French Heritage Trail
Normandy’s expansive history takes you as far back as the Roman invasion of France. Stories lie on every street corner, in every establishment. Discover this rich heritage for yourself and take a tour through Normandy’s cultural legacy.
In a nutshell
- 5-7 night self-drive tour
- Dieppe to Caen via Chateau Gaillard, Giverny, Lisieux, Falaise, Mont St Michel, Bayeux, Colleville Sur Mer and Normandy’s beaches
- Perfect for culture or history buffs
The tour begins in Dieppe, which means travelling on our Newhaven-Dieppe route is ideal to reach your starting point. However, you can also head to France on our Dover-Dunkirk and Calais crossings which are approximately 2 ½ hours from Dieppe.
How to book
Book a Newhaven-Dieppe crossing from just £39 each way by simply filling in the booking form at the top left of this page.
DAY 1 – Dieppe to Rouen
Stopping off in the port town of Dieppe after disembarking from the ferry, visit the town’s historical sites before heading to Rouen.
The castle, harbour and museum all provide an insight into Dieppe’s interesting background.
The beaches are also beautiful and well worth a visit. From here take the 55 minute drive to Rouen.
Overnight in Rouen
DAY 2 – Rouen
Normandy’s capital requires a full day or so of exploring. This exquisite university town is rich in history. The cathedral, once the tallest in the world, has stood for hundreds of years and was depicted by Monet. The medieval, timbered buildings in the old town are captivating, follow the narrow lanes under the imposing Gros Horloge into the main square where you’ll find the Church of St Joan of Arc.
Overnight in Rouen
DAY 3 – Rouen to Giverny
Drive the short 1 hour journey to Giverny from Rouen and spend the day enjoying this Impressionist’s dream.
You can visit Monet’s home, as well as the gardens that were the inspiration for his immortalised Water Lilies series.
There’s also the Museum of Impressionism, as well as some beautiful, quaint architecture.
Overnight in Giverny
DAY 4 –Giverny to Lisieux
From Giverny drive west towards Lisieux, the second most famous pilgrimage site in France, attracting 700,000 pilgrims every year. Sainte-Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus lived here in the nineteenth century, thus giving the town it’s religious relevance today. There is a church named in the saint’s favour. The Cathedral, built from the 12th to 13th century is well worth a visit.
Overnight in Lisieux
DAY 5 – Lisieux to Falaise
Short and sweet, your next destination of Falaise is only 45 minutes’ drive.
The town is the birthplace of William the Conqueror, and is home to the imposing Falaise Castle.
The battleground to much warfare, dating all the way up to World War II, Falaise has certainly had a tumultuous past.
Tour the castle which sits atop a craggy mount before exploring the town and museums beneath.
Overnight in Falaise
Image credit: Daniel Jolivet
DAY 6 – Falaise to Bayeux
Spend the morning on Mont St Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage site dating back to the 8th century. Originally a monastery, the spire of the abbey still soars high, visible from shore. Stop for a coffee at a patisserie. Afterwards take the 90 minute drive to Bayeux and spend the afternoon and evening wandering the streets of Bayeux. Though small, this medieval town is home to the famous Bayeux Tapestry, an enormous artwork that depicts the battle of 1066, a paramount stop on this French Heritage Trail.
Overnight in Bayeux
Image credit: Ville de Bayeux
DAY 7 – Bayeux to Caen
Your end destination for the day is Caen, but you’ll be stopping at destinations throughout your journey. First is Colleville Sur Mer, 20 minutes from Bayeux, particularly the poignant and sombre American Cemetery that is a memorial for those US soldiers lost during D-Day. From here you can tour the 5 D-Day beaches, exploring the beautiful coastline with scattered remnants of the war. Take the short drive to Caen Memorial Museum, an enormous and varied museum that also offers D-Day beach tours.
Then you can either choose to stay overnight in Caen, or take the 16:30 ferry crossing back to the UK from Dieppe. Dieppe is a 2 hour drive from Caen.
Overnight in Caen or on the ship
- Rouen’s ancient cathedral
- Monet’s garden in Giverny
- Exploring the WWII history on the Normandy coast
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