and cider, and Norman beef. Bring boots – the trek out to the cabins is long and the grassy fields can turn muddy easily under the volatile Normandy skies.
12. Snag a striped sweater at Saint James
Clichés of French style include a beret paired with a horizontally striped sweater (cigarette and baguette accessories depending on the time of day), and one of the classic brands for French knitwear, Saint James, is also a charming little village you can visit. The most famous export, the striped shirt, has a long history: they were uniform for the navy seaman of the North, and the original 1858 design has 21 stripes for each of Napoleon Bonaparte’s victories of war. For a first-hand look at how the sweaters are made, you can get a tour of the Saint James atelier and then leave the shop with your own Breton striped sweater or shirt.
13. Tour the D-Day beaches
About 22km (14 miles) from Bayeux is Omaha beach , one of the most famous locations of the D-Day landings locations and home to an impressive Memorial Museum. Nowadays, little evidence of the events of 1944 remain, except for the harrowing American cemetery and concrete German bunkers. At very low tide you can see remnants of the Mulberry Harbour, a huge temporary port set up off the coast. Otherwise, it's a tranquil spot, a gorgeous golden stretch with dunes and summer houses. Look out for the yellow stripes marking the Circuit de la Plage d’Omaha, a self-guided tour along the beach.
Detour: Once you’re done feasting on history, get ready for some of the creamiest and best ice cream of your life at Ferme de la Haizerie in Vaux-sur-Aure. It’s a tiny and unpretentious ice cream shop that offers local flavors such as Calvados, and teurgoule – a Normandy rice pudding – made from fresh farm milk.
14. Visit the iconic abbey at Mont St-Michel
Finally, it’d be impossible to talk about Normandy without mentioning the iconic Mont St-Michel , a floating abbey known as "the Wonder of the Western World". The sight of it is surreal and unique but it’s even better when you aren’t fighting for boardwalk space. Get there as early as possible to avoid crowds (or late), and if you can walk, skip the free shuttle that’s usually packed with tourists and has long lines.
The best way to discover the island is to simply wander into the tiny crevices and narrow alleys. The abbey itself is beautiful, with chimneys as big as some modern living rooms. Trekking around barefoot in the surrounding bay is also quite an experience, and the cool sand relieves worn feet, but due to quicksand and a fast-rising tide you should only attempt it with a seasoned guide, such as Ludo , who was raised in the area.
Local tip and detour: While the famous, large and fluffy omelette de la mère Poulard that tourists usually flock to looks impressive, it’s quite pricey and not good value. Drive instead to the Auberge Sauvage, an incredible modern French restaurant that offers 6- or 8-course meals made with locally grown garden fruits and vegetables – the humble carrots transformed into glazed edible sculptures are nothing short of art.
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Plan Your Trip to Normandy: Best of Normandy Tourism
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10 Best Places to Visit in Normandy
Last updated on October 3, 2023 by Carl Austin - Leave a Comment
Normandy may look pretty and serene today, but this province on the west coast of France hasn’t always been this way. From the ninth century onwards the region was colonized by the Vikings and took its current name, Normandy, the country of the Northmen. Over the next centuries, many battles were fought between England and France, but the biggest occurred in 1944 when Allied forces wrested it back from Nazi occupiers.
As you roam the best places to visit in Normandy, you’ll come across these historic battlefields, as well as magnificent medieval buildings, gorgeous gardens and some pretty great food. Normandy celebrates its food with festivals devoted to such eats as cheese, black pudding and shrimp.
10. Cherbourg [SEE MAP]
Due to its strategic location on the French coast, Cherbourg has been important militarily, with Louis XVI and Napoleon making it first rate. A French Navy arsenal is located there today. It also is an important port for fishing and yachting. A cross-channel ferry runs between Cherbourg and Great Britain. As might be expected in a coastal town, many tourist attractions center around the sea. There’s the Redoubtable, the world’s largest submarine that is open to the public, and La Cité de la Mer with its 17 aquariums. Take time to visit the Museum of Liberation at old Fort du Roule and the historic town square.
9. Caen [SEE MAP]
Caen may look like a relatively new city, but appearances can be fooling. The city was rebuilt after being heaving damaged following the 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy -The Memorial de Caen commemorates this. Nonetheless, it’s known for its historic buildings constructed during William the Conqueror’s reign. The man who conquered England in 1066 is buried here at the Abbaye de Hommes. A key attraction is the Chateau de Caen, one of the largest medieval fortresses in Europe that William built. It houses museums today. William also built two abbeys in honor of his bride, Matilda of Flanders.
8. Trouville & Deauville [SEE MAP]
Known as the Parisian Riviera, Trouville and Deauville are like two sisters from different mothers. They both have beaches, boardwalks, casinos and Belle Époque villas. There the resemblance ends. Deauville, which was featured in the ‘60s French movie, A Man and A Woman, is traditional, hosting film and jazz festivals, regattas and golf tournaments. France’s oldest seaside resort attracts the rich and famous. Trouville, across the river, is casual, laid-back and more family oriented than its sister. If’s a playground for the middle class and home to a working fishing port. You can easily experience the charms of each city as they’re just a five-minute boat ride apart.
7. Rouen [SEE MAP]
Rouen, the capital of Normandy, is known for many things, including being the city where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. Like Caen, it figured prominently in the Hundred Years War and later served as the capital for a kingdom that included England and large parts of France. Old Town is full of historic delights, including the magnificent gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, which was painted 30 times by Claude Monet, and where the heart of Richard the Lionhearted is buried. Stop by the Gros Horloge, the town clock that dates back to the 14th century.
