France > Normandy
The fashions might have changed somewhat... there are probably more houses,
definitely more hustle and bustle... but the views, the light and the colours
remain essentially the same as those which inspired so many exponents of the
Impressionist movement at the end of the 19th century.
Visitors wanting to immerse themselves in the Impressionist experience are
really spoilt for choice in Normandy. Not only are there suggested itineraries,
supported by descriptive brochures and panels, which take you from site to site
and give you the chance to stand almost exactly in the artists’ footsteps but
several of the region’s art museums and galleries feature important collections
of works from all the major painters. There are smaller museums dedicated to
particular painters, but for an opportunity to admire two of the largest collections
of Impressionist art in France head for the Musee des Beaux Arts in Rouen or
the Malraux Museum in Le Havre.
Chances are you’re sat perusing this brochure as you plan your next trip to
France... and this time you’ve chosen Normandy. Or perhaps you travel to Normandy
on a regular basis. Whether you are a frequent visitor, or this is your first
proper holiday in the region, we have aimed to make this guide a useful jumping
off point. It will give you some useful pointers and, hopefully, some inspiration
whilst also leading you to other sources of information via telephone, post
Normandy is a popular destination for both short breaks and for longer touring
holidays. It offers a diverse range of experiences, encompassing its natural
environment, wealth of historical heritage, gastronomic specialities as well
as its commitment to high quality accommodation and activities to suit all
ages and tastes.
With its long Channel coastline, from Le Treport all the way round to Mont-St
Michel, the region is famous for its maritime connections. Yachts, watersports,
beaches as well as an abundance of delicious seafood menus make Normandy an
ideal destination for those of you for whom the perfect holiday needs to feature
water. Even better is the fact that the region is criss-crossed by numerous
rivers, the greatest being the magnificent Seine which snakes its way from
Le Havre through Rouen and on to Paris. Inland, however, the countryside continues
to offer yet more features from our holiday wish lists ... lush landscapes
and impressive views; quiet rural roads and sleepy villages; quaint hotels
and quirky museums; traditional auberges and grand restaurants; challenging
golf courses and swanky horse races; tasty culinary treats and a plethora
of foodie presents to take home; inspiring abbeys and immaculate gardens.
The region is made up of five counties, or departements, all with their
own distinct character and specialities, stretching from the Seine-Maritime
in the east to the Manche in the west, via Eure, Orne and Calvados. In this
guide we aim to give you a glimpse of each specific area, as well as an overview
of places to stay and places to visit, but you will soon realise as you venture
further into your planning that there is much more to discover than we could
ever include within these pages. Normandy’s commitment to tourism, long considered
an important factor in local economic development, means that you can be sure
of receiving a professional welcome and service at every level.
Bearing this in mind, we hope that you will feel able to access the range
of various methods of gathering information before you set off on your holiday.
Some things come and go, but you can rest assured that Normandy ’s appeal
remains constant. If you don’t manage to see everything this time round, you
can always return another day to discover a bit more... we promise you’ll not
be disappointed! Enjoy your trip...
Starting from the west, Cherbourg is the first port of call with ferry services
from Portsmouth, Poole and Rosslare (summer). In addition to possessing one
of the largest deep water facilities in the area, Cherbourg also has one of
the major pleasure ports with over 1000 moorings in its marina. The maritime
theme has been continued with the recent opening of the Cite de la Mer, a major
sub aquatic visitor centre established within the renovated Transatlantic Terminal
The port of Ouistreham stands at the mouth of the Orne Canal and on the
wide expanses of what was Sword Beach on D Day. As the ferry port for Caen
with regular services from Portsmouth, the city centre is some 8 km away easily
reached via the dual carriageway. Ouistreham Riva Bella is however a well
established seaside resort and sea water therapy centre as well as a working
fishing port. Waiting for a ferry is never a very exciting experience but
in Ouistreham there are so many distractions that you could easily miss the
boat! Across the mouth of the Seine Estuary, the bustling port of Le Havre
is the next ferry port with regular, year round services from Portsmouth.
The distinctive post war architecture is currently the subject of a possible
UNESCO listing but it also houses a university town, thriving commercial centre,
one of the best provincial art galleries and at neighbouring Ste Adresse,
the only south facing beach you are likely to find in this part of France.
The final Normandy ferry port is at Dieppe.
