Normandy is one of the most beautiful regions in France. What to do during a vacation in Normandy? These are the best things to do in Normandy.
Normandy is located in northwestern France and is a popular region with tourists. Normandy is known for its many attractions and varied landscape. In addition to many historic villages and towns, the region also has a beautiful coastline with chalk cliffs. The interior is also beautiful to see, a hilly landscape full of fields and forests.
The best things to do in Normandy
What to do in Normandy and what are the most beautiful sights? 13 tips.
The award for the most picturesque place in Normandy goes to Honfleur. Located on the Seine River, Honfleur is best known for its picturesque historic fishing port. It has been painted many times by world-famous artists, such as Claude Monet.
There are also many historic buildings to admire in Honfleur, such as the Lieutenance from the sixteenth century and the Greniers à sel. It is also a must to go for a walk through Rue des Lingots, a narrow street with beautiful half-timbered houses. And of course, eat some fish at one of the many terraces on the harbor!
- Where to stay: La Cour Sainte Catherine demeure de charme – A beautiful B&B in a former monastery from the seventeenth century with a flowery garden.
Rouen is the capital of the Normandy region and this too is a beautiful historic city. The city has existed since the Gallo-Roman period (between the year 58 BC and 486 AD) and was granted city rights in the twelfth century.
Rouen is inextricably linked to the history of Joan of Arc. Rouen is, in fact, the place where she was sentenced to death for heresy and then died at the stake.
Rouen has many special heritage sites, such as the Le Gros-Horloge (a gate with a gorgeous clock) and the many half-timbered houses. Several museums are also worth visiting, for example, the Musée des Beaux-Arts with works of art from the sixteenth century to the present.
- Where to stay: Radisson Blu Hotel, Rouen Centre – Nice and modern 4* hotel in the historic center of Rouen.
- Fun thing to do: Private City Tour by a Local.
Do you feel like escaping the cities for a while and do you want to get out into nature? Then you should go to Suisse-Normande! Located just south of the city of Caen, this nature reserve is known for its beautiful green hills. It is the perfect place to spend a day hiking. There are also several rivers, where you can go kayaking. You can get more information on scenic routes from the local tourist offices in Clécy and Le Hom.
- Where to stay: Le Manoir de Placy – Chambres d’Hôtes – Very photogenic B&B just outside the village in the green landscape.
Bayeux is one of the most famous cities in Normandy, and that’s because of two things. First, there’s the famous Notre Dame of Bayeux, whose construction began in the twelfth century. The impressive Gothic cathedral was not completely finished until the fifteenth century.
In addition, Bayeux is best known for the Bayeux Tapestry, embroidery from the eleventh century. It is 70 meters long and 50 centimeters high and tells, like a comic strip, the history of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. A very special historical work and unique in the world. You can view the carpet in the building of the former Great Seminary from the seventeenth century.
- Where to stay: Domaine de Bayeux – Beautiful 3* hotel in an eighteenth-century house with a park and an orchard.
Looking for a place to relax? Then you should definitely stop in the village of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne. Why? This is the only spa town in western France. It is located in a beautiful green part of the Normandie-Maine Natural Park. There are several thermal spas and you will be amazed by all the beautiful villas and casinos on the lake. Even if you do not plan to use the wellness facilities, it is a pleasure to walk around here for a while.
- Where to stay: Hôtel Spa Du Béryl– This 3* hotel is one of the hotels overlooking the lake. It has a swimming pool, a sauna and various treatments are offered.
The chalk cliffs of Étretat
Étretat is one of the best places to visit in Normandy and this is mainly due to its impressive white chalk cliffs. This place also inspired many painters. Besides the cliffs, there’s also plenty to see in the village itself, such as the old wooden covered market (where you can find good souvenirs) and you can stroll on the promenade along the water.
- Where to stay: Castel De La Terrasse – B&B in a beautiful villa about 500 meters from the beach.
- Fun thing to do: Visit Les Jardins d’Etretat, beautiful gardens with large statues and artworks.
Deauville is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Normandy. Located not far from Honfleur, it is a world-famous seaside resort and is also known as the Parisian Riviera. Every year many movie stars come here for le Festival du cinéma américain de Deauville, or the Deauville American Film Festival.
The town feels like a big open-air museum, with quaint villas (Villa Strassburger is stunning!), beautiful casinos, and a vast sandy beach. A wonderful place to enjoy a day at the seaside!
- Where to stay: Villa Augeval Hôtel de charme & Spa – This 3* hotel looks like a castle! It has a swimming pool and is a 10-minute walk from the beach.
- Unique experience: Private tour in style with a vintage sidecar.
What absolutely cannot be missed when you’re visiting Normandy are the D-day beaches. Everyone knows the history: on June 6, 1944, D-Day, the invasion began here that eventually brought about the end of World War II.
There are five D-Day invasion beaches: Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach. At these beaches, you can learn more about this particular history, and there are also bunkers and several Canadian and American cemeteries in the area. There are also several museums that you can visit to learn more, for example, the Memorial Museum of Omaha Beach. On the beaches are several monuments such as “Les Braves”, which you can see in the photo below. A place that makes a great impression!
