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Places to Visit in Normandy

 

 

 

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LaceAlençon  - A beautiful town with many old houses.  The church of Notre Dame and the Circular Grain Market are notable.  Alençon is famous for lace and “Alençon Stitch" is one of the best known styles of lace making.   Tourism office number: 02 33 80 66 33.  Notre-Dame church in Alencon is a magnificent early 16th century church famous for its entrance door and stained glass windows.  www.ville-alencon.fr

Argentan  has another style of lace making called Point d’Argentan. this is in the centre of the horse-breeding area in Orne.  There are some beautiful churches such as Saint Germain and Saint Martin.Tourism office number: 0033 233 671 248. E-mail: tourisme.argentan@wanadoo.fr

Avranches Not far from Mont St Michel and overlooking the bay there are several places to visit including the manuscripts of Mont St Michel Abbey at the Town Hall.  There are gardens and a Museum. It was in Avranches that Henry II made public penance for the murder of Thomas Beckett.  www.ville-avranches.fr

BarfleurBarfleur - another coastal harbour attracted artists such as Franck Boggs, Anthoine Guillemet and Paul Signac. www.ville-barfleur.fr

Barneville Carteret One of the closest ports to Jersey with a 300 mooring marina, there are beaches and  a fishing port. . www.barneville-carteret.net

BayeuxBayeux   is of course home to the famous Bayeux Tapestry.  Apart from this there is the General de Gaulle Museum and the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum and the British Cemetery. There are several museums -  Baron Gerard Lace. the Porcelain Museum, the Museum of Religious Art, the Clock Workshop and the Bayeux Lace Conservatory. Tourism office number: 0033 231 512 828.  www.bayeux-tourism.com

Beaumesnil One of the greatest attractions here is the chateau which is one of the finest examples of Louis XIII style 17th century architecture. The gardens and grounds are magnificent. Tourism office number: 0033 232 464 568. www.chateaubeaumesnil.com

Bernay Apart from the prettiness and charm of this French town there are various historic churches -Notre Dame de la Couture,  Abbey Church Museum and the Church of Saint Croix.  Fishermen will enjoy the lakes where they can fly-fish. Tourism office number: 0033 232 433 208.

Cabourg This is a Belle Epoque Edwardian seaside resort.  Home of writers Marcel Proust and Alexandre Dumas. Cabourg used to be the fashionable place to go  Its main street has examples of the 19th and early 20th century architecture, including steep gables, roofs, and tall chimneys.  There is also a casino www.cabourg.net/

Camembert Camembert is a small village of half timbered houses  in Normandy on top of a hill in the Pays daubed.     A long time ago, a gentleman called  “Mambert” became the owner of a large trTown of Camembertact of land and therefore during the Middle Ages, this area became quickly known as “Champ de Mambert” –   “Mambert’s field”.  The name eventually changed to Camembert.  See The House of Camembe region and proclaimed that the cheese cured him of a serious stomach problem and he, with others raised funds to finance a monument to Camembert which monument was built in 1927.  Go down to the picnic area on the Viette river close by to eat your baguette and Camembert. The XIVth century church displays an oil painting commemorating the walking pilgrimage of the villagers to Mont-St-Michel in Brittany in 1772.  There is also a  XVth century wooden statue of Saint Anne. Abbey of CaenTourism office number: 0033 233 394 335/ 0033 233 390 236.

Chateau of CaenCaen All Jersey Advocates had to study law here as well as studying English law and this is a university town.  There is also a  Castle and the two abbeys - Abbaye aux Hommes and Abbaye aux Dames which have connections with William the Conqueror, an Art Museum, the Memorial Peace Museum and the Botanical Gardens. Ouistreham is the port of Caen see Ouestram for more information. Tourism office number: 0033 231 271 414. www.ville-caen.fr

Cherbourg  Originally a little fishing village Cherbourg developed into the historic port designed by Vauban it is today and from where boats which have included in the past, the Normandy, The France, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, sail to England this was also a strategic naval port during the Napoleonic wars.  There is a marina with over 1000 moorings.  “Cap de la Hague” is to the West and the “Pointe de Barfleur” to the East. Visit the Thomas Henry Fine Arts Museum displaying paintings by artists such as Millet, Fra Angelica, Filippo Lipi, David, Brueghel de Velours and Guillaume Fouace. It is the third largest museum of Normandy and has a collection of 300 paintings and sculptures of the XVth to the XIXth centuries. The theatre stems from the 19th century theatre is considered one of the finest examples of the “Italian Style”. There is also the Cité de la Mer to visit which is a history of men and  the sea and among the exhibits is the former nuclear submarine “Redoubtable”.  There are also the Liais Gardens, the Liberation Museum at the Fort du Roule.    See also  The Basilique St Trinité, built in 1155. Tourism office number: 0033 233 935 202. www.ot.cherbourg-cotentin.fr

