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.
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.
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
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.
For more on our visit check out our post; Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The Abbey of 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
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.
Why not read our post – Amongst the historical lanes of Rouen, France
The Historical Streets of 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
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 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.
Our post ‘The ruins of Jumièges Abbey, Normandy, France‘ gives a little more detail.
You’re correct, the home of the famous ancient tapestry, which is an amazing 230ft long and depicts the history through the Norman conquest.
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
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.
We wrote about our expereinces in ‘The D-Day Landing Beaches, Normandy, France‘
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
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.
For more on our stopover check out – ‘The call of Honfleur, France‘
Cidre de Normandy
Take a seat by the harbour and grab a galette and a glass of cider.
Take a tour
Now for the fans of French Impressionism, Monet’s home in the village of Giverny, will certainly be on your list.
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.
For more from our day have a look at ‘Monet’s Giverny, France‘
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.
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.
For our visit have a peek at ‘The Core of Calvados, Caen, France‘
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.
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.
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.
We’ve written a little more in ‘The making of a Saint, Alençon, France‘
10) Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
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.
Looking up inside the Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
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.
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.
If you are unable to walk to the top of the cliff, a wonderful view can be seen from the esplanade in the town.
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.
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.
We discovered this little Norman village while we were driving along the ‘Route de Cidre’.
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.
We’ve a little more on this, and the Route de Cidre in ‘Beuvron-en-Auge, Normandy, France‘
Inspired to visit Normandy?
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