The Best Places to visit in Normandy
Normandy is a charming region just north and west of Paris. It’s both a rural and seaside area famous for producing excellent cheeses, apple and pear cider, and seafood, such as scallops, mussels, and oysters. The quality of the cuisine of Normandy makes it a must-visit area if you’re a foodie.
Normandy is of course where many tourists come to see the WWII battlefields, the Beaches of Normandy and the memorials. You will also travel through several smaller Northern France towns with many a memorial to Liberation Day in 1945. The North of France bears many scars from WWII and many villages will have central village squares which commemorate the liberation.
Places you should visit in Normandy
Bayeaux is a must-visit for those captivated by history. A chance to see the great Bayeaux Tapestry which hangs in the Bayeaux Museum is a bucket list stop for me. This incredible 70-metre-long work of art tells the story of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and the Battle of 1066 when he became King of England
While it is possible that the Tapestry was designed by men the work would all have been carried out by the superb women embroiders at the time. Only women did this kind of work and the Tapestry was made in England and paints a point of view from the French or rather the winning side in that eponymous battle
Cathédrale Notre Dame is a spectacular Gothic cathedral dating from the 13th century although the crypt there dates back to the 11th century. It has some stunning stained-glass windows that commemorate the sacrifice of the allied forces during the World Wars. You can also visit many of the WWII landing sites, memorials and cemeteries that can be found around Bayeaux.
The Port of Honfleur couldn’t be any prettier. The brightly coloured half-timbered buildings along the quays are full of restaurants, cafes, art galleries and speciality shops Honefleur literally sparkles.
Honfleur is also the port from which Champlain sailed on his voyage to discover Canada and found Quebec. Champlain set up a very lucrative trade for the shipping barons of Honfleur which included cod fishing off the coast of Newfoundland.
Honfleur is extremely proud of its Impressionist roots – Claude Monet’s mentor Eugène Boudin was born in the town, and Monet and his fellow painters would often set up their easels at the Ferme Saint-Siméon on the hill above Honfleur, to capture the beautiful light of the Seine estuary.
A visit to Northern France is not complete without seeing Rouen, the largest city in the Normandy region and located on the banks of the Seine river. The city is historic and the site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake also has cultural treasures to visit like the historic city centre. You can easily walk around the historic district and find lots of wonderful architectural sites in the city centre.
This includes ornate buildings like the main cathedral, public square and treasures like the Musee de Beaux-Arts, Eglise Saint Maciou, Abbey Saint-Ouen, the Renaissance clock, Palais de Justice, the many pedestrian streets and even the gorgeous gardens around Rouen. If shopping and dining is your thing then it is easy to wander around the historic district with fabulous shopping and dining venues in the city to explore and enjoy the many promenades in town.
Mont St. Michel
Mont St Michel is one of those iconic places that tourists to Northern France put on their bucket lists. Mont Saint-Michel is not a castle but it certainly arises out of the sea as if it was.
Mont Saint Michel is located on a small island just off the coast of Normandy and is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site. Mont St Michel is not a castle it is a medieval Abbey and village constructed over 1300 years on a tiny island surrounded by the sea.
Located on the coast of Lower Normandy Mont-Saint-Michel is in the Manche département, Normandy region. Approximately 41 miles (66 km) north of Rennes and 32 miles (52 km) east of Saint-Malo and around 4 hours from Paris. When you first catch sight of the Mont you will spot ramparts that circle the island and a 3 tiered assembly of buildings from the 13th century known as La Merveille (The Wonder) that rise up to the abbey’s pointed spire.
Only 350 or so steps to reach the Abbey and when you get there the entry ticket will cost €10 euros.
Before the world closed down Normandy was one of the most visited places in France during the month of June. Naturally, most tourists divided their time between a visit to Paris and other locations such as Provence but many American tourists specifically come to France to pay their respects to family members who fought and those who died on the Normandy Beaches during WWII.
D-Day and the Battle of Normandy were predominantly fought in the areas of Calvados, Manche and Orne, and it is here that you will find the many memorials, cemeteries and museums that commemorate what happened.
The D-Day Landing Beaches extend over 70km from Sainte-Marie-du-Mont to Ouistreham, via Colleville-sur-Mer and Arromanches-les-Bains.
Etretat is famously known for the pretty white cliffs that make up the 130km long Alabaster Coast from Dieppe to Le Harve. These white cliffs can be explored from above along the walking routes, else head down to the pebbled beach to see them from below. If exploring from below, climb through the cave if you dare, allowing you to reach the other side and explore with fewer people.
While it is quite famous amongst the french, Deauville is still relatively off the beaten path for the average tourist in France (but it shouldn’t be). Located on the coast of Normandy, Deauville is a very popular beach town/resort for the rich and famous. If you are looking to spot French celebrities then this is the place to go. Not only is it the place to be seen during a weekend getaway from Paris, but Deauville is also one of the nicest beaches you will find in Northern France. I like to call it Paris’ Riviera.
Come and enjoy the best of Normandy at our naturist retreat on the borders of Normandy, Brittany and the Mayenne.