The top 15 places to visit in Normandy

Make the most out of your trip to Normandy! To help you select what one must see, here are the top 15 places to visit in Normandy!

When I think about Normandy, naturally I think about home. I usually feel nostalgic. Then I feel proud. Proud of coming from a region with such a rich and intense History and heritage.

Normandy is not only my home. It is the home of internationally famous cheeses like camembert, home of Gastronomy. It is the region where the Impressionist movement started, where Monet lived and painted the magnificent light blessing our gothic cathedrals and green landscapes. Finally, it is this part of France where key battles and turning points of the second world war happened.

Whether you are an Art lover, a gourmet, passionate about History, nature, outdoor activities or just an epicurean, Normandy is a must-see!

1. The landing beaches

Landing Beaches
Landing Beaches

For sure #1 of the top 15 places to visit in Normandy come the landing beaches.

June 6th, 1944, operation “overlord” would be an important moment for the course of World War II. Whether you are a fan of military history or not, looking out over the stretch of the English Channel that hosted one of history’s greatest naval invasions, is overwhelming.

The beaches of Normandy are a tangible symbol of hope, cooperation, and triumph. To check this Normandy’s D-Day history off your list, there are a few places you should stop at.

You can begin your journey at the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mère-Église. It is dedicated to the memory of the American Paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. This museum allows you to relive the history of D-Day. You will get the chance to learn all History and to understand the significance of this event. You can enter a real C-47 aircraft with realistic lights and sounds to put you in the shoes of American Paratroopers flying over Normandy.

Then make your way to Omaha beach, one of the main spots where American soldiers began their fight against the Nazis. Retrace the steps of the soldiers that risked their lives trying to make their way onto this beach in 1944.

From there you can proceed to the sobering sight of the American Cemetery where thousands of American servicemen and women are buried. Featured in “Saving Private Ryan” it’s an essential stop for understanding this crucial point in American, and world history.

2. Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel in France

Mont St Michel is a tiny island straight out of a fairytale. It is the cherry on top for any French getaway. This miniature kingdom is home to a beautiful monastery from the middle age but it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This picturesque island has been a major Christian pilgrimage spot dating all the way back to the 8th Century. It was originally a fortress protected by a natural barrier, as the island is only accessible by land when the tide lowers. Due to this unique characteristic, it was never lost throughout the course of the hundred years war. Now, however, this island is home to a mere 30 people, who live almost entirely off of the high number of tourists that visit Mont St Michel annually.

Did you know? Mont Saint Michel is the 3rd most visited site in France after the Eiffel tower and the castle of Versailles. And #2 of the top 15 places to visit in Normandy!

You might ask yourself, how can I reach this floating town in the English Channel. Well, you could bring your flippers and swim trunks… Or you can wait till that magical time of day where the tide lowers and you can actually walk across. To get to the island you can drive about a mile and a half away where there is parking space. From there you can make your way to the Navettes, where take a special shuttle bus straight to the Mount.

Alternatively, if you want to channel your inner Disney princess, you can opt for a horse-drawn carriage!

3. Etretat

Etretat beach, France

The striking pale cliffs that made Etretat famous have earned their place on the top 15 places to visit in Normandy. This is a view you can’t miss out on. Its natural beauty combined with a picturesque shoreline makes it an excellent point to rest and take in that ocean breeze.

The cliffs are also accompanied by a pointed rock formation, accurately named the Aiguille, or needle. They are famous thanks to the French equivalent of Sherlock Holmes, Arsène Lupin. He went to this spot in search of hidden treasures. The town of Etretat is covered with references to this “gentleman thief” and is featured in the Netflix series Lupin. If you’re craving for some mystery and improving your French, I recommend you to read the novel. Immerse yourself in the world of France’s most famous burglar, all while taking in some beautiful seaside scenery.

If taking in the spectacular view of the Aiguille seems too slow-paced for you, you can hike to the top of the cliff. Etretat is also home to tons of fun activities to get you moving. The 18 hole golf course allows you to see the finest views of the English channel. You can also paddle or sail through the towns hulking cliffs.

Finally, my favorite part, there are lots of great restaurants and boutique hotels to stay for a romantic weekend getaway. Plus, Etretat is only 2 hours away from Paris.

4. Bayeux

Bayeux, France

Another must-stop place that allows you to step back in time. Bayeux is close to the Normandy landing beaches of World War II. The town has its own museums that honor the memories of the Second World War.

