The Essential Guide to Normandy
Collected by Jennifer Ladonne , AFAR Local Expert
In Normandy, sun-dappled orchards give way to a scenic coastline, known for both its heavy history and beautiful beach towns. Visitors from all over the world flock to this rugged region to see the island monastery of Mont St-Michel, the famous Bayeux Tapestry, and Monet’s former home in Giverny. Equally enticing are the world-class museums, awe-inspiring churches, and famous local products, like fresh seafood, Camembert cheese, and apple brandy.
84 Rue Claude Monet, 27620 Giverny, France
From 1883 to 1926, Claude Monet lived in this pink stucco house in Giverny, where he cultivated his flower and water gardens and painted his famous Water Lilies series. Visitors to the house will find it just as Monet left it, complete with an...
Espl. Marcel Duchamp, 76000 Rouen, France
The jewel in Rouen’s crown, this impressive museum is home to France’s largest Impressionist collection outside of Paris. Here, you’ll find three stunning works from Monet’s famous Rouen Cathedral series, along with other...
8-9, Quai de la Bourse, 76000 Rouen, France
At the two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Gill, a cozy atmosphere and impeccable service set the tone for food that’s at once classic, creative, and well worth a visit to Rouen. Chef Gilles Tournadre’s ethereal cooking is inspired by...
Rue Homme de Bois, 14600 Honfleur, France
Founded in 1868 by French painters Eugène Boudin and Louis-Alexandre Dubourg, this small museum, housed in a 19th-century chapel, pays homage to the Normandy artists who spent time in Honfleur, like Monet, Courbet, Friesz, and Boudin...
44 Rue des Capucins, 14600 Honfleur, France
As one of France’s more beautiful towns, Honfleur is rife with delightful lodgings. La Maison de Lucie, however, remains a cut above the rest, not only for its exceptionally warm service, but also for its discreet charm and peaceful...
45 Avenue Hocquart de Turtot, 14800 Deauville, France
During the Belle Époque, France and Britain’s high society used to gather at this seaside track to watch races while on holiday. A visit to the Deauville–La Toques Racecourse may be a slightly less pompous affair these days, but...
14130 Coudray-Rabut, France
Normandy’s ancient, sun-dappled apple orchards produce three celebrated drinks: Calvados, cider, and pommeau (a blend of Calvados and cider). You can sample all three at Christian Drouin Calvados, a third-generation distillery that produces...
Esplanade Jean-Marie Louvel, 14000 Caen, France
Caen was William the Conqueror’s city and this 11th-century abbey was his final resting place. Founded by William himself in 1066, the former Benedictine monastery and its adjoining Église St-Étienne are among the most...
Esplanade Général Eisenhower, 14050 Caen, France
An absolute must-see for history buffs, this outstanding museum is devoted to warfare in the 20th century, with sections illustrating the beginnings of World War II, the D-day landings and the Battle of Normandy, and even the Cold War. A spiral...
Château d'Audrieu, 14250 Audrieu, France
For that to-the-manor-born feeling, you can’t get much better than Château d’Audrieu, an 18th-century residence-turned-hotel that’s listed as a historic monument. Located in the heart of the Calvados countryside between...
13B Rue de Nesmond, 14400 Bayeux, France
William the Conqueror's occupation of England is brought vividly to life in this 1,000-year-old, 229-foot-long tapestry—arguably the most famous of its kind in the world. Embroidered in wool yarn on woven linen, the graphic depictions of...
1 Rue Larcher, 14400 Bayeux, France
On June 6, 1944, 135,000 Allied forces landed at Normandy for a dramatic entrance into World War II. Operation Overlord covered five Normandy beaches—code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold, and Sword—and assembled the American, British,...
50170 Mont Saint-Michel, France
It's safe to say there’s nothing in the world quite like this magical island, topped by a medieval monastery that rises out of the bay like a heavenly apparition. It’s said that, early in the 8th century, a bishop in nearby Avranches...
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