6. Giverny [SEE MAP]
The French Impressionist painter Claude Monet loved Giverny from the moment he saw it from a train window. He moved there and created beautiful gardens. Then he created beautiful paintings, such as his famous Water Lilies, of his gardens, the primary reason travelers visit the town today. After touring his house and gardens, you’ll want to visit the Museum of Impressionism that is dedicated to this particular genre of art. Monet is buried at the Church of Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny, a pretty and historic church with parts dating back to the 11th century.
5. Honfleur [SEE MAP]
Honfleur is a picturesque port city on the Seine estuary. It’s known for its slate covered house fronts that were so popular with 19th-20th century Impressionist painters. During the Middle Ages, this 1.000-year-old town was an important maritime trade center. After touring the port area, you’ll want to stop by the largest wooden church in France, the 15th century Saint Catherine’s. A bell tower separates the two naves and is topped with a sculpture of Catherine holding a wheel and sword. Musicians decorate the Renaissance balcony. Other attractions include two old barns where salt to preserve fish was stored and a crayfishing sloop.
4. Bayeux [SEE MAP]
Bayeux, founded in the first century BC, is famous for the Bayeux tapestry, a 70-meter (230-foot) long work of embroidery that features 75 scenes of William the Conqueror invading England in 1066. It is on display at the Bayeux Museum. Nearly 900 years later, Bayeux became the first French town to be liberated from the Nazis during the D-Day invasion. At the carefully tended British War Cemetery, you can see the graves of more than 4,000 casualties of the battle; most are British soldiers. Bayeux Old Town is just made for wandering, so be sure to wander by the gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral that was consecrated in 1077.
3. D-Day Beaches [SEE MAP]
One of the greatest invasions of all time took place on June 6, 1944, when more than 160,000 Allied troops landed on five Normandy beaches: Their mission: to liberate France and then the rest of Europe from Nazi occupation. Before the bloody month-long Battle of Normandy was over, more than 10,000 Allied soldiers would die on the beaches of Omaha, Juno, Gold, Sword and Utah; several thousand Germans also died in the battles on this 80-km (50-mile) stretch of French coastline. Today, the D-Day beaches are marked by war cemeteries, memorials and museums.
2. Etretat [SEE MAP]
Etretat, a small resort city on the English Channel, is known for its white chalk cliffs, natural arches and the “needle,” a 80-meter (262-foot) high conical formation just off shore. Two arches can be seen from the town boardwalk and its white pebble beach. You can also walk through Falaise Aval arch at low tide. The hill above with the Chapel of Notre Dame provides great views. Etretat is also famous for being the last place the White Bird was seen in 1927. The biplane was piloted by two French pilots hoping to be the first to fly the Atlantic non-stop. They were never seen again.
1. Mont Saint-Michel [SEE MAP]
Sometime in the 8th century, the Archangel Michel, head of the celestial militia, ordered a small church to be built on an island hill just yards off the coast of France. Three centuries later, a Benedictine abbey would be added. That complex became known as Mont Saint-Michel , one of the most unique places to visit in Normandy. A wall was added during the Hundred Years War. Take time to wander through the quaint village that sprang up during the Middle Ages. Because some of the highest and strong tides in the world can be found in this bay, accessing the island is safest via the causeway.
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23 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Normandy
Written by Lisa Alexander Updated Apr 25, 2022 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )
With its beautiful, varied scenery and rich history, Normandy has much to offer visitors. This distinctive region in northern France boasts a gorgeous countryside, coastline, and woodlands, as well as impressive castles, splendid churches, and picturesque ancient towns such as Rouen.
One of France's most emblematic tourist sights , Mont Saint-Michel, and the summertime seaside resorts of Honfleur and Deauville, are among the top attractions of the region.
Along the Channel coast, dramatic limestone cliffs drop off into the ocean, while Lower Normandy is characterized by verdant, peaceful valleys. An idyllic pastoral area known as the "Suisse Normande" ("Norman Switzerland") attracts nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts.
For WWII history buffs, visiting Normandy is essential. During the Second World War, Normandy was heavily affected by the German Occupation and was the site of Allied landings in 1944. Tourists can visit the military cemeteries; memorial museums; and the D-Day landing beaches , including Omaha Beach and Arromanches Beach.
From beach resorts and fishing villages to medieval towns and Gothic castles, this region offers countless things to do and appeals to all types of travelers. Plan your vacation with our list of the best attractions and places to visit in Normandy.
1. Mont Saint-Michel
3. honfleur, 4. caen memorial museum, 5. bayeux and the bayeux tapestry, 6. omaha d-day landing beach and museum, 7. deauville, 8. giverny: monet's house & gardens, 10. étretat, 11. suisse normande (norman switzerland), 12. château de fontaine-henry, 13. château de caen, 14. memorial museum of the battle of normandy in bayeux, 15. arromanches d-day museum, 18. trouville, 19. le havre, 20. le bec-hellouin, 21. jumièges, 22. barfleur, 23. côte fleurie, map of attractions & places to visit in normandy.
An important medieval pilgrimage destination, Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Both the Abbey of Saint-Michel and the Bay of Saint-Michel are protected under this designation.
Soaring more than 100 meters above the sea, the Abbey of Saint-Michel has a mythical quality. The awe-inspiring Gothic spires seem to reach towards heaven as the site beckons pilgrims to cross the foreboding Bay of Saint-Michel.
