Planning on a trip to Normandy? Here’s a list of the best things to visit and do, from learning about the rich history of the region to seafood festivals. Note: This article is part of a bigger magazine feature called “Travel to Normandy: A Shore Thing”.
Normandy is a region renowned for the diversity it offers. Its beaches host stunning seaside resorts, quaint fishing villages (with delicious seafood festivals) and of course, memorials commemorating the D-Day landings. Normandy also held great importance in the medieval period, producing William the Conqueror and playing a key role in the First Hundred Years War — discover excellent museums displaying documents and artefacts from this period. If you are looking for a more active holiday, there are plenty of excursions and guided walks to help you explore the land and sea of this fascinating region. Or if artistic inspiration is what you seek, why not venture out to find France’s second largest collection of Impressionist paintings?
World War II Remembrance
Unique amongst the D-Day memorials is Arromanches-les-Bains where remnants of the Mulberry Harbours fringe the bay and lie exposed on the beach at low tide. For US visitors, and anyone who has watched Saving Private Ryan, head for Omaha Beach, Point du Hoc, and the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. The Maisy Battery outside Grandcamp-Maisy was taken by US Rangers but uncovered by English military historian Gary Sterne. See the new British memorial and the Caen Memorial peace museum. August 19, 2022 marks the 80th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid and special events this year will commemorate the Canadian soldiers who fought there.
Discover the ecosystem of the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel on a guided walk at low tide with Chemins de la Baie. And experience the coastline from water level on a summer trip from Granville on-board La Granvillaise, a replica of a traditional local bisquine sailing ship. Many resorts offer lessons and excursions in sea kayaking, sailing, surfing and more – find out more here.
Discover the flora, fauna and ecology of the Orne estuary at the Nature and Estuary Centre at Sallenelles Estuaire de l’Orne.
Art and History
Discover the life of artist Jean-François Millet at his birthplace in Gréville-Hague, enjoy coastal paintings at the Eugène Boudin museum in Honfleur, and view France’s second largest collection of Impressionist paintings at MuMa.
The Scriptorial in Avranches unveils the secrets behind the medieval manuscripts from Mont Saint-Michel, whilst visitors can enjoy a different fashion exhibition each year at Les Rhumbs, the pink and white family home of couturier Christian Dior at Granville.
New last year on the Côte Fleurie, Les Franciscaines in Deauville is a new cultural centre in a historic convent five minutes from the beach. And in nearby Cabourg, the Villa du Temps Retrouvé showcases the Belle Époque history of the area through the eyes of legendary author Marcel Proust.
Majestic tall ships gather for Fécamp Grand’Escale in late June. Expect exhibitions, concerts and firework displays. Look out too for seafood festivals in ports such as Trouville (mackerel in August), Granville (general seafood in Sept), Honfleur (shrimps in October), and Ouistreham and Villers-sur-Mer (scallops in October).
From France Today magazine
Lead photo credit : Enjoy a guided walk across the bay of Mont Saint-Michel © Gillian Thornton