A list of the best things to see in Normandy, France
40 different places to visit and explore in France’s historic Normandy region. From William the Conquerer to the D-Day events in 1944.
1. MUSEE DES BEAUX ARTS ET DE LA DENTELLE ALENCON
A permanent lace exhibition, featuring the famous Alencon stitch, is just one of the major attractions at Alencon’s museum. Also exhibited are French and foreign paintings (from the 15th to the early 20th century) and an amazing collection of 19th century Cambodian items. Several temporary exhibitions are organized each year (program on request).
Open: Year round – Closed on Mondays in the off season and on 1/1, 5/1, 12/25.
2. ARROMANCHES 360 at ARROMANCHES LES BAINS
Arromanches 360 takes you into the thick of the action of D Day: A film, “The Price of Freedom” mixes rare and previously unreleased footage from war correspondents D Day archives with present day pictures of France. The 360 degree projection offers an intensely emotional and unforgettable experience for all.
Open : Shows 7 days a week (shows at 10 and 40 minutes past every hour). Summer: 9:40 am to 6:40 pm; Slightly modified schedule during the off season.
3. TAPISSERIE DE BAYEUX
The Bayeux Tapestry in Normandy is an extraordinary 11th century embroidery telling the story of William the Conqueror’s expedition into England. The tapestry displays a wealth of visual details about medieval France. The famous weaving portrays the events chronologically and concludes with a gripping depiction of the Battle of Hastings, which enabled William to be crowned King of England.
Open: Year round with closings on 12/24-12/26 and 12/31-01/02
4. MUSEE MEMORIAL DE LA BATAILLE DE NORMANDIE
Located just a few minutes from the Landing Beaches and in the first allied town liberated in France, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum will undergo a complete renovation of its exhibition space during 2005. A brand new presentation is planned to open in 2006. A temporary exhibition is planned during renovations. This will include a new archive film with some never before seen D-Day footage.
Open daily May 16 – September 30 from 09.30 to 6.30.
5. MUSEE DU DEBARQUEMENT ARROMANCHES LES BAINS
This museum stands on the very site where the artificial port was installed for the D Day landings. Remains of the original can still be seen just a few hundred meters out to sea. The Mulberry (code name for the port) was a gigantic project, masterminded by Winston Churchill. The port was vital during the Battle for Caen, enabling provisions to get through to the troops fighting the Battle of Normandy. Working models, videos and projected films all help to fully understand the incredible technical challenge undertaken to construct and put into place the artificial port.
Open : Every day (closed January 1-31), 9.00 am to 7.00 pm.
6. CHATEAU DE BEAUMESNIL
Chateau and Bookbinding Museum. The superb Louis XIII baroque style chateau was built between 1633 and 1640 and is surrounded by an 80 hectare park designed by La Quitinie, assistant to Le Notre at Versailles.
The chateau’s reflection in the grounds’ many water features provide a most stunning sight. Fountains and a box tree maze add to the harmony of the scene. The chateau houses a permanent museum dedicated to the art of bookbinding from the 16th century. This is complemented by a substantial library.
Open: From Easter to September 30th, Friday to Monday 2.00 to 6.00 pm. Open every day except Tuesday in July and August.
7. CHATEAU DE BALLE ROY – MUSEE DES BALLONS BALLE ROY
Built in 1631 by the celebrated architect D. Mansart, this chateau was substantially refurbished by Malcolm Forbes when he purchased it in 1970. The chateau’s outer court features the international Balloon Museum, covering the fascinating history of ballooning.
Open daily from mid-March to mid-October, 10-6. Closed Tuesdays except in July and August, when it is open every day.
8. CENTRE JUNO BEACH at COURSEULLES-SUR-MER
Canadian forces landed on Courselles-Sur-Mer “Juno Beach” in June 1944. The Juno Beach Center remembers Canada’s role and contributions throughout World War II. The Center offers a new and innovative approach to history: a trip into the past which links the present to explain Canada today (films, interactive areas, archival sound footage, artifacts).
New in 2005: Guided visits to Juno Park.
Open daily 9.30am-7pm from 04/01 to 09/30 and 10 am to 5 pm from 10/01 to 03/31 Closed during the month of January. Canadian guides available.
