Reasons to Visit Normandy, France

posted by Sharon July 31, 2020 14 Comments
Omaha Beach Normandy France

Normandy, France is a quiet region just west of Paris. It reaches to the coast along the English Channel and is home to farms and towns, rivers and bridges, historic buildings and cathedrals, shops and harbors. It will forever be remembered as where the Allies landed on D-Day 1944. Fierce battles flared up all along the Norman beaches and reached into the lives of the civilians inland, too. Memorials and museums tell the stories today.

In this area that’s rich in history, you’ll also find world-famous foods. And one particular garden is worth a day trip for sure.

While I’ve enjoyed my trips to Normandy, I still haven’t made it to Mont Saint-Michel or the city of Rouen or many other sights I hope to see someday. But I have spent enough time in Normandy to tell you about some of the highlights. Here are some great reasons to plan a trip to Normandy.

Stay in Fairytale Medieval Towns of Normandy, France

Towns are both on the coast and inland in rolling farmland. Here’s one of each to inspire you to visit!

Honfleur

Honfleur lies at the end of the Seine River as it flows into the English Channel. It’s an excellent example of seaside Normandy. The harbor will charm you. The cobblestone streets feature shops and cafes in historic buildings.Honfleur Normandy FranceHonfleur Normandy FranceHonfleur Normandy France

Bayeux

Just about six miles from the coast, Bayeux is my favorite Normandy town to visit.Bayeux France

It’s an excellent base to travel anywhere in Normandy. Miraculously spared from bombing in World War II, Bayeux will take you back centuries in time. The architecture and streets date from Medieval days or earlier.Bayeux FranceBayeux France

The towering cathedral that dominates the skyline of Bayeux began its life in 1077. It was consecrated in the presence of William, Duke of Normandy, King of England. Built in the Norman-Romanesque style it was damaged and rebuilt with Gothic elements. It’s beautiful inside and out.Bayeux Normandy France

If you are interested in art, head to see the Bayeux Tapestry. Listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, the Bayeux Tapestry draws visitors from all over the world. It is an embroidered cloth almost 230 feet in length and 20 inches high. The intricate scenes depict events leading up to the Norman conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy and ending with the Battle of Hastings. It is the largest and most well-preserved artwork in this style from the Middle Ages. It’s valued not only for its contribution to the story of the Norman invasion but also for showing aspects of medieval daily life and war.Bayeux Tapestry Normandy France

Read more about Honfleur.

Read more about Bayeux.

Explore Lovely Countryside Lanes

You can ride or bicycle for miles through peaceful countryside in Normandy. Just back from the coastline, the land turns green.Normandy France

Small towns still feature market squares and Medieval winding roads. On sections of this pastoral land, battles were fought for bridges, roads, and cities. The quiet country lanes belie the chaos and violence that took place here.Normandy France Herds of Normandy cattle plod along. The infamous hedgerows that hampered the Allies in the war still line the roads, though they are disappearing with time.Normandy FranceWe visited one deserted farm that’s said to be haunted.Normandy FranceWinding around the roads in Normandy, you may easily get lost. At least, on my trips here I’ve been lost several times. That’s fine, though, because you can continue along the scenic byways until you happen onto a highway again.

Indulge in Fresh Normandy Cuisine

Normandy, France is renowned for its food. Most famous are its cheeses, butter, fresh produce, and seafood. If you are a foodie at heart, Normandy will satisfy you.Bayeux France

Bayeux FranceThe towns offer the typical French sidewalk cafes. Boulangeries bake fresh breads daily. We found this café during our stay in Bayeux and ended up going there every day for breakfast.Bayeux FranceBayeux France

And for lunches, you can put together your own picnic, with cheese, olives, fruit, a baguette, local caramels that melt in your mouth, and that bottle of wine to top it off.Bayeux FranceBayeux France

Immerse Yourself in History at the D-Day Beaches

Utah Beach Normandy FranceDuring a visit to Normandy, it’s fitting to remember what took place here during the largest invasion by water in history. On June 6, 1944, the Allies landed along 60 miles of Normandy beaches to set in motion the liberation of Europe from the Nazis. There were five separate landings to Operation Overlord by American, British, and Canadian troops involving 160,000 soldiers. Code names for the 5 beaches are Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Whether you have time to go to one or all of these landing sites, your visit will be memorable.Omaha Beach Normandy FranceOmaha Beach Normandy France

Read more about Omaha Beach here.

Read more about Utah Beach here.

Read more about Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches here.

Memorials can be found all over the landing beaches area. One that’s especially striking is the imposing sculpture at the far west end of Omaha Beach, in Vierville-sur-Mer. Called The Brave, this art honors the courage of the men – sons, husbands, and fathers – who faced danger and often sacrificed themselves in the hope of freeing the French people. These “wings of hope” remind us all to stand strong for freedom and to speak up against all forms of inhumanity.Omaha Beach France

Take in History at the Many Museums

Normandy, France has seen layers of history. Museums offer places to learn about everything from the Battle of Hastings in 1066 at the Bayeux Tapestry museum to all that happened here in World War II. Here are a few museums I’ve visited and can recommend.

