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Normandy   -   an inside guide

A short guide to the Normandy region of France

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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.
For more on the Normandy landings area, and a map, see Bayeux.

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 one of the great dukedoms 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 areas of Normandy 

Horse riding on a Normandy beach
Normandy is famous for its beaches and its horse riding.
    Recently reunited  as a single region, the area that was once the dukedom of Normandy was until 2015 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).  
   Since 2016, the region of Normandy has been once again reunited, to the satisfaction of many Normans.
    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. Two particularly interesting small towns in Normandy are Bayeux and Honfleur .
    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 :

Private Normandy D-Day tours for up to 4 people

Main tourist attractions in Normandy

Picturesque Barfleur, at the northeast tip of the Cotentin peninsula
Normandy gites

Accommodation choices in Normandy

Hotels in Normandy

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)
  Small independent hotels in Normandy
►  Bed and Breakfast in Normandy

A  small hand-picked selection of hotels in Normandy.

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  
Bayeux:☆☆☆ Hôtel d'Argouges Boutique hotel
St Lô : Ibis budget - St. Lo - Centrally located budget hotel
 Deauville & Côte Fleurie (14) :
Deauville: ☆☆ Campanile Deauville St Arnoult
Deauville centre: ☆☆☆☆☆ Hotel Barrière
Honfleur: ☆☆Tulip inn residence
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 ☆☆☆ Chaîne d'Or  on the banks of the eine

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
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Just a short ferry ride from the UK, Normandy is a beautiful part of France with fine beaches, bucolic countryside, and a world famous cultural and historic heritage.

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In 2016, the Normandy area, the former dukedom of Normandy was reunited into a single region. Prior to that,  it was split into Upper Normandy (Haute Normandie) in the east, and Lower Normandy (Basse Normandie) in the west

The Bayeux tapestry - extract
A small part of the 11th century  Bayeux Tapestry, celebrating William the Conqueror.

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Mont Saint Michel
Giverny - Monet's garden
Monet's garden - Giverny.

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