Normandy area, the former dukedom of Normandy
is nowadays divided into two regions; Upper Normandy (Haute Normandie)
in the east, and Lower Normandy (Basse Normandie) in the west. This
guide covers both regions.
Mont Saint Michel - Normandy
A small part of the 11th century Bayeux Tapestry, celebrating
William the Conqueror.
Just a short ferry ride from the
UK, Normandy is a beautiful part of France with fine beaches, bucolic
couyntryside, and a world famous cultural and historic heritage.
Johan Barthold Jongkind : Honfleur 1866. André
museum - le Havre
Memorial on Omaha Beach
Delicate decorative brickwork on an old half-timbered house in classic Norman style
Main photo: by Pline.
Monet's garden: - Photo Jordan Klein
The cliffs at Etretat: Frenn Lareo
Honfleur harbour - Deylaud
Omaha Beach memorial Anoneditor
These photos licenced under Creative Commons Sword Beach memorial - About-France.com.
Map on a base from Openmap
Text: copyright About-France.com
The Normandy landings On
"D-Day" in June 1944, Allied forces disembarked on the Normandy
beaches, in a massive surprise attack that was to mark the beginning of
the end of the Second World War. Thousands of Allied troops
– Americans, British, French, Canadians and others, gave their
lives in the battles to recapture Normandy and achieve victory over the
Nazis. The Normandy beaches and the area inland are today the site of
many memorials and museums in memory of those who fought through and
those who died during this momentous period of history.
Photo above : memorial on Sword Beach, Ouistreham, near Caen.
is one of the great historic regions of France; in the Middle
Ages, Normandy was a great dukedom which, like Burgundy, rivalled in
power and prestige with the kingdom of France. Indeed, the dukes of
Normandy managed to achieve the same status as the kings of France, to
whom they owed alliegance. Before he died, the king of
England, Edward the Confessor, named his nephew William, duke
of Normandy, as his successor. But after Harold, William's cousin, took
the English crown for himself, William invaded England in 1066, to
assert his claim to a royal crown. The story of Harold and William the
Conqueror is magnificently told in the historic Bayeux Tapestry, which
can be visited in Bayeux, a few miles to the west of Caen.
With their historic links and their
proximity, it is
hardly surprising that the Normandy area has much in common with the
south of England; the rolling countryside is not too different - fields
and meadows bordered by hedges, even bluebell woods. Furthermore, the
historic and vernacular styles of architecture are not too different
The Normandy regions
Normandy is famous for its beaches and its horse riding.
Soon to be reunited, but still today separate regions of France, the area that was once the
dukedom of Normandy is divided into two administrative regions
Normandy (Haute Normandie), capital Rouen, with its two
(27) and Seine Maritime
(76), and Lower
Normandy, (Basse Normandie) capital Caen, comprising the
departments of Calvados
(50), and Orne(61).
There are plenty of people who will be very happy to see the two
reunited - which will make historic sense, and leave a reunited
Normandy region still within the norms of French regions, both in size
and in population. This is liable to occur in the not too distant
future when the number of regions in metropolitan France is reduced from
the current 22 to just 13 or 14.
To the south
east, the Normandy area borders on the Ile de France, the Paris region,
and towns and villages in this area have developed due to their
proximity to the capital. Both Caen and Rouen are sufficiently close to
Paris to benefit from the economic vigour of the Paris region, which is
the most propserous in France, and from their position between two
major hubs of international communications - Paris for air travel
(parts of south east Normandy are less than 100 km from Charles de
Gaulle airport), and the Normandy port of Le Havre, France's
most important international shipping port.
Towns and cities in Normandy
Havre, Caen and Rouen
are the three
in this region. For details of these cities, see below under Tourist attractions. There are
four smaller cities - or large towns, these
being Evreux, in the Eure, Cherbourg - still an active
though less than in its heyday when it was France's gateway to America
- Dieppe, a minor seaport, and Alençon,
Outside the towns and cities, Normandy
prosperous agricultural area, specialising in dairy products, fruit
(notably apples) and mixed farming. The most famous regional products
are the cheese Camembert, and two drinks, Cider and the spirit
distilled from it, Calvados. Normandy is also famous for its
racehorses, and the region has many top breeding stables.
Getting to Normandy
from Paris Gare Saint Lazare.
Direct access by ferry
from the UK, to Cherbourg, Caen (Ouistreham), Le
Havre or Dieppe. By air:
access by plane to Paris or (for western Normandy) to Rennes.
How we choose which hotels to list:
takes the strain out of finding a good hotel. Before listing any hotel,
we read customer reviews to make sure that it meets our standards or
selection criteria. For our regional lists, the main criterion used is
visitor satisfaction. We only list hotels which are generally
recommended by people who have stayed in them. As a result, our hotel
lists are short and very selective.
Naturally, the type and quality of service
provided will vary
according to the hotel; visitors cannot expect the same service or room
quality in a two-star hotel as in a four-star chateau hotel. Our choice
lists hotels that are generally judged to be above average or well
above average for their category.
(near Vernon, 27) Visit the home of the greatest Impressionist, Claude
Monet, and the Giverny Museum of Impressionism - formerly the Museum of
There are more works by the major Impressionists in the museums at
Rouen and Le Havre .
Verneuil sur Arve
(Southeast Normandy, 27, northwest of Chartres). Lovely small town with
a flamboyant gothic bell tower, some fine Renaissance buildings, and
many historic town houses.
(76), with its quays on the river Seine, its picturesque historic
centre, with half-timbered houses, an ancient clock, and a magnificent
gothic cathedral, Rouen is one of France's great historic cities. The
Rouen Fine Arts museum
musée des beaux arts - has a good but small collection of
Impressionists, plus a broad collection of old masters from 15th
century to the 20th century, including Rubens, Velasquez, Poussin and
many more. There is also the Joan
of Arc museum .
Havre (76) -In
the 1950's, the old town, destroyed in the war, was rebuilt in concrete
by architect Auguste Perret, to the wishes of the Communist city
council. This example of postwar Soviet-style urban planning is classed
as a UNESCO
world heritage site.
Havre: (76) Musée Malraux :
one of the best museums outside Paris for impressionism &
Large collection of 19th & 20th century masters including
Renoir, Boudin, Marquet, Pissaro and many others
White Cliffs of Etretat (76) - the most famous cliffs in
(14), a large part of which was destroyed in the Second World War, has
museum of the Normandy Landings and the Liberation
(14) - the site of the D-Day Landings in World War 2 - Omaha Beach,
Juno Beach, Utah Beach and the others. The landings are
commemorated in monuments, museums and the war graves of the thousands
who gave their lives. Normandy Beaches coach tours depart
attractive old Norman town where the historic Bayeux tapestry is
preserved, 900 years after it was made. A unique historic
monument. Audioguides in many languages. The museum is open
7/7. Bayeux is the departure point of coach tours of the Normandy
beaches. There is also a fine
(14) - impressive Mediaeval
fortress, birthplace of William the Conqueror.
(14) of lower Normandy, Honfleur, Deauville,
Cabourg, etc. -
genteel resorts that flourished in the ninetenth century, as the
closest to Paris.
St Catherines church, from the 15th century, is the
largest historic wooden church in France.
d'Auge (14, 61) - to the east and southeast of Caen, this
is the archetypal Norman countryside, with
its small villages and traditional half-timbered cottages.
(14, 61) - south of Caen, the highest hills in Normandy, around 1000
ft., loved by
hikers and ramblers - though they are a long way from being mountains.