Visitors can find a lot to enjoy in Normandy thanks to its stunning, diverse environment and extensive history. This unusual area of northern France has beautiful landscapes, a breathtaking coastline, and wooded areas, as well as impressive castles, magnificent churches, and charming old cities like Rouen.
The summer beach resorts of Honfleur and Deauville, as well as Mont Saint-Michel, one of France’s most famous tourist destinations, are among the region’s major draws.
Dramatic limestone cliffs plunge into the sea along the Channel coast, while Lower Normandy is known for its tranquil, lush valleys. The “Suisse Normande” (“Norman Switzerland”), a picturesque pastoral region, draws people who enjoy the outdoors and the outdoorsy lifestyle.
Best Places to Visit in Normandy
This area offers a wide variety of activities and attracts visitors from all kinds of tourist types, from beach resorts and fishing villages to medieval towns and Gothic castles. Our list of the top Normandy tourist destinations and attractions might help you plan your trip.
1. Saint-Michel Mountain
Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a significant site for pilgrimage from the Middle Ages. This designation protects both the Bay of Saint-Michel and the Abbey of Saint-Michel.
The Abbey of Saint-Michel, which rises more than 100 meters above the ocean, has a magical aura. The site tempts visitors to traverse the ominous Bay of Saint-Michel as the majestic Gothic spires appear to climb toward heaven.
Visitors will enjoy the historical atmosphere found in the winding cobblestone roads that are flanked with maisons à colombages (half-timbered homes) as they wander about Rouen’s old town. There are Gothic churches everywhere, and many of them are masterpieces of medieval architecture.
Claude Monet painted a sequence of images of the town’s magnificent Cathédrale Notre-Dame that display the fine intricacies of the cathedral’s front at various times of the day. The Gros-Horloge clock tower in the middle of Rouen is another well-known landmark.
Honfleur, one of the most lovely cities in Europe, is known for its picturesque medieval harbor on the Seine Estuary. The village, which is around 25 kilometers from Le Havre, boasts charming cobblestone lanes, historic stone structures, and half-timbered cottages.
In the sixteenth century, mariners left for trips to Canada from this storied seaport. The historic governor’s residence, the Lieutenancy Building, was constructed in the 16th century on the foundation of the town’s medieval fortifications and is located on the north side of the port.
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The Maritime Museum, one of Honfleur’s most notable attractions, is housed in the former Eglise Saint-Etienne, which was built in the fourteenth century. The Honfleur Maritime Museum chronicles the city’s maritime, fishing, and shipbuilding past.
4. Caen Memorial Museum
Caen was a major location in Lower Normandy near the English Channel during the Nazi occupation of World War Two. A visit to the Normandy D-Day Beaches and Memorials is best begun in Caen.
During the Allied landings in June and July of 1944, three-quarters of the town was destroyed (but its old churches were largely unharmed).
The Mémorial de Caen (Caen Memorial Museum), which was built as a memorial to Caen’s suffering during the war, chronicles the tale of the Second World War, the D-Day Landings, and the Battle of Normandy.
5. The Bayeux Tapestry and Bayeux
The Bayeux Tapestry, which is on exhibit in the Bayeux Museum (13 bis Rue de Nesmond), is the most famous thing about the town of Bayeux. The Bayeux Tapestry, a marvel of 11th-century medieval art, is actually a needlework created from wool yarn in 10 different colors.
The Battle of Hastings, which took place in 1066, is depicted on the 70-meter-long Bayeux Tapestry, which tells the tale of the Duke of Normandy (also known as “William the Conqueror”) conquering England. The Toile de la Conquête and Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde are other names for the Bayeux Tapestry, which is an allusion to William’s wife Queen Matilda.
6. Omaha D-Day Beach and Museum
Omaha Beach is a stunning stretch of shoreline along the English Channel that is made difficult to reach by the sheer cliffs that stand 30 meters above the water. It stretches for more than 10 kilometers between Port-en-Bessin and the mouth of the Vire River, via Vierville-sur-Mer and Colleville-sur-Mer.
On June 6, 1944, Operation Overlord (also known as the “Battle of Normandy”) began when the American 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions and other American, British, French, and Canadian troops landed on Omaha Beach, the largest and most well-known of the five Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches.
Deauville has been a popular coastal destination in Normandy since the 19th century. This opulent holiday location is still regarded as one of France’s best beach getaways.
Two kilometers of sandy beach and a promenade (boardwalk) may be found on the seafront. Throughout the peak months (July and August), lifeguards are on duty every day. There are many amenities available, including places to rent parasols, lounge chairs, and vintage striped cabanas, as befits a glitzy seaside location.
Vacationers can take a break from the beach to explore the chic boutiques, indulge in a spa treatment, or eat at one of the many fine dining establishments. Sailing, golfing, and going to equestrian events are additional activities.
8. Giverny: The House and Gardens of Monet
Monet’s House & Gardens is a fascinating destination for fans of Impressionist art because the artist drew inspiration for several of his works from the property’s magnificent gardens.
In 1883, Claude Monet and his family moved to this picturesque neighborhood in Giverny, which is located one hour from Rouen. The artist lived there for the remainder of his life.
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The Le Clos Normand garden, designed by Claude Monet, is in front of the house. This garden blooms with an abundance of vibrant blooms from spring to fall, including daffodils, pansies, tulips, irises, peonies, daisies, roses, poppies, hollyhocks, and dahlias that are placed in a natural style to resemble wildflowers.
Fécamp, a well-liked beach vacation spot on the Côte d’Albâtre, is among the top destinations in Normandy for a restful vacation. One of the first beach communities in France, Fécamp was founded in 1832 and was well renowned for drawing members of high society. Today, socialites and sunbathers alike appreciate the cool ocean views.
The medieval abbey church of Sainte-Trinité, which was originally constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries, is this area’s principal tourist attraction aside from the fishing harbor. The interior is surprisingly roomy and features a beautiful choir and Renaissance altar.
To the north of the village, on a sheer chalk cliff, is where the medieval pilgrimage chapel known as Notre-Dame-du-Salut is located.
On the Côte d’Albâtre of Normandy, the coastal town of Étretat lies tucked beneath a set of white limestone cliffs. The cliffs rise 90 meters above the ground. The expansive views may be seen from the cliff-top viewpoint, and they are breathtaking.
When Claude Monet spent the winter of 1868 at Étretat, the town’s scenery captured his attention. Monet painted the imposing vistas and gleaming waterfront while he was there. In the summer, sunbathers enjoy Étretat’s beaches, and the sea provides a living for fishermen who capture the fresh seafood that is a staple of the region’s cuisine.
The Villa Orphée is the most well-known of Étretat’s numerous lovely Belle Epoque residences. Guy de Maupassant was the owner of the Villa La Guillette.
Normandy, a region on the west coast of France, may appear charming and tranquil right now, but things weren’t always like this. The area was settled by Vikings beginning in the ninth century, giving rise to Normandy, the nation of the Northmen.
The biggest war between England and France throughout the following centuries took place in 1944 when Allied forces reclaimed it from Nazi occupants.