9. MAISON DU PAYS D’AUGE ET DES CALVADOS CORMEILLES
Since 1820, our cellar masters have been making Calvados from the fruits of rich Normandy soil. Discover the meticulous care required during each stage of the slow process which turns apples into the amber nectar of Calvados.
Open: every day, April to October from 10am to 12:30am and from 2.30pm to 7pm.
10. MUSEE REGIONAL DE LA POTERIE GER
This is an authentic potter’s site dating back several hundred years. Retrace 500 years pottery history in Lower Normandy. See kilns which are unique in Europe, a dryer, a workshop, as well as a collection of fine Normandy pottery. A working potter explains the techniques and different stages of ceramic production.
Open: April and May: 2pm6pm. June and September: 11am-6pm. July and August: 11am-7pm.
11. PALAIS BENEDICTINE at FECAMP
Visit the museum of fine arts’ paintings, sculptures, ivory and ironwork. Take time to see, smell, touch the herbs and spices which make up the special liqueur Benedictine. Each adult is offered the tasting of a Benedictine a Normandy specialty.
Open: Open every day except for the month of January. Hours vary depending on season.
12. MAISON DE LA BAIE DU MONT-SAINT-MICHEL COURTILS
Situated close to Mont-St-Michel, the Maison de la Baie offers the fabulous history of Mont-SaintMichel Bay in an audiovisual tour. Through images, films and exhibitions, you will understand the unique natural phenomena which have given the bay its unique character. The journey will take you to an observatory from which you will get an exceptional view over Mont-St-Michel Bay.
Open: School holidays: 1 pm to 6pm. April through May: 2pm to 6pm. June and September: 10am from 6pm. July and August: 10am-7pm.
Tel : 02 33 89 66 00 – Fax: 02 33 89 66 09
13. MAISON ET JARDINS DE CLAUDE MONET at GIVERNY
Facing Monet’s house and studio, the flower garden is a dazzling palette of color and variety. The water garden with its Japanese bridge and water lilies recreates the beauty that so inspired the painter who made this area famous.
Open from 04/01/04 to 10/31 every day except Monday, from 9.30am to 6pm, open on bank Holidays.
In this medieval castle, a living reminder of the feudal history of Normandy, you can view exhibits on the art of half-timbered buildings, the music of the Middle Ages and its instruments, and the history of an oil prospecting technique developed in the Pays d’Auge.
Open: From April to September from 11am to 6pm daily. Open Sundays in October from 2pm to 6pm.
15. MUSEE D’ART AMERICAIN GIVERNY
As the center for American art in France, the museum presents a large number of exhibitions of American art of all periods, as well as a variety of related programs, including conferences, concerts, walking garden tours and more.
Open: Tues-Sun from 10am to 6pm from 04/01 to 10/31.
16. ABBAYE DE HAMBYE
This Benedictine abbey was founded in 1145 by Guillaume Paysnel, and the woodland site offers one of Normandy’s most complete monastic buildings. The sacristy, chapter house, pariour, scriptorium, kitchens, and stables have all been perfectly restored, while the abbey church remains an impressive ruin. Regular exhibitions, concerts and conferences take place at this historic site.
Open: from 04/01 to 10/31 from l0am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm. Self guided and guided tours available (last admissions at 11.30am and 5.30pm) for monastic building (closed on Tuesdays).
17. ABBAYE DE JUMIEGES MONUMENT NATIONAL
Located on a bend of the river Seine, the towers of Jumieges Abbey soar 46 meters upwards – a bit like Notre Dame transported from Paris to the countryside. The abbey, which was established in the 7th century, is a great example of Norman Romanesque art and is bordered by a park of majestic trees.
Open: all year (except 1/1, 1/5, 1/11, 11/11,25112). From 10/1 to 08/31 from 9.30am to 6.30pm. From 4/15 to 6/30 and 09/01 to 09/15 from 9.30am to 1.00pm and from 2.30pm to 6.30pm. Saturday, sunday and official holidays from 9.30am to 6.30pm. Seasonal illuminated night visits.
18. HARAS DU PIN at LE PIN-AU-HARAS
The history of man’s great passion for horses is traced over three centuries in a fine setting. This superb 18th century stud farm in Normandy houses an excellent equestrian center. Horse shows take place at 3 p.m. every Thursday from June to September. As of July 2005 there is a multimedia presentation on the horse in stable block number 1.
