Normandy - Travel Guide 

Normandy is home to some of the most beautiful, iconic and historic sites in France.

The region is also inextricably linked to our own history, having been the birthplace of William the Conqueror (William of Normandy), and the setting for the D-Day Landings, whose 70th anniversary will be commemorated in 2014.

So easy with DFDS Seaways

DFDS Seaways’ four routes to France offer easy access to Normandy by car. Take the ferry from Dover to Calais or Dunkirk and the region is less than two hours’ drive along the coast.

Alternatively cross from Portsmouth to Le Havre or Newhaven to Dieppe and arrive right on the doorstep of this richly historic, charmingly unspoiled part of France. Take a look at our tips for driving in France for latest travel advice.

Birthplace of William of Normandy

William the Conqueror was born in Normandy in 1028. Duke of Normandy and the first Norman King of England, his legacy can be seen across the region. Highlights include the magnificent Abbey aux Hommes which contains his tomb, the Abbey aux Dames where his wife Queen Mathilde was buried, and Falaise Castle where he was born.

See the Battle of Hastings – in Bayeux

Ancient Bayeux is home to the world famous tapestry that depicts the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. 70 metres long and 50cm high, it was commissioned by Bishop Odon, William’s brother, and dates to around 1070. You can see the tapestry – with a comprehensive audio tour to describe each scene – at the Bayeux Tapestry Museum in town.

The largest military operation in history

The largest military operation in history

Five Normandy beaches - Juno, Gold, Omaha, Utah and Sword – became famous in June 1944 when they played host to the largest amphibious invasion in world history, the D-Day Landings.

Many local villages have museums and memorials to these momentous events, including the Battle of Normandy Museum in Bayeux, the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mere-Eglise and the Caen Memorial Museum, where you can join daily guided tours to the D-Day Landings beaches.

A medieval masterpiece

A medieval masterpiece

Mont-St-Michael is a breathtaking medieval abbey that towers above a tiny granite island off the coast of Normandy.

The second most visited attraction after the D-Day beaches and a listed UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage site, the abbey looks like a floating fairytale, especially when illuminated at night.

This medieval masterpiece is not to be missed!

Seaside chic

The cities in this beautiful region of France flaunt their maritime tradition with typically French flair. Lively Honfleurs is a colourful port town with narrow streets and charming timber-framed houses. It has a great artistic heritage, having inspired the work of Courbet, Monet and Boudin among others, and still accommodates many artists’ studios and galleries. Dieppe is a seaside resort at heart, with its promenade, welcoming shops and restaurants and weekly market in the old square, while Cherbourg offers classic French architecture with a maritime twist.

Inspiration and Impressionism

Inspiration and Impressionism

The Gardens of Giverny in Normandy have become a symbol of Impressionism. This was the home of Claude Monet, who lived here from 1883 until his death in 1926.

The house still contains the original furniture, Japanese prints and china he loved, and in the gardens you’ll find the water lilies, Japanese bridge, trailing wisteria and dazzling azaleas that inspired some of his most famous work.

Switzerland in Normandy?

La Suisse Normande literally means ‘Norman Switzerland’. A region of densely wooded hills, steep sided gorges, rolling hills and verdant valleys, this landscape was carved by the winding River Orne and it’s become a mecca for canoeists, anglers, mountain bikers, hikers, climbers and lovers of the great outdoors.

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

For a true taste of Normandy, visit Camembert. This picture book village lies in a quiet corner of Normandy surrounded by green fields, orchards and genteel French manor houses.

There are lots of places to try and buy Camembert – and other cheeses - from local producers, as well as other Normandy specialties such as cider and calvados.

Normandy for everyone

Normandy for everyone

Normandy offers accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, from grand hotels where French cuisine is a speciality to great value campsites and self catering gites.

Just a short hop across the Channel and offering chic French style, picturesque countryside and some of the most significant landmarks in European history, Normandy really does have something for everyone.