During low tide, it's possible to complete a " traditional crossing " (a pilgrimage by foot) to reach Mont Saint-Michel. Accredited licensed guides are available to accompany pilgrims across the bay. During high tide, Mont Saint-Michel becomes an island only accessible by one road.
One of the highlights of a visit to Mont Saint-Michel is the Abbey Church , reached by climbing a 200-meter pedestrian path and then 350 steps to the highest point of Mont Saint-Michel. Built in the 13th century, the Abbey Church has a serene Romanesque sanctuary and a glorious Gothic choir.
The " Escalier de Dentelle " (staircase) leads from the Abbey Church up to a terrace, which affords breathtaking panoramic views of the sea.
Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in France and ranks among the top day trips from Paris . For travelers based in Paris, the easiest way to see Mont Saint-Michel is by taking an organized tour , but there are other options. Some of the best ways to get to Mont Saint-Michel include driving and taking the bus or the train.
Wandering around the old town of Rouen, visitors will enjoy the historical ambience found in the winding cobblestone lanes, which are lined with maisons à colombages (half-timbered houses). Gothic churches are found at every turn, and many are gems of medieval architectural achievement.
The town's impressive Cathédrale Notre-Dame was depicted by Claude Monet in a series of paintings that show the intricate details of the cathedral's facade at different times of day. Another iconic monument in Rouen is the Gros-Horloge clock tower in the center of town.
Among the top attractions of Rouen is the Musée des Beaux-Arts , which ranks among France's most outstanding museums of fine arts. The collection includes masterpieces of European painting, with an especially noteworthy assortment of Impressionist works.
Rouen is also well known as the location where Joan of Arc was brought to trial. Tourists can see the tower where this courageous young woman stood before her judges and the spot where she was burned at the stake. She later became a saint, and now there is a contemporary church (the Eglise Jeanne d'Arc ) dedicated to her invincible spirit, on the site where she was martyred.
With its picturesque old harbor on the Seine estuary, Honfleur is one of the most charming towns in Europe . About 25 kilometers away from Le Havre, the town has atmospheric cobblestone streets, old stone buildings, and half-timbered houses.
This historic seafaring port was where travelers embarked on voyages to Canada in the 16th century. On the north side of the harbor is the 16th-century Lieutenancy Building , the old governor's house, built on the remains of the town's ancient walls.
One of Honfleur's most noteworthy attractions, the Musée de la Marine (Maritime Museum), is housed in the former Eglise Saint-Etienne, which dates back to the 14th century. The Maritime Museum tells the history of seafaring, fishing, and shipbuilding in Honfleur.
The Musée Eugène Boudin (Rue de l'Homme de Bois) is a must-see attraction for lovers of Impressionist art. Boudin's paintings and drawings represent nearly half of the collection; the rest includes pieces by other Impressionist artists such as Gustave Courbet, Eugène Isabey, and Paul Huet who painted scenes of the Normandy coastline.
The Musée Eugène Boudin also has an annex devoted to religious art, located in the freestanding belfry of the Eglise Sainte-Catherine . An interesting tourist attraction in itself, this Late Gothic church was built by local shipwrights after the Hundred Years' War.
In Lower Normandy near the English Channel, Caen played a critical role during the Nazi Occupation of World War Two. Caen is an excellent starting point for a tour of the Normandy D-Day Beaches and Memorials .
Three-quarters of the town was destroyed during the Allied landings in June and July of 1944 (although its historic churches survived almost entirely unscathed).
Created as a tribute to Caen's suffering during the war, the Mémorial de Caen (Caen Memorial museum) tells the story of the Second World War, the D-Day Landings, and the Battle of Normandy.
Beneath the Caen Memorial museum is the site of General Richter's Headquarters , which was a command post during the German Occupation.
The Mémorial de Caen is also the Centre for History and Peace in Normandy , which aims to educate the public and promote the concept of reconciliation. The center hosts events such as temporary art exhibits and a Human Rights Competition.
Address: Esplanade Général Eisenhower, Caen
Official site: http://normandy.memorial-caen.com
The town of Bayeux is best known for the Bayeux Tapestry, on display at the Bayeux Museum (13 bis Rue de Nesmond). An 11th-century masterpiece of medieval art, the Bayeux Tapestry is actually a work of embroidery, woven from wool yarn in 10 different shades.
The 70-meter-long Bayeux Tapestry depicts the story of the conquest of England in 1066 by the Duke of Normandy (known as "William the Conqueror"), through the Battle of Hastings . The Bayeux Tapestry is also called the Toile de la Conquête ( Cloth of Conquest ) and the Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde ( Queen Matilda's Tapestry, in reference to William's wife).
Because of its cultural value as an artifact of historical documentation, the Bayeux Tapestry has been inscribed with a UNESCO "Mémoire du Monde" designation . Rendered in exquisite detail, the Bayeux Tapestry depicts 58 different scenes (in a format similar to a comic strip) in incredible detail, including 623 figures, 759 animals, and 37 buildings and ships, along with a running commentary in Latin.
Visitors should also take time to discover the old town of Bayeux, an enchanting medieval world of half-timbered houses, elegant mansions, and stately townhouses.
At the center of the old town is the well-preserved Cathédrale Notre-Dame , one of the finest examples of a Norman Gothic church. The cathedral was built over several centuries (from the 11th century to the 15th century), and as a result, blends Romanesque with Gothic architectural elements, including Early Gothic and Flamboyant Gothic styles.
