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Normandy, France: where it is, when to go and what to see

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Lluis Enric Mayans
@lluisenricmayans
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Located in the north-west of France, Normandy is a region full of colorful landscapes, rugged coastlines, extensive valleys and emblematic historic sites. In fact, one of the most important events of the twentieth century took place here, the largest military landing in history, on June 6, 1944, which began the liberation of Europe from German occupation.

Normandy it preserves relics of recent events, but also buildings and traces of the past, just think of Rouen and its medieval aspect, Mont Saint-Michel, the town located on the islet that, depending on the tide, can become a hill, with its enchanting abbey. For those who love art can visit Monet's House and Gardens, and those who want to get lost in nature can go hiking on the cliffs of Etrat, naturally smoothed by the action of the Atlantic Ocean and the wind.

Here is a everything you need to know about Normandy, in France: where is it, when to go and what to see!



Index

  1. Travel informed: useful information
  2. Where it is
  3. How to reach us
  4. When to go? Info on climate and best time
  5. The main cities
  6. 10 things to see: the places of interest in Normandy
  7. The main routes in Normandy
  8. What to do in Normandy: excursions and tours
  9. How much does a Normandy holiday cost? Prices, offers and advice
  10. User questions and comments

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 3,2 million
  • Capital: Rouen
  • Languages: French and Norman
  • Local currency: euro (€)
  • Weather: Atlantic Ocean, average winter temperatures 5 °, average summer temperatures 18 °
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Where it is

    Normandy is located in the north-west of France, and includes the territory of Upper Normandy, which occupies the valley of the Seine and that of the Cotentin peninsula, which is located in Lower Normandy. It overlooks the English Channel, between the mouth of the Bresle River and that of the Couesnon River.



    How to reach us

    By plane

    The only airports in the region are those of Caen-Carpiquet and Deauville Saint-Gatien, both served by seasonal flights, therefore not available all year round.

    In most cases it is necessary to land at the nearest airports, such as those in Paris:

    • Charles de Gaulle (118 km / 2 hours from Rouen in Upper Normandy, 214 km / 3 hours from Caen in Lower Normandy) - Compare flights from Rome or Milan
    • Beauvais Tillé (90/80 min from Rouen) - Compare flights from Rome or Milan

    The airports are connected by regional trains (90 min / € 24,00 to Rouen, 2h / € 38,00 to Caen), or by bus connecting Paris to Rouen (2 hours) or Caen (3 hours), cost the average ticket is € 13,50.

    By bus or train

    It is possible to arrive in Normandy by trains departing from Italy, even if the journey is relatively long. From Milan it is possible to take a train that stops and changes at the Paris or Lyon station (with the next stop in Rouen). In the first case, the journey takes about 10 hours, while in the second it takes up to 12 hours. In both types the prices range from € 180,00 to € 210,00.

    Also several bus companies, especially at low cost prices, they travel from Italy to Normandy, the duration of the journey from Milan is about 12 hours and it happens to find tickets on offer starting from € 40,00.



    By car

    Traveling by car is a very impressive experience and the French motorways are well organized and receive constant maintenance. From Italy, the road point of connection with France is the Frejus del Mont Blanc tunnel. However, it remains an alternative if you have some time for your trip. For a few days it is not recommended, better concentrate on exploring Normandy.

    From Milan the journey takes about 9 h and 35 min (979 km) without counting any breaks. Maybe you could think of breaking the path by spending the night in one of the many cities along the way.

    When to go? Info on climate and best time

    • Weather: Atlantic oceanic, winter averages 5 °, summer averages 18 °. Frequent rainfall, more intense from October to January, but also possible in summer, the Atlantic perturbations make the climate in all areas rather variable
    • Best time: from May to September, warmer and sunnier, although the temperature can drop significantly in the evening
    • Period to avoid: From December to February, it often rains and there are very few sunny days
    • Advice: also in spring or summer pack sweatshirts and coats for the evening, closed shoes and k-way. Considering the long trails and cliff hikes, hiking shoes and equipment are required. For the winter period, warm clothes, a heavy raincoat and umbrella

