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

Our excuses for a Normandy road trip

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

France was calling us again

We never really need an excuse to visit France as we love their culture, food and landscape, often we jump in the car and head south through France visiting cities, towns and villages en route. However, this time we fancied exploring the north-western region of France, more precisely Normandy.

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

An inspiration for artists, Honfleur

We had previously spent a couple of nights in beautiful Honfleur back in 2007, where we took a day out to explore part of Normandy’s coastline, learn more about WWII landings & visit Bayeux (home of the famous tapestry). However, that was just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what Normandy has to offer.

Quick Links

Here are just a few of our inspirations that lured us back, so, with our taste buds tempted off we embark again on a Normandy road trip.

The Landscape

Normandy has a wonderful coastline stretching out over the English Channel, it’ll be pleasure driving along the winding roads & discovering, as parts of this shoreline appear to look quite harsh & unforgiving.

A beach view of Étretat's shoreline, including its white cliffs and legendary arch formation.
The Cliffs at Étretat
We’re also looking forward to exploring the charming harbour towns that are scattered amongst the bays.
Little boats bobbing about in the harbour of Fécamp, Normandy

The harbour at Fécamp

That’s not to say that Normandy is all about its coastline, there appears to be some intriguing rugged landscapes and lush countryside to tour through. Particularly around the Calvados region, where we plan to pick up a 40-mile (65km) route around Suisse Normande.
A view from a vantage point of the landscape that makes up the route 'La Suisse Normande' through Normandy.

A view over the route Suisse-Normande

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.

The History

Normandy is certainly full of history, particularly from the allied invasion in WWII.

A row of stone monuments, each with a Remembrance wreath, the Pegasus Bridge is in the background.

Pegasus Bridge in its new home in Normandy

We plan to visit some of the poignant places around here including the Military cemeteries & the renowned D-day landing beaches.

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

Another large part of Normandy history is the impact of William the Conqueror, the King of England & also the Duke of Normandy.

William the Conqueror's tomb is at the Abbaye-aux-Hommes, one of two abbeys in Caen.

Inside the Abbaye aux Hommes in front of the tomb of William the Conqueror.

The tomb of William the Conqueror in Caen

A light display is performed on the façade of Rouen Cathedral each evening during the summer of 2017, to depict his life and influences. This is a must for us, as we had watched one in Reims last year and it was fantastic.

There is certainly no forgetting the huge effect that Joan of Arc had on France, and unfortunately her young death at the age of 19 was at the stake at Rouen.

A golden equine statue to Joan of Arc carrying a flag in Caen, Normany

A statue of Joan of Arc

Art & Culture

Normandy has a rich history of artists, Eugène Boudin a marine painter was born in Honfleur. However, one of my favourites artists is Claude Monet & I’m looking forward to visiting the house and gardens in Giverny, which are synonymous with his water lily paintings.

The view across the lily pond to a green footbridge in the distance in Claude Monet's gardens in Giverny, Normandy

The Lily ponds at Giverny

The Architecture

Another reason why we love to travel is to see the architectural differences & Normandy has some wonderful cathedrals, churches & half-timbered buildings.

Looking up at Rouen Cathedral

Looking up at Rouen Cathedral

One cathedral that particularly stands out is the Gothic style Rouen Cathedral, which has had its fair share of natural disasters fall upon it. Rouen Cathedral also contains a tomb of Richard the Lionheart

A view of Mont-Saint-Michel from our visit in 2008 before work was undertaken to improve the causeway.

Mont Saint-Michel

We will certainly be visiting the island commune of Mont Saint-Michel, located 0.6 mile (1km) off Normandy’s coast, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

The Food

No trip to France would be complete without sampling the local delicacies & Normandy has a few 'Must tries.'

The galettes are something we will definitely enjoy, but I’m not too sure about the tripe and the andouille, we have fell into that trap before in France. (See Troyes - and their Andouillette de Troyes)

A Breton buckwheat galette filled with camembert cheese and sliced potatoes.

A gallette with Camembert and cream

Seafood is also very good in this region for obvious reason, however, no trip would be complete for me if cheese wasn’t involved. In Normandy, there are quite a few local varieties a few of the more popular ones are Camembert, Livarot & Pont l’Eveque.

A fine cheese selection from a shop in Normandy

A fine cheese selection

The Drink

With Normandy’s abundance of orchards, the tipple in this region has to be cider, well ‘When in Rome’ – as they say. I suppose we may have to try Calvados the apple brandy, just for research reasons you understand.

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
We are also planning to pick up the Cider Route, which is a 25-mile (40km) tourist trail through the picturesque area of the Pays d'Auge.

Tool Tip

When planning a trip we use Google MyMaps. We create a layer for the routes we want to take, the accommodation the Points-of-Interest, and then try to see if we join the dots when we're on the trip. Why not try it yourself?

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  1. Great post! We’re hoping to make it back to France in the near future, and while we planned to visit just for Normandy and the history, you have reminded me of another great reason- Monet! We have a few Monet prints in our home, and I have wanted to see the inspiration for his paintings since I first saw his work when I was a very little girl. Crepes, cheese, and cider would make the trip just perfect. Thanks for sharing such great insights and pictures! – Stephanie

    1. Thanks, Normandy is a fantastic region to explore, there are so many beautiful villages & Abbeys as well. If you like Monet then you most certainly need to visit Giverny, the lily pond is wonderful. You also get to visit his family home & gardens.Keep an eye for our adventures in the region.Happy travels,Janis & Gary

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