Best Things to Do in Normandy

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Mont St. Michel

Located just 600 meters off the shores of France, Mont St. Michel is a fortified island with a population hovering around fifty people. It was strategically built to protect itself from attacks. The island is only accessible when the tide is out, giving it natural protection. If would be attackers would try to conquer the island they could be held off until the tide rose, drowning them. The strategic positing of Mont St. Michel allowed it to stay unconquered during the one hundred years of war.


Jumieges

It is here that you can view for yourself what is considered to be some of the most beautiful abbey remains in all of France. The Abbey of Jumieges was initially constructed in 654AD. The location is stunning, sitting near the river Seine, a river that flows through Rouen as it makes its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Over the centuries, it has been victim to attack, and today you can see its period reconstruction and touch-ups.


Rouen Cathedral
Stretch your neck and pack your camera with zoom lens; beautiful Rouen Cathedral is one of the tallest church buildings in the world, #6 to be exact. Its Roman Catholic peaks reach an impressive 495 feet. It also has an impressive historical significance in that William The Conqueror was present for its consecration, and The Duke of Normandy, Richard Lionheart, lies to rest here eternally.   

Abbatiale St-Ouen
If you value music in any form you are sure to be in awe of the Organ at the Abbatiale St-Ouen: a musical instrument that sounds like it’s played from the heavens and is still in use to this day. You can view the musical masterpiece along with a tour, or you can enjoy one of the musical recitals that the abbey puts on for guests and locals alike.

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Abbatiale de la Ste-Trinite
A stunning building that has sadly lost some of it’s luster; left slightly neglected, it has now been corroded away over the years; however you can still marvel at what must have been an impressive site over the centuries, with its beautiful stained glass windows and oil paintings to enjoy, along with sculptures carved from artists over the centuries of the past.

Musee Eugene Boudin
An afternoon delight for artists, the Museum Eugene Boudin has a mix of various artwork. Most of the paintings seem regionally focused with Honfluer being the major focus point. You can access this museum alone by purchasing tickets right there and spend an afternoon wandering around and learning the history of the art. If you are really looking to learn the historical past of Honfluer you can enjoy an audio tour during your stay.

Musee d’ Beaux Arts
A great family-friendly museum in Normandy with a high emphasis on interaction. They have a number of workshops onsite for both adults and youth where you can get a more in depth understanding about art and especially the arts of the area. When viewing the museum, you will get to enjoy some staple pieces as well as some temporary exhibits. Plan for about forty-five minutes to an hour to pass through the museum.

Jardins Suspendus
An enjoyable garden, also known as the Hanging Gardens, is an inviting time spent in a floral setting surrounded by some of nature’s finest offerings. The area is about 25-acres of gardens encompassing a botanical garden, contemporary area, an exotic garden, and what can be called a remarkable garden. Each area is dedicated to regions of this beautiful planet that have been enjoyed by some of their botanists.  

Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Coutances
This stunning church was built in the early 1200s on site in small Coutances in Normandy. Originally there stood another church that was built in the 5th century that was later destroyed in the 9th century. The structure today is fantastically tall and beautiful, measuring 295ft high at the peaks; it can be seen from the vast distance of the island of Jersey. This is also the seat of the Bishop of Coutances and that of Avranches, a very holy place indeed.

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Panorama XXL
An all-encompassing view of art, the Panorama XXL is a giant 360° view of artist creations. You can walk inside the Panorama to view the current piece of art from all angles. Once you have seen the main angle from the walk inside, you can then picture it from various platforms inside to give you a different perspective on the art. Aside from this there is no other interaction, so it might be well geared towards the artistic members of the family and not necessarily children.

Eglise St-Joseph

The highly laborious landmark of Eglise St-Joseph was truly a feat to build. The structure allows sunlight to pour in through some 12,768 panes of stained glass, a magnificent sight to experience for anyone. The structure is the centerpiece of the municipality and can easily be seen from a multitude of directions as it stands some 107-meters high. A visit to the church can be done interactively via a tour if you’d like to learn more about its history.


Eglise St-Maclou
Reaching for notability in its design rather than its height, the Eglise St-Maclou is not nearly as tall as other churches in the area, topping out at a lesser 83-meters in height. Where it shines, however, is that its more flamboyant style of Gothic design is one of the best in all of France. A visit to see its construction won’t soon be forgotten, with its five porches, hand-carved wood, a stunning staircase and also an organ case, you are sure to be impressed.

City of Rouen

The city of Rouen gives one the feeling of a time capsule held forever in eternity. You can walk around and enjoy the architecture of the buildings and old churches, abbeys, and museums. The entire area is very tourist friendly and you can easily book yourself into a personal or group tour of the area to learn each landmark’s historical significance. Don’t forget to try some of the regional specialties while you are here, pop into one of the many delicious restaurants and see for yourself.

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Monet’s Giverny
The charming home and gardens that was once home to the artist Claude Monet has much to see while on a stop here. The home itself is photo-worthy with its delightful colors and greenery that grow up the side of it. Inside the home, you can view various rooms dedicated to his works including recreated works and Japanese prints. Outside the home, you can enjoy the well-maintained gardens and a spring or summer visit is well-worth timing.

Yport 
Small and easy to navigate, the town of Yport sits right near the coast with a cute pebble beach to enjoy while watching the waters. In town, it’s fun to explore the small fisherman’s homes, view the town’s clock tower, photograph the once used stables and possibly even stay at the 19th century hotel that was once home to the postal service. Charming and enjoyable, Yport might take a few days of your time.

