Best of Normandy, North of France

Normandy is a beautiful region in northern France bordered by the English Channel.  It is well known for its spectacular natural beauty with its white cliffs within the Alabaster Coast, its long stretch of sandy beaches and a variety of parks and gardens.  It comes to no surprise that it became the heart of the Impressionism art movement headed by Monet at his studio in Giverny.  Normandy is packed with a variety of lovely resort towns such as Deauville, Trouville and Cabourg within the Cote Fleurie, as well as various historic destinations such as the old city of Honfleur.  The region is also the land of chateaux and impressive medieval architecture, being once the land of William the Conqueror, one of the greatest warriors of all time.  It is home to the Mont-St-Michel, one of Normandy’s most spectacular sights and France’s most visited attractions.  The region of Normandy is also known for the D-Day allied invasion (on June 6, 1944) within the Omaha and Utah Beach, which became a significant turning point during the Second World War.

Topics

Normandy map

The following is the location of the region of Normandy in the North of France.

Normandy areas

The region is administratively divided into the Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy regions, as well as into the British islands known as Channel Islands.

The following are the most important areas in Normandy:

  1. Upper Normandy:  Seine-Maritime & Eure
  2. Lower Normandy: Orne, Calvados, and Manche
  3. The Channel Islands: Guernsey and Jersey

Upper Normandy

Upper Normandy or Haute-Normandie is the North Eastern part of the region and is comprise of the French departments of the coastal Seine-Maritime and the inland Eure.

Lower Normandy

Lower Normandy or Basse-Normandie is the Western and Southern part of the region and include the departments of Orne, Calvados, and Manche.  The department of Calvados is best known for its cider and apple brandy also known as Calvados, as well as for its charming coastal towns within the beautiful Côte Fleurie such as Trouville-sur-Mer, Deauville and Cabourg.

The Channel Islands

The Channel Islands, referred to as Îles Anglo-Normandes in French are historically part of Normandy.  They include the British Crown Dependencies of Guernsey and Jersey and cover a total of less than 200 km².

Normandy top sights

The region of Normandy has so much to offer in tourist attractions, from its imposing medieval Châteaux, Manors and major world heritage sites to peaceful villages, coastal resort towns and a significant numbers of Abbeys.

The top sights in Normandy include:

  1. Mont-St-Michel: the most recognisable attractions of Normandy
  2. Bayeux: home to the remarkable Bayeux Tapestry
  3. Honfleur:  home to the Vieux Bassin harbour and various museums
  4. Deauville : host of the American Film Festival
  5. Rouen: Normandy’s capital city
  6. Caen:  modern college city known for its Second World War remains
  7. Lisieux: charming town home to the impressive Lisieux Cathedral
  8. Giverny: rural retreat of Impressionist painter Claude Monet
  9. Le Havre: famous port city once harbour for Paris

Other less popular but interesting destinations in Normandy include the Pays d’Auges, Cote d’Albatre, Grainville, Coutances, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Evreux, the Cotentin Peninsula, Barfleur and St-Vaast and La Hague.

Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel is a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site located on an island just off the coast of Lower Normandy in northern France.  It is best known as the site of the spectacular and well-preserved Norman Benedictine Abbey of St Michel at the peak of the rocky island, and surrounded by winding streets and a medieval architecture.  It is one of France most visited tourist attraction and the most recognisable sight in Normandy.

Learn more about Mont-St-Michel including top sights, best hotels, map, images and video.

Honfleur

Honfleur is a lovely coastal destination surrounding a beautiful 17th-century harbour known as Le Vieux Bassin.  This charming town is located in Calvados, within the region of Lower Normandy in the North of France.  The town is known for its well preserved historic architecture of traditional buildings, museums and churches such as the Église Ste-Catherine and the Musée de le marine.  Historically it is famous for being the departure point of some of Europe’s greatest sea explorers including Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec.  It has many pedestrian streets at its heart including the Rue de la Ville, packed with various cafes, restaurant and boutiques offering some of Normandy’s best known specialities such as Cider, Calvados and local cheese.

Learn more about Honfleur including top sights, best hotels, map, images and video.

