Things to do in Normandy

Things to do in  Normandy

Welcome to Normandy

Normandy in northwestern France has played an important role in history, making it a popular destination for visitors from around the world. You'll find a variety of private and small-group tours to introduce you to the historic region, whether you'd like to see battlefields, beaches, or a medieval village. Explore the picturesque town of Bayeux, roughly 163 miles (262 kilometers) from Paris, known for the Bayeux Tapestry. This extraordinary piece of embroidery depicts scenes from the Norman conquest of England and dates back to the 11th century. Book a group or private tour with a knowledgeable guide to discover World War II's D-Day beaches, Omaha and Utah among them. Stop at the Mémorial de Caen museum and war memorial, as well as some of the battlefields and cemeteries. Or head to the remote abbey rising from the rocks at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mont-Saint-Michel. A guided tour rewards you with skip-the-line access to one of the most-visited sights in France—step into the refectory, cloister, and church to marvel at the architecture. Food lovers can join a culinary tour to taste the region's famous cuisine, including Camembert cheese and Calvados (apple brandy). Alternatively, hop on a sightseeing tour through Rouen, Normandy's largest city, to take in the cathedral that Monet immortalized and wander through an antique district. Finally, tours to the beautiful port of Honfleur allow you to understand just why the town has attracted so many artists over the years.

Top 15 attractions in Normandy


Crowned by a Gothic abbey, the UNESCO-recognized medieval island village of Mont-Saint-Michel rises dramatically from the tidal flats of the bay, creating one of France’s most iconic scenes. This island, situated at the mouth of the Couesnon river, is a must-see for history buffs and anyone interested in religious sites—and also surrounded by some of the largest tidal variations in Europe.More

Omaha Beach

As one of Normandy’s D-Day landing beaches, Omaha Beach was the backdrop to one of the most significant events of World War II, immortalized in the movie Saving Private Ryan and forever etched into history. Today, visitors to Omaha Beach can follow in the footsteps of the Allied soldiers and pay their respects at the American Cemetery.More

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Located above Omaha Beach, just outside Bayeaux, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is a moving site. The cemetery is the final resting place of more than 9,000 soldiers, the vast majority of whom lost their lives fighting the D-Day battles of Normandy. Other World War II heroes are buried here as well.More

Pointe du Hoc

One of France’s most important World War II landmarks, Pointe du Hoc is best known for its role in the D-Day Landings. Today, the promontory overlooking the Normandy coast is a destination for history buffs, those with personal ties to the conflict, and others wishing to pay tribute to the many soldiers who lost their lives here.More


Known less for its name and more for the lily ponds that inspired Claude Monet's iconic paintings, Giverny is a provincial gem just a short train ride from Paris. The tiny bucolic village—home to only 500 inhabitants—is known for its ponds smothered in water lilies, picturesque weeping willow trees, and quaint painted bridges which will especially charm fans of impressionism.More

Joan of Arc Historial (Historial Jeanne d’Arc)

Opened in 2015, the Joan of Arc Historial (Historial Jeanne d’Arc) is an interactive history exhibition that commemorates one of Rouen’s most famous trials (and heroines). Housed in the city’s centuries-old Archbishop’s Palace, where Joan of Arc’s trial was held in 1431, the museum invites guests to interact directly with her legacy.More


Famously painted by artists, such as Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet, and Eugene Boudin, the picturesque waterfront and colorful harbor of Honfleur are among the most memorable in Normandy. The historic port is renowned for its architecture, especially Vieux Bassin harbor’s 16th-century buildings and the wooden church of Sainte Catherine.More


The tiny village of Arromanches-les-Bains played a big role during the Second World War, when Allied troops installed a prefabricated marina just off the coast here. The remains are still visible, and the town’s fascinating Musee du Debarquement explores that wartime history. Now, the village is a key stop for travelers exploring D-Day sites in Normandy.More

Arromanches 360

On the coast of Normandy, Arromanches 360 is a circular cinema with nine screens that work together to create an immersive cinematic experience. Here, visitors can watch an HD film that tells the story of the 100-day Battle of Normandy during World War II, complete with archival footage from France, Germany, the UK, Canada, and the US.More

Rouen Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts)

Rouen’s Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts) was created in 1801 by Napoleon I. It features a collection of over 8000 paintings, sculptures, drawings and decorative art collections from the Renaissance to the present age, including household names like Renoir, Degas, Fragonard, and many more. The museum also has an exceptional Depeaux collection, and is considered one of the most outstanding public collections in France. Visitors can also enjoy sought-after temporary exhibitions and occasional contemporary art exhibitions.More