Omaha Beach extends for more than 10 kilometers between Port-en-Bessin past Vierville-sur-Mer and Colleville-sur-Mer to the mouth of the Vire River, a dramatic coastline along the English Channel made difficult to access by the sheer cliffs that rise 30 meters above the sea.
The largest and most famous of the five Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches , Omaha Beach is where the American 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions landed, along with other U.S., British, French, and Canadian troops on June 6th, 1944, which marked the beginning of Operation Overlord (also known as the "Battle of Normandy").
Visiting this site provides a chilling impression of the deadly battle, one of the bloodiest scenes of fighting during the D-Day Invasion, that took place here. Remnants of German bunkers and military piers can still be seen along the cliff-fringed coastline.
The American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer overlooks Omaha Beach. The cemetery contains more than 9,000 perfectly aligned gravestones, which makes it the biggest American cemetery in Normandy.
Near Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery is the Overlord Museum , which chronicles the history of the Allied landings and the liberation of Paris. The museum's collection includes war vehicles, tanks, and guns, as well as soldiers' personal items.
Address: Overlord Museum, Rond-point d'accès du Cimetière Américain, Lotissement Omaha Center, Colleville-sur-Mer
Official site: www.overlordmuseum.com
Since the 19th century, Deauville has been a premier seaside resort in Normandy. This glamorous vacation spot is still considered one of the top beach destinations in France .
The seafront features two kilometers of sandy shoreline and a promenade (boardwalk) for seaside strolls. Lifeguards are on duty daily during the high season (July and August).
Fitting of a glamorous beach destination, amenities abound, including places to rent parasols, lounge chairs, and old-fashioned striped cabanas.
Holiday-goers can take a break from sunbathing at the beach to browse the stylish boutiques, get a spa treatment, or dine at one of the many gourmet restaurants. Other things to do include sailing, golfing, and attending equestrian competitions.
Deauville lives up to its reputation as an internationally renowned resort with its array of prestigious events, including the International Polo Championship, held at Deauville's modern nine-hectare equestrian complex, and the Deauville American Film Festival .
For lovers of Impressionist art, Monet's House & Gardens is an exciting place to visit, because the lush flowering property inspired so many of the artist's paintings. Claude Monet and his family settled at this charming location in Giverny (one hours' drive from Rouen) in 1883, and the artist spent the rest of his life here.
In front of the house is Le Clos Normand garden, which was created by Claude Monet. From springtime through autumn, this garden blooms with a profusion of colorful blossoms, including daffodils, pansies, tulips, irises, peonies, daisies, roses, poppies, hollyhocks, and dahlias, planted in a natural way so that they look like wildflowers.
On the other side of the property is Le J ardin d'Eau (Water Garden) featuring a Japanese bridge and waterlily pond fringed with weeping willow trees. The water garden was depicted in Monet's Water Lilies series of paintings. Monet devoted many years to painting different aspects of this garden, capturing its beauty in his delicate brushstrokes.
In the town of Giverny, the Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny (99 Rue Claude Monet) presents over 200 Impressionist paintings, as well as temporary exhibitions. The Impression Museum is surrounded by a meadow and also has a lovely garden with landscaping reminiscent of Monet's Garden.
Nearby in the town of Vernon (about a 10-minute drive), the Musée de Vernon showcases several masterpieces painted by Monet, along with works by other Impressionist artists (who belonged to the Giverny colony of painters).
Address: Monet's House & Gardens, Rue Claude Monet, Giverny
Official site: http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm
A favorite beach vacation destination on the Côte d'Albâtre, Fécamp is one of the best places to visit in Normandy for a relaxing holiday break. Established in 1832, Fécamp was one of France's first seaside resorts, known for attracting a high-society crowd. Today, sunbathers and socialites alike enjoy the refreshing ocean scenery .
Apart from the fishing harbor , the main tourist attraction here is the old abbey church of Sainte-Trinité , originally built in the 12th and 13th centuries. The interior is remarkably spacious with an exquisite choir and Renaissance altar.
The medieval pilgrimage chapel, Notre-Dame-du-Salut, stands on a steep chalk cliff to the north of town.
The writer Guy de Maupassant was born in Normandy and spent his early years in Fécamp, and some of his stories are set in the town.
About 11 kilometers away is the village of Valmont with an ancient castle and the ruins of a 12th-century abbey.
The seaside resort of Étretat is nestled at the foot of white limestone cliffs on Normandy's Côte d'Albâtre coastline. The cliffs reach 90 meters in height. From the viewpoint on top of the cliffs, the panoramic vistas are sensational.
The scenery of Étretat appealed to Claude Monet who spent a winter here in 1868. During his stay, Monet captured the dramatic landscapes and glistening waterfront in his paintings.
The beaches of Étretat delight sunbathers during the summer, and the ocean is a source of livelihood for fishermen who catch fresh seafood that is widely used in the local cuisine.
Étretat also has many attractive Belle Epoque villas , the most well-known is the Villa Orphée. The Villa La Guillette was built for the author Guy de Maupassant.
The name of Suisse Normande (Norman Switzerland) is given to the stretch of countryside in the Orne Valley of Lower Normandy, extending between Thury-Harcourt (south of Caen) in the north, Flers-de-l'Orne in the south, and Falaise in the east.
An idyllic piece of rural landscape, the Suisse Normande is characterized by its gently rolling hills, densely wooded forests, wide open space, steep gorges, and pristine lakes. The winding river, rocky bluffs along its banks, and the intricate patchwork of hedges give the scenery a particular charm.
