Historical, Charming, and Beautiful
Normandy is a place where scenic landscapes come in many different shapes and sizes and beautiful beaches take your breath away. Some of the pretty villages in this picturesque region of France are made of stone. Farmhouses, rich pastures, and half-timbered manor homes warm the soul. This region of France is blessed with beauty and charm and so much more.
Bayeux is where you will find lovely homes that were built between the fifteenth and seventeenth century. These homes are made of stone, and their frames of wood make them very attractive houses. The town of Bayeux has a history of its own and 230 feet of tapestry to prove it. This extraordinary piece of art was created to document the details of the Norman Conquest that occurred in the year 1066. Known as “Tapisserie de la reine Mathilde,” this tapestry can be seen at the Centre Guillaume-le-conquerant seminary.
In Mont-St-Michael you will be able to visit one of the most magnificent Benedictine monasteries that exist today. In about 708, this magnificent building was built on a rock in the middle of the Baie du Mont-St-Michael and had a causeway joined to it many years later to make it accessible from the mainland. This monastery was once a small chapel that grew to be a monastery for pilgrims and later, a prison. Today, Mont-St-Michael is place where monks reside. It is also a popular tourist attraction.
If you stop in Rouen, you will be able to feast your eyes on one of the greatest works of Monet. Claude Monet took the west side of the Cathedrale Notre-Dame and made it his canvas. The Gothic style Cathedrale Notre-Dame with its many columns, arches, and stained glass windows is a work of art Monet painted on numerous occasions. The impressionist spent many hours painting the Cathedrale Notre-Dame so that the effects caused by light changes could be captured. The cathedral is also a place where tombs such as the tomb of Normandy’s first duke can be found. At the Musee d’Arc you can see a 1429 sketch of Joan of Arc. Gothic churches and museums such as the Musee des Beaux Arts where works of famous artists like Monet are displayed also make Rouen a tourist magnet.
Other places of interest in Normandy are:
In Honfleur you will find artists working at their easels painting scenes from this enchanting town which is situated on a harbor near the Seine River.
Giverny is the small village Monet lived and died in. The house he rented in 1883 (now known as the Fondation Claude Monet) is open for public viewing.
Here you can see the apple trees in bloom, old farmhouses and patch-eyed cows. Winding roads will lead you through the pretty villages and to an area called Calvados. Calvados is where the finest apple brandy is produced.
Caen is an historical landmark where William the Conqueror and Queen Matilda spent much of their time. In Caen you can see William’s castle and the Abbaye aux Hommes, an abbey that was built for men around the year 1070. The Abbaye aux Dames, which was built for women around the year 1066, also exists in Caen. Both of these abbeys are beautiful Norman Romanesque churches.
Bailey, Rosemary The National Geographic Traveler FRANCE
DK Publishing Eyewitness Travel Guides FRANCE 1994, 2003 Dorling Kindersley
Take a Break in Normandy
By Jean Knill
Many Britons hop the channel to Normandy, then drive through it as quickly as they can to get to their holiday destination elsewhere in France. They don’t know what they’re missing. Normandy is the perfect location for a refreshing week or two, without the hassle of a long drive on the French side. The rich variety of things to do and places to relax means there’s something for everyone – from sunbathing to walking or riding, culture to gourmet eating.
From the enchanting island of Mont St Michel in the south west, to beyond Dieppe in the north, Normandy has over 360 miles of coastline with many magnificent beaches. The area south of the mouth of the River Seine is known as the Cote Fleurie, the Flowered Coast.
Deauville is a popular resort catering for those with sophisticated tastes, hosting an American Film Festival each September. Nearby Cabourg also has a festival, this one playing romantic films on outdoor screens so you can watch from the beach or the promenade. Trouville, cheek by jowl with Deauville, is for those who prefer a slightly quieter trip.
November is a special time of remembrance and June holds the anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. The landing beaches are a poignant reminder of those who sacrificed life or limbs for the freedom of France and Europe. Likewise the war cemeteries, the military harbour at Arromanches and the dedicated museums here, at Bayeaux and various other venues
Bayeaux was the first French town to be liberated in 1944, but it is also famous for commemorating another historic time that linked Normandy and England. The famous Bayeaux Tapestry tells the story of Harold and William the Conqueror and is a magnet for English holidaymakers.
Another familiar piece of history is the story of Joan of Arc, whose short but momentous life ended in Normandy’s Rouen in 1431. A memorial plaque sits in the Place de Vieux-Marche, where she was executed by burning. Rouen is also where William the Conqueror died.
Not far away is a happier place, Giverny, where the Impressionist painter, Monet, lived out his final days and found so much inspiration from his wonderful garden. The garden is still faithfully maintained for his many fans to visit and see the famous lily ponds and glorious flower beds. Some people return time after time to see it in different months or seasons.