The Normandy region of North-West France is a popular destination for British tourists due to the easy access from the UK. The coastal scenery is characterised by rugged scenery of cliffs mainly stoney beaches in the north and flatter sandy beaches with dunes in the south. The small seaside towns and villages of Normandy cater for tourism but have not been spoilt by over-development.
If you are considering a holiday in Normandy, May to September are the best months to visit. You are unlikely to experience wall-to-wall sunshine so be prepared to drive (you can hire a car from Blue Valley Car Hire) or take your own car. The interior region of Normandy is worth exploring with many of the villages largely unchanged for decades. Much of interior Normandy is used for farming, with the fertile soil and abundant rain providing the ideal climate for growing crops and raising cattle.
Seaside towns like the idyllic Honfleur near Le Havre is typical of the region with picturesque houses lining the River Seine on its last leg to the English Channel. Smaller town such as Veulettes-sur-Mer offer French “al fresco” dining on the sea front on warmer days. On Sundays the promenade is lined with tables offering customers seafood fresh from the local fishing boats.
The Bayeaux Tapestry near to Caen offers an insight into Norman’s invasion of Britain with intricately detailed scenes embroidered into clothe depicting the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
The island village of Mont Saint-Michel located around 30km tot the east of St Malo is home to a the UNESCO World Heritage site of Saint-Michel Abbey. Admission to the abbey costs around €10. Access to the island is by foot or shuttle bus from designated car parks.
Many visitors to Normandy are interested in the historic locations from WW2 where the beaches were the scene of the D-Day Landings. 5 beaches between Le Havre and Cherbourg were the landing sites for the joint Americans, British and Canadian offensive in June 1945. Utah Beach where the Americans launched a surprise attack on the Germans is now the home to the Utah Beach D-Day Museum. Omaha beach is located around 50km by road to the east and is the location of the D-Day Landing Museum at Arromanches.
Normandy is renowned for seafood and the coastal resorts offer al fresco dining during the summer months. Popular local seafood dishes are scallops, mussels, cockles, prawns, crab and lobster. Goat cheese is a speciality of Normandy as is Camembert which was originally made in the village of the same name. Calvados is an apple brandy made in Normandy.
Normandy has a mild climate which is similar to the south of the UK although it is generally a couple of degrees warmer in France. Normandy’s westerly location brings plenty of rain, especially on the coast. In land the temperatures and climate are more continental with colder winters and warmer summers.
In winter the region is wet and cold, the best months to visit in terms of climate are from May to September.
From the UK the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone offers the fastest route to France via Calais. Normandy is an hour’s drive to the south of Calais. Ferries direct to Normandy are available with Brittany Ferries to Le Havre, Cherbourg and Caen, and there is also a Newhaven to Dieppe ferry operated by DFDS.
Fly direct to Normandy to Caen from Southend (Flybe) or to Deauville from London Stansted (Ryanair). Paris airports are also an option being around 3 hours from the Normandy coastline.
Although there is an abundance of hotels in the seaside resorts of Normandy, camping or even “glamping” are a great budget-option in Normandy. Les Rives du Lac is an idyllic lakeside resort with self-catering cabins in Vittefleur.
If you require a larger vehicle, Blue Valley Car Hire provide 9 seat self-drive minibus rental at airports throughout Europe.