The most striking features are the Rocher d'Oëtre , in the hilliest part of the area, and the superb view from above the gorges of the Rouvre River. Other scenic areas include the Vère and Noireau valleys and the stretch of the Orne Valley between Thury-Harcourt and Pont-d'Ouilly.
This area includes two regional parks: the Parc Naturel Régional Normandie-Maine and the Parc Naturel Régional du Perche ; both have well-maintained trails for nature walks and hikes. The Naturel Régional Normandie-Maine also offers opportunities to go canoeing or kayaking.
The most spectacular château in Normandy, the Château de Fontaine-Henry enjoys a peaceful setting in the lush Mue Valley of Lower Normandy (about 14 kilometers from Caen). The château was built in the beginning of the 13th century and is classified as a Historical Monument .
The Château de Fontaine-Henry has been privately owned for generations, by an aristocratic family that traces their ancestry to the year 1200. The current owner, the Marquis d'Oilliamson, on occasion leads guided tours of the château.
This remarkable château is a notable example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture with an imposing stone facade. The lavish interior is filled with gorgeous furniture and exceptional paintings , including works by Titian, Correggio, Rubens, Mignard, and Rigaud. There is also a separate 13th-century chapel, which was renovated in the 16th century.
Surrounded by forests, the château has an expansive parkland with walking paths and traditional games for visitors to enjoy. Within the park are three distinct gardens: the Jardin Notre-Dame, a medieval garden planted with vegetables and medicinal herbs; the Hortus Conclusus, an enclosed garden designed for religious meditation and spiritual reflection; and the Gerbe du Parnasse, a garden with a theme of Greek mythology.
Tourists may visit the Château de Fontaine-Henry on guided tours, available mid-April through mid-September. Tours are available in French and English, and printed content about the tour is available in English, Dutch, German, Spanish, and Russian.
Address: Place du Château, Fontaine-Henry
Guillaume le Conquérant (William the Conqueror) built this castle in 1060 when he was the King of England. The Château de Caen is one of the largest medieval monuments in Europe and a quintessential symbol of Caen's heritage.
During the Middle Ages, the château was a royal fortress, and it later served as an English stronghold during the Hundred Years' War and as army barracks for an infantry regiment during the Second World War.
The ramparts of the Château de Caen are among the largest castle fortifications in Europe. The northern rampart of the castle has been restored; from this viewpoint , visitors can admire panoramas of the Caen cityscape.
Rooms within the ramparts house the Musée de Normandie , a museum focused on the Normandy region's culture and history, including the history of the castle.
The château also displays the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen , which has an outstanding assortment of 16th- and 17th-century European paintings. The museum's treasures include masterpieces by Poussin, Rubens, Veronese, and Brueghel, as well as Impressionist paintings by Monet, Boudin, Corot, and Courbet.
The Château de Caen has a café, picnic area, and outdoor games on the grounds.
Address: Château de Caen, 14000 Caen
Bayeux has a British World War II cemetery as well as the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy. This museum explains Normandy's involvement during the Second World War by outlining an overview of the wartime events.
With 2,300-square-meters of exhibition space, the museum does an outstanding job of recounting the Normandy Campaign , from the advancement of the Allied troops to D-Day on June 6th, 1944 and the liberation of Paris on August 25th, 1944.
The museum has an auditorium that shows the film Normandy '44, Decisive Victory in the West , based on archival documents. Created by a World War II historian, the film explains the major operations involved in the Battle of Normandy.
The museum also displays military equipment used during fighting on the Landing beaches, such as bulldozers, jeeps, and guns. The main aim of the museum is to share World War II history with the public and to serve as a place of remembrance , while honoring the memory of fallen civilians and soldiers.
Address: Boulevard Fabian Ware, Bayeux
Near Omaha Beach, the D-Day landing beach (Gold Beach) of Arromanches was successfully captured by the British 50th Northumberland Division on June 6th, 1944 in a surprise offensive.
Because Arromanches does not have a natural harbor, the Allied forces had installed artificial harbors, known as the Mulberry Harbors . The Arromanches D-Day Museum overlooks the beach, close to the spot where one of the harbors was constructed. Remnants of the artificial harbor can still be seen on the sandy shore and in the waters near Arromanches.
The Musée du Débarquement (Arromanches D-Day Museum) illustrates the remarkable logistics and technical aspects of " Operation Mulberry ," which involved the building of the Mulberry Harbors. Exhibits describe the logistics required to create and use the Mulberry Harbors, while working models demonstrate how the artificial ports operated.
Visitors can also watch a documentary film featuring World War II archival footage. Near the museum are many cafés and shops on the bustling Place du 6 Juin square.
Address: Place du 6 Juin, Arromanches
Historically a seafaring port, Dieppe became France's most stylish seaside resort in 1924 when the Duchesse de Berry came here to enjoy the ocean's fresh air and health benefits. The Duchess transformed the town (by having a ballroom and theater built) and made it a glamorous beach destination.
Today, visitors still come to enjoy Dieppe's beautiful broad seafront, an expansive space that includes a pebbly beach , promenade, children's playground , miniature golf course, and facilities for fishing and sailing. Unique to Dieppe, the seafront includes well-manicured lawns, where the International Kite Festival takes place every two years in September.
Above the beach, in a craggy cliff town, is the Château de Dieppe . This 14th-century castle contains the Musée de Dieppe , a multidisciplinary museum with an excellent assortment of European paintings from the 15th-century to the present day. Highlights include French Impressionist paintings, such as works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Eugène Boudin.
