Due to its close proximity to the UK, Normandy is one of the most popular regions for us Brits to visit. It’s perfect for a short break or a long weekend as well as being an ideal pit-stop for a longer journey further south. With its long coastline, picturesque interior and many sites of interest, Normandy has much to offer its visitors.
Getting there is very easy and there are several options available if taking a ferry from Portsmouth. Crossings sail to Cherbourg, Caen, Le Havre and you can also head to Dieppe via Newhaven. It is possible to travel via Calais or Boulogne as well if you prefer and the drive across from the Pas de Calais isn’t too long and gives you a handy excuse to nip into the lovely town of Le Touquet on the way.
Normandy’s coast is a mix of busy ports, delightful towns and villages and the famous Normandy beaches of the D-Day operation. The beaches are very popular with British visitors who go to see the history for itself and pay respects to those who fought so bravely. At Arromanches you can see the remains of the Mulberry Harbours that were used off Gold Beach to secure allied shipping during the landings and visit the Musée du débarquement, a museum dedicated to D-Day. There are many cemeteries and battlegrounds nearby to keep historians' appetites sated for some time. A little further east is Courselles where the Juno landings took place. Both these towns have some gorgeous little bistros and restaurants that make an ideal spot for a meal and a refreshing drink.
Honfleur lies a few kilometres on to the east from Courselles and is one the true gems of the Normandy coastline. It’s famous quayside (above) plays host to a series of lovely places to eat but do arrive early if you are visiting for lunch and finding tables will be tricky not far past noon, especially in July and August. Dining alfresco here though is a joy not to be missed if you are nearby. The seafood is fresh, the wine chilled and the digestifs abundant, all in all not a bad combination.
Normandy’s interior is rural and sweeping, characterized by its Bocage, a patchwork of small hedged fields and is home to both cattle and apple growing industries. Dairy produce and cider dominate the region’s cuisine. Cream and cheeses are renowned and include the ever popular Camembert, while the apples produce the much appreciated local ciders and calavados (apple brandy).
Places of interest to visit away from the coast include Bayeux, home of the famous tapestry depicting the Norman Invasion of 1066 and Normandy’s capital, Rouen, with its magnificent cathedral and castle.
Normandy remains a firm favourite for British travellers, it has a wide variety of coastal attractions, a gloriously rural interior and enough to see and do for everyone. Few places make a better choice for a short stay but for those who wish to stay longer there is also plenty to keep you occupied. So raise a glass of cider, cut off a final slither of creamy Camembert and start thinking about what you could do there.