Chateau de Caen
A historical location where you wish that the walls could talk,tThe Chateau de Caen has been home to many things over the centuries, including a meeting spot for Dukes and Kings and a place of resistance during the unstable period known as the 100-years of war. Today it houses a museum and fine arts area that will give you a look into its historical significance thought the ages.

Deauville
The place to see and be seen, there is much to do in bustling Deauville. If you like to shop there are a number of independent and cutting edge stores dedicated to fashion. If gambling is more your thing check out the casino. Maybe you’d prefer to gamble on some live action, then set your sights on some of the live horseracing. Or if you simply want to sit and relax after all the excitement, stroll down to the nice sandy beaches.

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Trouville-sur-Mer
Much exploration can be done in the resort town of Trouville, so you best enjoy a couple of days here. A fun experience is to visit the covered fish-market and see the results of the local fisherman. You can also enjoy a walk down the boardwalk near the beach, an area you’ve likely seen in the hearts of many paintings. For some light entertainment try your luck at the casino. And for a more cultural experience pop into the local museum.

Tatihou Island
This tiny island is a welcomed escape as well as an enjoyable side-trip. Once here you can get to know the Bay of St Vaast La Hougue and see the maritime museum that depicts the life of the area and maritime peoples. There is also a highly interesting shipbuilding work shop where you can discover some points of this trade and photogenic botanical gardens that are best viewed in the warmer months of the year.

Honfleur’s Old Port

The beauty alone of this area should keep your camera occupied. A visit to the old port is an interesting site that will garner some interesting photos of the dock along with the timber frame housing that sits in the background. You can also see Saint Caltherine’s Church, a beautiful wood-built structure of period design. Another interesting stop would be the Grenires a Sal, an amazing stone built structure that has been here since 1670 that was used to store up to 10,000 tonnes of salt.

Dieppe
Likely most known for its historical significance to the second world war, Dieppe has not forgotten its place in history. Here you can view some of the memories of this time at the 19th of August 1942 memorial that is dedicated to the WWII attack. The local castle museum is home to some interesting works like the ivory carvings, as well as some impressionist painting and maritime works.

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Cider Route
A tourist-friendly route of enjoyment, this 25-mile, well marked route is home to orchards and the farmers who look after them. You can tour the route and get to know around twenty of the areas producers who will welcome you in and let you sample or purchase some of their artisanal productions. It is here that some of the best cider in the world is brought to life, and you should defiantly make it a day-touring stop.

President Cheese Farm
The home of Camembert, the President Cheese Farm is a great place to get to understand where this cheese is produced. Here you can take a farm tour that will explain all of the highlights of cheese production and what it takes to churn out one of the worlds great cheeses. At the end of your tour you will get to sample the creations of the farm and are welcome to buy some to share with others after you leave the tour.  

Falaise d’Aval
A stunning view of France’s landscapes, the Falaise d’Aval is an iconic view that is known the world over. Each section of this area has named rock faces and notable landmarks. One being the Aval cliff that is easy to identify by its arch, known as the Aval gate. They are both just off from the famous “needle” that jettisons from the water at a height of 71-meters. Not far from here is the port Le Havre-Antifer, a great place to start from when exploring the area.

Falaise d’Amont
When you are looking to explore more of the area’s scenery you can continue searching out the rock faces with Falaise d’Amont. Another pebble beach rests along the ocean from where you can see the stunning view of the cliffs. If you are looking to spend some time in the area you can also check out some of the nearby restaurants like The Dormy House, or The Galleon; each unique in its own way with regional dishes to delight you.

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Les Maisons Satie
Located in Honfleur, the Maisons Satie are the dedicated homes of Erick Satie. He was born here in 1866, a musician and composer. Now you can see how they remember him through his musical works. The home/museum can be viewed as part of a tour that is self guided via a pre-recorded audio. To save some money you can pick up a museum pass that offers access to three museums for one price.

Chateau Galliard
Take a step back through the ages and wonder what it must have been like to live in this Medieval Castle of Les Andelys, France. The castle has a stunning location that sits looking over the river Seine, with a perfect location for day-trip exploration. Just 95-kilometers from Paris and only 40-kilometers from Rouen, a walk-through history is just a short drive away. Let your imagination run wild while viewing the structure, its moats and how it was to live under the rule of King Richard the Lionheart.  

Musee Malraux
For those who like paintings you may be in for a real treat here. The Musee Malraux, also known as MuMa, holds one of the greatest collections of impressionist artworks in the entire planet. Even to walk through the museum is like walking through art, as the entire place was designed around space and light. As a result, the area is open and has a modern feel, and the natural light pours in from all directions.

Cite de la Mer
An interactive look into life within the oceans, Cite de la Mer, has a number of displays to enjoy during a visit. There is a men and machines gallery that focuses on underwater equipment. The aquarium section has live fish swimming amongst. The Redoutable section focuses on how nuclear powered submarines changed the course of time. A Titanic display that takes you inside the magic of what was the Titanic, and much more.

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Historical Jean d’Arc
As the title would suggest, this is indeed all things Joan of Arc. The museum is located in Rouen, which is also the location of Joan’s fatal finally in history. The museum also doubles as a memorial dedicated to her memory as a popular Saint of the church. You can visit here and learn about who Joan d’Arc was and what significance she had as a leader of her people. Truly a stop worth allowing time for.

Les Jardin des Plumes

A well-blended combination of food and nature, Les Jardin desPlumes, or The Garden of Feathers, takes two worlds and makes them one. Onsite you can get to know the gardens, get to know the home and dine in the extraordinary Michelin star restaurant. An experience here is one of jubilation and should be enjoyed fully. It is also conveniently located to a number of other sites in the area and would be a welcome part of a day’s adventure.  

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