Welcome to Normandy region
Normandy is a region of green bocages, a symbol of rich and tasty dairy products. It offers a variety of landscapes between countryside, cities and seaside resorts of high quality. Its architectural, cultural and historical heritage of exception make Normandy one of the most appreciated regions of France. It has a fascinating history, rich in adventures, from the Vikings to the D-Day landings in June 1944. It is also a prized destination for epicureans offering a varied gastronomic choice that will appeal to even the most delicate taste buds.
Normandy is a French region located in the North-West of the country and bordered by the Manche channel. Thanks to its northern and western seaboard, it is facing the busiest maritime axis in the world. Over its 5 departments, the possibilities of escapade are many and varied, offering a high quality lifestyle, either in urban areas, near the coast or in the heart of the bocage.
The origin of the name given to Normandy comes from the Viking people, who occupied this land in the 2nd half of the 1st millennium. Its etymological meaning is "land of the northmen". The numerous touristic assets of the region, such as the bay of Mont Saint Michel, the D-Day landing beaches, its renowned seaside resorts, all make it the 8th favorite destination of French people. Prior to the recent division of the regions in 2016, it was composed of 2 regions, the upper and the lower Normandy.
Which are the 5 departments in Normandy ?
You are planning to come and spend a few days or more in the Normandy region, but you don't know which department to select and you would like to learn more. Hereafter, you will get a brief introduction of the regions Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy, and also of each department, to have a global view on what can offer you this part of the country.
The Land of the Northern Men, possesses a rich historical past, a land of strategic and political issues, which has been challenged over the centuries, by invasions, battles and reconquests. From now on, it is the striking contrasts between bocage, plains, cities, coastline and seaside resorts, which undergoes the tourist assaults.
The previous division before 2016 had attached 3 departments of Normandy, Calvados (14), Manche (50) and Orne (61). The regional division was based on the historical boundaries dating back to the 14th and 16th centuries. On the tourist side, the region does not lack in charm and interest, and offers a wide variety of interesting places to visit and discover.
The territorial division before 2016 had attached 2 departments of Normandy, those of Eure (27) and Seine-Maritime (76). Also here the division was based on the historical boundaries from the 14th and 16th century. More industrial than the lower part, it does not lack tourist interests in terms of natural spots or constructions.
The region has a coastline of 120 km, with Caen/Ouistreham, the main commercial port, linked to Portsmouth (UK). The country is full of beautiful green meadows, apple orchards, cliffs, sandy beaches and bocages, all the charming assets necessary to the Norman country. The most important cities of the department are Caen, Bayeux, Lisieux and Vire. The first one is the Côte de Nacre, the former coast of Caen, which, in addition to the D-Day beaches, has beautiful seaside resorts such as Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer, Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, Langrune-sur-Mer, Luc-sur-Mer, Lion-sur-Mer, Hermanville-sur-Mer, Colleville-Montgomery and Ouistreham. The second axis, the Côte Fleurie, referred to the apple trees in bloom in the hinterland and is now more due to the many famous seaside resorts, that maintain many gardens like: Trouville-sur-Mer, Deauville, Benerville-sur-Mer, Blonville-sur-Mer, Villers-sur-Mer, Houlgate, Dives-sur-Mer, Cabourg, Le-Hôme-Varaville, Merville-Franceville-Plage and Sallenelles, among the most important. The department offers a wide range of discoveries and activities, places full of history, sandy beaches, the Suisse Normande which attracts sportsmen and nature enthusiasts, the Pays d'Auge and its superb timber-framed manor houses and a lot of local products of AOC quality which delight all the gourmets.
In the heart of the pleasant and green Normandy, the Eure offers to culture, history and architecture amateurs a superb range of discoveries. Here, you can take the time to share and enjoy the simple pleasures of life in the greenest department of Normandy. Its 1,268 km² of forest area make it the most wooded department of the region, the rest is formed by plains and limestone plateaus, which have favored the development of agricultural crops in the Norman Vexin, the Neubourg and Saint-André plains, while livestock lands dominate in the Lieuvin, Roumois and Ouche countries. The Eure department hides treasures which, at the turn of a journey, require that we come to discover them. This is the case of the big cities such as Evreux, Les Andelys or Bernay, but also of the small cities such as Giverny, Vernon or the village of thatched cottages in Vieux Port. A short stay should be considered just for these must-sees. As for nature, this green department has all the necessary attractions to seduce the most exigent visitor. It is able to offer superb flower gardens, a Regional Natural Park of the Boucles de la Seine Normande to dream about, the Lery Poses base and the Biotropica park, the largest French zoological greenhouse, will not disappoint the young ones. As for the forest at Lyons, also called the Beech Forest of Lyons-la-Forêt, as well as the peaceful landscapes of the Vernier marsh and the valleys of the Seine or the Risle, unconditionally invite you to a bucolic walk.
