Summary: Normandy is for sure one of the most beautiful regions in France. First, it is very diversified in regards to geography and architecture, but there are also a lot of different things to do and to see. In this post you will find a complete list of the most beautiful things and most interesting activities in Normandy.
Besides the fact that Normandy is a beautiful area and has a lot of different amazing landscapes (such as seashores, green and hilly terrain, and cliffs), the region has also been the theater of several historical events, which makes the place interesting on different levels.
Here are all the places that you shouldn’t miss in Normandy:
Norman seashores are very diversified. You will find sand beaches (of course, nothing to compare with the gorgeous Galapagos beaches) at Caen, Trouville, for example, as well as pebble beaches in Le Havre, with the most spectacular being the cliffs of Etretat. The small village of Etretat at the bottom of the cliffs is located 20 miles from Le Havre. The view from the top—where you will find a very small and basic church—is amazing. The cliffs are about 328 feet (100 meters) high. The place is known for being the starting point of the first attempt to cross the Atlantic non-stop by plane in 1927.
The Mont Saint Michel is the real jewel of Normandy. The place has been contested by Normandy and neighboring Britain, as both regions claimed its ownership (the Mont being located at the very border). The monument has finally been given to Normandy (to which it belonged anyway on an historical, cultural and architectural level.
Giverny is a place that garden lovers will fall in love with. This place is nothing less than the famous impressionist painter Claude Monet’s house. The garden is gorgeous and the house looks just like the painter was still living there. As a painter’s house, the colors are perfect and everything in the house is in the right place. Everything has been left as it was so that you can see how people were living in 1890. This will make you realize, through experiencing a common environment (a house and a garden, something that a lot of people have) that artists are really different and unusual people—that they have something more.
Located in the city of Bayeux, this embroidered cloth of 70 meters (230 ft) dating from around 1070 depicts the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror, and is considered for this reason to be an unique and an important source of a lot of information, not only about the battles but also about the way people were living in the Middle Ages. The tapestry has been listed in the world memories heritage by the UNESCO.
The capital of Upper Normandy (as the region is divided in Upper and Lower Normandy). The city is very rich in historical buildings, houses, monuments, and churches, but at the same time is a very active modern city. Rouen is the city where the trial and death of Joan of Arc took place. Rouen is a must-see in Normandy.
Caen is the capital of Lower Normandy and is known to be the city of William the Conqueror. Unlike Rouen, the city suffered considerable destruction during the Second World War, so there are not as many old buildings and houses as in Rouen. Still, you can visit the castle of Caen built by William the Conqueror in 1060, and the Memorial Center for History and Peace, a beautiful museum dedicated to make people think about wars, genocides, violence, and human rights.
Le Havre is the second largest port of France after Marseilles, the second biggest city in Normandy, and the most populous in Upper Normandy. Though there is nothing special about Le Havre, the city is very modern, dynamic, and pleasant, and people (locals and foreigners) usually like it a lot. The inhabitants are friendly and the beach with its pebbles is very nice and picturesque.
One of the oldest abbeys in Normandy dating from 654. A beautiful monument.
The beaches where landed France’s allies during the Second World War. You can visit the beaches themselves, as well as museums, cemeteries, and bunkers.
Saint-Cénéri-le-Gérei is a very old, typical French village of only 145 inhabitants. Its status as one of “France’s most beautiful villages” (les plus beaux villages de France) attracts a lot of visitors. The quiet environment and the bridge upon the river Sartre contribute to the charm of the village.
This small town is known for its beautiful old port surrounded by slate-covered houses. The Sainte-Catherine church on the port is the largest church in France made out of wood. The town is crowded all year long. It is a very touristy place, so you should expect to pay a bit more for everything there than elsewhere. Nevertheless, you can buy very nice souvenirs in Honfleur.
The fanciest city in Normandy, Deauville has a lot to offer, including a sandy beach, expensive seaside resorts, a casino, horse races, and the icing on the cake— an international film festival. Deauville is considered to be the “the queen of Norman beaches” and the “Cannes of Normandy.” If you like everything mentioned above, you will definitely love the place. However, as a Norman native, I prefer the twin town of Trouville, as for me Deauville has lost a lot of its authenticity.
Well, if you manage to visit all these places you will definitely get a good feel for Normandy and France.
Have you been to any of these areas before?