It is one of the few areas of France that survived WWII relatively intact. This means that its historical center is home to both well-preserved stone architecture and a beautiful cathedral. However, what really brings tourists from all over to this town is its UNESCO-listed tapestry. The Bayeux tapestry depict the conquest of the Duke William of Normandy over England.

We recommend to experience the Bayeux Museum that details the main battles of World War II in Normandy. Then nearby, you can stop at the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-mer, in which over 10,000 soldiers are buried. It is the largest such cemetery in Normandy.

While the reminders of the Second World War are everywhere, this town will also expose you to a far more distant point in history, 1077. The Bayeux Tapestry Museum holds the incredible Bayeux tapestry measuring a whole 71 meters long (230 feet). The tapestry portrays the epic story of William the Conqueror.

Bayeux, France

5. Rouen


Rouen is the capital of Normandy. Victor Hugo named it “the city of 100 spires” due to the numerous cathedrals in the city. Rouen is the largest city in the region and as such is home to malls, lively bars by the Quayside, and parks like the Jardin des Plantes.

However, it is also packed with history. Don’t believe me, just head to the city’s vibrant historic quarters. It has all the hallmarks of a remarkable European experience from cobblestone streets, and stunning cathedrals to a museum marking the fascinating past of the area.

Rouen’s past is most famously known for its relation to one of medieval Europe’s rare female protagonists. You can visit the Historial Joan of Arc to learn about this heroic life-fighting woman who was burnt in Rouen, in 1431. After leaving the Museum, take a short walk to the Notre Dame Cathedral, to get a live view of the moving cathedral that inspired Monet’s paintings.

To see more impressive architecture you can head over to Le Gros Horloge. This big clock is quite impressive due to its colossal size, ornate carvings, and stunning gold frame. You can continue your journey through the old town by visiting the Old Market, at the heart of the old town. In this neighborhood make sure to stop by and take in the view of the timber-framed Norman buildings.

Then you can end your day by stepping up your art knowledge. We strongly recommend visiting the Musée des Beaux-Arts, an artistic institution dating back to 1801. It hosts one of France’s most prestigious drawings, paintings, and sculptures.

6. Honfleur

Harbor in Honfleur

My favorite Norman city! Follow the Seine from Paris all the way to the ocean. This beautiful estuary in the town of Honfleur is just another one of the must-see destinations that make Normandy so special. The town’s harbor dating back to the 1400s was an important French trading hub. It has since lost its commercial use but its preserved harbor allows tourists to enjoy seafood with a view.

A perfect place for a romantic stroll or to grab drinks in the town’s incredibly scenic promenade lined with bars and restaurants. The harbor offers many options to taste local products like seafood, calvados, cider or salted caramels.

When exploring this town, its rich history is easy to see from its most famous church. This incredible structure made almost entirely of wood was built in the 15th century. The town’s natural and architectural beauty was beloved by Impressionist artists. You can visit the Museum honoring Boudin, a famous member of the movement born in Honfleur.

The Eugene Boudin Museum includes many of his best pieces and his beautiful depictions of the Norman coastline. Finally, to truly get to know the town’s history make sure to check out the Musée de la Marine, where you will find historical objects, costumes, and pictures dating back to 1889.


7. Deauville

Beach in Deauville, France
Deauville, France

I like to call Deauville the “Hamptons of France”. Experience a sweet luxury escape, just one hour and a half away from Paris. Enjoy white sandy beaches, gastronomic restaurants, world-class golf courses, and high-end boutiques in this charismatic small town.

There is always a good reason to go to Deauville. First, if you’re a cinema enthusiast, the annual American Film Festival (in September) is sure to catch your eye. After Cannes, it is France’s biggest film festival. With over 100 films entered every year, there’s a little something for everyone. Hang around long enough and you might just find yourself faced with one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Taking a walk on Deauville’s famous boardwalk, Les Planches, is a must. You can take in a refreshing ocean breeze and try pulling up a chair and reclining under an umbrella on this beautiful seaside resort!

For all fashion lovers out there, besides the limitless amount of luxury shopping, you can also see where Coco Chanel opened her boutique in 1912. Yves Saint Laurent also had a splendid villa in Deauville. Open your eyes, there are some signs of his heritage in the city!

