Normandy is one of the most popular destinations in France for American visitors. There is so much to see! Most of our clients are interested in history and learning about our brave soldiers storming the beaches during World War II. Many are interested in medieval art, architecture, beautiful gardens and serene picture postcard scenery. Of course, there is always the opportunity to sip some of the local Calvados brandy. Normandy offers all of this and more!
Here is a list of some of our favorite places to visit while in Normandy. We have broken them down by topic or interest. Please let us know if we can be of any assistance when you plan a private tour to this historic and beautiful region.
World War II
- Airborne Museum (Sainte-Mere-Eglise) Just a few miles from Utah Beach and the other D-Day landing beaches, this museum is located in front of the bell tower from which the paratrooper John Steele was left dangling. With its exhibits, you will experience D-Day as if you were there with the American paratroopers. The museum houses an outstanding collection of historical objects and is one of our favorite places to visit.
- Caen Memorial (Caen) A tour of this museum introduces the visitor to the history of World War II. The village of Caen was bombed during the summer of 1944 and became a martyr town of the liberation. This museum is a “must see”.
- D-Day Museum (Arromanches) The museum is located on the site of the artificial port, whose remains can be seen a few hundred meters out to sea. The port as a gigantic project based on an idea conceived by Winston Churchill. During the Battle for Caen, it became the world’s largest port, supplying the troops fighting in the Battle of Normandy.
- Juno Beach Center (Courseulles-sur-Mer) Situated on the D-Day landing beach itself, this museum is dedicated to the Candians and their history during the Second World War.
- Museum of the Battle of Normandy (Bayeux) Located a few minutes from the D-Day landing beaches, this museum offers the visitor a unique understanding of the fighting that took place from August 2-29, 1944. There are thematic displays, a film and a collection of period equipment and uniforms.
- Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial (Colleville-sur-Mer) World War II cemetery and memorial that honors American troops who died in Europe during this time. The cemetery site covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of more than 9,380 United States military, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and the ensuing operations.
- Overlord Museum Omaha Beach (Colleville-sur-Mer) This museum has a unique collection of 10,000 items of memorabilia, including tanks, vehicles and guns. The collection retraces the history of World War II from 1935 up to the Liberation of Paris in 1945.There are 35 life sized scenes which allow the visitor to feel the importance of the operation.
- Utah Beach Museum (Sainte-Marie-du-Mont) Located on the actual site where the American troops landed on June 6, 1944, the Utah Beach museum pays homage to the men who risked and gave their lives for our freedom. It retraces the German occupation, the allied strategy and the events that took place on June 6th. The museum has an authentic B26 bomber.
Art, Gardens, Medieval History & Architecture
- Bayeux Tapestry (Bayeux) This unique 11thcentury masterpiece is located in the cathedral in Bayeux. It depicts the conquest of England by William the Conqueror. The tapestry is 70 meters long and is quite beautiful.
- Chateau of Caen (Caen) Caen Castle is one of the largest medieval enclosures in all of Europe. It served as the palace of William the Conqueror and in later years as a royal fortress and then infantry barracks.
- Chateau de Gaillon (Gaillon) Dating back to the Renaissance period, this chateau is only ten miles from Giverny and is considered to be one of the best examples of Renaissance chateaux.
- Chateau Louis-Philippe (Eu) This chateau was a former royal residence, which was built in 1578 by Henri de Guise and Catherine of Cleves. In the 19thcentury, it became the summer residence of King Louis-Philippe. Today it is a museum, which introduces the visitor to the lives of the successive owners through its collections of furniture, crockery and paintings.
- Falaise Castle (Falaise) This 12thcentury fortified castle was one of the many homes of the dukes of Normandy.
- MAHB Museum (Bayeux) Located adjacent to Bayeux’s famous cathedral, this museum is housed in the former bishop’s palace. It has outstanding collections of art, porcelain, lace and archaeological pieces from prehistory until today.
- Monet’s Home & Gardens (Giverny) The Impressionist master, Claude Monet, lived here from 1883 until 1926. Visit his colorful former home, his collection of Japanese prints and his stunning gardens.
- Mont Saint-Michel (Le Mont Saint Michel) The abbey of Mont Saint Michel is the epitome of medieval architecture. Constructed on a rocky pinnacle, it is the perfect place from which to admire the bay. Marvel at the abbey’s rooms, artwork and architecture at this UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Rouen Museum of Fine Arts (Rouen) a/k/a Musée des Beaux-Arts. This museum houses one of France’s most prestigious art collections ranging from the 15thcentury to the present day. It includes paintings, sculptures, drawings and art objects.
Coastal Beauty in Normandy
- Deauville & Trouville: These two towns along the coast, famous for their beaches and boardwalks, are referred to as part of the “Parisian Riviera”. Deauville is the more chic of the two, known for its casinos, horse racing, Belle Époque architecture and half-timbered houses. Wide beaches, boutiques and five-star hotels greet visitors. Trouville has a picturesque fishing port and was known to attract such famous artists as Monet & Boudin. It also has a casino, markets and a picturesque beach.
- Honfleur: On the estuary where the English Channel meets the Seine River, Honfleur is a charming village that is well worth a visit. The Vieux Basin along the harbor with its fishing and sailboats is the perfect place to explore. Wander the cobblestone streets lined with delightful 17thand 18thcentury buildings.
- Étretat: Known for its awe-inspiring white stone cliffs and arches, Étretat should be on every Normandy traveler’s bucket list. The beauty inspired many Impressionist painters. Stroll the beach and explore the oceanfront boardwalk and village. Wear comfortable shoes and take some time to walk and be inspired.
These are just some of our suggestions of places to visit and explore while in Normandy. Our local driver/guides are knowledgeable and charming and ready to take the most discerning travelers on a unique adventure. If you can dream it, we can make it happen!