Situated on one of the most Northernmost points of France, constantly battered by the sea, Normandy has long held a certain mystery and allure that draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors in on an annual basis. Good food, oodles of history and charming towns all come together to form a ‘must see’ region to the North West of Paris. Here’s your ultimate guide to the most beautiful towns in Normandy!
Famously known as being the home of the ‘Bayeux Tapestry’, the town of Bayeux is a rich blend of history, architecture, and plenty of good food. Located in the Calvados region of Normandy, the town is located just a few miles from the English Channel. Bayeux was founded by Gallo-Romans in the 1st Century and you should head here if you love museums, art galleries and oodles of history.
Bayeux Tapestry, Bayeux
Of all the most beautiful towns in Normandy on this list, Rouen is probably my favourite. As the capital of Normandy, it’s fair to say that Rouen has seen its fair share of history. Filled with little cobbled lanes and timber-framed houses, you can’t go wrong by dedicating a couple of days to visit this ancient city. After all, the city was once home to Joan of Arc and is now the final resting place of Richard the Lionheart. Read more: Quick guide to Rouen.
A towering castle overlooks the charming town of Les Andelys. Everyone knows that the English King, Richard the Lionheart spent much of his time in Normandy (and is buried in the grand cathedral of Rouen). But not everyone knows that it was here, in a fortified castle in Les Andelys that he resided. Lying along the Seine, in Les Andelys, as well as the French castle, you’ll find half-timbered houses and various museums.
Charming and situated by the sea, Deauville is where all the Parisians head to for a summer getaway. Chic and just over an hour away from Paris, the town has been a popular vacation resort since the 1800s. In Deauville, you’ll find a series of boutique stores, a golf course and a candy coloured boardwalk dating all the way back to the 1920s.
Situated right next to Deauville, you’ll find the charming town of Trouville-sur-Mer. Also referred to as simply ‘Trouville’, it’s a popular tourist destination for locals and international visitors alike. Some of the best things to do in the charming town include eating at one of the many restaurants, visiting the local culture museum and having a go at riding Rosalie bicycles (a four seater, four wheel bicycle).
Located by the sea, the inhabitants of the charming town of Honfleur are known as Honfleurais. The town easily makes the list of being one of the most beautiful towns in Normandy on account of its stunning architecture and ancient buildings. Among other things, Honfleur is home to the largest wooden church in France and dates all the way back to 1027 AD.
Sitting sleepily beside the seaside and famous the world over, you can’t go wrong by spending a couple of days exploring all that Étretat has to offer. The UK may have the White Cliffs of Dover, but France has Étretat and its chalky columns jutting out of the sea. Aside from the many coastal walks and hidden caverns, you’ll also find a blissful beach and cute town. Nearby, you’ll also find the Château du Tilleul, an ancient French mansion house with a rather curious past.
Giverny has existed in some form or another all the way since Neolithic times. But what really brought the town to the forefront of people’s minds is its association with Claude Monet. For, the famous artist spent many of his final years in the town, painting his surrounds and admiring the landscape. It was also here in Giverny, that Monet painted his ‘Water Lilies’, a series of around 250 oil paintings. They are widely regarded as being some of his finest paintings, some of which are now located in the Orangerie.
Monet’s Waterlilies at Giverny
Mont Saint Michel
The secluded island of Mont Saint Michel is located approximately half a mile off the coast of France. And as a tidal island, the conical shaped piece of land is cut off twice daily from the rest of Normandy by the rising sea. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, Mont Saint Michel is easily one of those ‘must see’ France attractions. Read more: Why you should add Mont Saint Michel to your French bucket list.
Medieval and inviting, the ancient town of Beuvron-en-Auge is all timber-framed houses and small cobbled lanes. It’s often cited as being one of the most beautiful villages in France, and you can easily see why. The town is also well known for its cider scene (an annual ‘Fête du Cidre’- cider festival is held in the autumn) as well as its many boutiques.