Whenever you plan a trip to Paris, remember to take a day or two to go to the Normandy. By car, train or bus, it will take you just a few hours to reach this calm and picturesque region in the north of France. Amazing beaches, great food and unique architecture of this region is a must see for those who want to discover France.
Best way to travel in Normandy
Normandy is a region in France that lies around the cost of the Atlantic Ocean. The territory isn’t big, but the sightseeing spots are spread all over the area. If you stay in Paris, it will take you just an hour by train to go to Normandy. You can take a train to Le Havre, Rouen or Caen – one of the big cities in the region. There you can rent a car. A piece of advice here: you can rent both, tickets and a car, with the French national railway company. It will cost you less. After arriving in the city you can spend half a day visiting around and then take a car and go further. There are many small cities, chateau, and beaches that are worth visiting, each having their particular attraction and history.
Things to do in Normandy
Normandy is a unique region with a very vast choice of leisure and activities for any kind of traveler. You can hike in beautiful picturesque areas by the beach, enjoy amazing food, discover the cultural and historical heritage of the region and many more. The region was captured many times on the internationally famous painting of Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, and many others. Some say that impressionism was born in Normandy. You can find the museum of impressionism art in almost every big city in Normandy.
The history of this place is not only important for French people, but also for anyone who considers the Second World War part of his history. The beaches and cities of this region are the places where the turning point of the war happened.
Rouen is the ancient city where the national heroine Jeanne D’Arc was executed in 1437. Famous Cathedral Notre Dame de Rouen is a huge, monumental building that will inspire you as it did for Claude Monet, who painted it many times. Wandering the small streets of this tiny city you will find Le Gros Horloge – the 14th-century astronomical clock. It’s one of the largest clock mechanisms in the world. The old city is small but has its unique architecture and charm with the ancient, sometimes romantically crooked, houses and buildings.
Le Havre is a big city on the coast of La Manche, and one of the biggest ports in France. The city was heavily damaged during the Second World War, and now totally restored represent the beauty of contemporary architecture. For example, the bridge over the seine that connects Le Havre with Honfleur has a particular interest. It’s one of the longest cable-stayed road bridges and has a unique construction specificity.
Caen is a capital of the region and has an old chateau and the abbey. Also, there is one of the most important and famous museums of modern history – the Memorial of Caen. It’s dedicated to the Second World War and the landing operations on the beach of Normandy.
“Omaha beach” is the code name for the sector for the landing operation of the Allies in France during the Second World War around the small cities Vierville-sur-Mer, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Colleville-sur-Mer et Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes. Now there are multiple memorials and monuments, as well as museum and American cemetery that attract a lot of tourists.
Deauville and Trouville
These two small cities situated just one near another and are amazing to spend lunchtime at the crêperie or do some local shopping. Deauville and Trouville-sur-Mer are connected by the bridge and you don’t really understand when one city finishes and another begins. One of the most important attractions these two cities share is the beach of two kilometers. This vast and clean beach invites you to have a nice walk along it during the stunning sunset. Deaville is also famous for its equestrian center and Hippodrome. In the morning and in the evening you can take a horse for a ride along the beach. Trouville-sur-Mer – the city of the fishermen – is the good destination to eat fresh fish and seafood. For those who like spa, there is a famous Thalasso center.
Honfleur is a tiny city-port with unique architecture of the 16-17th century and authentic charm that inspired many painters. There is nothing particular to do in Honfleur except get amazed, charmed, lost in the tiny streets.
Étretat is famous for its amazing rock formations, mainly chalk cliffs and natural arches. It’s one of the must-visit places in France. The beaches are the best place during the hot summer days as the weather here is always slightly lower than anywhere else in the country. Following the road along the cliff, you can arrive in the neighboring city Fecamp. This picturesque road will pass up the cliff and down along the beach, through tunnels and small fields. However, the most important is the magical view on the coast and the La Manche that you can have from the top of the cliffs. Besides beaches, there is an astonishing modern garden with stone sculptures.
What to eat and drink in Normandy
Normandy is the region of cows, meaning that there is a lot, a lot, a lot of cheese. Camembert, Pont l’Evêque, Livarot, Neufchatel – represent local savoir-faire and pride of the region and whole France. French people also like to say that the sour cream is also originating from this region.
Crêpe and cider
French thin salty pancakes with the generous filling are going very well together with cider. Even though crêpes and cider are local food in the Bretagne region that is slightly on the west from Normandy they are really famous (and yummy) in Trouville.
As any region near the ocean in France, Normandy specializes in oysters and mussels. You can find fresh seafood in the local restaurants, or take some ousters way in the shops by the beach. There also oysters farm in Étretat that you can visit and taste.
Calvados is French eau de vie or brandy that distilled from pear or apple cider and aged for a minimum of two years. The products, process and geographical area of production are protected and regulated by the state. There are different types of Calvados depending on the specific area and production process.