Finally, make sure to experience the grandeur of Deauville by going to the Le Normandy. The Anglo-Norman architecture of this hotel is just splendid! Grab a drink or enjoy teatime, and take in the spectacular atmosphere of this iconic hotel in the region.

With a fancy casino, ocean views, and a little bit of red carpet glamour, Deauville is definitely worth including in your travel plans.

8. Trouville

France’s northern coast has no shortage of charming cities and Trouville-Sur-Mer is no exception. Boardwalks, beaches, and excellent seafood, it has all the staples of a memorable coastal experience! Should you choose to visit, here are some of the things you need to see in this unique port city.

Artists and writers such as Monet, Flaubert, and even Proust have enjoyed the beaches of Trouville. With a boardwalk dating back to 1867 and captured in Monet’s art while on honeymoon in the city, it is a more modest counterpart to Deauville. Walking along this seaside resort carries its own discrete attraction.

When you’ve had your fill of strolling by the beach, go to the harbor and order a glass of wine and fresh seafood by the water. Walking along the quay and stopping by the fish market is an excellent way to finish a perfect day. Then if you want to keep the party going I would advise stopping by the Casino for a night of gambling.

Trouville sur mer

9. Giverny

Water lilies in Claude Monet's garden, Giverny
Giverny garden

Giverny is a must-see in the top 15 places to visit in Normandy.

Normandy’s natural beauty has no doubt played a pivotal role in the creation of the Impressionist movement. Nowhere is that clearer than Giverny, Claude Monet’s home, the Mecca of Impressionism.

Giverny is a quiet place, with a few charming restaurants surrounded by nature. Stopping in Giverny is a must not only to experience the charm of a Norman country town but also to visit the home of a legend.

Walking through Monet’s house and garden will make you feel like you have entered into a painting. His house has been preserved to look as it did in the early 20th century. You can visit the artist’s personal workshop, covered with his own paintings and his collection of Japanese prints.

Then step out into the garden and admire this living painting. Teeming with colorful flowers and pungent perfumes, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to heaven on earth. Walking over the Japanese bridge and looking out over the lily pads, brings about a sort of deja-vu as paintings buried in one’s memory are so visibly brought to life.

Do yourself a huge favor, and make a quick detour to this unforgettable location, and don’t forget to bring your camera!

10. Caen

Houses in the streets of Caen, France

Caen is a town with a medieval past, rebuilt after the second world war. It is now a budding university town, definitely worth checking out. Caen started around two abbeys constructed by William the Conqueror, which still provide a beautiful reminder of the area’s history. In addition to its medieval structures, and stone buildings, Caen is also home to fantastic historical pieces showing off its importance in World War II.

The Caen Memorial Museum is one of the main attractions in the area. It brings history to life through its interactive and immersive exhibits on the battles of WWII, the events that led up to it, and its aftermath. It is an important building to visit when staying in a city that was almost entirely destroyed during the war.

After your visit, make sure to take a stroll by Caen’s Jardin des Plantes, while you make your way to the marina to enjoy some fresh air. When you’re ready to finish your day head to the Vaugueux Neighborhood, a lively town center where bars and restaurants line the streets and ensure a great ambiance.

Caen memorial museum statue

11. Le Perche

Le Perche, France

The natural regional park of Le Perche is a peaceful getaway taking you on Normandy’s country roads. This place is made up of a number of small villages inviting to exploration. Here are 3 towns in Le Perche that you need to visit: Mortagne-au-Perche, Bellême, and La Perrière.

Mortagne-au-Perche is the former historic capital of Le Perche. You can walk along the town’s narrow paved streets, and gaze upon charming houses and gothic style Notre-Dame church. If you’ve got time you should also check out the Alain Museum where you can learn about the life of the famous philosopher and journalist Emile Chartier who grew up there.

Then there’s the charming town of Bellême tucked away between medieval walls and an enchanting forest. Home décor lovers also take note! Check out the antique shops in Bellême and around Le Perche to find an elegant piece of furniture to bring back home.

Overlooking Le Perche is the town of La Perrière with even more 17th century houses. Antique stores are brought to life by its residents’ dedication to ensuring the traditional roots of Le Perche.

To get a better understanding of these origins, Le Perche’s Ecomusée allows you to look at exhibits and participate in activities that allow you to get a real understanding of what rural life in the area was like in the 19th century.

