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Introducing Normandy

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.