19. COEUR D’ABBAYES at MONTIVILLIERS
The entirely restored abbey opens a door to the past as one walks the buildings: the cloister, chapter house and 13th century dormitory shows the history of the town and of its abbey. Norman abbey architecture is explained and documented in exhibits.
Open: From 04/01 to 09/30 every day from l0 am to 6 pm. From 10/01 to 03/31 from tuesday to friday, l0am to 5pm. Saturday and Sunday 2pm to 6pm.
20. FERME-MUSEE DU COTENTIN at SAINTE-MERE-EGLISE
Normandy is famed for its specialty breeds of horse and cows. The 17th and 18th century buildings of this farm/museum celebrate this heritage. Discover the ways of life and the day-to-day activities of country dwellers, taking a look at their homes and working quarters (including a dairy, wash house, bakery, cowshed and cart wright’s workshop), A collection of tools are displayed, as are pieces of agricultural equipment and various temporary exhibitions.
Open every day in April and May and on school holidays, 2 to 6 pm; June-September 11 am to 6pm
21. CHATEAU DE VASCCEUIL – CENTRE D’ART ET D’HISTOIRE – MUSEE MICHELET
The chateau in Normandy is a center for painting and sculpture exhibits, plus special events This very special listed site includes a permanent sculpture garden with more than 50 works. The chateau attracts architecture enthusiasts to view its magnificent 17th century dovecote. A restaurant and tea room are on site.
22. ABBAYE SAINT-GEORGES DE BOSCHERVILLE SAINT at MARTIN DE BOSCHERVILLE
Built in the 12th century, Saint Georges’ Abbey is situated just 12km from Rouen in Normandy. Visitors come to admire the abbey church’s striking Norman romanesque style. The monastic gardens offer a panoramic view of the Seine valley and the entire abbey.
Open: Every day except Christmas and New Year’s. From 11/1 to 3/31, hours 2-5. From 4/01-10/31, hours from 9-6.
In this castle which still functions as a home, you will discover the world’s foremost 18th century furniture collection. Everyday 18th century life is dramatized in the kitchen with an animatronic talking cook. As of 2005, there is an exhibition of new dog-kennels. Candlelit evening and gardens illuminated on select Saturdays in July and August from 8.30pm to 11.30pm.
Open: from 05/01 to 09/30 every day from 11 am to 6pm. In April and October: Sunday and Bank holidays from 2 to 6pm.
24. CHATEAU DE CARROUGES NATIONAL MONUMENT
Built in brick and granite over successive centuries from the 14th to the 17th, this magnificent Normandy castle successfully marries medieval defenses with Renaissance elegance and Classical solemnity. The gardens, which are currently being restored, boast fine pieces of wrought iron work which date back more than 350 years. The rooms have kept their charm, thanks to the original furniture and family portraits which were acquired by the state, along with the castle itself, in 1936.
Open daily from 10am – 5pm Closed 01/01, 05/01, 11/01, 11/11,12/25
25. LE CLOS ARSENE-LUPIN-MAISON MAURICE LEBLANC ETRETAT
This fascinating attraction takes the visitor on a historical mystery tour, guided by Grognard, 19th century thief Arsene Lupin’s faithful accomplice. You will don headphones and carry an infrared camera as you are led from room to room, discovering the secrets, passions and world of the famous gentleman thief that was Arsene Lupin. The renowned thief himself invites you to visit his house and lets you into all his secrets.
Open from 04/01 to 09/30 every day from 10am to 8pm, from 10/1 to 3/31 on fridays and weekends from 11 am to 5 pm. Closed in January.
26. CHERBOURG-OCTEVILLE LA CITE DE LA MER
La Cite de la Mer in Normandy features the largest submarine open to the public, “The Redoubtable.” Visit to the ocean depths centered around an 11 meter deep aquarium, the largest in Europe. Open daily from 10am to 6pm.
27. CHATEAU GUILLAUME-LE-CONQUERANT F ALAISE
The keeps of the castle will be telling their story in a very spectacular way. The story of the medieval castle and its illustrious residents, the anglo-roman ducal kings, is brought to life by an imaginative theatrical production. Using state of the art production techniques the one hour presentation is both artistic and playful.
Open daily from 10am to 6pm Closed 12/25, 01/01 and January. Audiovisual tour available.