Northwest of the castle, the Boulevard de la Mer offers stunning sea views. In the center of the town is the pleasant Place du Puits-Salé and nearby are many cafés and pastry shops.
Dieppe has two important churches: the Baroque Eglise Saint-Rémy , built in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the Eglise Saint-Jacques , a striking Gothic church with ornately sculpted doorways and a richly decorated interior.
With today's recreational ambience, it's hard to imagine that Dieppe was the site of a tragic WWII event. On August 19th, 1942, the Allied forces (mainly Canadian) attempted a Raid on Dieppe , but the offensive was met by the German army with unexpectedly strong reinforcements. Over 900 Canadian soldiers were killed. Memorials in Dieppe honor the Canadian troops who perished during the Raid on Dieppe in 1942.
About a one-hour drive south of Rouen, the town of Evreux is worth a detour. The main tourist attraction is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame built in the 10th century. The cathedral's monumental nave still has Romanesque-era arches, although it was rebuilt in the 13th century in Gothic style. Illuminating the sanctuary are 70 splendid stained-glass windows, created between the 13th and 16th centuries and considered masterpieces.
Evreux also has a noteworthy 15th-century Palais Episcopal , which now houses the Musée d'Art, Histoire et Archéologie displaying a diverse collection of ancient artifacts; historical objects; and European paintings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
Other noteworthy sites in Evreux include the Tour de l'Horloge (Clock Tower), which dates from 1490, and the former Abbaye de Saint-Taurin (abbey church), which contains the 13th-century reliquary of Saint Taurin, an exemplary piece of goldsmith's work.
Although less upscale than the neighboring " Parisian Riviera " resort of Deauville (just two kilometers away), Trouville has a similar ambience. Like Deauville, Trouville was a fashionable seaside resort in the 19th century.
Trouville's broad sandy beach was once known as the " Queen of Beaches " and still attracts many visitors. Another tourist draw is the boating harbor for recreational sailing.
One highly recommended excursion from Trouville is a drive along the Corniche Normande , which skirts the coast high above the sea. This scenic drive offers extensive views all the way to Honfleur.
Built around the estuary of the Seine River, Le Havre is France's largest port after Marseilles. The town is surrounded by serene natural scenery: an expansive pebble beach and an attractive marina.
The setting appealed to Claude Monet. In 1872, he captured the landscape of Le Havre in his famous painting Impression, Soleil Levant ( Impression, Sunrise ) which is considered the first piece of Impressionist art.
Le Havre suffered much damage during the Second World War and was almost completely rebuilt with many buildings designed by the architect Auguste Perret. The modern city center offers interesting examples of 20th-century architecture, such as the Place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville with its functional tower blocks.
One of the prettiest of the villages that dot Normandy's rural landscape, Le Bec-Hellouin is listed as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France (Most Beautiful Villages of France). This little country village is tucked away in a peaceful valley and has plenty of open green space with leafy trees.
Brimming with old-world charm, Le Bec-Hellouin has quaint flower-bedecked half-timbered houses clustered around an old church, the Eglise Saint-André . Tourists will also appreciate the village's selection of small inviting hotels and casual restaurants.
The village is renowned for its abbey, the Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec founded in the 11th century and classified as a Historical Monument. Although the abbey was badly damaged in 1417 during the Hundred Years' War, the 15th-century Saint-Nicolas Tower remains intact. The main buildings exemplify Regency architecture, with unostentatious facades and harmonious classical proportions.
The Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec is still a working monastery run by a community of Benedictine monks. Besides fulfilling their religious obligations, the monks produce handcrafted ceramics and provide guided sightseeing tours of the abbey.
Guided tours are available every day except Tuesdays. The grounds and the Eglise Abbatiale (Abbey Church) of the Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec are open to the public, free of charge, every day except Tuesdays.
Another historic abbey is found 35 kilometers from Le Bec-Hellouin in Jumièges. Built in the 11th century, the Abbaye de Jumièges became an unsurpassed center of learning under the rule of William the Conqueror. In the 13th century, the church was enhanced in marvelous Gothic style, reflecting the grandeur of the abbey and its immense wealth.
Unfortunately, the abbey was mostly destroyed during the Hundred Years' War. However, the ruins reveal the prestigious past of a building that was once the most magnificent religious monument in Normandy.
Barfleur is a characteristic Norman fishing village with handsome granite-stone houses lined up along the harbor. The town's picture-perfect quality has earned it a place among the Plus Beaux Villages de France .
During the time of William the Conqueror, Barfleur was a principal seafaring port for the Anglo-Norman kingdom because of its advantageous position on the English Channel. Today, Barfleur still has a busy fishing harbor, with small boats unloading fresh catches daily at the quays. The town's traditional seafood restaurants offer a chance to sample the tempting local cuisine.
With nearby beaches and coastal paths for taking nature walks, Barfleur is a popular destination for seaside getaways.
Normandy is prized for its gorgeous coastline, particularly the stretch known as the Côte Fleurie , which extends from Honfleur for about 45 kilometers to Merville-Franceville.
The name "Coast of Flowers" hints at its natural splendor. This bucolic landscape features meadows and apple orchards, alongside the coastline of dramatic cliffs and fine-sand beaches.
One especially scenic driving route is the portion from the Deauville to Cabourg (20 kilometers).
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Guide to the Normandy Region of France
Powerful and independent, Normandy has a long and glorious history. Its long coastline of sweeping sandy beaches and its major ports have turned its people outwards to trans-Atlantic trade with settlers going as far afield as Canada. Its rich and fertile countryside has brought it wealth from agriculture while its monasteries, from Mont-St-Michel to romantic Jumièges made Normandy one of the centers of learning and scholarship.
