Boats in Honfleur's harbour at dusk with the illuminated carousel and Ferris wheel in the background.

14 of Normandy’s delights, France

In En-Route, Europe, Featured, France, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Discover for yourself

Normandy truly is an intriguing region of France, not only is it synonymous for its mouthwatering flavours of cider & cheese, but the wealth of history that this north-western region holds is incredible.

Boats in Honfleur's harbour at dusk with the illuminated carousel and Ferris wheel in the background.

Honfleur's harbour at dusk

Gary and I have visited a few times, and on each occasion, it never disappoints.

There are some large towns that I have chosen that may take a day or two to enjoy on their own, and others just a few hours.

However, in my honest opinion, the best way to unearth these localities is on a road trip.

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Start ticking them off

I haven’t listed these in any particular order, as they all deserve a visit in my view. Although, I have started off with one of France’s most iconic landmarks.

1) Le Mont-Saint-Michel

A close-up shot of Mont-Saint-Michel from the causeway.

Close up to Mont-Saint-Michel

The ancient Benedictine Abbey perched high on a rocky island, is unbelievable when you first catch sight of it.

You’d almost think that it was built for a film set and not that it had been inhabited by monks since the 8th century.

further reading

For more on our visit check out our post; Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

At the top of Mont-Saint-Michel a close-up of the spire of the Abbey.

The Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel

A polished brass and stainless steel telescope to take in the views around Mont-Saint-Michel.

Enjoy the view

Wandering through the medieval lanes and along the ramparts is free of charge.

However, I think the €10 to enter the Abbey is most definitely worth it, if only for the views beyond and the birds soaring below.

Take a tour

Our favourite travel reads

2) Rouen

Looking up at the twin stone towers either side of the entrance to Rouen Cathedral, one of the most impressive in all Normandy,

Cathedral of Notre Dame, Rouen

Rouen’s striking centre piece is the Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame, consecrated in 1063 in the presence of William the Conqueror, and it also contains a tomb for Richard the Lionheart.

What I didn’t realise about Rouen, was that there were such a large amount of half-timbered homes and kept in such a wonderful condition.

further reading

A view of the different colours of the half-timbered buildings of Rouen

The Historical Streets of Rouen

The stone tower that imprisoned Joan of Arc during her final days in Rouen.

The Joan of Arc Tower

Unfortunately for the Maid of Orléans (Joan of Arc), Rouen is where her short heroic life ended and was burnt at the stake.

Take a walking tour

Tempted to?

Discover more of Normandy on a road trip, you'll be amazed how easy it is to tour around by car with. Like us you can create your own adventure and discover some, or all, or these wonderful destinations.

Take a peek at the offers at Rental Cars, they cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

3) Jumièges Abbey

The view from the transept towards the entrance of the ruins of the Jumieges Abbey.

The striking detail of Jumieges Abbey, Normandy

Jumièges Abbey is just 18miles/29kms outside of Rouen, so it’s possible to add as a detour.

The 7th century preserved ruin was once a thriving abbey, but today you can take a wander through the Romanesque façade that towers above you and stroll amongst the crumbling windows.

further reading

Our post ‘The ruins of Jumièges Abbey, Normandy, France‘ gives a little more detail.

4) Bayeux

You’re correct, the home of the famous ancient tapestry, which is an amazing 230ft long and depicts the history through the Norman conquest.

The historic 13th-century Gothic cathedral of Bayeux

Bayeux Cathedral

A view of a waterwheel, surrounded by flowers, in the River Aure in Bayeux.

Around Bayeux

You couldn’t go without missing Bayeux’s eye-catching Notre Dame cathedral & its lovely winding waterways.

A useful guide

We love visiting France and each region so different from one another. I find the DK Eyewitness Guides really helpful in planning a trip and so often find interesting little snippets of info.

Take a peek at this revised Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide and see what you can discover.


5) D-Day Landing beaches & cemeteries

The shoreline and bay of Arromanches from on high.  You can view, both on the beach, and out to sea, the remains of the 'temporary' mulberry harbour constructed for the D-Day landings.

The shoreline and bay of Arromanches

A day or two spent along the Landing Beaches would be ideal, as there are some very poignant places around Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno & Sword beaches, that time should be allowed.

further reading

We wrote about our expereinces in ‘The D-Day Landing Beaches, Normandy, France

A marble cross in the Normandy American Cemetery to an unknown soldier with the inscription.  'Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms know but to God'

The Omaha Beach D-Day Memorial, Normandy

However, if time is of the essence and only a couple can be visited, then I would recommend Arromanches, along Gold beach to see the astounding artificial Mulberry harbour and also, the extremely moving American Cemetery above Omaha beach.

A full day tour

6) Honfleur

The harbour of Honfleur, full of small boats & yachts, on a beautiful day, under a blue sky.

An inspiration for artists, Honfleur

For an idyllic picturesque harbour town then Honfleur would be a good choice.

It may be slightly busy during peak times, but the quaint streets and quayside make this lovely place to visit.

further reading

For more on our stopover check out – ‘The call of Honfleur, France

A bottle and 2 glasses of Cidre de Normandie served at the edge of the marina of Honfleur, filled with small sailing boats.

