Loaded with history and comprising some of the most spectacular sights in northern France, the region of Normandy offers visitors a welcome break from routine.
Normandy sits on the shores of the English Channel, and although visitors from the UK will find the region's limestone cliffs very familiar, Normandy begins to show its distinctive character very soon, surprising tourists with its charming seaside villages, historic market towns, and idyllic rural scenery. Read on to find some tips to help you plan your next trip around this French region.
There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to planning a trip to Normandy: the weather and the crowds. Because of the region's geographical location, the weather in Normandy tends to be unreliable, so visitors should be prepared to face rainy days even outside the typically rainy months (December to March). July and August get the most hours of sunshine and very small chances of rain, with typical temperatures hovering around 22°C. However, bear in mind that French people tend to take their holidays en masse in August. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider travelling during the shoulder season (April, May, and October).
Weekends on the flowery coast are a popular antidote to city-life for many Parisians year round.
Normandy's capital city, Rouen, is a captivating destination that no visitor should miss out on. Medieval and Gothic buildings contribute to the city's appealing and elegant flair. Soak up some history at the gorgeous quartier Pasteur and at St Nicaise, or join the locals on their daily strolls along the Seine River promenade. Don't forget to visit the Gothic quarters at St Maclou, dotted with dozens of antique shops and second-hand bookstores.
The lovely harbour town of Honfleur is well worth a visit. Here you can walk up to Côte de Grâce for the best panoramic views of the town and the ocean, admire the timbered houses of the old town, discover the local culinary delights at the seafront restaurants, and treat yourself to a Calvados tasting. If you'd rather visit the countryside, head to Camembert, the village where the famous French cheese was created more than 200 years ago.
Normandy also has a plethora of gorgeous beaches that range from fine white sandy beaches ideal for swimming and sunbathing to the dramatic shingle beaches of the northeast. Some recommendations include the 18-mile long Utah beach, the picturesque and dune-enclosed beaches near Carteret, and the rugged coastline at Cap de La Hague.