Normandy has been a favoured holiday destination for the longest time. Ideally located between Paris and the United Kingdom, it is a land of exceptional natural and historic heritage. Totalling 18.658 million entries at its many sites in 2014, Normandy draws each year a visitorship from around the world. The French fully justify Normandy’s reputation by ranking it their 8th preferred destination ! Mont-Saint-Michel and a conserved coastline, D-day landing beaches, landscapes reminiscent of impressionist paintings and an account of William the Conqueror’s adventures… All these attractions can be found in the Normandy Region, re-unified since January 2016 when Basse and Haute Normandie became a unified Normandy Region !
Having hosted 2.3 million visitors in 2014, it is one of the sites with the highest footfall in France ! What to do during your escape to the “the Wonder of the West” ? Many activities will delight both sports aficionados and history enthusiasts.
The “Must do” : a tour of the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey – genuine masterpiece of gothic-style architecture ; a hike across the Bay under the supervision of a guide ; water-sports activities such as canoeing, and also beach fishing.
The Bay, extending between Granville and Cancale, offers the spectacle of the highest tides in Europe. In 2015, Mont-Saint-Michel reverted to being an island ! Both an extremely rare and highly emotional moment ! And next July, as the Tour de France 2016 Grand Départ leaves from there, this monument will be the centre of attention – the 3rd most broadcasted sports event in the world !
Second World War commemorative events are held in the Calvados and Manche districts, where the five beaches that witnessed the 1944 landings – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, are located. A visit to Normandy offers the opportunity to visit highpoints of these D-Day landings : the military cemeteries and the many museums exploring the background to the battle, e.g. the Memorial and Centre for History and Peace in Caen, and the Utah Beach D-Day Museum in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont.
The cliffs at Étretat, the Trouville harbour, the Deauville boardwalk, and the riverbanks along the Seine… all are Normandy locations that inspired these artists. Claude Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny are among the most visited sites in Normandy, with a foot-fall of no less than 627,000 in 2014 ! The 3rd Normandie Impressionniste Festival will be held in 2016, from April 16th to September 26th. ‘Impressionist Portraits’ was chosen as the theme for this new edition : over 450 events, including multiple exhibitions.
This impressive natural feature extends over more than 600 kilometres. From Cotentin to Tréport, via the D-Day landing beaches and the seaside resorts of Deauville and Trouville, the Normandy coast offers a bounty of landscapes – beaches of sand or shingle, rugged coastlines and white chalk cliffs, and much more ! Normandy also offers aficionados an environment conducive to water sports and hiking. The Manche district for example, offers a total of 7,000 kilometres of trails. The Cotentin Marshes Regional Nature Park, the Vire River Valley and the Mont-Saint-Michel Bay are particularly well suited to wide-ranging sports challenges. Also well worth the detour is Chausey among the Channel Islands, a wild and preserved archipelago !
The Calvados district holds much historic evidence dating back to the Middle Ages, and first and foremost, the celebrated Bayeux Tapestry. This embroidery dating back to the 11th century depicts the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy. The key events of this great epic are described, culminating on the Battle of Hastings, which will be celebrating its 950th Anniversary in 2016. This event of major regional scope will pool together initiatives by medieval sites and monuments, all driven by the same ambition, which is to draw attention to and highlight the existing heritage.
This is Jersey. An island shaped by the sea where some of the most astonishing tides in the world circle the coast and feed the land. An island that’s small on size, but big on personality, where country lanes open to cliff top views and the sea is never more than ten minutes away. An island of rediscovery, packed with activities to experience and explore. Begin your escape here and explore the island in 360° video.