It is located in the south-east of Normandy, on the Cotentin peninsula and the western end of the Normandy bocage with a 355 km coastline. The name Cotentin is given to the peninsula and to the land a little further back, ending at the tip of Cherbourg. Even though it is still largely rural, the Manche is a department mainly oriented towards cattle breeding, market gardening around Granville, Barfleur and Cherbourg, as well as fishing and tourism in the summer. The bay of Mont Saint Michel is undoubtedly the emblem of the department that dominates the horizon, while Granville can boast of its ramparts and the fishing port from where shuttles leave for the Channel Islands. Do not hesitate to visit the "Cité de la mer" in Cherbourg, a beautiful oceanographic museum where you will discover the underwater world. For those who like flowers and vegetation, the botanical and floral parks, outstanding gardens, offer an abundance of color and fragrance, thanks to the local climate that is very suitable for plants and vegetation to grow. A day trip to the Champrépus zoo is a unique and spectacular escape for families, in a 10-hectare park, with landscaped settings, combining the world of plants and wildlife. Those who are curious or passionate about the Second World War will discover Utah Beach, the only beach of the Battle of Normandy that is in the English Channel. The Manche department, with its exceptional natural heritage, from salt marshes to vast stretches of sand, from the moors and marshes of the Cotentin to the typical Normandy bocages, offers you the guarantee of a diversity of landscapes without equal, which will satisfy even the most ambitious nature-loving and discovery-oriented tourists.
The Orne forms the southern part of the Normandy region, with a part of the Perche province in the south-east. Due to its inland location, it is the only department without access to the sea. Nevertheless, it has remarkable tourist potential for several reasons. It is mainly an agricultural region, where cattle breeding for meat and dairy products occupy the countryside of Alençon and Argentan and which enables the development of green and rural tourism with several advantages. The first one is that the Orne is not polluted by industries and has preserved large natural spaces and beautiful forests, covered by the regional parks of Normandie-Maine and Perche, the Norman Switzerland crossed by the meanders of the Orne and the Alpes Mancelles by those of the Sarthe. The second advantage is the tourism of the Norman gastronomy, with the black pudding of the Perche, the tripes of La Ferté-Macé and also, the one that became a French symbol, the true Camembert of Normandy, the one made around the village of Camembert, we mustn't forget the fruit stemming from orchards and beverages like ciders, perries and the famous Calvados. The third asset, and not the least, is the cultural tourism with tours for horses and great properties with international fame such as the Haras du Pin. Its historic building, with the cathedral Notre-Dame of Sées, the Château d'O, Carrouges, Domfront and also the Hesloup astronomical observatory. While the Perche manor houses route presents its large farms with castle architecture, the Norman abbeys route invites you to a meditative stop, at the heart of the Perche forest, at Notre-Dame de la Trappe and that the Normandy lattice road will reveal you its secrets.
Seine-Maritime is the largest department of Normandy, between land and sea, with a range of panoramic views in lights and colors that are worthy of impressionism, bucolic, sports or cultural outings, it promises you an unforgettable experience. The diversity of landscapes and activities offered by the department, be it on land, on the Seine, on the sea or in the air, can leave no visitor insensitive. Go and discover Rouen, Le Havre, the ports of Dieppe, Le Tréport or Fécamp, go to the countryside, the plateaus of the Pays de Caux, the Vallée de la Bresle and the Pays de Bray and then come and share with us all your feelings. To enjoy a bit of nature and recharge your batteries, taste the flavors of the land, while walking, biking, horseback riding or driving, the Seine-Maritime region has so much to offer you in terms of walks, visits and escapades to fulfill your stay. The Côte d'Albâtre will seduce all lovers of coastal landscapes. It's famous for its unique coastline lined with high chalky cliffs. Passionate about architecture, will find what they are looking for in the superb abbeys along the Seine valley or the medieval heritage of the old Rouen. Normandy has many museums, but you can also choose to visit an amusement park such as the Bocasse Park, which is the oldest in the department and has been attracting families for several decades. The Seine Maritime has everything that is typical of the Normandy countryside, rivers, hedgerows, plains, ponds, forests... Hidden in this generous nature are castles and manors, abbeys and churches, small farms and large agricultural holdings, enough to keep you busy throughout the department.