Holidays in Normandy: our top reasons to visit
Family holidays to Normandy remain popular with the Brits, due to it’s easy-to-reach location and it’s authentic French charm. This is a region brimming with history and culture, combined with some beautiful coastlines, perfect for relaxing with the family.
There’s plenty to keep you occupied on your holiday to Normandy, from tasting the famous ‘Calvados’ and the local cheeses and breads, to exploring the ancient history. The famous Mont St Michel is to be found here, a great day out for the family – you’ll love the tiny winding cobbled streets filled with scents of fresh food and battlements just waiting to be explored.
Here are six of our favourite reasons to holiday in Normandy.
1/ Historic Normandy beaches
Travel east from Dieppe to follow in the footsteps of the Impressionist painters around Fécamp and Etretat, or chill out at family resorts such as Trouville and Cabourg on the Côte Fleurie. West of Caen, the wide open sands of the D-Day landing beaches are gloriously unspoilt, and the museums and heritage sites that commemorate 1944 are a great way to put older children in touch with the heroic exploits of Allied soldiers, perhaps members of their own family. Head round the tip of the Cotentin Peninsula to find quiet coves beneath the high cliffs of La Hague, west of Cherbourg, and explore the sand dunes and estuaries around Barneville-Carteret and Agon-Coutainville on the west coast.
2/ Outdoor fun for everyone
If you love cycling but worry about exposing your family to British traffic, Normandy will be a revelation, with its network of safe, marked trails for walking, cycling and horse-riding. For a different – and unexpected – landscape, head to the Suisse Normande in the south of the region, an area of deep gorges and white water. Hire a canoe, go rock climbing, or try the quintessentially French pastime of Vélorail that involves pedalling a lightweight cart along a disused railway track – a novel and family-friendly way to see the countryside. Or get close to nature and book a guided walk across the sands around Mont Saint Michel at low tide for a unique perspective on Normandy’s most famous monument.
Read more about our favourite bike rides in Normandy
3/ Normandy Attractions
Everyone loves a good animal park and Normandy offers a wide choice including the Zoo de Champrépus near Villedieu-les-Poêles, the Cerza Zoological Park near Lisieux, and the Zoo de Jurques near the Suisse Normande, not to mention Alligator Bay at Beauvoir. Famous for its horse-breeding, the region is home to two of the most important branches of the French National Stud network, the Haras de St Lô and the spectacular Haras du Pin near Argentan, both open to visitors. If birds are more your thing, follow the discovery trial to the ornithological reserve on the Cotentin and Bessin marshes near Carentan.
4/ History lessons come to life
1066 is probably the first date that British children learn in school and when you visit Normandy with your family, you can bring those medieval history lessons zinging to life by following in the footsteps of William the Conqueror. Visit his birthplace in Falaise, his ducal castle and tomb in Caen, and the famous Bayeux Tapestry, which isn’t actually a tapestry at all but an embroidery. Normandy is dotted with medieval castles such as the hilltop ruins of Richard the Lionheart’s fortress at Chateau Gaillard, and ancient abbeys like Jumièges that are guaranteed to fire young imaginations. Many offer children’s activities and costumed events at holiday times.
Discover chateaux in Normandy, or read more about Normandy’s D’ Day sites
5/ Normandy attractions for all the family
Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg showcases Man’s efforts to explore the oceans from simple dives without oxygen to the latest submersible craft. Housed in the Art Deco buildings of the former Gare Maritime, this atmospheric attraction includes huge tropical fish tanks, a nuclear submarine tour, and – new in April 2012 – a permanent exhibition about the Titanic. On the outskirts of Caen, the Caen Memorial is a museum to world peace, told through the conflicts since World War I. Hugely popular with school groups, it’s also a thought provoking destination for families with older children.
Find out more about attractions in Normandy
6/ Inspire young artists
Normandy was the birthplace of the Impressionist movement and there’s no better place to inspire young artists. Visit Monet’s fabulous garden at Giverny; the famous chalk cliffs at Etretat; historic Rouen and the river Seine. There are museums and artists’ homes dotted all over the region, many offering activity sheets for children, and from 27 April to 29 September 2013, there’ll be special exhibitions and events on the theme of water as part of the Second Normandy Impressionist Festival.
Here’s more information to make the most of your visit to Normandy:
- Chateaux / Gardens
- D-Day Sites
- Food & Drink