    The main cities

    1. Rouen: capital of Normandy, where there are important historical buildings, such as the Notre-Dame cathedral, one of the most magnificent in France. The city is well connected by road and rail with Paris and other major national cities
    2. Dieppe: it is a seaside resort, known for having been the site of famous landings during the Second World War (in '42 and in '44), as well as the place where ferries leave for England
    3. Le Havre: the city center rebuilt after the war is one of the few to be part of the assets declared World Heritage by Unesco.
    4. Giverny: city where you can visit the House and Gardens of the painter Monet, the Impressionist Art Museum, and the Castle of La Roche-Guyon
    5. Caen: city almost entirely destroyed during the World War, in Caen the memories are kept in the Memorial Museum and in the few remaining buildings, such as the Abbey of Men and the Abbey of Women, dating back to the th century
    6. Etretat: one of the main towns of the Alabaster Coast, famous for its cliffs overlooking the sea
    7. Cherbourg: maritime city overlooking the English Channel, where you can visit important buildings such as the Cité de la Mer, museum and aquarium and the Liberation Museum, from which you can admire the panorama of the Cotentin peninsula
    8. Bayeux: city in Lower Normandy where you can visit several interesting sites, such as the Municipal Museum, which houses the famous 68 m long Bayeux tapestry, the th century Gothic cathedral and the enchanting Botanical Garden
    9. Honfleur: here is the ancient port, the Vieux Bassin, surrounded by old stone houses. The church of Sainte-Catherine, in Romanesque style and whose ceiling resembles the overturned hull of a boat, must be visited
    10. Les Andelys: a place made very fascinating by the castles, such as the ruins of Gaillard castle and Gaillon castle, as well as the Collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys, an ancient abbey with large stained glass windows and the St. Savior Church of Petit-Andely, the nearby church to the river Seine

    10 things to see: the places of interest in Normandy

    1. Mont-Saint-Michel abbey: complex of Gothic buildings located on the islet of the same name immersed in the English Channel, it is one of the most tourist destinations in France, included among the assets declared World Heritage by Unesco
    2. Monet's House and Gardens and Museum of Impressionist Art: symbolic places of Giverny, the city located to the right of the Seine, where you can admire the landscapes made famous by the paintings of the great Monet
    3. Pegasus Bridge and Memorial of Caen: the Pegasus bridge was one of the main objectives of the landing and, to learn more about the subject, it is possible to reach the nearby Museum of Caen, which reconstructs the war events from 1918 up to the Cold War
    4. Château Gaillard: medieval fortress built on the banks of the Seine by Richard the Lionheart, located in the town of Les Andelys
    5. Chalk cliffs of Étretat: in this small town with blue roofs it is possible to walk the paths overlooking the sea, from which to admire cliffs and natural constructions, such as the Manneporte, the 90 m high plaster arch
    6. Jumièges Abbey: built in 654, it has undergone damage and reconstructions in various historical periods, passing from the Vikings to the French Revolution. Currently its remains are a popular destination for tourists from all over the world
    7. Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg: maritime museum housed in a large building from 1933, with an aquarium and the possibility of visiting the inside of a submarine, the Redoutable
    8. Deauville Beach: huge sandy beach with characteristic colored umbrellas, very crowded in summer
    9. Parc Naturel Régional Normandie-Maine: huge natural park within the region and which also extends into the nearby Loire. Inside there are forests, moors, orchards and landscapes of a thousand shades
    10. Gros-Horloge: one of the most important monuments of Rouen, with an astronomical clock built in 1389

    The main routes in Normandy

    In Normandy the there are so many excursions to do, in addition to the usual visits to the Gothic style churches and medieval villages. It is a region that allows you to satisfy every desire and is suitable for both art and city lovers and nature lovers.

    The best way to visit it is certainly to rent a car, in order to be free to reach all the towns and points marked on your route!
    Here are some interesting itineraries to discover this fascinating region:



    1. On the trail of Impressionism: starting from Giverny, with Monet's House and Gardens, the Museum of Impressionism, then a stop in Rouen, whose cathedral was the subject of the famous series of paintings by the painter. Itinerary suitable for a weekend.
    2. Gastromic tour of Normandy: the region is famous for some culinary specialties, such as the fish recipes of Dieppe, Port-en-Bessin, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, the tasty cheeses of Pont-l'Évêque, Camembert, and the ancient Fécamp distillery. Tour suitable for one week.
    3. Tour to the landing sites: go to the places where the events of June 6, 1944 took place, such as the American cemetery of Omaha Beach, the church of Sainte-Mère-Eglise, whose bell tower was entangled by paratrooper John Stelle and the Caen Memorial Museum . Itinerary suitable for a weekend.
    4. On the coast from Étretat to Mont Saint-Micheal: on the white chalk cliffs of the small town of Étretat there are several paths overlooking the sea, among these the most striking is the path that leads to the D'Aval cliff, on whose top there is also a golf course. The tour ends with the appointment to the unmissable Mont-Saint-Michel, the islet that emerges in the waters of the English Channel. Tour suitable for two days.

    What to do in Normandy: excursions and tours

    How much does a Normandy holiday cost? Prices, offers and advice

    The landscapes of Normandy must be discovered in their thousand shades, which is why the main advice is to travel within the region in a car. The closest airports to the region are those of Paris, so once you land in the capital you can rent a car at the airport (starting from € 70,00 per day).

    Accommodation costs vary by city, making it easier to find a large offer in Rouen or Caen while in the small villages there are few types of accommodation (in all cases the prices are not very cheap). In general, the cost of living is not very different from what it is in Italy.

    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 80,00 per room -
    • starting from € 76,00 -
    • Return flight + 5 days / 5 nights from € 546,00 per person -
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