Visit Seine-Maritime, France
A fascinating mix of scenic splendours such as the cliffs around Etretat and towns such as Rouen, Seine-Maritime is also very accessible and home to numerous historic monuments and gardens of interest
Selected places to visit in Seine-Maritime
Seine-Maritime Normandy - highlights
Seine-Maritime is the more northerly of the two French departments in the 'Upper Normandy' region (to the south is Eure).
The department is situated on the English Channel coast, with the coastal towns of Le Havre, Etretat, Fécamp, Dieppe and Le Treport (near Eu) following the coast from south-west to north-east, and Rouen and Elbeuf towards the south of Seine-Maritime. The western part of Seine-Maritime is known as the Pays de Caux.
The most visited part of the coast is in the region of Etretat and nearby Fecamp, and is popularly known as the Alabaster Coast. The scenery here is exceptional, with the cliff formations around Etretat forming the dramatic highlight - but be sure to also find time to explore the towns themselves.
A quieter seaside town with a popular pleasure port can be seen at Saint-Valery-en-Caux (north-east of Fecamp), while Varengeville-sur-Mer is on the coast closer to Dieppe, and Le Treport is a traditional fishing port near Eu.
There are many coastal resorts along the Seine-Maritime coast, often with popular beaches. Just a selection of the popular beach resorts in Seine-Maritime include Criel-sur-Mer, Dieppe, Etretat, Fecamp, Le Havre, Le Tréport, Les Petites-Dalles and Les Grandes-Dalles, Saint-Valery-en-Caux, Veulettes-sur-Mer and Yport.
Le Havre and Dieppe are commonly thought of as entry points to France, and ignored as tourist destinations in their own right, but don't make the same mistake as thousands of others - find the time to explore a little, because both have their own particular appeal and interest for visitors.
It is not just the coastal part of the Seine-Maritime department that attracts visitors, and there is a great deal to discover and enjoy inland - including the valley of the Seine River, for example at La Bouille and at Jumieges (best known for Jumieges Abbey), or the gardens running to the river at Caudebec-en-Caux (which also has a fine church).
Those seeking to enjoy the nature experience will enjoy some time spent exploring the countryside of the Regional Natural Park of the Boucles de la Seine Normande (originally called the Brotonne Regional Natural Parc) in the south of the department between Rouen and Le Havre and with landscapes including large areas of forest and also more open, sometimes marshy areas.
Those seeking a more 'formal' landscape experience should head for the extensive gardens of the 'Bois des Moutiers', a mixed garden covering about 30 acres and listed as both a 'jardin remarquable' and a 'historic monument'.
Historic Monuments in Seine-Maritime
There are several important abbeys in Seine-Maritime, which are brought together as part of a tourist route called the 'Route des abbayes'. These include Jumieges Abbey and also Graville Abbey (Le Havre), the Abbey of Montivilliers (near Le Havre), Valasse Abbey (at Gruchet-la-Valasse), the Abbey of Saint Wandrille (half-way between Fecamp and Rouen), the Abbey Church of Saint-Martin-de-Boscherville (west of Rouen) and the Abbey of Saint-Ouen (Rouen).
Less well known for its castles, the department nonetheless has some surprises in store with several interesting chateaux to discover, at Miromesnil, Filieres, Etelan and Villequier, and also a ruined castle at Arques-la-Bataille, among others.
Five towns in seine-Maritime have been officially designated as 'towns of Art and History': Le Havre, Elbeuf, Fecamp, Rouen and Dieppe.
There are numerous other attractions and activities available to visitors to Seine-Maritime, from cycling and walking to amusement parks and mini-golf, lakes with paddling to treetop-adventure parks, traditional local French markets, parks and gardens to explore, fishing in the sea or river, numerous small local museums.
Be sure to visit the tourist information close to where you are staying in Seine-Maritime to find out about events and activitities available nearby.
See a list of all Seine-Maritime communes.
Map of Seine-Maritime
French version: Seine-Maritime (Francais)