12. Granville

Harbor in Granville, France

The birthplace of none other than Christian Dior is a perfect spot to stop and explore the beautiful town overlooking the Bay of Mont Saint Michel. Its medieval roots are clear from the stunning gothic church that appears to look out over the town, perched behind its large stone fortress walls.

To learn about Granville’s past, look no further than the Musée du Vieux Granville, which will answer all your questions about the town’s fascinating past. If fashion history is more attractive to you head to the Christian Dior Museum, located at this local celebrity’s childhood home overlooking the bay. In addition to its scenic views, the museum brings to life the history of this designer through its remarkable exhibits.

If you, however, prefer to get out into the water, there are also some great opportunities for you too. You will be able to go sailing or kayaking to the Channel Island.

Granville is definitely one of my favorite cities to see in the top 15 places to visit in Normandy.

Granville, France

13. Lisieux


Lisieux draws Catholics from the whole world. With around 700,000 people a year, it is the second most important pilgrimage in the country. The Basilica of Sainte-Thérèse, named after Lisieux’s iconic saint, is the main attraction of this city.

The Basilica of Sainte-Thérèse dome stands at over 300 feet high and was inspired by the Sacré Coeur Basilica in Paris. Its ornate decorations and beautiful mosaics litter the colossal walls, archways, and ceiling of this extraordinary church. It also features an exhibit dedicated to the life and work of Sainte Thérèse Martin. If cathedrals are more your style, you can explore the 12th-century gothic masterpiece called the Cathedral of Saint Pierre. This cathedral also happens to be the resting place of the Bishop that tried Joan of Arc.

For even more culture, check out the Museum of Art and History, one of the last timber-framed buildings left in Lisieux. Here you can immerse yourself in the important points of the town’s history from its medieval roots, classical period, thriving textile industry that began in the 19th century, all the way to the contemporary artists that have tried to capture Lisieux in their own pieces.

On your way out, try visiting an architectural masterpiece just south of Lisieux. A castle from the 16th century made up of checkered stones and green-tinted bricks, the Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet will be a perfect last stop on your trip to Lisieux.

I’m not saying one should visit the entire city, but make sure the Basilica is on the top 15 places to visit in Normandy for you!

14. Le Bec Hellouin

Village Le Bec Hellouin, France

How could we not include a town voted as one of the most beautiful in France in the top 15 places to visit in Normandy?

A walk around Le Bec Hellouin exposes you to the charming timber-framed houses that are a staple of this area. While churches and cathedrals are common throughout France, each brings its own characteristics that highlight the unique personalities of the towns they are in. Le Bec Hellouin hosts a gorgeous abbey, church, and monastery that really gives this town its own identity.

The Abbey of Notre-Dame du Bec built in the 10th century, and giant towers that overlook Le Bec Hellouin, show off the town’s distinct medieval and catholic roots. You can stroll along the church’s ancient walls by yourself or take a guided tour (available from June to September). Maybe you prefer the smaller more understated beauty of a church that has equally distant origins as the abbey. The stone church is an important part of the town’s history, previously being the resting place of the knight turned monk, Hellouin who gave the town its name. Or the gorgeous Monastère Sainte-Françoise Romaine that is still home to 26 nuns, who follow the timeless rules of Saint-Benedict.

Whatever you hope to visit, you can explore the beautiful landscapes through a railroad converted into a roadway that connects Évreux to Le Bec-Hellouin. Accurately called the Greenway, it is one of the best ways to take in the scenic views of the area. It also features ideal walks and hikes to really immerse yourself in the French countryside.

If you want to dive deeper into nature, the area also has opportunities for horse-riding. So on foot, on a bike, or on a horse, it’s really up to you how you experience this cute town perched in the Norman countryside.

Le Bec Hellouin map, France

15. Château Gaillard

Château Gaillard, France

Last but definitely not least, this colossal castle is a timeless reminder of Richard the lionhearted’s rule over Normandy. The Château Gaillard was an innovative masterpiece built back in 1196, and to this day it looks out from almost 400 feet above the Seine and can be seen from many miles away.

Located just above the town of Andelys, it was once one of the most advanced castles in Europe. When you make your way to the ruins of this ancient fortress, both the rich history and stunning view of the surrounding areas will make you glad you came.

Feel free to stroll along the towering walls and take in the impressive work of Richard the Lionhearted. Then if you are still hungry for more, for a fee, you can go even deeper into the inner walls of the castle. You will get an incredible view of the Seine river and learn more about one of Europe’s biggest medieval figures.