For some, Normandy conjures up William the Conqueror and the Bayeux Tapestry; for others it’s D-Day landing beaches; still for many it’s impressionist art. Rouen, Giverny and Mont Saint-Michel are among the region’s must-sees.
For the best way to explore this beautiful area, we recommend a private tour with a driver-guide. They’ll navigate the region’s roads and help bring to life each site.
Normandy is one of the most cosmopolitan and culturally diverse regions in France. It’s known for its luscious green countryside, dramatic coastal scenery, and impossibly long stretches of beach, where the famous D-Day landings took place during WWII.
Throughout history, the region has seen waves of wars and invaders, from the Vikings to the Allies. Its turbulent past has shaped the culture of the region, and today it is a melting pot of influences.
The Scandinavians who came to settle in North Western France through naval excursions during the 10th century were given the name “Normans” (meaning “Northmen”). They ruled for nearly 500 years, until they were defeated by French forces in the early 13th century.
Although many Normans are descended from the Scandinavians, the region is now largely French-speaking. The language of the region is called Norman patois and it is a mix of Anglo-Saxon, Danish, and Frankish roots.
In the medieval era, Normans were the most powerful in France. Their dukes wore the crowns of both England and France, and they controlled sea passage and trade across the English Channel.
As a result, Normans were often referred to as ‘the Dukes of Normandy’. They were a strong force in the politics of France, and their descendants would continue to hold the title of “Duc” for many centuries.
Eventually, after the Conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, the Dukes of Normandy had to swear allegiance to the French kings. However, a number of conflicts soon erupted as Normans tried to gain their independence and claim their rightful place in the French throne.
It wasn’t until 1259, when the English crown officially surrendered their claims to Normandy, that the territory was formally recognized as a part of France. This allowed the dukes to continue to rule as they had done in England, though their ties with the English crown were weaker and they intermarried for generations with the French royal house.
With its rocky headlands and granite cliffs, this is a stunning region of coastline. The craggy gorges and soaring rock faces are popular with climbers, but there are also gentler areas of sweeping vistas and lush woodland.
Normandy is a place of exceptional beauty, with world famous coastlines, majestic inland landscapes and a rich culture and gourmet tradition. It is also a region with an enticing history, from Vikings to William the Conqueror to Richard the Lionheart to D-Day and more.
In the west, Lower Normandy stretches along the Cotentin peninsula which thrusts into the English Channel. The rugged coast reveals a stunning variety of landscapes, with granite cliffs in the west and limestone cliffs in the east.
Its inland landscapes are as impressive as its coastal ones and the region has long been a favourite with Impressionist painters, including Claude Monet, who painted his famous Giverny garden here in the late 1870s. In the upper reaches of the region, the city of Rouen (home to Monet’s favourite Gothic cathedral) has many medieval monuments and half-timbered buildings.
The Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the battle of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066, is a must see. The imposing abbey atop Mont Saint-Michel, dating from 654 and built as a Benedictine monastic monastery, is another iconic site of the region.
A great way to explore the region is to visit the many apple orchards that grow here and make the most of the delicious cider and Calvados that are produced here. There are hundreds of different types of apples grown in Normandy but not all are suitable for the cider process, requiring the right balance of flavour and aroma.
Once the cider has been made, it is distilled into the liquid heritage that is Calvados. It is a very popular drink throughout the country and is the most well-known of all the drinks in Normandy.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Calvados, you should visit the Pays d’Auge which is the most famous of the four regions for producing this artisanal drink. It is an easy way to experience the history of Calvados and is a great place for those who are new to this gastronomic drink to try it out.
The region is renowned for its seafood, and the nearby sea provides a wide range of fish and shellfish. It is also home to many world-famous cheeses such as Neufchatel, Pont-l’Eveque and Livarot.
Normandy is an intriguing region that’s just as much a place of natural beauty as it is of history. The area’s dark-faced cliffs, high waterfalls, and cliff-tunnelling funicular are just a few of the natural wonders that you can discover on your visit to this region.
A trip to this unique region will leave you awestruck with all the sights that it has to offer. From the Bayeux Tapestry and the landing beaches to the iconic Mont St-Michel, the region is home to some of France’s most memorable landmarks.
The region’s most famous sight is undoubtedly Mont St-Michel, a floating abbey that is one of the most iconic symbols of the French nation. However, the island isn’t the only must-see site in the area, with beautiful castles and stately chateaus scattered throughout the region.
Despite its rich heritage, this region is a laid back and relaxing place to visit for tourists who appreciate a slower pace of life. It is popular with families and people who want to escape the stress of modern living and recharge their batteries.
From the sweeping coastline to a region renowned for its fine cheeses and quality apples, you’ll find everything you need to make a holiday in Normandy truly unforgettable! The best way to experience this unique region is by renting a car.
You’ll be able to enjoy all the sights that Normandy has to offer on your vacation, including Mont St-Michel, the Alabaster Coast, and the home of impressionist painter Claude Monet. The area also has a wide variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking and cycling.
The best time to visit the area is in spring, when the blossoming flowers in the region will give you the most magical experience. The weather is also at its happiest, making the perfect time for a day out on the beach or a stroll through the stunning landscapes.
Another fantastic time to visit Normandy is in winter. The weather is usually mild and the area is filled with a plethora of attractions and events that you will not want to miss!
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