10 Best Places to Visit in Normandy

Martina Rosado
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Cherbourg

Cherbourg, situated on a peninsula that juts out from the sandy beaches of the Bay of Audieres, is a town with a rich history. The first Vikings arrived in the 8th century. The town was made a part of the duchy of Normandy by Duke Guillaume I in the 11th century. It was later involved in the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion.

During the First Crusade, William the Conqueror made it a port of the Duchy of Normandy because it was centrally located. In the 17th century, the town was a focal point for Anglo-Irish migration and English colonization. The town contains a number of historic buildings, churches, and monuments. The forward areas of Cherbourg-Octeville are still under restoration, so the town has changed little since the war.

Cherbourg is a seaside resort town located in the Manche department in Normandy. The name “Cherbourg” translates as “Long Bank.” The name “Octeville” means “New City.” Cherbourg-Octeville is of great historical importance to the French.

Caen

The Battle of Normandy was a campaign fought in France in 1944 between Allied powers and Germany for control of France following the D-Day landings. The battle ended with Allied victory over the German forces and their collaborators who had occupied the country.

· Caen: Caen is a provincial capital in the Basse-Normandie region of France. The town was involved in World War II during the Battle of Normandy.

The American airborne invasion began on June 6th, 1944, and the diversionary Operation Goodwood was launched the next day. Operation Cobra began on July 24th, 1944, and was aimed at isolating Caen and isolating the Falaise Pocket from British troops. The town’s capture, a result of Operation Overlord, was undertaken on 9 August.

The 5th Armored Division captured the town on 8 August and held it against 12 German counter-attacks, its division declining to pull out until ordered to do so by the British on August 11th. In the Allied advance across France following D-Day on 6 June 1944, Caen was taken in a coup de main operational maneuver known as Operation Charnwood.

During the fighting, the German army destroyed 70% of the city, including shops, streets, bridges and a viaduct.

Trouville & Deauville

The port town of Trouville is a great place for tourists to explore the French countryside, and, if you are a historian like me, to remember that even in the midst of war, life goes on.

The walled town is one of the main attractions of the town, and inside the walled village you can explore the exhibits of the Trouville Provence World Heritage Site made up of galleries, the museum, the herb garden, and some permanent buildings. I visited the Trew House, a 17th century townhouse, where a small museum displays exhibits about the English soldiers who lived in the houses in early Trouville along with some knowledgeable staff who are sure to answer any questions about the houses or what life was like in Trouville during this period.

The stay in Trouville certainly balanced historical, entertainment, and rest, as I was able to get a walking tour of the town, a trip to the cinema, and a nap in the afternoon.

Another great place to visit in the Normandy is Deauville. It is a town and world-famous seaside resort with a long history and a status that eclipses the nearby cities of Caen and Honfleur.

Rouen

Giverny

Ocoën.

Ocoon is a small city in Normandy, located between Falaise and Arromanches along the valley of the rivulet Ocoëne. In 1945, it was rebuilt, selected by André Malraux to be the ideal site for the reconstruction of the famous city of Monterubbio destroyed by the bombings of World War II.

Giverny is located in the center of the city of Ocoon. This is a famous tourist destination, which is named after the American heiress of the Vernay family – Edith-Louise Babin- Vernay Edith-Louise. She came to Ocoon in 1905, and in 1916 married Francois Baze, Duke of Guermantes. Well-dressed and educated, Edith-Louise had a great interest in gardening and art.

She was the person who would bring pleasure to the city of Giverny, where she was the official gardener (until 1914). Edith-Louise made a garden with more than 213 different species of flowers. In honor of its former owner, in the Giverny city center is a square dedicated to this foreign woman of beauty.

Giverny is also home to a large number of international artists, such as Monet, Van Gogh, Seurat, Ingres, Modigliani, and Bonnard.

Honfleur

Sitting on the north shore of Normandy, Honfleur is one of few French towns that have survived World War II. It is the most northern town of the “DC3” beaches in Normandy.

Honfleur is the only town that has been able to keep its typical WWII architecture, which is relatively rare in France. In spite of this, most buildings are unused and empty, having been built by the Germans during the war.

Honfleur also has one of the most beautiful churches of the Norman coast, the Sainte-Catherine cathedral. It is known as “the prettiest little church in France”.

Another great thing to do is visit the Honfleur museum, which has many interesting war artifacts.

Honfleur is very easy to reach, so you can visit it during any season.

Bayeux

Bayeux, a town in Normandy, is one of the most important towns during the Battle of Normandy, during the Second World War. It is located on the D-Day beaches, and in particular, it was Bayeux that today “D-Day Beaches”, part of the National Geographic.

Today, this city, and especially its Champ de Mars, is a memorial to peace. People from all over the world gather here to pay homage to the fallen soldiers. Even remains of the first allied tanks encountered during the allied invasion are now a permanent reminder of the contribution made by allied soldiers during the war.

Bayeux was created by the Romans in 60 BC, which is a fact that is still supported by one of its streets. The town only had a population of 6,000 people in the 18th century, but today, it has a population of about 30,000 civilians (3,000 soldiers live in the barracks).

Bayeux is not only the place where one can visit forever monuments to the landings on June 6th and 7th of 1944, but it also offers a wealth of other options for those who want to know Normandy and its history better.

A trip to Bayeux can easily be combined with a visit to the Caen or Falaise area.

D-Day Beaches

Etretat

Located between Normandy and the Seine, the town of Etretat is part of the canton of Le Havre. You can visit this town and be amazed by its beauty. Not only is the town famous for its beautiful cliffs and coves, but is also rich in folklore and history.

Etretat originated from a land division act signed by William the Conqueror, which dictated that land dividing zones be personified with names. This was done to ensure the peasants values and interests were protected from the nobles. Indeed, the qualities of the land are represented by the names of the people who colonized it. In the area known as "L‘Ouest", the crown framed the "Ouistreham", i.e., Usci-in, presumably meaning "the fox’s corner".

The beach of Etretat is located about 5 miles from the town, and commands one of the most beautiful views of the coast of Normandy. The beach is unique in that it is protected, with little interaction from the sea of the flow of the tides. This allows a sandy beach to remain virtually unaltered for years and provide a perfect environment for the beach and cliff formations.

Mont Saint-Michel

This is a wonderful place to visit in Normandy. Mont Saint-Michel is a must-see. It actually lies on the bay of the Gulf of St. Michel.

Here you will find overlooks over the Bay, which bear witness to the Iron Bridge (also called the drawbridge that linked the rocks with the main land).

The Mont is a spectacular place to visit. You can see amazing views of the Bay while enjoying a picnic on one of the benches.

You will also be able to visit the Abbey of the Mont, which has been attracting visitors since the fifth century. Located on the island, the Abbey houses the ruins of a small chapel built by Robert de Larnage in 1153.

Another great thing about Mont St. Michel is that it’s easily accessible. It’s located just off “B“29, making it an easy trip from Paris.

If you want to do some hiking, Mont St. Michel is the perfect place for you to do so. All you’ll need is an easy start to your journey and a great finish at the Abbey.