- Where to stay: Chambres d’Hôtes Le Clos Tassin – Cozy B&B with a huge garden in Colleville-sur-Mer, near the landing beaches.
- Tip: You can also visit the D-Day beaches with an organized tour as a day trip from Bayeux and Paris.
Giverny is a small village on the Seine and is known worldwide for the paintings of Claude Monet. The famous artist lived here for over forty years and during that time frequently painted the colorful flowers in his garden. It is, therefore, a must to visit the painter’s house and gardens when in Giverny. The painter’s grave is located a little further in the village, near the church of Giverny.
- Where to stay: La Pluie de Roses – Beautiful B&B in a huge garden (also full of flowers) about 15 minutes walk from Monet’s house.
- Skip the line: Skip the lines at the box office and buy your ticket to Monet’s house and gardens now.
Fécamp is a place just north of Étretat and this is another one of those beautiful places in Normandy that you should visit during your vacation. It is located on the coast (there are beautiful chalk cliffs here too!) and it has a beautiful fishing port that you can learn more about by visiting the fishing museum, Les Pêcheries.
You can also admire several beautiful buildings, such as the Palais Bénédictine, the huge Église Saint-Étienne, and the Abbey of Fécamp. All in all, another wonderful place to walk around for the day.
- Where to stay: Hotel Le Grand Pavois – Beautiful 3* hotel overlooking the port of Fécamp.
Caen is one of the largest cities in Normandy and there is plenty to see and do here too! Although much of the city was destroyed during bombing raids in World War II, there is still quite a bit of heritage preserved.
For example, you can visit the castle of Caen, which was built by William the Conqueror in 1060. Inside the castle, you will find several museums, including Musée des Beaux-Arts. Also, the huge Abbaye aux Hommes is great to see. Formerly a men’s abbey, today the building is the town hall of Caen. There are also several large abbey churches and fine museums to visit. A must-see during a trip to Normandy.
- Where to stay: Best Western Plus Le Moderne – Luxurious and modern 4* hotel in the center of Caen.
- Fun to do: At the Caen memorial museum you’ll not only learn a lot about the invasion but also about the entire course of World War II.
Between Caen and Rouen is another beautiful city: Lisieux. After Lourdes, it is the most important pilgrimage site in France. It is the city of Saint Therese of Lisieux, the patron saint of missionary work. The place to visit is the Basilique Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux, this is also the largest church built in France in the twentieth century.
Other beautiful sights in Lisieux include the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Lisieux, the beautiful town hall, and the extraordinary Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet just outside the city.
- Where to stay: L’Hotel De L’Esperance – Nice 3* hotel in a typical Norman house in the center of Lisieux.
Le Mont Saint-Michel
Perhaps the highlight of a vacation in Normandy is a visit to the extraordinary tidal island of Le Mont Saint-Michel. The small rocky island with its large abbey is one of the biggest tourist attractions in all of France. It has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1979, and rightly so.
The island used to be accessible only when the tide was out; now there is a narrow bridge over which you can get to the island on foot or by shuttle. The island itself is only walkable because of its narrow streets and many stairs. The highlight is the large abbey in the middle, which can be visited for a fee.
- Where to stay: La Jacotière – This B&B in a renovated farmhouse is located just three kilometers from Mont Saint-Michel. You can even see the island from the cozy terrace.
- Skip the line: The queues for the Mont Saint Michel Abbey ticket office can be very long. Order your ticket for the abbey online And skip the queues.
Read more: Visiting Mont Saint-Michel: everything you need to know
Best time to visit Normandy
The best travel time for Normandy is spring and summer. That’s when you’ll have the greatest chance of sunny days and not too much rain.
Book a trip to Normandy
After reading this article, do you feel like going on a vacation to Normandy? These are useful websites for booking your trip:
- How to get to Normandy: If you’re flying to France to get to Normandy, it’s best for you to fly to Paris and then travel to Normandy. Check Skyscanner for flights.
- Public transportation: Most places in Normandy are accessible by public transportation. Check Rail Europe for trains and Busbud for buses.
- Rental car: Do you prefer to travel by rental car? Check Discover Cars and Rental Cars to find the best prices.
- Places to stay: Normandy is bursting with beautiful small-scale hotels and B&Bs. Check out Booking.com for all the possibilities.
- Camping: Normandy is a very popular place to go camping. Check ACSI Eurocampings to find the best campsites.
- Tours & Activities: There are many tours & fun guided tours organized in Normandy. Check out Get Your Guide for all the options.
- Travel Insurance: It is wise to purchase travel insurance for every trip. Check Insubuy for options and prices.
Read more about Normandy and France
These were all my tips for visiting Normandy! Do you want to learn more about this beautiful French region? Get one of these great travel guides:
Moon Normandy & Brittany: With Mont-Saint-Michel
You can also read more about a trip to France on this website. You might like to read one of these articles:
- 25 Best cities in France to spend the weekend
- 22 Most Beautiful Castles in France
- 13 awesome things to do in Lille France
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