Geography and Facts about Normandy
Where is normandy.
From the resort of Le Tréport in the north eastern corner, Normandy runs west along the English Channel coast past Dieppe, Etratat, Le Havre and the famous D-Day Landing Beaches to the Cotentin Peninsula, then south along the English Channel past charming Granville to Mont-St-Michel. From here the border runs east, taking in Domfront, Alençon and Mortagne-au-Perche, then going north past Giverny up back to Le Tréport.
Normandy as a Region
Normandy was originally divided into Haute- and Basse-Normandie (Upper and Lower Normandy). The reorganisation of France’s regions in January 2016 has united the two into just Normandie. The capital remains Rouen.
Normandy has 5 departments: Calvados (14), Eure (27), Manche (50), Orne (61) and Seine-Maritime (76).
A Few Facts about Normandy
- The name Normandy comes from ‘Northmen’, from the Danish and Norwegian Vikings who raided and inhabited the region from the 9 th century onwards.
- There are 14,500 kms (9,010 miles) of rivers and streams
- The longest river is the Seine (the 2 nd longest river in France from source to sea at 482 miles (776 kms)
- There are 600 kms (370 miles) of coastline
- Major ferry ports are Cherbourg, Dieppe, Le Havre and Ouistreham (for Caen)
- Main bridges across the Seine are Pont de Normandie, Pont de Tancarville, Pont de Brotonne
- Normandy Tourist Office Website
Brief History of Normandy
Who doesn’t know the story of William (‘the Bastard’, a less well-known label), 1066 and the battle of Hastings? It’s a stirring tale of cousin against cousin, claims and counterclaims, in fact all in a day’s work for medieval folk. Many of the sites are still there, so you can plan a great visit to Normandy around the knights of old.
- Check out William the Conqueror and the 1066 Trail
- Check out the English side and the trails around 1066
But Normandy didn’t spring fully grown at that time. It had been the focus of Viking attacks from the 9 th century onwards, an easy and rich target for the land-hungry Norsemen. It continued to be strategically important; it guarded the Seine and the approaches to Paris. It was also the place for feudal culture, cavalry warfare and the ideals of knighthood with their courtly ways. All these ideas they took to England after 1066.
Normandy’s other world-famous date is June 1944, when the Allies launched their attack on the Landing Beaches. The events are commemorated today and the area around that particular piece of coast is full of museums and memorials, telling the story.
The Normandy Coastline
Bayeux Tourist Office
Normandy’s coastline is varied and gorgeous. In the northeast, the Alabaster Coast ( Côte d’Albâtre ) is 80 kms (50 miles) long, with rocky cliffs and miniature gorges cutting down onto small pebble beaches. Etretat is the best known, painted endless times by the Impressionists and picture-postcard pretty.
Make your way to the Côte Fleurie and the landscape changes; golden sands sweep as far as the eye can see and the waves move lazily against the shoreline. It’s not the place for surfing but it is the place for long walks along the dunes, picnics in the sun and endless water sports.
If you like charming, small resorts don't miss Deauville for its very British atmosphere, its polo, racing, museums, restaurants and sailing.
In June 1944 it was a very different place and the scenes from the D-Day landings still live on – in memorials, in intensely sad but beautiful cemeteries full of the soldiers, sailors and airmen lost in the conflict, in films and in commemorations.
This year the Normandy Landing Events will take place from May 28 to June 12, 2016.
- Best Beaches of Normandy
- D-Day Landing Beaches Tour
- Map of the Normandy Beaches
The Cotentin Peninsula juts out into the sea, cut off from the rest of Normandy by marshy lands. Its little ports such as Barfleur and St Vaast, and resorts like Granville, where Christian Dior lived in a charming villa – now the Christian Dior Museum – and Avranches with its World War II connections, are all delightful.
Then you reach the border between Normandy and Brittany, and one last great site, Mont-St-Michel. Once again, waves dash against this tiny rocky outcrop that holds one of the most important sites in Christendom. In 2015 a bridge was built, replacing the causeway and taking you on a shuttle across to the Abbey.
Major Cities and Charming Towns in Normandy
Mary Anne Evans
Rouen, the Capital
Rouen has been the capital and the major city since the beginning of the region in the Roman era. It’s a beautiful place, full of old brown-and-white half-timbered houses, a great clock, museums (including a splendid ceramic museum) and a very grand cathedral, the Gothic masterpiece painted and sketched by Monet over 30 times. But to the French, it’s most famous as the place where Joan of Arc, the Fair Maid, was tried and finally burnt at the stake in 1431. May 30 th is always marked by ceremonies in the town.
- Top sights and Attractions in Rouen
- Getting to Rouen from Paris and London
Caen in Calvados was badly damaged in World War but the city that was transformed by William the Conqueror has some great sites. The Conqueror had two abbeys built (which secured the Pope’s blessing on his slightly dubious marriage with a cousin) and the Château is surrounded by its ancient ramparts.
One of the main reasons people visit Caen is for the impressive Caen Memorial , a museum that puts World War II in perspective by tracing the origins back to World War I.
Bayeux in Calvados is rightly famous for the magnificent Bayeux Tapestry, a vast medieval comic strip telling the story of William, 1066 and the Battle of Hastings. Its Museum of the Battle of Normandy gives a very real overview of the Battle of Normandy in World War II.
