Discover another side of Normandy in Pays de Falaise, with swathes of unspoilt countryside to explore and plenty to see and do, from medieval châteaux to Second World War memorials.
1. Authentic Normandy
Away from the hustle and bustle of beaches and major tourist sites, discover the true Normandy, with its rich and varied scenery and impressive heritage. The Pays de Falaise is also the ideal base to explore further afield: it is less than an hour from the D-Day landing beaches, Ouistreham ferry terminal, and the towns of Deauville and Honfleur. Two hours away, you’ll find Mont Saint-Michel, Rouen and Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, and within three hours you can be in Paris.
2. Falaise Castle
The unmissable home of the Dukes of Normandy, the Château de Falaise is one of the largest medieval fortresses in Europe. Dynamic displays and touchpads bring to life the illustrious characters who have lived here over its 1,000-year history – and there are no fewer than three dungeons to explore too!
3. Medieval City of Falaise
The hometown of William the Conqueror is a fortified city with an exceptional heritage. Take time to discover the ramparts, gates, towers and churches. The Fontaine d’Arlette marks the meeting of Robert the Magnificent and Arlette, William the Conqueror’s parents. History fans will want to follow the 90-minute medieval circuit of the city (details from the tourist office).
4. The Falaise Memorial
A unique and moving site, the Mémorial de Falaise – La Guerre des Civils is the first museum to be dedicated entirely to the civilians of the Second World War. Specially designed for families, the route takes you over three floors and immerses you in the daily life of families in Falaise during the war. Discover moving testimonies, everyday objects and an immersive, moving film set in the ruins of a mansion destroyed in the bombings of August 1944. Here you can also learn about the Battle of the Falaise-Chambois Pocket, the hellish battle which ended the Battle of Normandy some two months after D-Day. Be sure also to visit the Montormel Memorial, 30 minutes away by car, on the summit of Hill 262, where the pocket was closed on August 21, 1944.
5. The Suisse Normande
With bocage and forest punctuated by steep rocky massifs overlooking tumultuous rivers and typically Norman villages, the Suisse Normande is the perfect setting for outdoor activities. On foot, bike or horseback, kilometres of marked trails await you. The village of Pont-d’Ouilly, crossed by the Orne and the Noireau, is the place to go to start your kayak descent of the Orne valley. And be sure to visit Clécy and the stunning natural belvedere of la Roche d’Oëtre.
6. Trails Galore
Whether hiking, biking or horse riding, the area is home to more than 600km of marked trails and some fantastic itineraries await you: ride the VéloFrancette cycle path, which leads through Suisse Normande to the Atlantic; hack along the 130-mile horse-riding route Chevauchée de Guillaume on which you can follow in the footsteps of William the Conqueror; walk the Chemins du Mont Saint-Michel ancient pilgrim trails; and indulge your outdoor adventurer in the wonderful landscapes of Pays d’Auge, Suisse Normande and Plaine de Falaise.
7. Culinary Specialities
Visit the first vineyard in Normandy at Les Arpents du soleil, created on the site of an old quarry. Or learn how saffron and yuzu are grown at an organic farm between Falaise and La Hoguette, where you can buy a string of delectable delights at the farm shop. And then there are the fabulous local cheeses, of course: be sure to try Camembert from Maison Jort and Le Moulin de Carel.
8. Château de Vendeuvre
Dive into the 18th century at Normandy’s answer to Versailles, with its stunning English and French gardens and surprise water features. The Orangerie houses a fascinating collection of thousands of miniature furniture, silverware and objects.
9. Automata Museum
Stroll along a reconstructed Parisian street with more than 300 animated automatons exhibited in the windows of Parisian department stores such as Les Galeries Lafayette and La Samaritaine for the Christmas holidays between 1920 and 1960.
10. Fantastic Festivals
Why not time your holiday to take in one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year? Les Médiévales de Falaise (August) medieval tournament re-enactments, with firework displays, games and more; Les ExtravErties (May) outdoor activities and music concerts; Les Faltaisies (July) music festival; La Fiancée de Falaise (August 2022) WWII-themed sound and light show; and magical exhibitions in December, with an Alice in Wonderland theme.
Find out more: www.falaise-suissenormande.com
Lead photo credit : The lovely village of Pont-d’Ouilly © OT Falaise Tourisme Anibas Photography
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