Normandy is a region that everyone has their own image of – Bayeux Tapestry, D-Day landing beaches, Impressionist art – Rouen, Giverny; the iconic outline of Mont Saint-Michel.
But beyond this picture of Normandy are countless hidden treasures that most visitors never discover, yet should do. Take for example, a tree carved in the shape of a man; an airship hangar; unique dark-faced cliffs; a cliff-tunnelling funicular; a ‘living and speaking church’ or Europe’s largest bison farm.
Normandy has an incredibly rich history and its people are some of the best known in France, from William the Conqueror to Rollo. It has also seen a number of great battles, including one that saw the mighty British fleet defeat the German army and free the continent in 1944.
The lands of Normandy belong to the Armorican Massif, with granite cliffs and coastal scenery, but it is also a region of rocky mountains, which are popular with outdoor sports enthusiasts. The mountains around Thury-Harcourt, a few hours’ drive from the seaside town of Deauville, are particularly impressive.
There are many different ways to get around the country – public transport is very good and most cities have a network of bus or metro routes; train services also operate regularly from large towns. Carnets are a useful way to save money on attractions and museums, while discounts are available for students and under-18s.
The area has a rich and varied culture, from ancient castles and chateaux to fine art, music and food. Calvados apple brandy (troi normand), originating in the region, is popular with locals and visitors alike.