Posted: April 23, 2023 | Last Update: 05. Jul 2023
Fall in love with Normandy
Normandy is a region that's full of surprises and delights. It is a place where you can explore medieval castles, visit World War II battlefields, relax on stunning beaches, savour delicious local cuisine, immerse yourself in French culture, learn about its history, and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. So whether you're planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, put Normandy on your must-do list.
SALUT MES AMIS! I am seriously in LOVE with Normandy - everywhere you look you see beauty! Quaint villages, picturesque harbours, ancient half-timbered houses, impressive cathedrals! And don't even get me started on the food! Mon Dieu!
And I want to share it all with you. Buckle up, you're about to be wowed by the most beautiful places and recommendations.
In this post, I have round up the best places to visit in Normandy. Learn why they are must-see destinations:
ROUEN - with its Cathedral and the death place of the Maid of Orleans
Rouen, the capital of Normandy, approximately 130km/80mi North-West of Paris, is is world renowned for its art and history.
Two of its most famous buildings are the Rouen Cathedral 'Notre-Dame' and the Maid of Orleans Church 'Église de Sainte Jeanne D‘Arc'. The latter has been build on the historic market place where they burnt the maid of Orléans for heresy at the stake on May 30th, 1431.
Rouen's old town still has almost 2000 half-timbered houses dating back almost 1000 years, some of which line the pedestrian town centre. Walking from the Cathedral to the market place, you will see many of the well preserved colourful houses as well as the 'Gros Horloge', Rouen's amazing astronomical clock from the 14th century.
By the way, there are two stunning abbeys just outside Rouen: the 'Abbaye de Jumièges' and the 'Saint George de Boscherville' abbey. Follow this link to read an in-depth article by my friend Susan and her family: 4u - Ontheroad in Normandy
CAEN - ideal base for D-Day landing beaches
Caen is an amazing city that you definitely shouldn't miss. We almost drove straight past but decided to stop over to have lunch and a stroll!
I'm so glad we did and the supposedly short break got extended because there is so much to see in Caen.
Its rich history and culture are evident in the stunning 'Château de Caen' and 'Abbaye aux Hommes'.
But Caen isn't just about history and culture. Foodies will love the local cuisine, which is hearty and flavourful. The region is famous for its 'tripe' (made from the lining of a cow's stomach oof). If tripe isn't your thing, you can try other local specialties like calvados, an apple brandy that is distilled in the region, and Camembert cheese, which is creamy and delicious.
For those interested in World War II history, Caen is an ideal base for exploring the D-Day landing beaches. Omaha Beach, which was one of the five beaches where Allied troops landed on June 6, 1944, is located just a short drive from Caen.
If you are interested in exploring D-Day landing beaches and more places in Normandy, take a look here*!
ÉTRETAT - the stunning white cliffs
Etretat is a charming seaside town in Normandy that you won't want to miss.
It's famous for its stunning cliffs, which have inspired artists like Claude Monet and Eugène Boudin.
The town's most iconic feature is the "Aiguille," a tall, thin rock formation that juts out of the sea. You can admire it from a distance, or if you're feeling adventurous, climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the coast.
Etretat is also a great place for hiking. The town is surrounded by stunning cliffs and rolling hills, and there are plenty of trails that offer breathtaking views of the coast. If you're up for a challenge, you can hike to the top of the cliffs for an unforgettable panoramic view.
LE BEC-HELLOUIN, France's prettiest village
I'm not even making this up! Le Bec-Hellouin is a tiny Norman village with a population of under 400. Regardless, it has been voted prettiest village in France and I can certainly see why. It is a total gem of picturesque half timbered houses and the pretty 'Bec Abbey'.
It's a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and step back in time to a simpler era.
The village's most famous attraction is the 'Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec', UNESCO World Heritage site, which was founded in the 11th century by Herluin, a Norman knight.
The village itself is a charming place to explore. Its narrow streets are lined with half-timbered houses that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. You can stroll through the village's gardens, which are filled with fragrant flowers and buzzing bees. And of course, you can sample the local cuisine, which features delicious dishes made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Where to eat in Le Bec-Hellouin
HONFLEUR - the quaintest seaside town in Normandy
When researching Normandie as a destination, Honfleur was mentioned everywhere as the top place to go for a quaint French fishing village vibe, and it is one of Frances most visited towns. We can certainly understand why!
The inner harbour of Honfleur, also known as the "Vieux Bassin", is the town's main attraction and the focal point of its history. Vieux Bassin is a picturesque, rectangular basin surrounded by tall, colourful houses with steep slate roofs, built on the banks of the Seine estuary.
It has been a hub of maritime activity for centuries, as well an important center for trade and fishing since the Middle Ages.
The harbour area is also home to several notable buildings, such as the Church of St. Catherine, which is one of the oldest wooden churches in France.
The Quai Sainte-Catherine, the main street that runs along the Vieux Bassin, is lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
Today, Honfleur's Vieux Bassin is one of Normandy's most popular spots for tourists, as it offers a great view of the town's unique and recognisable architecture and an ideal photo backdrop. No matter the weather, the season and the time of day, the catching the painted houses' reflections on the water and the light of the port create a unique atmosphere.
To see is to believe it:
What & where to eat in Honfleur
When by the sea, eat seafood! When in Normandy, eat "moules marinières", which is one of the most popular dishes in France.
Now, if you're not familiar, "moules marinières" are mussles steamed in white wine and served in a broth of mussles, wine, butter and shallots, served with French fries. You usually get to choose between two options: mussles with or without cream.
My recommendation: Le Bistro Du Port
I searched for the best place to eat "moules marinières" and can confidently say I found it: Le Bistro Du Port did certainly not disappoint!
We both had very reasonably priced 3-course meals (delicious salad of tomatoes and burrata, moules marinieres, and 'ile flottante' aka 'floating island' for dessert), but there are also many other options - best among them the huge counter of fresh seafood that you can pick your fish/crustacean from.
Le Bistro Du Port is not located along the Vieux Bassin but by the marina right opposite the car park.
Be sure to book your table in advance, as it was packed
For cheese lovers: Raclette at 'Les Marmottes'
Okay, confession time: I AM A SUCKER FOR CHEESE! So obsessed actually, that despite it being July, I could not let the opportunity to have raclette, a typical winter dish, while sitting outside in the sun, pass.
In case you have never heard of Raclette, let me explain:
Raclette is a type of cheese as well as the name of a dish that consists of first heating, then scraping the melted cheese onto potatoes and eat them with pickled vegetables and other accompaniments such as cold meats. The dish is often prepared and served in a special 'raclette grill' that is designed to melt the cheese evenly. Raclette is a traditional (winter) dish from the Swiss and French alps.
We found a cute little restaurant callet 'Les Marmottes' that serves raclette year round as well as other typical dishes. Recommended!
My tour recommendation!
If you are like us and love to discover your destination's rich culture, architecture and food and satisfy your wanderlust at the same time, we strongly recommend booking a vacation with TourRadar's France trips, including in-depth cultural, explorer and bicycle packages as well as river cruises, where you get to immerse yourself in local customs, explore hidden gems, and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. You can use this link* to find more inspiration or book now and let the adventure begin!
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