Top 12 Iconic Sites of Normandy

 
Top 12 Iconic Sites of Normandy

The central stretch of France’s northern coast is lined with white cliffs and long beaches – including those whose names will be forever etched in memory as the sites of the Allied invasions in the Second World War, and the one that gives onto the island of Mont Saint-Michel, with its medieval granite abbey. Seafood, naturally, plays an important role in the diet, while inland, agriculture has always been the most prominent architect of the landscape, with apples and pears for their juice, cows for milk for cheeses, and miles and miles of yellow wheat…

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Mont Saint-Michel

Access to the Mount is free – there is shuttle transport from the car park – but tickets to the 10th-century hilltop abbey cost up to €9 (open daily except Jan 1, May 1 and Dec 25). Iconic eatery La Mère Poulard, on the main street, first opened in 1888. Website: www.ot-montsaintmichel.com

Bayeux Tapestry. Photo: Ville de Bayeux

Bayeux Tapestry

The famous embroidered cloth depicting the Norman Conquest is the main attraction, but you should also take time to visit the Memorial Museum to the Battle of Normandy and MAHB, the Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History. Website: www.bayeuxmuseum.com

Monet's house and garden at Giverny

Monet’s house and garden at Giverny. Photo: L. Recouvrot/ CRT Normandie

Monet’s Garden

Claude Monet lived in Giverny from 1883 to 1926 and created here his world-famous flower garden and water garden. Open Mar 24 to Nov 1, 2017, with something new for every season. Book online, and avoid peak times if you can. Website: www.fondation-monet.com/en

Merville Battery

Merville Battery

Formerly a coastal fortification, and the most easterly site where Allied airborne forces landed on the first night of Operation Overlord to extinguish the guns that protected Pegasus Bridge. An atmospheric experience for all ages. Website: www.batterie-merville.com

American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer. Photo: CRT Normandie

American Cemetery, Memorial and Visitor Centre

High on the cliff at Colleville-sur-Mer, above Omaha Beach, a tranquil park, memorial and visitor centre with almost 9,400 crosses and the names of more than 1,550 missing. Website: www.abmc.gov

Airborne Museum Memorial

Airborne Museum

Interactive museum to American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Divisions at Sainte-Mère-Église on Utah Beach. If you have time you should also visit the Landing Museum, right on Utah Beach. Websites: www.airborne-museum.org/en and www.utah-beach.com

Maisy Battery

Maisy Battery. Photo: Dennis Peeters/ Wikipedia Commons

Maisy Battery

The location of a secret German gun battery outside Grandcamp-Maisy has been excavated by English military historian Gary Sterne. This unnervingly authentic site gives new perspective on the battles for Omaha and Utah beaches. Website: www.maisybattery.com

Caen Memorial. Photo: Calvados Tourisme

Caen Memorial

A museum to peace told through international military conflicts since World War I and accessible to all ages and levels of interest. There are many educational activities and battlefield tours on offer as well as some museum/tour packages. Website: www.memorial-caen.com

Rouen Fine Art Museum

Fine Art Museum, Rouen

Outstanding collection with paintings, sculptures, drawings and collectables from the past 500 years. One of biggest Impressionist collections outside Paris and a temporary Picasso exhibition. 1 Apr to 11 Sep, 2017. Website: http://mbarouen.fr/en

The Gros Horloge in Rouen

The Gros Horloge in Rouen. Photo: M. Trebaol / CRT Normandie

Rouen

A City Pass gives free or discounted access to all the sites and museums of this historic town, including the Joan of Arc History Museum, the Panorama XXL and the Fine Arts Museum. Book a guided tour, hire an audio guide, or relax on a Seine cruise. Website: www.rouentourisme.com/en

Honfleur, the home of
Impressionism. Photo: Calvados Tourisme

Honfleur

Enjoy seascapes by pre-Impressionist master Eugène Boudin and other artists at the museum named after him; sample the surreal at the birthplace of composer Erik Satie; or just chill at a harbour restaurant on the Seine estuary. Website: www.honfleur-tourism.co.uk

Le Havre

Classic tradition, contemporary style, and a lot of concrete combine to make Le Havre a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museum is a must see. Watch for news of events celebrating 500 years of the city. Websites: www.lehavretourisme.com and www.muma-lehavre.fr/en

From France Today magazine

Le Havre. Photo: Frank Godard / CRT Normandie

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