Cote Fleurie  This area of coastline is between the D-Day beaches and Le Havre.  The Cote Fleurie has huge beaches and many towns including Houlgate, Trouville or less known such as Tourgeville, Bonneville.  These are delightful and full of old fashioned charm. A popular haunt of Impressionist painters and writers such as Baudelaire and Marcel Proust, the Cote Fleurie is a delight to visit.  Many of the towns in this area have separate listings on this page.   Coutances Cathedral interior

Coutances Cathedral Coutances - The cathedral is exceptional and particularly important to Jersey which comes under the diocese of Coutances.  Visit the 12th century Castel of Pirou.  There are museums such as the L’Art du Bois: displaying wooden sculptures and the Musée Tancrede plus the Musée du Manoir de Saussey . Tourism office number: 0033 233 190 810. E-mail: tourisme.coutances@wanadoo.fr

Deauville  Deauville  developed into a seaside resort in 1860, and after the World War I became a popular holiday destination, particularly for the rich and famDeauville Casinoous.   It has two marinas, a casino, smart hotels and restaurant. The famous Planches boardwalk were built in 1923 and in 1931 an airport was built and which gives the city its international status. Deauville regularly  holds  "Yearling Sales" when many magnificent thoroughbreds are sold. Tourism office number: 0033 231 144 000. www.deauville.org

Dieppe  This is a seaside resort and cross channel port and is full of restaurants serving delicious food but in particular seafood.  There is a promenade to walk along.  The huge outdoor swimming pool is An established coastal resort with a fine culinary reputation.  On the cultural side there is  the Chateau Museum with its collection of ivory carvings on which much of Dieppe’s early wealth was built. In  1694 a fire destroyed nearly all the houses in Dieppe but there are many chateaux, churches and other attractions such as the Château-Musée built between XV and XVIII century,  the Eglise St Jacques,  built between XII and XVI century, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, a Chapel constructed in 1876, which is also a memorial for people who died in the sea. Visit  Maison Miffant  remains from before the fire and belonged to a wealthy family. Out of the 3900 houses in Dieppe, only 300 were not burnt.   There is also the Ancien Collège des Oratiens -  in 1525, Jehan Ango built the “nicest wooden house in France». In 1614, it becomes a college owned by “les pères de l’oratoire” for the intellectual elite of the region in the XVII and XVIII centuries.  At the end of the XIX century the Pont Colbert was constructed. this bridge was built in order to maintain the communication between Dieppe and Pollet which was remote.   The Cité de la Mer is a museum and scientific and technical centre dedicated to fishing techniques, naval construction and aquariums.  The Porte des Tourelles the only gate to the town left out of the seven of which six were demolished in the XIX century.  The Quartier du Pollet is atmospheric and used to be the fishermen's' area and has brick and flint fishermen’s cottages.  In the 16th century ivory and spice commerce was an important occupation here. On Saturday Dieppe is the venue for a  big market which is One of the most picturesque weekly events in Dieppe and here you can buy Normandy country produce.  In the heart of Dieppe, the “Café des Tribunaux” has been painted by many artists.  See also Château D’Arques la Bataille: a 11th century fortified castle is in total ruin now and Le Château de Miromesnil said to be the birthplace of  Guy de Maupassant Tourism office number: 0033 232 144 060. www.DIEPPETOURISME.com

Dives-sur-Mer It was from this  small town that William the Conqueror prepared his fleet to invade England in 1066. There is a Marina which has been recently refurbished and the  market hall complex, which is 500 years old, called Les Halles is worth seeing. The  Notre Dame Church, built in 1067 contains religious relics washed ashore in the 10 and 11th century.  The church was restored frequently and evidences  the 14th and 15th century.   As you enter the church, if you raise your head you can see the names of the financiers and companions of William the Conqueror.  Near the choir, there is a hole in the wall from the 14th century which was built to accommodate the leprous.  Lieutenance which was the residency of the Duke of Falaise, was restored in 1920. The Art Village of William the Conqueror in a medieval setting is not far from Les Halles. Tourism office number: 0033 231 281 250. E-mail: mairie-dives-sur-mer@wanadoo.fr

Domfront This is a medieval town with timber-fronted houses which overlooks the valley of the River Varenne, BurglarTourism office number: 0033 233 385 397

EtretatEtretat  Etretat is a popular bathing resort and is famous for its cliffs.   Whilst here visit one of the many museums: the interactive (?) Clos Lupin, museum of the gentlemen burglar.  Arsène Lupin was the creation of author Maurice Leblanc.  The Clos Lupin was the home of the author in the summer.  Etretat was also favoured by Flaubert, Maupassant and Karr, and artists Monet, Courbet, Corot and Boudin not forgetting composer Offenbach.  Tourism office number: 0033 235 270 521. www.etretat.net

