Roadtrippin’ memories of Normandy, France

In Europe, France, Memories, Our Journeys, Road Trips, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

History, cider, crepes & art, what more could you want?

History, cider, crepes & art, what more could you want?

Our car, an Audi Convertable, parked next to the apple orchards in Normandy.

Parked next to Normandy's orchards

Normandy was a region of France that we hadn’t really toured around much previously; we’d often headed south to visit the sun-kissed regions of Provence & Cote d’Azur or east to Champagne and Alsace.

This time we wanted to discover more about our close neighbours and the history that links us.

Quick Links

Normandy was a region of France that we hadn’t really toured around much previously; we’d often headed south to visit the sun-kissed regions of Provence & Cote d’Azur or east to Champagne and Alsace.

This time we wanted to discover more about our close neighbours and the history that links us.

Our Highlights

D-Day Landing Beaches

Visiting the historic beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno & Sword and the touching cemeteries, holds so many poignant memories.

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 bay at Arromanches

The Mulberry harbour at Arromanches-Les-Bains is particularly incredible.

further reading


Le Mont-Saint-Michel

This is one of France’s most visited sights, and it’s not surprising.

A shot of the wide, paved, causeway to the island of Mont-Saint-Michel , Normandy

The causeway to Mont-Saint-Michel

When the rocky outcrop first comes into your view it is astonishing, it hard to believe how the abbey was ever built.

Take a Medieval stroll along the lanes and the ramparts for free.

further reading


Rouen

This city is steeped in so much history, taking pride of place is the Gothic Cathedral, which was consecrated in 1063 in the presence of William the Conqueror.

Rouens famous Gros-Horloge.  An ornate, gold-trimmed,  clock mounted above an arch in one of the old town's thoroughfares next to a stone belfry.

Gros-Horloge, Rouen

This city is also where Maid of Orléans (Joan of Arc), came to her untimely death. We found some lovely local restaurants here.

further reading

Our post 'Amongst the historical lanes of Rouen, France' has more details on our stay.


Beuvron-en-Auge

While we were driving the ‘Route de Cidre’ through the Normandy countryside, we came to the quaint village of Beuvron-en-Auge.

A beautiful half-timbered building, one of obvious importance, in Beuvron-en-Auge set on the banks of the river that runs through the village.

Just the prettiest place

Having a wander amongst the half-timbered buildings and lanes was like stepping back in time.

further reading

There's more in our post - Beuvron-en-Auge, Normandy, France



Caen

The colourful city of Caen has a bit of everything, a harbour, pleasant relaxing squares, ‘his’ and ‘hers’ abbeys and of course a castle!

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

What more could you want, oh yes and some rather lovely bistros?

further reading

There's more on all things Caen, check out 'The Core of Calvados, Caen, France'


Jumièges Abbey

Not too far from Rouen are the ruins of Jumièges Abbey, we arrived late it the day, and there was hardly anyone around.

Looking up at the ruins of Jumieges Abbey from the arch that would have marked the transept.  The scale of the building is awe-inspiring.

The huge scale of Jumieges Abbey

It was fantastic with its imposing towers and birds soaring through the broken windows; it made it quite atmospheric just wandering around on your own.

further reading

Pleasures

Route de Cidre

If you are also planning a road trip around Normandy, this is one to add to your list.

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

As the 40km (25-mile) scenic route winds you through some lovely rural lanes and villages, where you can buy a bottle the local tipple to try once your car is parked up at the end of the day.


Giverny

If you are a fan of Monet like me, you may already know of the French impressionist's colourful home in Giverny.

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

Across the lily pond at Giverny

Not only can you wander around his family home and walled garden it is also where he painted his iconic lily pond masterpieces.

further reading

Why not check out - 'Monet’s Giverny, France'


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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

You’d struggle to better the experience of sitting at Honfleur’s harbour front enjoying the crêpe of your choice, washed down with a glass of sparkling cold cider.

further reading

Would you like to read more about - 'The call of Honfleur, France'?



Oeuf Cocotte

On this journey I discover this simplest of egg dishes. Whilst struggling to find a starter that appealed, Gary suggested I try an oeuf cocotte with bacon and red wine. It was delicious, which begs the question why hadn't Gary suggested this before?


Étretat

The unforgiving white cliffs at Étretat, do draw a few crowds, so parking may be tricky in town.

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

The cliffs at Étretat

However, you can see why artists have been flocking here over the decades, as it is a beautiful view and worth the visit.


Alençon

Perhaps not prominent on the tourist map, but that was part of its appeal.

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

Maison D'Oze and Alençon Cathedral

Along with its impressive cathedral, Le Chateau des Ducs which was used by the Gestapo and a Hogwarts styled library, hidden behind the walls of a 17th-century Baroque church. To top it off it had some very reasonably priced bistros.

further reading

There's more in our post - 'The making of a Saint, Alençon, France'

Treasures

Rouen Cathedral Light Show

This is certainly a memory that will remain with us. It may appear a simple concept.

However, the free light display of Rouen’s ancient history projected across the front of the cathedral was impressive. The show lasted around 15 minutes and charted through sight and sound the lives of William the Conqueror and Joan of Arc.


Discovering little villages

We came across Lyons-la-Forêt while we were touring, and couldn’t resist pulling up and enjoying some petit déjeuner.

A street scene from the little Normandy village of Lyons-la-Forêt. People are sitting at tables and chairs outside the cafes in this quaint slide of French life.

Lyons-la-Forêt - a perfect place for breakfast


History

As with any place Gary & I visit, we are always in search of the local history and this region of France has so much of it.

A stone monument in front of the now relocated Pegasus Bridge in Normandy.

Pegasus Bridge - just outside Caen

I found that the museum at Pegasus Bridge was indeed worth a visit, the incredibly touching military stories are not for the faint-hearted.

Our Things to do Differently

Stay Longer

I know it’s a cliché, but we love France.

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.


Our Funny Moment

And again...

Seeing Gary’s face when I drag him around another cemetery.

A field of headstones in the Normandy American Cemetery.  The cross of Frank D Peregory is decorated with a gold star and Medal of Honor inscription.

The American Cemetery and Memorial


Our Slight Disappointment

Honfleur

The disappointment was that we had visited Honfleur 10 years previously, and I wanted to match those memories.

The old merchant houses that line the sides of Honfleur's harbour that are now home to bars, cafes & restaurants.

The harbour at Honfleur

Points of Note

Rouen’s Cathedral Light Show – Only takes place during the summer months, so check the timings here.

Have You?

Visited Normandy? Does our reminiscing bring back any memories for you? What’s your favourite place in France?

Inspired to visit Normandy?

As you can see this region of France offers so much diversity. Why not give it a go?

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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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