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12 Essential Visits in Normandy in 2021

Our pick of the must-see towns, historic buildings and other places of interest.

Related articles: The Timeless Charms of Normandy [1]
A Taste of Normandy [2]
What to See and Do in Normandy in 2021 [3]
Where to Stay and Eat in Normandy in 2021 [4]

HONFLEUR

Impossibly pretty with an inner harbour fringed by houses up to seven storeys high, Honfleur has a fine arts museum named after Monet’s mentor, Eugène Boudin [5] who was born here, as was Erik Satie. Check out the wooden church of Sainte Catherine.
www.honfleur-tourism.co.uk [6]

Cathedrale de Bayeux Sylvain Guichard
Cathedrale de Bayeux Sylvain Guichard © SHUTTERSTOCK

BAYEUX

An embroidery on linen rather than a tapestry, this 11th-century stitching tells the story of William of Normandy’s invasion of England in stunning detail. Don’t miss the Gothic cathedral or the Commonwealth Cemetery with nearby Journalists’ Cemetery.
www.bayeuxmuseum.com [7]

 Men's Abbey and Town Hall, Caen
Caen Men’s Abbey and Town Hall © GILLIAN THORNTON

CAEN

This is the home town of William the Conqueror, who was born at Falaise Castle and built his own ducal castle here. He is buried in the Men’s Abbey. The Mémorial de Caen on the outskirts is a museum to peace told through the 20th-century conflicts.
www.memorial-caen.fr [8]

Granville, Haute Ville
Granville, Haute Ville © GILLIAN THORNTON

GRANVILLE

This busy harbour with a fortified upper town on the west coast of Manche [9] became a fashionable resort in the 19th century. Les Rhumbs, the childhood home of Christian Dior, is now a museum hosting a different exhibition each year.
www.musee-dior-granville.com [10]

Arromanches bay
Arromanches Bay © GILLIAN THORNTON

ARROMANCHES

You don’t need to be a fan of military history to be awed by the remaining sections of floating Mulberry Harbours that litter the beach at Arromanches [11] and rest in a tranquil arc offshore. Discover the story at the fantastic museum on the promenade.
www.arromanches-museum.com [12]

Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel © GILLIAN THORNTON

MONT-SAINT-MICHEL

The most visited National Monument outside of Paris, this famous island topped by an abbey is impressive from any angle, but especially from the seabed at low tide. But never go it alone. Join a guided tour to avoid incoming tides and quicksand.
www.cheminsdelabaie.com [13]

Memorial to the Brave, Omaha Beach
Memorial to the Brave, Omaha Beach © GILLIAN THORNTON

D-DAY BEACHES

From the Merville-Franceville [14] battery and Pegasus Bridge, through Arromanches and Pointe du Hoc to the British-owned Maisy Battery and Sainte-Mère-Église, each site has its own story to tell. Be sure to walk those wide golden sands too. Humbling stuff.
www.maisybattery.com [15]

Les Jeudis du Pin
Les Jeudis du Pin © CDT ORNE

HARAS DU PIN

Built for Louis XIV, ‘The Versailles of the Horse’ is amongst the most impressive of France’s national network of stud farms. Enjoy guided tours of the grounds and stables plus displays of native Percheron on summer Thursdays. E-bike hire.
www.haras-national-du-pin.com [16]

Rouen
Rouen © SHUTTERSTOCK

ROUEN

Rouen was loved by Monet and other Impressionists for its beautiful old town around Notre-Dame Cathedral. Don’t miss the Gothic belfry; museum dedicated to Joan of Arc; and the Fine Arts Museum with paintings from the 15th century to present day.
www.rouentourisme.com [17]

Falaise castle
Falaise castle © GILLIAN THORNTON

FALAISE CASTLE

William the Conqueror was born on this site, although the current castle was largely built by his son. Medieval history springs vividly to life with the help of modern technology, including room reconstructions on tablets.
www.chateau-guillaume-leconquerant.fr [18]

 Le Havre
Le Havre © GILLIAN THORNTON

LE HAVRE

Rebuilt after World War II by architect Auguste Perret, it is now listed by UNESCO. Visit the Perret show flat; Saint Joseph Church; and the Museum of Modern Art André Malraux, with the second-largest Impressionist collection outside Paris.
www.lehavre-etretat-tourisme.com [19]

 Scriptorial, Avranches
Scriptorial, Avranches © GILLIAN THORNTON

AVRANCHES

This hilltop town has views to Mont-Saint-Michel and is home to the Scriptorial, a surprisingly interesting museum of medieval manuscripts. A stone pillar in a green space marks the spot where Henry II was pardoned for Becket’s murder.
www.scriptorial.fr [20]

From France Today magazine

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