Inland Normandy - Pays d'Auge
This is where you get the real flavour of rural Normandy, an agriculturally rich area of fields, forests and orchards. Don’t miss the Pays d’Auge south of Lisieux for its lovely manor houses, and the chance to sample proper Normandy cheeses.
Crévecoeur-en-Auge, west of Lisieux, has a delightful château with restored half-timbered houses around a recreated village green.
And finally, take a trip to Falaise where the castle of William the Conqueror has been imaginatively restored.
Food and Drink of Normandy
The rich pastures have produced a rich cuisine, with cooking based on butter and cream rather than the olive oil of southern France. The cheeses are well-known, from Camembert to Pont-l’Éveque, smelly Livarot to the cream cheese Neufchâtel.
Meat eaters will have a time to remember; there’s excellent beef and veal while rabbit and duck are also the best. Sausages ( andouilles or chitterlings) might not appeal to the squeamish , nor will tripes which are stewed for hours à la mode de Caen .
But Normandy’s long coastline means superb seafood , so choose a waterside restaurant in the seaside ports and resorts for flappingly fresh fish and mountains of seafood in plateaux de fruits de mer.
Normandy produces cider from its wonderful apple orchards, not wine. Another of its great drinks is Calvados , brandy made from fermented and distilled apples. If you’re having a long and rich meal, make sure you knock back a trou normand in the middle (usually between the fish and meat course) to help the digestion. Originally a glass of neat Calvados, most restaurants now serve the Calvados in a sorbet.
Atout France/Catherine Bibollet
The D-Day Landing Beaches are one of Normandy's great attractions. They're interesting and well organised with museums and memorials from the small and poignant to the large and internationally important. The famous beaches run along the Baie de la Seine and are known as the Plages du Débarquement.
Medieval Normandy and William the Conqueror. There's a lot to see still of medieval Normandy that has connections to William, the great Conqueror of England at the Battle of Hasings in 1066. Follow this trail for the events leading up to 1066.
Don’t miss Giverny , one of France’s top gardens. The gardens that the owner of the house, Claude Monet, laid out when he lived here from 1883 to his death in 1926 are delightful. You can also visit his studio in the house which is full of Monet’s collections of Japanese prints.
Abbey of Jumièges in Seine-Maritime 23 kms (14.5 miles) west of Rouen, is one of France’s romantic abbey ruins. Its setting is superb, on a bend of the Seine river and its history just as exciting. Founded in 654 AD, it was sacked by the Vikings in 841, rebuilt and re-consecrated by William the Conqueror in 1067.
Château Gaillard is perched high above Les Andeleys in Seine-Maritime. It was Richard the Lionheart’s castle, built in a year from 1196-7 on a position high above the river. Much of it was destroyed in 1603 but you can walk to it and see the ruins.
How to get to Normandy's Cities and Towns
Normandy is within very easy reach of London, Paris and the UK.
- Ferries to France and Normandy from the UK
- London, the UK and Paris to Caen
- London, the UK and Paris to Cherbourg
- London, the UK and Paris to Mont-St-Michel
- London, the UK and Paris to Rouen
- Map of TGV Destinations and Routes in France
Best Beaches to Visit in Normandy
The Castle of William the Conqueror at Falaise in Normandy
Top Cities and D-Day Beaches in Normandy
Top 20 Most Popular French Cities for International Visitors
How to get from London, the UK and Paris to Caen in Normandy
Caen: Planning Your Trip
How to Travel From Paris to Deauville by Train, Car, and Bus
The Castles of William the Conqueror
Top Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches and World War II Sites
One Week in France: The Ultimate Itinerary
The Best Beaches and Coastlines in France
Getting to France by Ferry From the U.K.
The Finest Museums Outside Paris Are Wonderful Surprises
The Top 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
North Coast of France: The Ultimate Road Trip From Dieppe to Calais
The Best Christmas Markets in France
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Bayeux Bessin, destination Normandy!
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For a holiday or a short break, make the most of our destination Bayeux Bessin – D-Day Normandy ! The Bessin area around Bayeux, "the medieval town close by the D-Day landings beaches", is an authentic and natural region combining the land and the sea. Its major sites have made Normandy famous all over the world, including the Bayeux Tapestry, listed by UNESCO, William the Conqueror's cathedral, the artificial harbour in Arromanches and the German gun battery in Longues-sur-Mer.
Destination Bayeux Bessin
Bayeux Bessin is a unique destination right at the heart of the famous sites of D-Day and medieval Normandy, with major events all the year round to enjoy your holiday to the full, a refreshing seafaring culture including Normandy's number 1 fishing port and impressive views in Normandy's top cycling destination.
Experiences Bayeux Bessin
The Bayeux Bessin destination is varied and fascinating, filled with internationally famous landmarks, as well as lesser-known gems to discover. Follow our team of experts in the region in this section. They will share enriching and surprising experiences especially designed to enhance your holiday.
Immersion in the "Bajocasse" medieval heritage
In the heart of Normandy's leading fishing port
Gold Beach : in the footsteps of liberators
All the news from Bayeux-Bessin – D-Day Normandy: a regularly updated section you can check out before and during your stay.
80th anniversary of the D-Day
Launch of the scallop season !
New bikes roads
A completely new museography for the D-Day Landing Museum in Arromanches
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Bayeux Bessin - D-Day Normandy is an international destination 2 hours and 30 minutes away from Paris with easy access from all over the world. There is a wide range of transport to choose from with an airport, bus stations and ferry terminal, mainline trains, motorway and now cycling routes, too!