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What to see in Normandy?

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Normandy is a region between land and sea, bordered by the English Channel. It is a corner of bucolic countryside where cows and sheep laze but it is also a seaside region made up of long beaches and high cliffs . We go there to taste seafood, to discover its historical monuments and classified natural spaces but also to meet a tradition steeped in history.

Normandy has a patchwork of fabulous landscapes. Dizzying chalk cliffs and groves where the grass seems greener than elsewhere , thatched cottages surrounded by wet fields, orchards where cider apples grow in silence and miles of fine sandy beaches.

If the environment has everything to recharge your batteries in a green and peaceful setting, a trip to Normandy will also take you on a journey through the history of France . You will discover many testimonies of Viking and medieval Normandy in Rouen, Jumièges, Bayeux or Falaise and you will relive the landing of the Second World War from Utah to Sword Beach via the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer.

You can also reach the coasts of Calvados from Cabourg to Honfleur to taste the luxury destinations of the 1800s. You will discover there marinas with a chic and relaxed atmosphere to taste oysters facing the sea. the opportunity to treat yourself to regional specialties : cider, calvados, camembert, scallops or apple pie!

1. Tourist maps of the Normandy region

Map of the departments of Normandy

Below is the map that allows you to locate the Normandy region in France but also to identify its territory, its coasts, its departments and its major cities.

Normandy tourist map

I indicate below the essentials to discover during your visit to the Normandy region. Between Alençon, Evreux, Rouen, Caen and St Lô, many tourist sites, natural or historical, await you. Between the cliffs of Etretat, the Mont St Michel, the medieval castles, the seaside resorts of Calvados or the places in memory of the landing, you will have many sites to explore.

2. What to see in Calvados?

The Crested Coast of Calvados

The Côte du Calvados extends over 120 km from Honfleur to Isigny sur Mer. The best known resorts are Deauville, Cabourg and Honfleur , luxury destinations from the 1800s. You will discover marinas with a chic and relaxed atmosphere. to taste oysters facing the sea. The beaches are uncovered at low tide to give way to immense expanses of sand. The crested coast is the Côte Fleurie around Deauville.

2. The landing beaches and places of remembrance

On the coast of Calvados but also on those of the English Channel, in addition to the seaside resorts, you can discover the Landing Beaches. They preserve testimonies of the determining episode which was the attack of the allies of June 6, 1944 in the liberation of France. The best known are Utah Beach ( in the English Channel), Obama Beach , Gold Beach , Juno Beach , Sword Beach. We walk through these places of memory in a setting of beaches that seem endless at low tide. A journey of homage and remembrance through museums, memorials and huge military cemeteries ( Caen Memorial , Normandy American Cemetery, Museum of the Battle of Normandy, etc.)

 
Normandy landing beaches

3. Falaise Castle

This massive castle testifies to the Anglo-Norman defensive power, from Guillaume to Richard Coeur de Lion and Jean Sans Terre. Restored from head to toe, the castle dominates the town of Falaise with its 3 keeps, its high ramparts and its 15 towers. You will be able to discover the interior of the castle as it was in the 12th century, thanks to a digital tablet! To end the visit in style, climb to the highest point of the castle to admire the panorama of Falaise.

Normandy castle of Falaise

4. Ornavik Park

Ornavik is a large historical park which retraces life at the time of the birth of Normandy. It is located in Hérouville-Saint-Clair, very close to Caen. You will discover the constructions, installations and workshops that illustrate the Scandinavian habitat, Viking nomadism and Carolingian farms. The scenes of life are played by talented craftsmen who embody period characters, they demonstrate ancestral techniques for a living immersion in the Viking and Norman epic .

 
Normandy Ornavik Park

3. What to see in Eure?

1. Monet’s gardens in Giverny

Giverny is a small village famous for having been the home of the painter Claude Monet. The landscapes of Giverny, on the hillside and a stone’s throw from the Seine, are the setting for his most beautiful paintings. You can visit the artist’s house (the Clos Normand) but especially its Japanese style gardens embellished with bamboo, ginkgo, maple and small colorful bridges. Giverny will appeal to art and nature lovers, with its bucolic paths and its many tributes to Monet.

