Postcard perfect towns, French châteaux, and a rugged coastline, if there’s one region of France that well and truly has it all, it may well be the Northern area of Normandy. Surrounded by the sea and home to some mouth-watering cuisine, here are seven magical reasons to visit Normandy this year!
All the beautiful towns
Truth be told, one of the more magical aspects of the region of Normandy are all of the beautiful towns to be found there. Some of the best places to visit include the seaside resort towns of Deauville and Trouville-Sur-Mer (so popular with Parisians that they’re often referred to as the ’21st arrondissement of Paris’), as well as Bayeux (home of the Bayeux Tapestry).
If you’re looking for a coastal weekend break, then you might consider checking in to the tiny town of Yport, a little-known fishing village on the water’s edge. Elsewhere in the region, the world-famous cliffs of Etretat draw crowds of tourists and locals alike all summer long.
Normandy has plenty of French Châteaux and Manor Houses
Between ruins, medieval fortresses, and French Baroque masterpieces, there’s a castle from every era when it comes to Normandy. While one of my personal favourites is that of Château du Tilleul, a reportedly haunted mansion close to the beaches of Étretat, other regional highlights include Château Gaillard in Les Andelys and Château de Pirou in Pirou.
The capital city of Rouen
Located along the River Seine in the North of France, the capital city of Normandy is the incredible settlement of Rouen. Dating back centuries, one wander around the town’s centre feels akin to stepping back in time. Timber-framed houses and cobbled lanes come together to form a storybook city which is even home to one of the oldest timepieces in France, the Gros Horloge of Rouen.
And that’s not all! Rouen is also home to plenty of historical sites, including one of the best cathedrals in France, the impossibly beautiful Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral. The final resting place of many a famous figure, including Rollo the Viking, nearby you’ll find the square where Joan of Arc was allegedly burnt at the stake.
Normandy is home to plenty of history
Did you know that Richard the Lionheart (who was actually kind of French) is buried in Rouen Cathedral? Or that Monet’s Giverny (the picturesque location where the iconic artist painted his famed waterlilies- that you can book tickets to see in Paris) were painted in Normandy?
In fact, so entrenched is the history of the Normandy region with the rest of Europe, that it is actually here where William the Conqueror was born in the 11th-century. Other notable historical figures to have come from the region include Joan of Arc, Guy de Maupassant, and iconic French author Marcel Proust.
The food and drink in Normandy
From Normandy cider to local pastries, there’s no shortage of delicious foodstuffs to consume when it comes to Normandy. While in the area, be sure to check out the sea-inspired menu, as well as sampling the local butter ‘beurre’ together with some fresh French bread.
It’s also worth noting that you’ll be hard pressed to find a better apple cider in France than in Normandy. Other local specialities worth sampling while in the area include cheese (Camembert de Normandie, Livarot, Neufchâtel, and Pouligny-Saint-Pierre) and the Bénédictine liqueur, which is used in many a French cocktail.
Normandy is the perfect place for a road trip
Whether you’re looking for a country escape or coastal break, Normandy is the perfect escape from busy city life. During our three days in Normandy a couple of years ago, I even remember finding it hard to find any mobile signal in many areas, particularly in the smaller fishing communities.
Which area of Normandy you should visit is totally dependant on your personal preferences. For example, if you want to enjoy a seaside resort vibe, then be sure to head to the Parisian favourites of Deauville and Trouville-Sur-Mer. On the other hand, if you’re looking to experience more off the beaten path France, then plan a trip to go antiquing in Calvados.
Mont Saint Michel
Of all the tidal islands in the world, Mont Saint Michel is easily the most beautiful. Located midway between Brittany and Normandy, this conically shaped isle lies off the Northern coastline of France and has been sought out as a place of worship for well over a thousand years.
Today, the monastery and small town surrounding it are easily one of the best reasons to visit Normandy. Once on the tidal island (parking is available on the mainland a couple of kilometres away), there’s the abbey to visit, as well as the small village that has since sprung up below the towering ecclesiastical buildings. If you’re running short on time, then you might consider visiting book tickets to see in Paris