Normandy in northern France is a place filled with popular must-visit attractions. It’s not only the location of the famous D-Day Landings during World War II, but also where Camembert cheese originated. From the quaint villages to its majestic manors and castles, Normandy has so much to be uncovered by the adventurous traveller. From the days of William the Conqueror to the present day, Normandy has a rich history. If you are in the mood to see a different side to France, travel on along one of the tourist circuits. These routes are clearly marked and will surely impress. Everyone should ensure they visit Mont Saint-Michel, one of the country’s greatest tourist sites.
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Many people visit the American Cemetery in the village Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy in France to find the graves of their loved ones. Approximately 9,387 soldiers are buried at the American Cemetery in Normandy. This is the final resting place of troops who died during World War II. Most of the troops buried here were killed during the D-Day Landings on 6 June 1944, the Battle of Normandy that followed and other war operations. The cemetery which overlooks Omaha Beach is the largest American cemetery of World War II.
Walk over to the memorial which is a main feature of the cemetery. In the centre of the memorial is a bronze statue which depicts ‘The spirit of the American youth rising from the waves’. There are maps at the memorial which explain the liberation of Europe and war operations in the Pacific.
Situated behind the memorial is the Garden of the Missing. Here the names of 1,557 soldiers and air force troops whose bodies were never found are displayed. For quiet time and for a time of reflection, head over to the chapel.
Tour the battlefields
There are tours available to relive the battles in Normandy. Experienced guides will to take you through the Normandy countryside and to famous battlegrounds. Go to the beach and gain insight into how French citizens were liberated. Another great way to experience the history of D-Day Landings is to do a cycle tour from one of the battle beaches to Mont Saint-Michel. You will also experience Norman heritage as well as its different landscapes. This route is a good holiday idea for the whole family.
Things to do in Normandy
- Mont Saint-Michel: Don’t miss an opportunity to visit one of the most visited places in France. The island located off the coast of Normandy is home to a beautiful Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael. The abbey is a World Heritage Site and one of the wonders of the western world.
Legends say that the abbey was founded in the 8th century after the archangel Michael appeared to the bishop of Avranches in a dream. While you are here, visit the church of St. Pierre where there is a statue of St Michael slaying a dragon. The tides around the island change very quickly. For unforgettable experience, hike across the bay of Mont Saint-Michel, but be sure to take a guide. Watch out for the quicksand! At one time there is just sand around the island, but by high tide it’s completely surrounded by water. Tour the ramparts at the base of the abbey and put yourself in the shoes of the many pilgrims who have crossed this channel.
Take a walk around the village after your visit to the abbey. Stop in at a few shops and frequent the museums or grab a bite at one of the restaurants. The main street is lined with houses dating from the 15th and 16the century. If your feet need a rest from all the sightseeing, relax and watch the tide come in. A visit to Mont Saint Michel can be described as really enchanting.
- Bayeux Tapestry: Here you will get a glimpse of an 11th century embodied cloth. This 230 foot long cloth tells the story of the Norman Invasion in 1066. The tapestry is one of the longest and detailed tapestries in the world. Once you have visited the Tapestry, tour the town.
- Notre Dame Cathedral (Bayeux): A view of this cathedral will leave you speechless. A truly splendid building, it’s built in Romanesque style with some Gothic influences. The cathedral’s copper dome is a must-see. There are also several stained glass windows which commemorate both world wars. The cathedral dates back to William the Conqueror and is a real sight to behold. At night the church is beautifully lit and you will get a fantastic view of the architecture and reliefs of the cathedral. The cathedral is still active today.
- Taste Camembert Cheese: Visit the village of Camembert in the south eastern region of Normandy. There are various places to drop in and get a taste of this well-known cheese. Go to the La Maison du Camembert, which is a farmhouse and Museum. Here you will also get to taste delicious French cheeses. Learn how Camembert cheese was discovered during the French Revolution in 1791.
- Go on the Cider Route (Route du Cidre): A one-of-a-kind in France, Normandy has its very own Cider Route where you can discover how Normandy ciders are made. Of course there is plenty cider to drink and buy along the way. The Cider Route is 40 kilometres long and is clearly marked with apple signage. Drive through the exquisite Normandy countryside from village to village and master the taste of ciders. While you are in the region, stop off at the delightful coastal towns of Trouville, Deauville and Honfluer. When you reach Trouville, dine on the best mussels you will ever eat as well as other fresh seafood.
- Travel on of the Circuits: Besides the Cider Route, Normandy has other circuits that will leave your mouth watering as you travel from place to place. This is your chance to explore Normandy’s heritage and villages. ‘The Traditional Trail’ will take you through the countryside through villages such as Villers Bocage and Dampierre where you can get to know local traditions and try local cuisine. ‘The Camembert Trail’ will lead visitors to various locations to taste cheese.