 
Monet's gardens in Giverny
 

2. Le Bec-Hellouin

Classified in the list of “The most beautiful villages in France”, Le Bec-Hellouin is probably the most colorful and the most photogenic of the villages of character in the department of Eure. Located between Rouen and Lisieux, it is part of a green landscape made up of bocages and cider apple trees. You can admire the superb facades of its half-timbered houses with flowery balconies and appreciate the peaceful atmosphere that reigns here.

 
Normandy Bec-Hellouin

4. What to see in La Manche?

1. Mont Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel is a rocky islet on which is erected the Saint Michel abbey which rises to 80 meters high. A major step on the way to Compostela, this world-famous French tourist site is best known for its magnificent bay and the unusual character of its location. The bay of Mont-Saint-Michel is the scene of the highest tides in continental Europe, so at certain times of the year, the tide rises and the Abbey becomes an island in the water.

 
Normandy Mont-Saint-Michel
2. Cherbourg and the city of the sea

At the northern tip of the department, Cherbourg en Cotentin is the largest city in the Manche. Go for a walk on the quays of its fishing port and its marina, and lose yourself in the narrow streets of the historic center in search of a good table or a cozy bar. And then, push open the doors of the Cité de la Mer to marvel at its aquariums and its nuclear submarine.

Normandy Cherbourg
3. The beach huts of Gouville-sur-Mer

From Cherbourg to Gouville and all along the west coast of the English Channel, you will find very long sandy beaches where it is good to walk and feast on seafood. The seaside village named Gouville-sur-Mer is particularly photogenic because it has multicolored beach huts , typical of the Channel coasts. Placed on the dune, aligned in two rows, these colorful huts facing the sea bring a unique touch to the landscape.

 
Normandy beach of Gouville-sur-Mer
5. What to see in Orne

1. La Roche d’Oetre

La Roche d’Oëtre, in the heart of Swiss Normandy, is located in the town of Saint-Philbert-sur-Orne. It is one of the natural belvederes of the West of France classified as a sensitive natural area, a natural setting which is home to many hiking trails and a tree climbing. At the top of the Roche d’Oëtre , you will discover a spectacular view of the gorges of the Rouvre and its impetuous torrent. It is an essential stage of the GR “Tour de Suisse Normande” trail .

 
Roche d'Oetre

2. The Château and the orchards of Carrouges

The village of Carrouges, in the heart of the Normandie-Maine Regional Natural Park, is a territory which became famous in the Middle Ages. Its 14th century castle is renowned as the most beautiful castle in Normandy with that of Saint-Germain-de-Livet in Calvados. And then, after visiting the castle, you can stroll through the apple orchards of the Maison du Parc and the Geopark of Carrouges.

 
Carrouges Normandy-Maine Park

3. The historic hillsides of the Battle of Normandy

Departing from the Montormel Memorial , a 4 km loop walk takes you to the landscapes of historic hillsides from the Battle of Normandy. The path takes you over a natural barrier of hills which played a crucial role in the outcome of the Battle of Normandy. You will discover flower meadows where several rare species of orchids, gentian and campanula grow. And then, the high points offer magnificent panoramas over the peaceful Dives Valley which was the scene of terrible battles. A place of memory in an exceptional setting.

 
historic hillsides from the Battle of Normandy
6. What to see in Seine-Maritime?

1. The cliffs of Etretat

In Étretat, colossal and sumptuous white chalk cliffs are internationally renowned. This theater overlooking the English Channel can be discovered through spectacular paths or by the sea. This unique site deserves to devote a stay, at least a weekend, to its discovery.

 
Normandy cliffs of Etretat

2. The Rouen Cathedral Light Show

The illuminations of Rouen Cathedral take place every evening from June to September and it’s free. When night invades the streets of the city, Notre Dame Cathedral, impressive and colossal by day, becomes spectacular in the dark! At 10 p.m., The Vikings on their longships, William the Conqueror and Jeanne la Pucelle take possession of the facade with a projection of fascinating lights accompanied by a soundtrack worthy of a great historical film.