Evreux Particularly famous for its cathedral this is also the county town of the Eure, The cathedral was once demolished by Philippe Auguste in the 12th century but was rebuilt. The woodwork as well as the 14th century stained glass windows are magnificent. Tourism office number: 0033 232 240 443.www.evreux-tourisme.org

Falaise William the Conqueror’s Castle is here and there is also the Automates Avenue Museum.  Tourism office number: 0033 231 901 726. www.otsifalaise.com

Fécamp  is a pretty fishing port and coastal resort. The  Benedictine Palace is there and is from where the  liqueur name originates.  This was a pilgrimage centre.  There is a distillery to visit and Art Gallery. There is also the Trinity Church of Fishing and the Newfoundlands and Arts Museum here.   Fecamp is split into the actual harbour –( see the church of St Etienne) and the higher located old city where you can visit the cloister and Eglise St Trinité, a very large church built in 1120.  See also the  which exhibits  porcelain, tiles and  paintings, the Musée des Terre Neuvas et de la Pêche, dedicated to the French fishermen who went to Newfoundland and the Château de Bailleul: to visit the sculpture garden. Tourism office number: 0033 235 285 101.

Gaillon The  Renaissance Chateau which was the historic residence of the Archbishops of Rouen is a big attraction plus the coastland features. 

GranvilleGranville  Lively seaside resort, sailing centre and commercial fishing port.  Also a sea water treatment centre.  Passenger ferries depart from here for the Channel Islands and the Iles de Chausaey.  There is also the Christian Dior Museum situated in the designer’s childhood home. See the Roc Aquarium and  Granville wax museum  The Haute Ville is a picturesque fortified old town with its Church of Notre Dame and 15th and 18th century houses. There is also a Casino.  This is all a far cry from the days when the Corsairs and Newfoundland fishing vessels sailed from Granville.  Tourism office number: 0033 233 913 003. www.ville-granville.fr

Honfleur  Picturesque Honfleur with its beautiful buildings overlooks the sea.  Visit Notre Dame de Grâce:  patroness of all sailors since the 11th century. Where there is a chapel where a view of the port of Le Havre and the estuary of La Seine spanned by the Pont de Normandie. There is  St Catherine’s ~Church which is constructed from wood and in the town centre, the  Musée Boudin dedicated to Eugene Boudin and those forming “Rencontre de Simeon” avant-garde of Impressionism, Les Maisons Satie displaying the artistic life of the composer with visual and sound effects.  Walk through La Rue des Lingots in the old town.  The Port of Honfleur was very favoured by artists such as Baudelaire, and Monet    See La Ferme St Siméon a 17th century farmhouse where local poets and artists used to  eat and socialise.  Tourism office number: 0033 231 892 330. www.ot-honfleur.fr 

Ile de Tatihou  Visit the Musée Maritime  - boats, fishing equipment and  a bird watching observatory, shipyard and marine botanical gardens www.tatihou.com

Le HavreLe Havre This is a commercial port and university town and also charming and interesting. There are two kilometres of promenades from the magnificent building of the Andre Malraux Fine Arts Museum to the cliffs   The museum has an impressionist exhibition which includes the work of local artist and "Fauvist", Raoul Dufy. Le Havre is planted with flowers and has beautiful fountains.  Visit the Bassin du Commerce, filled with pleasure craft.  Another notable museums is the Musée de l’Ancien Havre which explains the city’s history from 1517. Tourism office number: 0033 232 740 040. www.lehavretourisme.com

Jullouville  Known for its long sandy beach on the pine forested shore Julloville.  There are various places of interest - Church of Jullouville, Eglise de Bouillon and the Menhir de Vaumoisson. Tourism office number: 0033 233 618 248. www.jullouville.com

Lisieux  An historic town whose history goes back over 2000 years there are many timber fronted houses The Cathedral and Basilica are famous.  Saint Therese who devoted her life to Carmelite nuns of St. Lisieux is revered there. Le Musée d’Art et d’Histoire is a beautiful building as well as a museum. Churches worth visiting are La Basilique, one of the largest 20th century churches and La Cathédrale St Pierre - a Gothic cathedral from XII century.  There is the XVI century Le Château de Saint-Germain de Livet, Le Manoir de Querville and Le Domaine St-Hippolyte,  a beautiful farm  classified «Site Remarquable de Goût» where you can sample products from Normandy.  Le Site Zoologique de Cerza - like the Durrell Wildlife Trust  focuses on species which are becoming increasingly rarer. Tourism office number: 0033  231 481 810. www.ville-lisieux.fr/decouvrirfr.htm

