People have fought to conquer Normandy for centuries. From the Viking invaders to the medieval wars between Barons or with invaders from nearby England, they have all shaped the region's history, each leaving traces of exceptional cultural values. Castles, manors, and ancient abbeys stand beside thatched cottages, hedged farmyards, and halt-timbered houses.
After WWII, the rebuilt centers of cities such as Caen, Lisieux, Saint Lo, Montebourg, Valognes, Rouen, Le Havre— listed as World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2005— all proudly display unique forms of architecture that are well worth discovering. Bayeux is a different story; it was preserved from destruction by the intervention of a local priest who pleaded with the British troops on D-Day. The small Versailles still stands today!
Finest food of France with Alsace!
Normandy offers lovers of fine food an exceptional range of culinary choices. Famous for its seafood, cheeses, and fruits, Normans have made the most of their natural resources for centuries. Examples include the Mussels of Barfleur, the Scallops of Port en Bessin, the Oysters of Utah beach, the Pré-salé lamb of the Mont Saint Michel, the Benedictine liqueur of Fécamp, the Asnelles biscuits, the Isigny-sur-Mer Caramels, the Pont-Lêveque, Camembert and Livarot cheeses, and, last but not least, the apple juice, cider, and brandy of Calvados.
Whether you're enjoying the white cliffs and famous arches of Etretat, Mont Saint Michel's beautiful bay, the canyon of la Roche d'Oetre, or the river bends of the Seine valley, Normandy has a unique range of landscapes to explore on foot, horseback, or even bicycle!
Free guided tours by the local tourism office are regularly organized for visitors who hope to explore the wetlands and learn more about our unique fauna and flora. And for those seeking more adventure, days can be spent climbing trees, riding giant zip lines, bungee jumping, or getting lost in a maze in the "Suisse Normande".
The Impressionist Movement
With his canvas "Impression, Sunrise" painted in Le Havre in 1873, Claude Monet launched the impressionist movement, which totally revolutionized painting of the time.
The Seine estuary with Honfleur and Le Havre, as well as the Norman coast and the whole of the Seine valley, became favorite locations for these famous artists to set up their easels on many occasion.
Normandy has been and will remain so a land of inspiration for writers. Guy Maupassant, Gustave Flaubert, Maurice Leblanc, and Victor Hugo, among others, were inspired by the life, the landscapes and the local atmosphere to write their novels. Today, writers continue to use the Seine and its meanders, the Alabaster coast and its cliffs or the port of Le Havre and Honfleur for their inspiration.
Film and Photography
Like the impressionists who came to paint the colours of the coast on their canvases, film makers and photographers from around the world use the region, history, heritage, culture and atmosphere of Normandy as backdrops for their production. The renowned American Film Festival of Deauville, but also the Romantic Film Festival of Cabourg, the Canadian Film Festival of Dieppe, the WWII Film Festival of Carentan and numerous photographic exhibitions highlight the links between Normandy, artists and imagery.
Whether in world famous stud farms, "Le Haras du Pin" near Argentan, "Le Haras National" of Saint Lo, or local riding centers, Normandy has always been home to horses. Horses fans can enjoy the wide range of activities available and visit the region differently....on horseback!
The Normandy coastline is exceptional, from the towering chalk cliffs of the Alabaster coast to the bay of the Mont Saint Michel, the beaches of the "Côte Fleurie" and the steep cliffs of La Pointe du Hoc, you will never stop being surprised. On each of the beaches, visitors will find a wide range of activities available, from dinghy sailing to sand yachting and kitesurfing.
Major sailing events are regularly held in Normandy harbors with annual regattas such as the renowned "Le Figaro" single handed yachting race, the "Tour de France" yachting race or the famous "Transat Jacques Vabre" from France to Brazil!
What is great about golf, is that players benefit of the Normandy mild-climate all year round, keeping the golf course naturally green with ideal playing quality. With no less than 34 courses, and still climbing, Normandy is one of the favorite destinations for golfers worldwide. Some greens, such as Etretat or Port en Bessin have exceptional views of the coastline.