The historical significance of Normandy can’t be overlooked for it was here that the allies landed to liberate France in a battle which turned the tide of WWII. While it has no large port, which would seem an advantage to a beach assault, the cliffs offered natural cover. Those cliffs and the beach are iconic features in countless paintings and D-Day movies.
In addition to the somber historic importance of Normandy, it’s also considered the seat of impressionism. It’s famous for its cheeses, cider and other food stuffs. It has quaint cities, picturesque towns and lush green hillsides dotted with apple orchards and cows. And it’s just a couple of hours from Paris by fast train!
Let the travel advisors at GetAway Travel put Normandy on your next trip itinerary.
Normandy fun facts
There are five UNESCO sites in Normandy and two of them are related to textiles. It has two capitals — Caen and Rouen. Monet lived and painted in Giverny in Normandy.
There are more than 30 Michelin-starred chefs in Normandy, as well as more than 100 gardens and 38 golf courses.
Normandy is France’s apple capital with 800 varieties of apples grown there. Three apple beverages are produced in the region — Pays d’Auge which is a cider, Calvados and Pommeau. Traverse the apple route through Normandy and you’ll discover 16 producers of apple liqueur, it’s actually called the Cider Route.
The hills in the region are dotted with apple orchards and happy cows. Normandy produces half of France’s milk, butter, cheese and cream.
Joan of Arc was put on trial and martyred in Normandy.
Some historical highlights…
The landing on Omaha Beach was the defining event in WWII and the site of the bloodiest battle because Omaha Beach was the largest of the five beaches where the Allied forces landed in 1944. The beginning of Operation Overlord or as it is also called, the Battle of Normandy, began the liberation of France. The American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer is the largest American cemetery in Normandy and it overlooks the beach. Visiting the area is an incredibly moving experience.
Nearly 9,400 Americans lost their lives in the liberation of France. At the center of the cemetery is a small chapel with a mosaic depicting America blessing her soldiers as they left the country. By a reflecting pool in the Garden of the Missing is a wall where the 1,500 names of those who fought but were never returned, are engraved. The Overlord Museum details the landing and the subsequent liberation of Paris. A number of permanent collections include war vehicles, tanks, guns and personal items from soldiers.
Mont-Saint-Michel is a tidal island at the mouth of the Couesnon River. Surrounded by the sea at high tide, it was built on the 264 foot high rock in the 10th century. You can tour the abbey and the villages in the commune below. An aside: in France, areas referred to as communes are similar to incorporated municipalities in the United States.
Wear comfortable footwear, a walking trek to the abbey offers the best options to take pictures of the surrounding countryside.
Honfleur is a quaint port with tall, narrow slate-sided homes. It is home to Musée de la Marine, a maritime museum devote to the history of fishing and shipping building in the area. The Musée Eugène Boudin has a spectacular collection of impressionist art featuring, of course, Boudin – but also Courbet, Isabel and Huet. Tour Saint-Catherine’s Church. After the stone church on its site was destroyed by fire, residents rebuilt using wood and the interior architecture resembles two overturned ship hulls.
Rouen is home to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen. Construction on the cathedral started in the 12th century, it was damaged by fire and rebuilt and it is still considered the tallest church in France. It has fabulous stained glass windows, 60 statues and its architecture influenced Pissarro and Monet. Its three spires are three distinctive types of architecture.
More art sites and textile sites
Claude Monet, one of the most famous impressionists in the world, called Giverny home. You can tour his well-preserved home and even see the lily pond that inspired his famous “Water Lilies.”
The Musée de Beaux-Arts de Rouen has artwork from Renoir, Degas and Monet as well as other works going back to the 1400s. Every major art movement is covered and there is also a collection of rare Russian icons.
Bayeux, founded in the 1st century, is famous for the Bayeux tapestry. The 230-foot embroidered tapestry documents 75 scenes of William the Conqueror invading England.
The Musée des Beaux Arts de la Deutelle is in Alençon. UNESCO recognized Alençon lace and by association, Alençon as worthy of historic recognition. The process to make the lace is mind-bogglingly intricate and when UNESCO added it as a “site” it added it to the “Representative List of the Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” It takes more than 25 hours of labor to produce a square of lace the size of a postage stamp. At the museum, you can view exhibits of the lace as well as exhibits on how it is made.
GetAway Travel can help you plan a historical trip to Normandy — but we can also help you out with on-the-ground tours. Revel in the history, but also enjoy the culinary offerings of the region including seafood, of course — cheese, apple liquor and liqueurs, sausages and salt-marsh lamb. Reach us at: (262) 538-2140, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com