Mont Saint Michel bay walk group
Mont Saint Michel bay walk group © GILLIAN THORNTON

As well as the famous D-day beaches, there are outdoor adventures, festivals galore and beautiful villages in Normandy.

Related article: The Timeless Charms of Normandy, What’s New in 2021

WAR AND PEACE

The British Normandy Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer in Calvados opened to visitors after inauguration on June 6. Over in Manche, the Airborne Museum at Sainte-Mère-Église near Utah Beach has a new space dedicated to parachutists and aerial combat.

The Mémorial de Caen includes a good overview on the Battle of Normandy and offers specialist tours of key sites. Download the Medieval Normandy visitor guide from www.normandie-tourisme.fr for sites connected with iconic figures such as William of Normandy, Richard the Lionheart and Joan of Arc.

Memorial de Caen
Memorial de Caen © GILLIAN THORNTON

SPORTS ACTIVITIES

CYCLING: Myriad options abound including Vélomaritime, La Seine à Vélo; and Fatbike to discover Omaha Beach.

WATERSPORTS: Cherbourg hosts the finish of the iconic biennial Rolex Fastnet Race for the first time. And there’s a new watersports activity centre, Le Cano, at Ouistreham.

NEW CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS

Bicentenary of Gustave Flaubert, especially around his home town of Rouen. Impressionist Gardens Exhibition (May 19 – Nov 1). Les Franciscaines Museum, Deauville, La Villa du Temps Retrouvé (Marcel Proust Museum), Cabourg.

Guy Degrenne factory tours at Vire. Musée de la Mine and the Souterroscope des Ardoisières.

 Suisse Normande
Suisse Normande © GILLIAN THORNTON

GREAT OUTDOORS

All kinds of adventure sports are on offer in Normandy’s rugged upland region, the Suisse Normande. For the four Regional Natural Parks, visit: www.parc-naturel-perche.fr; www.parc-naturel-normandie-maine.fr; www.pnr-seine-normande.com; and www.parc-cotentin-bessin.fr.

ANIMALS AND NATURE

New garden classified Jardin Remarquable. Children in tow? Don’t miss Champrépus Zoo and the new farm animal collection at Domaine de Ouézy. View the Cotentin marshland on a new electric boat tour from Carentan-les-Marais. And explore the oceans through L’Océan du futur, which opened in 2019 at Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg – it boasts 17 aquariums and 18 interactive spaces.

BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES

Six Norman villages are classified Les Plus Beaux Villages de France: the beach resort of Veules-les-Roses (Seine-Maritime); Lyons-la-Forêt (Eure); Le Bec-Hellouin with its half-timbered houses (Eure); Beuvron-en-Auge in the Pays d’Auge apple region (Calvados); the medieval port of Barfleur (Manche); and the painters’ paradise of Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei (Orne).

Veules les Roses
Veules les Roses © GILLIAN THORNTON

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

AUGUST Mackerel festival, Trouville-sur-Mer; Medieval Festival, Crèvecoeur-en-Auge and Falaise.

SEPTEMBER American Cinema Festival, Deauville (3-12); Shrimp Festival, Honfleur.

OCTOBER Les Equidays, equestrian events throughout Calvados.

Domfront Castle
Domfront Castle © GILLIAN THORNTON

From France Today magazine

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