La Cambe German War Cemetery

As the largest German WWII cemetery in France, the La Cambe German War Cemetery serves as a poignant reminder of the lives lost on both sides of the war. It’s a moving site, with its grey schist crosses and dark, flat headstones offering a more somber atmosphere than that of the American and Commonwealth cemeteries nearby.Although initially serving as a temporary American cemetery, today 21,222 soldiers from the German Armed Forces are buried at La Cambe. At the center of the cemetery, a 6-meter-high grassy hillock is capped with a single cross and serves as a mass grave for 296 soldiers, many of which are unknown. Just outside of the cemetery, the La Cambe Peace Garden opened in 1996, and is home to 1,200 maple trees, each planted by an individual or organization to symbolize reconciliation and lasting peace. A visitor center is also located at the entrance to the cemetery and offers further insight into the soldiers buried on-site.More

Caen Memorial Museum (Mémorial de Caen)

Located a short drive from the D-Day Landing Beaches, the Caen Memorial Museum (Mémorial de Caen) puts one of the most significant battles of World War II into historical context. The museum gardens serve as a poignant tribute to the international soldiers that lost their lives on Norman soil.More

Brittany (Bretagne)

Brittany (Bretagne) is the westernmost region in France, a peninsula on the northwest coast that stretches out into the Atlantic. Home to destinations such as Rennes, which has a thriving student community; Brest, an off-the-beaten-path city; and the walled former island of Saint-Malo, Brittany is rich in history, naturally beautiful, and too often overlooked in favor of Paris and the French Riviera.More

André Malraux Museum of Modern Art (MuMa)

Home to one of France’s most significant collections of impressionist paintings (the second-largest, after the Orsay Museum in Paris), the André Malraux Museum of Modern Art (MuMa) has long been an important destination for art lovers. Inaugurated in 1961, the museum takes its name from André Malraux, the Minister of Culture at the time, and features a slick modernist façade looking out over the coast of Le Havre.Highlights of the MuMa’s extensive permanent collection include the world’s largest collection of works by Boudin; an old masters area including works by Luca Giordano and José de Ribera; and modern works by Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet, Raoul Dufy and more. Of course, it’s the impressionists that draw the most attention, and it’s a vast and varied collection, featuring works by Monet, Delacroix, Degas, Renoir, Manet, Gauguin and Vuillard.More

Le Havre Cruise Port (Terminal Croisières Le Havre)

Set on France’s western coast at the mouth of the English Channel and the Seine River, the Le Havre Cruise Port (Terminal Croisières Le Havre) serves as a popular stop for European cruise liners and is considered the “gateway to Paris.” Once on shore, explore the UNESCO-listed Le Havre’s World War II history and take advantage of its proximity to Normandy.More

Top activities in Normandy

Normandy American D-Day Beaches Full Day Tour from Bayeux
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Utah & Omaha Beaches D-Day Group Tour from Bayeux
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Mont St Michel Full Day Tour with a National Guide from Bayeux
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Half-day sidecar excursion to the landing beaches
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D-Day Omaha Beach Area Morning or Afternoon Group Tour from Bayeux
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American D-Day Beaches Private Tour Full Day Tour from Bayeux
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All about Normandy

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People Also Ask

Why is Normandy famous?

Normandy is one of France’s most visited regions, famous for the magnificent island monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, D-Day beaches and WWII memorials, Bayeux Tapestry, and white chalk cliffs of Etretat. Norman gastronomy is equally world-renowned—Camembert, cider, Calvados, and the French apple tart known as tarte Normande hail from here.

How do I spend a day in Normandy?

With only one day in Normandy, it’s best to choose just one or two attractions. Combine a tour of the Mont Saint-Michel with a cider tasting, a visit to Bayeux Tapestry with D-Day beaches, or a day trip to Honfleur and Deauville with the white cliffs of Etretat.

What is the most visited place in Normandy?

The island monastery of Mont Saint-Michel is the most visited attraction in Normandy, with more than 2.5 million annual visitors. Other popular sites include the D-Day beaches and Caen Memorial Museum, the Bayeux Tapestry museum, and the coastal towns of Honfleur and Deauville.

How many days should you spend in Normandy?

Give yourself at least three days in Normandy to cover the highlights—Mont Saint-Michel, Bayeux Tapestry, and D-Day beaches and memorials. With a full week, you could include the historic cities of Caen and Rouen, the coastal towns of Honfleur and Deauville, and the famous white cliffs of Etretat.

Can you swim at Normandy’s beaches?

Yes, it’s also possible to swim along the Channel coast—if you don’t mind the cold. Normandy’s golden beaches are better known for their D-Day memorials and soaring white chalk cliffs. The best time to swim is in July and August, when water temperatures average 65°F (18°C).

Can you tour Normandy on your own?

Yes, Normandy is easy to explore on your own with a vehicle, and traveling independently gives you flexibility. Day trips to Normandy’s cities and towns can also be made by train or bus, but to explore the D-Day beaches, it’s best to hire a car.

Frequently Asked Questions
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