Three things sum up Normandy – Camembert, cider and cows. Spread along the Channel coastline between Brittany and the far reaches of northeast France, Normandy is where the green, pleasant French countryside smacks hard into the rolling waves of La Manche (the Channel). It’s a place of churned butter and soft runny cheese, where broad fields and dry-stone farmhouses perch on the edge of chalk-white cliffs, and the salty tang of the sea is in the air.
Normandy is an enticing blend of old and new. Fishing boats jostle with designer yachts in the harbour of Honfleur; contemporary restaurants and chic boutiques sit alongside half-timbered houses and Gothic churches in Rouen; and the reconstructed centre of Caen is a short drive away from the cobblestones of Bayeux. Whether it’s browsing the Normandy fish market, mixing with the high-rollers at Deauville and Trouville, or strolling the D-Day beaches north of Bayeux, this is one part of France that will stay with you long after you leave for home.
Ever since the armies of William the Conqueror set sail from its shores in 1066, Normandy has had a pivotal role in European history. It was the frontier for Anglo-French hostilities for much of the Hundred Years’ War, and later became the crucible of impressionist art, but during the D-Day landings in 1944 Normandy sealed its place in the history books. History has certainly left its mark on the landscape, which is dotted with sturdy castles and stunning cathedrals, as well as the glorious abbey of Mont St-Michel, although many of the towns were shattered during the Battle of Normandy.
Best places to stay in Normandy
France - Normandy (Chapter)
Normandy's rich past is often what draws travellers to the region today, though the pastoral landscapes, small fishing ports, dramatic coastline and waistline-expanding cuisine are all equally good reasons to include this accessible and beautiful chunk of France on any trip.
Delicacies of Normandy
Two ingredients sum up Norman cuisine: salted butter and soft cheese. You'll often see dishes served à la normande in Normandy, which basically means they'll be served with a sauce made with butter, cream or cheese (sometimes even a combination of all three).
Cycling in France - Normandy & Brittany (Chapter)
This is the Normandy & Brittany chapter from Lonely Planet's Cycling France guidebook.
Normandy destination guides
Museums of Brittany & Normandy
These recommendations are taken from our Brittany & Normandy guidebook, which is full of inspirational ideas & detailed coverage for foodies, walkers & culture lovers. 1.
Private Tour to Bayeux, Honfleur and Pays d' Auge from Bayeux
Discover the history, culture and food of the Normandy region on this private tour of Bayeux, Honfleur and Pays d'Auge departing from central Bayeux.
Normandy Battlefields Tour - Canadian World War II Sites
Begin your Normandy Battlefields Tour with a visit to the Juno Beach Center, the only museum in the Canadian sector. The Center retraces the implementation of the Canadian Army during fighting in Europe. Your minivan holds a maximum of eight passengers, and a small group tour is the perfect way to get to out-of-the-way places in one day.
European history and culture weekends
Looking for a short European break where you can immerse yourself in the local history and culture? Whether you want to take a trip back to imperial Portugal, grab your gladioli and relive the glory days of The Smiths in Manchester or discover something new, Lonely Planet Magazine shows you how: Beaches and battlefields in Norm.