The birth place of William the Conqueror and the sites of many World War battles, the area of Calvados is rich with historical heritage and culture. More than that, the landscape is remarkably diverse and beautiful. Find farmhouses deep within rich green pastures and miles of coastline being gently lapped by the tide.
Header image credit: Calvados Tourisme
Calvados is a department within the beautiful Normandy region. You’ll find easy access to the motorway from our Calais or Dunkirk ports and arrive in Calvados in under 4 hours. You could also travel on our Newhaven-Dieppe route. It’s just 2 hours from Dieppe to Calvados.
Alternatively, head onto our overnight Newcastle-Amsterdam crossing and drive through stunning Belgium and Northern France for the 7 hour drive to Calvados.
WHAT TO SEE
Visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach in Colleville-sur-Mer. This quaint French village holds a stunning and humbling cemetery for those Americans fallen in the D-Day landings. The 22ft bronze memorial statue, named “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves”, is a brilliant representation of the resilience of the allied forces during the Second World War.
The picturesque port town of Honfleur is a charming hark back to fishing villages of previous centuries. The buildings along the port look completely squashed together, as if they’ve been pushed so and it’s forced their rooves up a little higher. Each one is different to the next, whether in colour, height or width, and all are reflected into the crystal clear waters below. This architectural mismatch, however, serves as a metaphor for the town, itself. Though appearing as though a fishing village with little to do with the outside world, it actually boasts 80 art galleries. Honfleur is where Calvados’ 75 miles of coastline begins. Feel the sand massage your feet as you enjoy a stroll across the white beaches with their turquoise waters.
Travel further inland to Lisieux. Your first stop has to be the sublime St Therese Basilica. The external structure is paradoxical at points. Gothic in design, suggestive of wilder, more Romantic intentions, yet white in colour, symbolising the purity of St Therese. The colourful interior design is a stunning contrast to the white exterior. It attracts 2 million annual visitors and it’s not hard to see why. Next to the basilica is the more modernist bell tower which contains 51 bells, one of which is 9 tonnes!
The town’s beautifully cultivated Bishopric Gardens are incredibly vibrant. Wander from the waterfall garden, passed the rose bushes, to the Episcopal Palace and allow yourself to fall in love with Lisieux.
Once you’ve visited the gardens of Lisieux, you must visit the more renowned gardens of Calvados. If you love the wilderness then the English Garden of the Parc et Jardins du Château de Canon is ideal for you. The trees almost fall into the River Laizon and the meandering trails take you on an enchanting journey throughout the park. However, if you’re looking for something more pruned, visit Jardins du Château de Brécy. Cone shaped trees line the paths leading from the grand pillars to the 17th century château. Meticulously planted trees and constructed mazes are contrary to the thick trees that surround the 4 terraces.
Image credit: L. Durand / Calvados Tourisme
WHY VISIT CALVADOS
There has to be a reason why Calvados is one of France’s most visited regions. It may be because the area offers a fantastically diverse landscape.
From stretches of peaceful coastline, to beautiful farmland, magnificent gardens, to fishing villages and eclectic cities. So, maybe there’s more than one reason…
Calvados is also incredibly proud of its gastronomical accomplishments.
Their famous, and titular, apply brandy is their most exported good, with people across the globe looking to try it.
Partner a small glass of that with their fragrant soft cheese, Livrot for a delicious snack while you look out from the veranda of your chateau onto the vineyards below. Doesn’t it sound so inviting?
Calvados was also the site of the D-Day landing beaches. Take a tour from Juno to Omaha and take in the natural beauty that once witnessed the atrocities of warfare.
Image credit: A. Legoff / Calvados Tourisme
WHERE TO STAY
There’s plenty of driving around and town-hopping to be done when visiting Calvados, which means you need to make sure you can book accommodation of every leg of the journey. So we’ve partnered with Booking.com to ensure the best offers for you.
We are Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator 2012-2019 & the World’s Leading Ferry Operator 2011-2018!