Originally the transit port for the London to Paris railway as it lies almost
along a straight line between the two cities, Dieppe has always had far more
to offer. A year round passenger ferry service still operates from Newhaven
and rather than hopping on to a train on the quayside, visitors are far more
inclined to stroll across the lawns of the very “English” promenade or enjoy
the delights of lively market in front of the Town Hall. If you enjoy your
sea food there is yet another reason to linger and enjoy the charms of Dieppe.
Normandy Quality Marque
As a measure of the importance placed on tourism in Normandy, the regional
authorities have in recent years developed a quality charter to ensure that
visitor experience is of the highest standards. To this aim the Nomandy Quality
Marque was created and you will notice this logo at increasing numbers of hotels,
restaurants and visitor attractions around the region and in the following pages.
Establishments which achieve the standards are subject to regular control against
a list of over 250 ctiteria. For full details of establishments in Normandy
which have achieved the Quality Charter visit: www.normandie-qualitetourisme.com?
Normandy is indelibly marked by the momentous events of June 1944, and the ensuing
months leading to the eventual liberation of France and the rest of Europe.
2004 saw the 60th anniversary of the Landings, probably the last time that so
many veterans will ever gather in memory of these events, but Normandy continues
to pay tribute to their contribution so many years ago. Museums and memorials
throughout the region stand as forceful reminders of this decisive period during
the Second World War, when Allied Forces gradually advanced from landing beaches
through villages, towns and countryside to liberate the French people.
It is impossible not to feel a great sense of awe when glimpsing the remnants
of the artificial Mulberry harbour on the beach at Arromanches at low tide,
or marvelling at the sheer scale of the Pointe du Hoc, the German bpoint
claimed by the Rangers on the morning of the 6 th of June 1944Nearly JO cemeteries
(including American, British, Canadian, French, German and Polish) hold the
remains of almost 100,000 young soldiers who never returned from their service
in Normandy — today offering quiet, ordered space for personal reflection
by every visitor, young or old, whatever their nationality.
Visitors wanting to discover more about this time in history, to identify
specific sites and to pay homage to those who fought so bravely will find
the detailed leaflet available from the Normandy Tourist Board and local tourist
offices very useful. It describes the “Routes through the Historical Area
of the Battle of Normandy”, just one of the initiatives aimed at creating
something positive from such traumatic events in order for future generations
to better understand the enormity of D-Day.
Similarly, museums such as the Memorial at Caen and the recently-opened
Juno Centre recount the historical events of D-Day and the subsequent struggle,
combining it with the educational purpose of ensuring that visitors gain a
balanced, thought-provoking view of events, the human cost and future consequences.
Armed with leaflets and brochures, it is possible to follow distinctive
signposts marked “Normandie — Terre Liberte” throughout the whole Historical
Area of the Battle of Normandy, one enormous open-air museum, and to pay respect
to those who fought and died... and to those who fought and lived.? Its location,
sandwiched between major players in European history, and its coastal frontiers
mean that Normandy has many tales to tell of pilgrimages, battles and invasions
as well as of artistic influence on painters, writers and architects and economic
development towards international markets. Such a rich history is reflected
in the abundance of its historic sites and monuments, about 40 of which have
grouped together to give visitors a wellresourced insight into Normandy's
There is a story to be told in almost every part of the region. Amongst Normandy’s
famous sons and daughters, the intrepid adventures of William the Conqueror
are uppermost. From his birthplace in Falaise to the Bayeux Tapestry which recounts
one of his greatest exploits, the presence of William and far reaching influences
are plain to see. There are other greats of course, such as Guy de Maupassant
(Chateau de Miromesnil) and Maurice Leblanc whose former home in Etretat is
now a living monument to his most famous creation. Lesser known outside France
perhaps, the tales of the “gentleman thief” Arsene Lupin were once obligatory
reading for any schoolboy and are this year the subject of a major film release.
Normandy is also a region rich in talent and craftsmanship.
The old pottery workers in Gers or the Master Builders at
the Abbey of Mont St Michel have all left their mark as
have the Impressionist painters or the Alencon point lace
makers. The noble art of calvados production is a skill
unique to Normans while the combined talents of Lutyens
and Jekyll have added a unique “English” dimension to the
unique house and gardens of the Parc du Bois des
If your quest is the unusual then look no further. Enjoy
the delights of a collection of miniature furniture at the
Chateau de Vendeuvre or explore the ocean’s hidden depths
at Cherbourg’s Cite de la Mer. The choice is as varied as it
is fascinating but put together, the wealth of Normandy’s
heritage is almost without bounds.
Make sure of your copy of the “Histoires de Normandie” leaflet and let the
lesson begin ...