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The Normandy American Heroes Blog

World War Two, Normandy and More

14 CULTURAL SITES You Must Visit in Normandy, France

Posted by Rodolphe Passera on Jul 5, 2018 10:00:00 AM

 

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Dieppe (Operation Jubilee - 19 August 1942)

Dieppe has always been closely linked to the sea. For centuries, the Norman harbor was the starting point for expeditions. It also served as a port of call for various imports such as ivory and spices. Today, it is a vibrant fishing port, celebrated for its herring and sea scallop festivals. From the 8th to the 16th of September 2018, the seafront will be the site of one of the largest kite meetings in the world, creating a magical spectacle in the sky that will please both children and adults.

 

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Fécamp

Located in the heart of the Alabaster coast and bordered by impressive chalk cliffs, home port to the Terre-Neuvas, the fishermen who used to hunt for cod off the coast of Newfoundland. Fécamp is a quickly-changing port. Emblematic monuments such as the Royal Abbey, the Seamen's Chapel and, of course, the Benedictine Palace create a truly unique atmosphere in a town that is well worth the visit.

 

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Etretat

Famous for its rugged white cliffs, natural arches (iconic Elephant trump), and pointed needle, this town is full of treasures. It's no wonder that famous writers such as Guy de Maupassant and Maurice Leblanc (the creator of the renowned Arsène Lupin, gentleman thief and master of disguise) lived there for a time. Don't miss the unique covered market in the center of the town and the walks along the clifftops.

 

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Montivilliers (Operation Astonia - 10 / 12 September 1944)

On the Norman Abbey route, the abbey of Montivilliers, among others, is a must-see. The former convent, founded in 684 A.D., has since been beautifully restored and harmoniously upgraded, providing visitors with an audio-guided scenic tour to be cherish spiritually for years to come!

 

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Le Havre (Operation Astonia - 10 / 12 September 1944)

Known for its commercial port, Le Havre is nonetheless an exceptional city in its own right. The city center, which was totally devastated during WWII, was rebuilt by architect Auguste Perret and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. Today, it attracts visitors from around the world. To fully appreciate the city's visionary spirit and soul, a visit to St Joseph's Church is a must. The wealth of the collections in the Malraux Museum and the majestic views of the city and the estuary of the Seine river flowing in the English Channel seen from the Hanging Gardens on the cliffs overlooking Le Havre are also sites to be discovered.

 

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Pont Audemer

Nicknamed the Norman Venice, Pont Audemer is crossed by the river Risle and surrounded by its bends, with beautiful washhouses dating from the previous centuries and half-timbered houses on its medieval streets. The shops on its pedestrian precincts and the medieval old town make it a perfect place to rove around and enjoy the town's unique, well preserved architecture.

 

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Rouen

Crossed by the Seine river, the city of 100 steeples has kept its medieval old town, with its narrow cobbled streets, colorful half-timbered houses and carefully crafted architecture, the jewel is undoubtedly the Cathedral located at the end of the big clock street ("rue du Gros Horloge"). On the waterfront, the former hangars and storehouses are gradually being converted into entertainment centers. Every 5 years or so, during the Great Armada, the largest tall ships in the world moor alongside for 10 days of festivities. The next event will take place from the 6th to the 16th of June 2019.

 

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Honfleur

Once in Honfleur, you will discover there is something unique that surrounds you. The small fishing harbor is famous for the painters that have visited it, including Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, and Eugène Boudin. Its cobbled lanes, the old port and St. Catherine's church are still favorite subjects for the many artists who still stroll its streets. The former salt storerooms with their majestic vaulted architecture are now used to house art exhibitions, concerts and other shows.

 

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Lisieux

Known worldwide by pilgrims in search of spiritual confort and guidance, Lisieux offers a wide range of other activities. In the majestic shade of the famous Basilica, you will be motivated to explore the town and its cultural wealth located in the heart of the "Pays d'Auge," known for its fine food and culinary arts as well as its unspoilt nature. And for the children as well as the adults, why not drive to the Chateau de Saint Germain de Livet, to discover its cider distilleries and zoo?

 

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Deauville

On the famous "Côte Fleurie," the seaside resorts of Deauville and Trouville-sur-Mer are now the stars! With their superb seaside villas, hotels such as the Normandie, and an eclectic entertainment program, the twin towns welcome thousands of visitors every year, especially during the American Film Festival which will take place from the 31st of August to the 9th of September 2018. The fishing port, the beautiful marinas, the Deauville boardwalk, and the long sandy beaches offer a wide range of enticing leisure activities, allowing residents and tourists alike to enjoy the pleasure of the seaside.

 

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Cabourg

The romantic seaside resort of Cabourg, built around the Grand Hotel where Marcel Proust lived has something for everyone, from the sandy beach to the racecourse, golf course, and thalassotherapy. Like Proust, you can search for happiness there!

 

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Caen (Operation Charnwood - 8 / 11 July 1944)

Caen is home to a unique cultural heritage built from the 10th century onwards, thanks in particular to William the Conqueror and his spouse, Queen Matilda. You can visit the Men's Abbey in the West and the Women's Abbey in the east as well as the Castle that dominates the town center. More contemporary constructions include the Peace Memorial, the Bird Hill Park, and the Racecourse on the plain located near the town center.

 

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Bayeux (Operation Overlord / Neptune 6 June 1944)

Bayeux is my hometown; I invite you to read the blog post I wrote about it— the list explaining why it should be a must on your bucket list is far too long to explain here!

 

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Haras National du Pin

The "du Pin" National Stud, still known today as the Versailles Palace of Horse Breeders, is a showplace for horse breeding and the preservation of equine pedigrees. Over 230 horses, including 50 stallions, live there and regularly participate in demonstrations and entertainment for one and all. A must see for all horse fans!

 

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Le Mont Saint Michel, "the Marvel"

One of the treasures of Normandy, the Marvel was surrounded once more by the sea in 2015, thanks to major development works. Access is now accessible on foot, by free shuttle bus or by horse-drawn carriage. The statue of the Archangel Michael, on top of the spire of the celebrated Abbey, watches over the bay and the 2 million or so visitors from the around the world who stroll along the narrow streets and ramparts bathing in a spiritual and peaceful environment.

 

If you're ready to visit Normandy's many cultural sites, we can help you plan your trip! Contact us today! 

Topics: Normandy

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Normandy American Heroes provides custom World War II tours of Normandy and beyond. On our blog, we write about World War II, things to do in Normandy and much more.

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