Mont Saint Michel, Normandy
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Normandy      an area guide

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Mont Saint Michel

The 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

The Bayeux tapestry - extract
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.
Giverny - Monet's garden
Monet's garden - Giverny.

The regions of France
Alsace
Aquitaine
Auvergne
Brittany
Burgundy
Centre
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Corsica
Franche Comté
Ile de France (Paris region)
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Midi-Pyrénées
Nord – Pas-de-Calais
Normandy
Pays de la Loire
Picardy
Poitou-Charentes
Provence
Rhone-Alpes


Map of France

 Cliffs of Etretat
The cliffs at Etretat - 

Harbour at Honfleur
The harbour at Honfleur - 

Quay at Honfleur
Johan Barthold Jongkind :  Honfleur 1866.
André Malraux museum - le Havre

Omaha beach memorial
Memorial on Omaha Beach

Delicate Norman brickwork
Delicate decorative brickwork on an old half-timbered house in classic Norman style


Photo Credits:
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

A short guide to Normandy

Go to ►  Area information Main Normandy tourist attractions Handpicked hotels in Normandy

Memorial on Sword BeachThe 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.

  Map of Normandy Normandy 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 either.

The Normandy regions

Horse riding on a Normandy beach
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 - Upper Normandy (Haute Normandie), capital Rouen, with its two departments, Eure (27) and Seine Maritime (76), and Lower Normandy, (Basse Normandie) capital Caen, comprising the departments of Calvados (14), Manche (50), and Orne(61). There are plenty of people who will be very happy to see the two regions 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

    Le Havre, Caen and Rouen are the three main cities 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 seaport, though less than in its heyday when it was France's gateway to America  - Dieppe, a minor seaport, and Alençon, capital of the Orne.
    Outside the towns and cities, Normandy is a 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 :

By train 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.

Accommodation
in Normandy :

Hotels
by area 

Hotels in the Calvados department (14) 
Hotels in the  Cotentin and Manche (50)
 Hotels in the Orne (61)
 Hotels in the Eure (27)
 Hotels in the Seine maritime (76)

Other types of accommodation in Normandy:

 ► Gites
in Normandy

many with English-speaking owners







Normandy hotels:

A small hand-picked selection.

All these Normandy hotels have been selected on account of their good user reviews:
Click hotel name for booking options and best rates.

 Cherbourg area (50) :
Cherbourg: **Hotel Campanile
Bricquebec, nr. Carteret - chateau - hotel - L'Hostellerie du Château 

 Normandy beaches area (14) :
Near Arromanches  **+ Ferme de la Rançonnière manor house hotel
Bayeux: ** Hotel Campanile
Bayeux: *** Hotel Novotel
Omaha Beach: *** Hotel Mercure
Near Bayeux: *** Chateau de Goville
St Lô : Château d'Agneaux - Boutique hôtel
Ouistreham (Caen ferry port) : **+ Hotel Saint Georges
 Deauville & Côte Fleurie (14) :
Deauville: ** Campanile Deauville St Arnoult
Deauville centre: *** Hotel du Yacht Club - Mercure
Honfleur: *** La Closerie
Cricqueboeuf: ***  Manoir de la Poterie 
 Pays de Caux (76-27- N-E Normandy) :
Near Fécamp: *** Chateau de Sassetot
Cormeilles: **  Auberge du Président
a typical Norman country inn

 Rouen area : 
Les Andelys *** La Chaîne d'Or - on the banks of the Seine
Connelles  Le Manoir des deux Amants - beside the Seine. Studios or small apartments, pools, sauna. Self catering

About-France.com
How we choose which hotels to list:


About-France.com 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.

Visiting Paris?
See our selection of Paris hotels

Main tourist attractions in Normandy

Upper Normandy

  • Giverny: (near Vernon, 27) Visit the home of the greatest Impressionist, Claude Monet, and the Giverny Museum of Impressionism - formerly the Museum of American art.
    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.
  • Rouen (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 .
  • Le 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. 
  • Le Havre: (76) Musée Malraux : one of the best museums outside Paris for impressionism & fauvism. Large collection of 19th & 20th century masters including Monet, Renoir, Boudin, Marquet, Pissaro and many others
  • The White Cliffs of Etretat (76) - the most famous cliffs in France. 

Lower Normandy

  • Caen (14), a large part of which was destroyed in the Second World War, has a Memorial museum of the Normandy Landings and the Liberation
  • The Normandy Beaches (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 from Bayeux.
  • Bayeux (14),  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 mediaeval cathedral.
  • Falaise (14) - impressive Mediaeval fortress, birthplace of William the Conqueror.
  • The seaside resorts  (14) of lower Normandy, Honfleur, Deauville, Cabourg, etc. - genteel resorts that flourished in the ninetenth century, as the closest to Paris.
  • Honfleur St Catherines church, from the 15th century, is the largest historic wooden church in France.
  • Pays 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.
  • La Suisse Normande (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.
  • Le Mont Saint Michel, (50)  the world famous mediaeval abbey built on a rock in the bay - a UNESCO world heritage site. One of France's most visited historic monuments.
  • Le Cotentin: (50) Between Avranches and Cherbourg - countryside, cliffs and sandy beaches, seaside resorts such as Granville, on this granite  promontory jutting out into the English Channel. 
  • Le Cité de la Mer, Cherbourg: (50) Devoted to underwater exploration, the museum includes a visit of the Redoutable, the biggest visitable sub in the world, plus the deepest aquarium in Europe.


Further information :    Official Normandy tourism site