A trip to Normandy is a seriously interesting history lesson, so listen up! This French region has an ancient abbey that rises majestically above the ocean, holy buildings and ruins, intriguing galleries and museums, and a landscape that started an art movement. Book your Normandy hotel from our great range and visit one of France’s most unique and historic regions.
Normandy has been populated since prehistoric days. The Vikings invaded in the 9th century, and in 1066 these Norsemen, who came to be called the Normans, crossed the English Channel and conquered England in the Battle of Hastings. The Hundred Years War saw France and England fighting for Normandy before France claimed victory in 1450. In 1944, the Allied Forces landed on Normandy’s beaches in what became known as D-Day. Despite massive casualties, the battle freed France from Hitler’s rule.
In 1872, the commune of Le Havre was the inspiration for Claude Monet’s famous painting ‘Impression, Sunrise’. The Impressionist art movement took its name from this painting, and Monet would head into the countryside with other Impressionist painters Renoir, Sisley and Bazille to paint directly from life.
Things to do
Among Normandy’s green hills are quaint towns packed with striking historic sights. In Les Andelys, you can admire the haunting medieval fortress Chateau Gaillard. The historic town of Bayeux has the Bayeux Tapestry, a World Heritage-listed cloth from 1077 that portrays events leading up to the Norman invasion of England. You can find it, conveniently enough, in the Bayeux Tapestry Museum.
One of the most recognisable (and spectacular) sights of Normandy is Mont Saint-Michel. A towering Gothic abbey, dedicated to the archangel St. Michael, it’s the permanent home of about 44 people. Pass through its gates and you’ll find a village of 15th and 16th century buildings now housing shops and museums, as well as the abbey itself and its outdoor paths with bay views.
You can explore sites and museums dedicated to D-Day, like the Normandy American Cemetery, where almost 10,000 white crosses cover a hillside overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the beaches that Allied forces landed on).
If you’d prefer to just take it easy, Normandy has miles of coastline, with long sandy beaches and pebbly beaches, plus four national parks and outdoor activities from fishing to golf to horse riding.
Shopping and dining
Although some towns like Rouen have shopping malls, Normandy is more a place of boutique stores and eclectic flea markets like the Place Saint Marc. Normandy has all the top-notch dining you’d expect from France, with fresh fish and seafood galore along with fruits, meats and cheeses.
Normandy is just a one-hour train ride from Paris
, or a two-and-a-half-hour drive in your hire car. Once you’re in Normandy, a hire car is your best bet to see most of the chateaux, countryside and other interesting sights. Book one of our cheap flights to Paris
along with our Normandy accommodation and take off to a city that makes quite an impression.
Image credit Mike Cattell
under Creative Commons