Mont St MichelMont St Michel  is the twin of St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall.  This was created in the 11th century and was originally surrounded by water.  Over the years this area silted up with the result of a causeway forming over which visitors could walk there.  Much restoration work has gone on to make the sea surround it once again. There are 80 chapels, cells, towers and public chambers and guided tours can be organised such as the “Ramparts tour” with view on the bay and the Rocher de Tombelaine or "La Merveille" a tour of six halls built on three levels – 13th century gothic masterpiece.  Visit the Cloister where the monks would meet and meditate and also visit the Scriptorium and  the “Salle des Hotes”( Guest room)

Ouistreham A small community on the coast 15 km north of Caen and connected to it by a fast dual carriage way.   Thanks to Brittany Ferries, the easternmost of the D-Day resorts has developed an extensive array of reasonable hotels and restaurants.  Tourism office number: 0033 231 971 863. www.ot-ouistreham.fr

Virgen Mary Rouen

Rouen  has a wealth of history and is built on the River Seine. It is old with cobbled streets and timber fronted houses.  It is known as the “city of spires”.  There is a monument to Joan of Arc here, where she met her sad end.  There is a wealth of culture here and one of the best collections of art in France.  The Cathedral is created presents wonderful masonry and has three great towers.  One tower was built by William the Conqueror three years before his forces invaded England.  The name of Tour du  Beurre from the 15th century refers to the taxes raised from people who ate butter and drank milk during Lent.  The central tower and the spire completes were built during the 13th and 16th century. See La Rue du Gros horologe filled with timber framed houses.  Spanning the street ahead is the Gros Horloge on a sculpted arch with an embellished clock.  - The clock tells the hour, the week and the moon phases through a bull’s eye.  Museums include  the Musée des Beaux Arts - European painting from the 14th century to nowadays and the Musee Flaubert which is a Museum of the 19th century writer Flaubert.  You can visit the room where he wrote his most famous books: “Madam Bovary”, “L’Education Sentimentale”.  Tourism office number: 0033 232 083 240. www.mairie-rouen.fr

Sainte Adresse   Sainte Adresse  resembles Nice and attracts the wealthy or those who like glamorous seaside resorts which is a far cry from its origins as a little fishing village in the Middle Ages.

Saint Valery en Caux  A delightful seaside resort. Tourism office number: 0033 235 970 063.           

Trouville Found on the “Cote Fleurie”, 200 km from Paris, Trouville’s is a picturesque fishing port that became a popular resort was created in the early 19th century. A daily fish market and a large market twice a week on Wednesdays and Sunday mornings. Tourism office number: 0033 231 146 070. www.trouvillesurmer.org

Vernon can trace its history back to Rollo, first Duke of Normandy in the 9th century and is the closes town to Paris.  There is the Notre Dame Church, the Tour des Archives, the ruins of Tourelles Castle.  Visit 15th century houses in Rue Carnot.  The Poulain Museum has a massive amount of information regarding prehistory  and also has a huge collection of impressionist paintings including Monet. Tourism office number: 0033 232 513 960. www.ville-vernon27.fr

Villedieu-les-Poelles - the home of copper working.  This trade was established here in the Middle Ages. Here one can find shop after shop selling copper articles.  Bells are made here and cast in the traditional manner.  Tourism office number: 0033 233 610 569. E-mail: info@villedieu-les-poeles.com  See bell workshop La Fonderie de Cloches Villedieu-les-Poeles- workshop showing bell making and shop. www.cornille-havard.com

Vimoutiers Located in the northeast of Orne In the Pays d'Auge, Vimoutiers was founded more than one thousand years ago in a valley close to the River La Vie.  Capital of its canton it is a local administrative division. The lush valley grass is perfect pastureland and consequently Vimoutiers prospered over the centuries from the sale of cheese such as Camembert and other dairy and farm products.   See Ratisfaite: a monument to the glory of the Norman cow sculpted by Eugene Le Bihan.  The town is built around a large central square which is dominated by this monument. Visit The Camembert Museum (Musée du Camembert) where  there is a  reconstruction of a farm cheese dairy building and  an exhibition of Camembert Cheese labels..  The Church of Notre Dame is in the town centre, a XIXth century neo-Gothic edifice. For over a thousand years the town main market has been held on Monday afternoons in the town centre and a second smaller market takes place on Friday mornings.  Norman cooking is important in Vimoutiers lifestyle. In addition to various apple-based pastries, you can enjoy different specialities such Poulet d’Auge. Vimoutiers is a centre for country tourism to relax walking and  riding.  Several miles away from the town is the L'Escale du Vitou leisure centre, with grass skiing, tennis 

More and more to come . . . . . . . !!