Normandy has many charms, from the beautiful countryside and the lovely local architecture to the historic highlights such as Mont Saint Michel and Chateau Gaillard, and the attractive cliffs and beaches along the coast. Important sights such as the Normandy Landing beaches and the Bayeux tapestry are also very popular and Normandy is truly a region with something for everyone!
The Normandy region is on the coast of north-west France, with the English Channel to the north and Brittany to the west.
Normandy is made up of two official regions and five French departments: Lower Normandy (containing the Calvados, Manche and Orne departments) and Upper Normandy (with the Eure and Seine-Maritime departments).
Because Normandy is so extensive and there is so much to enjoy we have summarised the highlights for each region below to help you decide which area is most interesting to you (beaches or countryside, historical monuments or pretty villages...). You can then find much more information in the individual travel guides for each department
From the most famous abbey in France to the most famous tapestry in the world, from cider orchards to picturesque villages and the famous 'Normandy landing beaches', Lower Normandy has a great deal of interest to the visitor.
The Calvados department occupies the north-east of Lower Normandy and includes most of the Normandy landing beaches (the beaches where the allied troops landed during the invasion of France in the Second World War), and several very popular seaside resorts.
'Normandy beaches' means different things to different people - to some it brings to mind the great turning point in the Second World War, while to others it brings to mind fashionable seaside resorts...
Normandy also has many resort type beaches and coastal ports, for example at Deauville and Trouville, with their exceptional 19th century architecture carefully preserved, and also the picturesque harbour town of Honfleur (passing perhaps via the quiet resort at Villerville).
Historians will want to visit Dives-sur-Mer, the town from which William the Conqueror launched the Norman conquest of Britain, while the next resort a few kilometres further west along the Cote Fleurie is Cabourg.
Another very popular destination is Bayeux to see the famous Bayeux tapestry, a medieval tapestry relating the story of how William the Conqueror defeated England in 1066.
We also strongly recommend a visit to the village of Beuvron-en-Auge, a lovely traditional Normandy village to the south of Deauville.
See the Calvados travel guide for more information and highlights
The Manche department is to the west of the region, with the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel (the most visited site in France outside Paris) to the south-west and Cherbourg at the northern end of the Cotentin Peninsula.
Nearby you can also visit the town of Granville that protects the entry to the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel.
The more western Normandy landing beaches are to the east of the department, as is the village of Sainte-Marie-Eglise, well known for being the first town in occupied France to be liberated by parachutists in June 1944.
See the Manche travel guide for more information and highlights
The south-east of the region is the Orne department, with rather less famous highlights than the northern parts of Lower Normandy but still a very pleasant area to explore with peaceful countryside and traditional small villages and market towns to discover.
You should also visit the picturesque village of St-Ceneri-le-Gerei to the south of the region, in lovely surroundings and a very pleasant area to explore.
See the Orne travel guide for more information and highlights
Upper Normandy is a region of art and history, from Richard the Lionheart's castle to Monet's gardens, with dramatic coastal scenery and important towns and resorts to discover along the way...
One of the most fascinating towns in Normandy, Rouen has an attractive medieval centre the highlight of which is a visit is the cathedral, famously painted 30 times by Monet and a masterpiece of gothic architecture.
The impressionist history of the region is also commemorated at La Bouille to the west of Rouen, while the Gardens at Giverny (better known as Monet's garden), are meticulously preserved to look like those famous paintings of waterlilies, and the most visited gardens in France.
Richard the Lionheart's impressive Chateau Gaillard, standing high above the village of Les Andelys on the Seine River, is another unmissable highlight when you explore the Eure.
See the Eure travel guide for more information and highlights
The most visited region of the Seine-Maritime department is the Alabaster Coast, with its dramatic high chalky cliffs in the region of Etretat and Fécamp among the most beautiful coastlines in France.
In the inlets between the cliffs you will discover several pleasant and sophisticated little towns with yachts and casinos.
It is also here that you will discover the important ports of Dieppe and Le Havre, both worthy of investigating. The centre of Le Havre is protected as a world heritage site - because of its concrete architecture built in the 1950's during post-war development. Not necessarily what you came to Normandy to see but interesting anyway!
The imposing ruins of the abbey at Jumieges are another historically important monument in Seine-Maritime, and just one of several abbeys of interest to be visited between Le Havre and Rouen
See the Seine-Maritime travel guide for more information
If you love seafood the coastal region of northern France including Calais, Picardy, Normandy and Brittany is the place in France to head for to find some of the best lobster, mussels, scallops, sea bass, monkfish, and herring.
The area also has very high quality farm produce, the climate is ideal for growing some of the best fruit and vegetables to be found in France, and the cheese and cider produced in the region are excellent, as are many other local products. A gastronomic dream!
A list of places in Normandy with detailed reviews from France This Way
- Bagnoles de l'Orne
- Chateau Gaillard
- Giverny Gardens
- Jumieges Abbey
- La Bouille
- Le Bec-Hellouin
- Le Havre
- Le Perche
- Le Treport
- Normandy landing beaches
Listed below are some of the main places and destinations in Normandy that have received 'official' tourist classifications.
Estran Cité de la mer :
Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue tours (Vauban fortifications) :
Abbey of Bec-Hellouin :
Carrouges Chateau :
Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin :
Abbaye de Caen (Caen) :
Abbaye de Cerisy-la-Forêt (Cerisy-la-Foret) :
Abbaye de Jumièges (Jumieges) :
Abbaye Saint Georges de Boscherville (Saint-Martin-de-Boscherville) :
Cathédrale Notre Dame (Bayeux) :
Eglise de Saint Pierre (Rucqueville) :
Prieuré (Saint-Gabriel-Brecy) :
Prieuré de Saint Gabriel Brécy (Saint-Gabriel-Brecy) :
Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais de Gisors (Gisors) :
Abbaye Saint-Georges :
Arboretum d'Harcourt :
Bois des Moutiers :
Château de Beaurepaire :
Clos du Coudray :
Jardin botanique du château de Vauville :
Jardin d'art et d'essais :
Jardin de Bellevue :
Jardin de Claude Monet :
Jardin de la petite Rochelle :
Jardin de Miromesnil :
Jardin du musée d’art américain :
Jardin Jacques Prévert :
Jardin Plume :
Jardins de Bosmelet :
Jardins du château de Brécy :
Jardins du château de Vandrimare :
Jardins du château de Vendeuvre :
Jardins du château du Champ de Bataille :
Les jardins du château de Miserey :
Les jardins du château de Saint-Just :
Parc de Galleville :
Parc du château de Nacqueville :
Parc du château des Ravalet :
Parc du manoir de Villers :
Cap de la Hague :
Cote d'Alabatre :
Falaises d'Etretat :
Parc zoologique de Champrepus :
Parc zoologique de Clères :
Parc zoologique de Jurques :
Parc zoologique de Lisieux :