Tourism: 10 must-sees in Normandy
Fine sandy beaches, architectural heritage rich in majesty and diversity, breathtaking natural sites… If we are used to saying that France is beautiful, Normandy is certainly a prime example of what it offers more beautiful.
Several stays will necessarily be devoted to this region, for those who wish to multiply the discoveries, always different and never disappointing. To get you started, here are 10 of Normandy’s most emblematic attractions.
#1 Deauville and its sisters
The famous Deauville forms, with Cabourg, Houlgate and Trouville, what is called the Côte Fleurie. They experienced phenomenal tourist success from the 19th century, as evidenced by the many Belle Epoque villas which are still considered charming residences as main or secondary residences.
Each with a city center on a human scale, it is quite possible to admire the four cities in a single day, especially since the journey to connect the two furthest away will not exceed, by car, about thirty minutes. . A good opportunity to stroll and relax, in town or on the beautiful beaches that adjoin them!
#2 The sublime Honfleur
It would be a shame to go through Normandy without stopping at Honfleur, a charming port located a little east of Deauville. There is a very pleasant village atmosphere, and the architecture of its tall houses is known throughout the world. Many original shops line the city center, not to mention the delicious restaurants.
If strolling around the port and climbing in the alleys are the main activities, the tourist will certainly not regret the time devoted to Honfleur, moreover nestled in the heart of a natural basin to be explored.
#3 Mont Saint-Michel
The bay of Mont Saint-Michel is an exceptional natural site, the scene of the highest tides in Europe (with an amplitude of 14 meters) and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sand, the sky and the herbs mix and merge in the play of light, plunging the spectator into a lascivious contemplation. Within the city, you can visit the abbey, a masterpiece of medieval architecture, and its belvedere, an ideal observation point.
France’s most famous mountain continues to amaze all who have the chance to contemplate and climb it. Victor Hugo said of him that he “is for France what the Great Pyramid is for Egypt”. Do not miss a visit to this unique jewel of Normandy, unfortunately threatened in the coming decades by rising waters.
#4 The landing beaches
From Utah to Sword Beach, the landing beaches straddle Calvados and the English Channel, covering several kilometers between Ouistreham and Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. As their name suggests, these are the landing points of the Allied armies on June 6, 1944, from which Americans, English and Canadians embarked on the great liberation of France.
Many museums, cemeteries and natural sites scattered within and around the beaches allow you to understand the course of this decisive event in the history of our country. There are blockhouses, various places of memory, drums and a large number of thematic exhibitions retracing sometimes the role of BBC radio, sometimes the progress of the Allied breakthrough, and other major elements of this period of war.
#5 The fabulous cliffs of Etretat
What a fabulous spectacle offered by the famous cliffs of Etretat! From the beach of the charming town nestled between the immense rocky arms jutting out to the sea – and visible from all the streets of the town – admire the very recognizable shapes of the cliffs of Etretat. By steep paths, you will reach the summits in a few minutes, one of which will allow you to visit the pretty Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Chapel and observe the surroundings while enjoying an impregnable point of view.
The town of Etretat is also a very charming seaside resort, with its small shops and tasty restaurants. Do not hesitate to devote at least 24 hours to this emblematic place where the mythical Arsène Lupine would have, according to Maurice Leblanc, hidden his treasures in the secret of the rock…
#6 The City of the Sea in Cherbourg
Much further west, in the heart of the English Channel, a fabulous dive into the depths of the sea awaits you at the Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg. This absolutely fascinating scientific and fun park offers you an immersion in a multitude of spaces to discover (and marvel at) the wonders of the ocean, the technologies that have allowed Man to move there, or to shipwreck there with the part dedicated to the Titanic.
More than an exhibition, the visitor is at the heart of the action and will be able to discover and take control of a nuclear submarine and even meet a real submariner! Films recount as in the cinema some key moments in the history of Normandy, from the war to the construction of the great buildings, through what Normandy has inspired best in terms of art. A place not to be missed!
#7 Monet’s gardens at Giverny
Since we were talking about art, did you know that the famous painter Claude Monet spent most of his life in Normandy, and left a substantial legacy there? After the death of his wife, he settled permanently in Giverny in 1883, accompanied by his two children and the Hoschedé family, whose numerous absences of Ernest, patron of Monet, brought his wife Alice closer to the painter. Although he then devoted himself to producing thematic series, his “garden and flowers” constituted Monet’s second passion. Its gardens are thus divided into two parts, which oppose and complement each other.
Le Clos Normand first of all descends from the artist’s house to the road, over approximately one hectare. Originally an orchard crossed by a central path lined with yews, this land bordered by a high low wall will become, under the leadership of Monet, a garden rich in perspectives and colors. Not appreciating constrained gardens, he set about creating flowerbeds of various heights, combining the flowers according to their colors and letting them grow freely.
After acquiring an additional plot in 1893, crossed by the Ru, a small watercourse deriving from the Epte, Monet dug a basin which he enlarged over time. The resulting water garden, all in asymmetry and curves, is visibly inspired by Japanese gardens. It seems that Monet wanted to materialize what he wanted to paint next: his perfect work.
#8 The Bayeux Tapestry
For a real dive into history, the Bayeux tapestry is simply an essential support. Over nearly 70 meters long, it tells the story of the conquest of England in 1066 by William, Duke of Normandy and otherwise called, the Conqueror.
An audio guide allows you to decipher the images of this extraordinary medium, to understand its history and its creation. No less than 58 scenes, 1500 motifs, 600 characters, 500 various animals and 200 horses, 50 trees are to be counted over the linen canvas. Gargantuan!
#9 Pont Audemer
Normandy has a number of charming villages – such as Beaumont-en-Auge – which we cannot all describe here. However, let’s stop at Pont-Audemer, in the heart of the Isle valley, where the small streets, the canals in the heart of the city and the typical half-timbered houses make it unique and give this corner of France the appearance of Venice. Norman.
This former city of tanners has a town center typical of the Middle Ages, where you can find old skin dryers and sublime private mansions. Thierry Hermès, founder of the eponymous brand, lived there at certain times of his life, and the house of the writer Alfred Canel is now a museum dedicated to him.
Pont-Audemer is also the gateway to the Vernier marshes, a listed and fabulous natural site. Before embarking on one of the 44 hiking trails crisscrossing the surroundings, be sure to taste the emblematic pastry of the place: the mirliton!
#10 Beaumesnil Castle
Let’s end on another gourmet note, because Normandy is after all a region extremely rich in culinary specialties, each more delicious than the next. A visit to the splendid Château de Beaumesnil will be an opportunity to taste a local speciality, caramels!
This will not be the only attraction of the castle, which allows you to travel through 300 years of history and deserves to be visited from the cellar to the attic with 15 fully furnished rooms. The 70-hectare estate will delight walkers with its French-style gardens, and the more adventurous will embark on the great route of puzzles and various challenges. Many events bring the place to life all year round, whether it’s solving the mystery of a murder or freeing the ghosts haunting the corridors…
It is impossible to describe here all the marvels of Normandy, which a whole life could be devoted to discovering. You will unearth many other places by letting yourself be carried away by your intuitions and the picturesque roads of this sublime region!