Cidre de Normandy

Take a seat by the harbour and grab a galette and a glass of cider.

Take a tour

7) Giverny

Now for the fans of French Impressionism, Monet’s home in the village of Giverny, will certainly be on your list.

Standing by a flower bed of pinks & reds in Claude Monet's gardens looking towards the main house.

Through the gardens to the house, Giverny

Not only can you wander through his idyllic family home, but you also get the chance to stroll through his colourful walled garden and onto the magnificent lily pond, that was used in so many of Monet’s works.

further reading

For more from our day have a look at ‘Monet’s Giverny, France

Our Advice

Try to arrive early as the museum can get very busy. Our you can book a tour and you can skip the queue.

8) Caen

Well not only does Caen have a Norman castle, but it also has two Abbey’s one for ladies – Abbaye aux Dames and one for the gentlemen – Abbaye aux Homme.

A view from the nave end of the Abbaye aux Hommes in Caen from the park in front of the town hall.

Abbaye aux Hommes from the town hall

William the conqueror had both of them built, one for him and one for his wife. His tomb is in Abbaye aux Homme.

further reading

For our visit have a peek at ‘The Core of Calvados, Caen, France

Boxed purple & mauve flowers surround the statue of  Louis XIV in Place Saint-Sauveur in Caen, Normandy

Statue of Louis XIV in Place Saint-Sauveur, Caen

Caen is a lovely town to stroll around day or night, amongst it attractive squares and marina.

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9) Alençon

Now Alençon is a little off the tourist trail, maybe as it is nestled between two regional parks, however, it certainly has its own historical story to tell.

A shot of Maison D'Oze, from the small garden behind, with the Alençon's Cathedral in the background.

Maison D'Oze and Cathedral, Alençon

Not only was it the birth place of Saint Thérèse, and famous for its French Royal lace, but it also managed to survive WWII relatively unscathed, so has some wonderful architecture.
 
Alençon was also the first town to be liberated by the French Army under General Leclerc.

further reading

We’ve written a little more in ‘The making of a Saint, Alençon, France

Why Not?

Start creating your own French adventure and discover the enchanting and historic region of Normandy for yourself. Search through Skyscanner for your favourable routes to Paris, which is a short hop from Normandy.

One of favourites ways to kick off our trips is to let Brittany Ferries take the strain, sit back, relax and go with the flow. Enjoy a little bit of France as you sail directly into Caen in the heart of Normandy.

Or alternatively jump on Le Shuttle and tour through France under your own steam.

10) Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The outside of the Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, France's second most visited pilgrimage site after Lordes.

The Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Normandy, France

Sitting high above the town of Lisieux is the large white basilica dedicated to Alençon’s Saint Thérèse. It is the second largest pilgrimage site in France, after Lourdes and has more than two million visitors a year.

Inside the Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, looking up towards the ornately decorated dome.

Looking up inside the Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The highly decorated altar of the Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux in Normandy

The alter at Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Regardless of your faith, it is an impressive piece of architecture and quite imposing in stature inside and out.

11) Étretat

A beach view of Étretat's shoreline, including its white cliffs and legendary arch formation.

The Cliffs at Étretat

Artists old and new are drawn to Étretat for its amazing white cliffs, and to see how the extraordinary forces of nature has carved its way through the chalk, to form incredible arches.

Our Tip

If you are unable to walk to the top of the cliff, a wonderful view can be seen from the esplanade in the town.

12) Lyons-la-Forêt

The little village of Lyons-la-Forêt is like stepping back in time. It is idyllic, with its 18th-century timber framed covered market, still used as such today. Surrounded by little shops, boutiques and manicured half-timbered houses.

Image

Image Caption

We couldn’t resist stopping for petit-dejeuner in the little market square

13) Fécamp

Little boats bobbing about in the harbour of Fécamp, Normandy

Image Caption

Located on the north coast of Normandy, Fécamp also has some stunning views along its white cliffs. Although it is still a busy fishing port today, Fécamp is famous for its exotic Benedictine liqueur.

14) Beuvron-en-Auge

We discovered this little Norman village while we were driving along the ‘Route de Cidre’.

The main route through Beuvron-en-Auge, on Normandy's Route de Cidre,  with half-timbered houses lining one side.

Along the high street, Beuvron-en-Auge, Normandy

Located deep in the Normandy countryside, and surrounded by orchards, Beuvron-en-Auge is amazing. Full of half-timbered homes, a covered market and just overflowing with flower displays.

Here you’ll certainly be able to pick up some mementoes of your Normandy trip.

further reading

We’ve a little more on this, and the Route de Cidre in ‘Beuvron-en-Auge, Normandy, France

Our favourite travel reads

Have You?

A favourite place in Normandy? We know there's other great places, which will take us back sometime in the not too distant future. Or are you planning on going? what's the draw?

Inspired to visit Normandy?

Does the history tempt you? Or the great food? The idyllic countryside, or the beaches?

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About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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