Deauville 

Deauville, located within the Côte Fleurie of the Calvados department of Lower Normandy, is one of the most fashionable seaside resorts, often referred to as the Queen of the Norman beaches or the Parisian Riviera.  It is best known for its wide sandy beach with huts named after movie stars, its boardwalk promenade with numeours cafes, sumptuous hotels and its Grand Casino.  Every year the town also hosts the Festival of American films which attracts some of the greatest stars from the other side of the ocean.

Bayeux

Bayeux is a small town within the Lower Normandy region best known for its remarkable Bayeux Tapestry (Tapisserie de Bayeux) that chronicles the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, in the 11th Century.  Bayeux is also home to the D-day Museum considered one of the best on the topic and the central Bayeux Cathedral which towers over the entire town.

Rouen

Rouen, strategically located on the River Seine and only 135 km northwest of Paris, is the capital of Upper Normandy.   It is famous for its beautiful Rouen Cathedral at its heart which inspired Monet to paint over 30 canvases.  Rouen is also known as the home of Gustave Flaubert, one of France’s most celebrated writers, as well as the location where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake.

Caen

Caen is the second largest city in Normandy after Rouen.  It is a modern college city as most of it was destroyed during the war and rebuilt in the 50s and 60s.  It is today known for its Second World War remains and Memorial for Peace, popular in the summer, especially with British and German tourists.

Lisieux

Lisieux is a lovely town within the Calvados department of the Basse-Normandie region.  It is the capital of the Pays d’Auges, which is characterised by valleys and hedged farmland and is best known for its grandiose Basilica of Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux.

Giverny

Giverny is a small French village located within the valley of the river Seine in Upper Normandy, only 80 km to the west of the capital city Paris.  It is best known as the rural retreat of the impressionist painter Claude Monet, famous for his series of paintings including waterlilies from his garden pond and the Rouen cathedral.

Le Havre

Le Havre which can be translated to the harbour is a famous port city located at the mouth of the Seine, within the English Channel in Upper Normandy.  It was historically the harbour for Paris because of the variety of goods transferred from the ocean to the capital by barges via the Seine.  The city is today part of a UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Normandy best hotels

Normandy has some of France’s most sought after accommodations from luxury hotels to charming bed & breakfast also known as Chambres d’hôtes.

Some of the top rated hotels in Normandy include:

  1. Auberge Saint Pierre, 3 Stars Hotel in Mont Saint Michel
  2. Le Relais Du Roy, 3 Stars Hotel in Mont Saint Michel
  3. La Ferme Saint Simeon, 5 Stars Hotel in Honfleur
  4. Almoria Hotel, 3 Stars Hotel in Deauville
  5. Le Tardif Noble, 4 Stars Hotel in Bayeux
  6. Mercure Rouen Centre Cathedrale, 4 Stars Hotel in Rouen
  7. Inter Hotel Otelinn, 3 Stars Hotel in Caen
  8. Chateau Les Bruyeres, 3 Stars Hotel in Lisieux
  9. Novotel Le Havre Bassin Vauban, 3 Stars Hotel in Le Havre

Check out the best hotel deals in Mont Saint Michel, Honfleur, Deauville, Bayeux, Rouen, Caen, Lisieux,  Giverny and Le Havre , with up to 75% discount.

Normandy images

The following is a selection of some of Normandy’s best photographs including some of the region’s most important destinations such as Mont-St-Michel, Cabourg, Honfleur, Lisieux, and Deauville.

Cabourg
Deauville
Deauville
Deauville
Deauville
Deauville
Lisieux
Lisieux
Lisieux
Mont-St-Michel
Mont-St-Michel
Mont-St-Michel
Honfleur
Honfleur
Honfleur

Click on the images to view them in full-size within a lightbox.

Normandy video

The following is an HD Film about the best of Normandy created by Mat Siems and including some of the region’s most important sites such as Mont-St-Michel, Cabourg, Honfleur, Lisieux, and Deauville.

View the best of Normandy video now.

Normandy Facts

Normandy is predominantly agricultural in character, being a significant cider-producing region and dairy produce.  It is also home to French nuclear power stations, and has an important fishing, seafood, and tourism industry. 

The following are some of the key facts about the French Northern region of Normandy:

  1. Normandy continental territory covers 30,627 km²
  2. Normandy is about 5% of the territory of France
  3. Normandy played a central role during the Second World War with the D Day landings on the coast
  4. Normandy has a total population of around 3.5 million
  5. Normandy has a continental population of around 3.2 million