Normandy: tourism and sightseeing
Visit Normandy, France
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
For the most popular coastal destinations in the region see Normandy beaches and resorts
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.
Lower Normandy beaches and coast in Calvados
'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.
Other Calvados highlights
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. Whilst here be sure to visit the attractive Jardins de la Mansoniere.
See the Orne travel guide for more information and highlights
Visit Upper Normandy
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
Normandy food and produce
If you love seafood the coastal region of northern France including Calais, Picardy, Normandy and Brittany is the place in France to visit 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!
Six unmissable highlights of a visit to Normandy
One of our favourite Normandy villages, Beuvron has many half-timbered buildings to enjoy
The beaches where the allied forces landed in 1944 are one of the main attractions for visitors to Normandy
See Normandy landing beaches
The very impressive medieval castle at Chateau Gaillard was once home to Richard the Lionheart
See Chateau Gaillard
The Bayeux Tapestry is a monumental achievement and tells the story of William the Conqueror
One of the most visited sites in France, the abbey at Mont-Saint-Michel is an essential destination
The chance to see the pond at Giverny where Monet painted his famous waterlilies.
Places to visit in Normandy with reviews from France This Way
Below is a selection of places we have visited in Normandy.
For more places and information see places to visit in Normandy
Normandy travel guide and highlights
Map of Normandy with attractions and places to visit
General Normandy travel information and articles
Guest article 1: a suggested holiday itinerary for a visit to Normandy places to visit in Normandy
Guest article 2: a useful guide to Upper Normandy
French version: Normandy (Francais)