France's northwestern region of Normandy is hiding some of the best sights and landmarks the country has to offer, and it's one of the top spots for holiday makers every year. Here are just some of the many reasons why you should visit this year!
10 reasons to visit Normandy this year
Easily accessible either by ferry, flight, train or car from the UK, Normandy is the perfect place for a light but adventurous summer holiday. From a long, rich history to some of the best cider in France, this French region comprised of 5 départements has everything to offer. Normandy has large cities, smaller towns and quiet villages alongside stunning national parks and a rugged coastline looking out onto the English channel. Spend your holiday getting to know more about a new area of France, whose name comes from Viking settlement!
On the coast of the farthest west border of Normandy, a small tidal island stands proudly, protected by UNESCO and connected by a low-lying bridge to the mainland. Mont-Saint-Michel is a commune, home to a monastery that has existed since the 8th century, and its fortifications have allowed it to survive through many wars, leaving it in amazing condition to this day. The commune is inhabited permanently by only around 50 people, most of whom are monks and nuns. It is visited every year by millions of tourists and has remained one of France's main landmarks for decades. As well as the monastery and abbey, the island has shops, restaurants and cafés, and visitors can even stay overnight in one of the few hotels.
Étretat, positioned on the centre of the chakly Norman coastline, is a must-see not only for photographers, but for art lovers too. The stunning, white Cliffs of Étretat we're the subject of many paintings by Claude Monet, and the iconic arches can be seen in most of his pieces completed in this little coastal town. The town of Étretat is fairly small, so it's best visited on a day trip from a larger town or city in the region. Visitors can either walk the high cliff path, offering fantastic views of the cliffs and the surrounding area, or they can head down onto the white pebble beach and dip their toes into the chilly waters of the channel.
Giverny is perhaps one of the prettiest and most visually satisfying places you will ever visit. Situated right on the southeast corner of Normandy, and only about an hour and a half's drive from Paris, this town is most famous for Monet's house and gardens. As you stroll through these luscious gardens, you will be able to stand in the exact spots from which Monet painted his incredibly famous "Water Lilies" collection. The outstanding beauty of the house and gardens has been immaculately preserved over the years, thanks to the Fondation Claude Monet and the money received from entrance fees and donations.
Rouen is the capital and largest city of Normandy, with a population of over 100,000. The city is along on the banks of the Seine, in the northeast of the region. Things to see in Rouen include the vast, gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, and the old astronomical clock in the Rue du Gros-Horloge, which dates back to the 14th century. Rouen Castle is also frequently visited as it was the location of Joan of Arc's torturing in the 15th century, as well as the Place du Vieux Marché, which is believed to be the site on which she was burned at the stake. On top of its rich history, Rouen is full of modern restaurants, cafés and bars, as well as several museums and a beautiful Opera house.