Utah Beach Landing Museum

This museum offers an outstanding collection of World War II items, large and small. In one section you can look through windows onto the beach. There’s also a hangar to display aircraft.Utah Beach Museum France

Musée Mémorial d’Omaha Beach

A small museum is next to the cemetery at Omaha Beach. It offers displays of uniforms, military vehicles, and even objects of civilians caught in the battles. At the entrance to the museum, and an infinity pool leads to the beach and causes you to reflect on what happened here.Omaha Beach Museum

Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy

This excellent museum presents in chronological order the events of the battle for Normandy, France, starting with the D-Day landings and continuing on through the summer of 1944. You’ll find quite a collection of tanks and other vehicles, and numerous displays of items from World War II both inside and outdoors.Bayeux Museum France

Airborne Museum, Sainte Mere Eglise

The town of Sainte Mere Eglise experienced fighting even before D-Day dawned. In the dark, early morning hours, paratroopers from the 101 Airborne were mistakenly dropped into the town. The battle lasted a few hours, and by morning the Germans retreated. Sainte Mere Eglise was liberated.

The Airborne Museum pays tribute to the paratroopers who landed here and the planes that flew in the battle. Full-sized aircraft housed in huge hangars are on display.

Stroll Through Glorious Gardens

One place in Normandy that you will want to go if you are anywhere near Paris is Giverny. Impressionist painter Claude Monet chose Vernon, a small village in the country outside of Paris, as his residence in 1883. Here at his home, Giverny, the gardens would become the subject of many of his great works. And you can visit these gardens today, planting yourself in essence in the middle of a Monet masterpiece.Giverny Normandy FranceGiverny Normandy France

Your visit will include three parts of Monet’s home: the gardens, the water garden and lily pond, and the home.Giverny Normandy

Read more about Claude Monet and Giverny.

All of these are good reasons to spend time in Normandy. And there are certainly many more. Have you been to Normandy?Omaha Beach Normandy France

Read more about what it’s like to visit the D-Day beaches in an article I wrote for Travel Awaits.

Guides to help you plan your trip:

Learn More About D-Day

I can personally recommend these books! (Except for the Normandy Travel Diary for Kids — I haven’t read this one, but it looks like a winner if you are traveling with kids!)

This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on them may result in a commission being paid if you purchase afterwards. This is at no extra cost to you. All opinions are always my own.

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14 Comments

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Tamar A Strauss-Benjamin August 1, 2020 at 2:29 am

Oh swoon!! Must get here one day when the world is back to normal!

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Melissa Roos August 1, 2020 at 7:24 am

My parents went to Normandy a few years ago and I regret not going with them! They visited the invasion beaches and Mont Saint-Michel. These villages in your blogpost look so much fun to explore. I can’t wait to visit Normandy!

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Bliss August 1, 2020 at 7:58 am

Your photos make it look so beautiful!! I’d love to visit.

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Emma August 1, 2020 at 7:59 am

I’ve always wanted to visit Normandy. My parents and I did a driving holiday through France many years ago but didn’t get to the Normandy region unfortunately. I’d love to go back and visit, I remember we did a lot of visiting wartime places due to my mum’s uncle being in WW1 there

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Digitaldaybook August 1, 2020 at 8:03 am

Wow I didn’t know about this place and even gives off a little Amsterdam vibes! Soo cute!

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Krista August 1, 2020 at 8:11 am

This is one region of france i would love to visit, your photos are all stunning!

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Sophia Bawany August 1, 2020 at 9:16 am

Monet, Bayeux and the stunning gardens.. sold!!! We fell in love with Paris last year and are itching to get back and expore France some more. Normandy looks like a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Paris. The pictures looks beautiful and it looks like an great add on to our next trip. Fingers crossed we can safely get back out into the world and explore all these stunning destinations.

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Chrissy K August 1, 2020 at 9:40 am

I have only been to Paris and would love to visit Normandy. It looks amazing and so charming. Boulangeries sounds incredible and would love to sample their fresh baked breads. Thanks for sharing. Pinning so I have this guide when I go!

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Shany August 1, 2020 at 11:14 am

Wow I didn’t know about this place but the photos are absolutely incredible! I’d be happy to visit and see these places for myself.

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Olivia August 1, 2020 at 11:50 am

Your photos are giving me serious travel inspiration! Normandy looks absolutely charming, I would love to visit some day!

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Taylor August 1, 2020 at 5:44 pm

I definitely need to get to Normandy next time I go to France. It looks so beautiful! 🙂 Great article!

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Lynne Nieman August 2, 2020 at 7:20 am

This is a region in France that is very high on my list — because of all the reasons you list. Fingers crossed we can all travel soon so I can get to Normandy.

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Hannah August 2, 2020 at 8:25 am

Wow, I didn’t realise Normandy was so pretty! Honfleur looks beautiful and I love that old water wheel in Bayeux! The gardens also look glorious! Hopefully one day I’ll have an opportunity to hop over the channel and visit in person!

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Loredana August 2, 2020 at 11:19 pm

Normandy looks beautiful! Would love to visit more of France and Europe once Corona settles.

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