Geography of Normandy



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GEOGRAPHY Map of Normandy

Normandy is not an homogeneous geographical unit but an old province, formerly a Dukedom, embracing two large areas with different geological structures, which become progressively younger from west to east.  The sandstones, granites and primary schist of the Armorican Massif in the west give way to the Secondary and Tertiary Era stratas of clays, limestone and chalks which belong to the geological formation of the Paris Bassin.   Normandy can therefore be conveniently divided into two quite distinct regions, Haute-Normandy, which lies northwest of the Paris Bassin, and Basse-Normandie, which resembles its neighbour Brittany and consists of an eroded foundation of ancient rocks. 

Haute-Normandy is composed of two departments : Seine-Maritime and Eure.

As regards Basse-Normandie, there are three departments : Calvados, Orne and Manche. 

Regions/ departments

Area (km²)

Population (1999)






12 378

6 037

6 341

1 780 192

541 054

1 239 138





Les Andelys, Bernay

Le Havre, Dieppe





18 249

5 693

6 412

6 144

1 391 961

663 408

498 997

302 537






Lisieux, Bayeux, Vire

Cherbourg, Avranches, Coutances

Mortagne-au-Perche, Argentan

Total Normandy

30 627

3 245 134



 Coastal  Areas 

In Upper-Normandy (Haute-Normandie)

The Côte d’Albatre: it stretches from Le Tréport to Le Havre. It’s a prestigious wall of chalk which sometimes reached over 100 meters high and which the waters wear away patiently. 

In Lower-Normandy (Basse-Normandie)

The Floral Coast :
From the Seine to the Orne, the pastures and orchards of Auge slope gently down to the rivers' edge, bordered by terraces of flowers, shaded alleyways and elegant villas.

Famous beaches where Normandy's attraction is the ability to escape from day to day life: stylish hotels, night clubs, casinos, fashion shows, air shows, international regattas.

The Landing Beaches - Mother of Pearl and Bessin Coasts :
Beyond the Orne stretch steep cliffs shadowing beaches of fine golden sand. The British beaches (Sword, Gold Beaches), Canadian (Juno)and the American beaches (Omaha Beach, Utah Beach) were names given in the war and have remained, the original ones never to be reverted to. Arromanches with its artificial port, military cemeteries, la Pointe du Hoc, monuments, milestones and military relics continue to serve as reminders of the battles.

Le Cotentin :
Giving way to the shifting sands of the bay of Veys, the rocky spur of North Cotentin juts into the sea. It is a "Lands End" formed by savage cliffs and deserted shores surrounded by landscapes of flowering heather and gorse. The cliffs of Jobourg are the highest in Europe.

Further towards the north a softer coastline is evident, the terrain changes into the large beaches of the west coast.

The west coast is sheltered from the east and north winds benefiting from the warm currents of the Gulf Stream. Here 100 kilometres of sand unfold like a long ribbon, occasionally intercepted by rocks and harbours and ending majestically at Mont Saint Michel. The sunniest beaches are here and the sea is a beautiful shade of deep blue.


In Upper-Normandy 

This  vast area of quiet landscape and dimly undulating plateaus, stretches  from Pays de Caux to Pays d’Ouche.

- the Pays de Caux, Pays de Bray and Vexin Normand

- the Pays d’Ouche

- Vallée de la Seine

In Lower-Normandy 

In the west, as well as in the vast cultured areas of the region of Caen-Falaise, this is the "bocage" area of  Normandy, where the pastures and apple orchards are surrounded with hedges.

- the Cotentin

- forets de l’Orne

- the Perche

- the Pays d’Argentan

- the Bocage Virois

- the Suisse Normande

- the Pays d’Auge