28. MUSEE MALRAUX LE HAVRE
A gallery of light. The gallery has always had a close association with the principal impressionist works of the Normandy coastline and the light remains the most important aspect of both the building and its exhibits. The Malraux’s permanent collection centers around works from the 17th to 20th centuries while temporary exhibitions add yet another dimension to museum.
Open every day excep Tuesdays from 11am to 6pm. Guided tours available.
29. ABBAYE DU MONT-SAINT-MICHEL MONUMENT NATIONAL
Normandy’s most visited monument. The abbey, an impregnable stronghold built on a rocky peak, is feat of medieval architecture commanding a panoramic view over the bay. Its rooms are masterpieces of bold innovation, bearing witness to the life of one of the greatest centers of Christian pilgrimage. More Mont St. Michel Information or Book a Day Tour From Paris to Mont Saint Michel.
Open: every day from from 9am to 6pm (7pm in the summer) Closed 01/01, 05/01, and 12/25
30. MEMORIAL PEGASUS RANVILLE
This new site is dedicated to the men of the 6th British Airborne Division, the first liberators to land in Normandy during the night of D-Day. In a 12,000 m’ park, the Memorial includes a new museum with an exceptional collection and the original Pegasus Bridge.
NEW: Exhibition of a full size replica of a wartime glider. A WORLD FIRST!
Open every day except (December and January) from 9.30am to 6.30pm in Summer, andb 10am to 5pm in Winter. Guided tour and archive film in english available.
31. MUSEE DES BEAUX ARTS ROUEN
One of the richest collections of paintings and sculptures from the 16th to 21st centuries open to the public. The museum houses many masterpieces of Rubens, Caravage, Velasquez, Poussin, Gericault, Delacroix, Co rot, Degas, Dufy, Modigliani, Duchamp-Villon, and the magnificent Impressionist collection of Monet, Renoir, Sisley.
Open daily from 10am to 6pm except on Tuesdays. Closed 05/01, 05/08, 05/24, 07/14, 08/15, 11 /11, 12/25, and 10/01.
32. ILE TATIHOU SAINT VAAST-LA-HOUGUE
In 1992, the Island of Tatihou in Normandy opened its doors to the public after 300 years of complex history. Tatihou is now a main reference point for Norman maritime culture. The Maritime Museum preserves and highlights its archeological collections, as well as its ethnological displays (boats and fishing equipment). The site also includes a bird watching observatory, a shipyard and marine botanical gardens.
Open: daily from 04/01 to 10/01
33. CHATEAU DE MIROMESNIL TOURVILLE-SUR-ARQUES
The quality and diversity of the facades of this chateau are of special architectural interest. Souvenirs relating to the Marquis de Miromesnil (1723/1796) and the birth of writer Guy de Maupassant (1850) add to the appeal of visiting the individual salons. The floral kitchen garden perpetrates the tradition of home grown produce and a collection of clematis grows among roses and fruits on the brick walls around it. A lovely tiny chapel, with 18th century decoration, is hidden away in the spectacular beech grove surrounding the whole estate, a residence lovingly cared for by the same family for more than sixty years.
Open: from 04/01 to 11/01
34. CHATEAU DE BIZY VERNON
Built circa 1740 for the marshall of Belle-Isle, Bizy is famous for its vast stables, the majesty of its great courtyard and the ornamental waterworks that dot its grounds. The formal rooms are decorated with 18th century woodwork, tapestries and furniture.
Open April through September 10am to 6pm. Closed on Mondays. Open weekends in March.
35. MUSEE MUNICIPAL A.-G. POULAIN VERNON
Located in an individual town house dating from 16th/18th centuries, the museum is specialized in animal art. Part of visit takes in Giverny, it displays works by Claude Monet, Pierre Bonnard. Areas dedicated to humorous drawings and archeology and local history complete the visit.
Open daily from 10:30am – 6:00pm. Closed Mondays and bank holidays.
36. CHATEAU DU CHAMP DE BATAILLE LE NEUBOURG
Situated on the Neubourg plain in Normandy, this sumptuous 17th century palace, with its roof decorated in gold and the windows in chinese red lacquer, invites us into a magical world of beauty in harmony. After much dedication and hard work, the owner Jacques Garcia has created an extraordinary French style garden. New for 2004 : “Le Grand Canal”, “Le Trésor de Léda”, “L’Allée des Sphinx”.
Chateau and Gardens are open daily from May – September 2:00pm-6:00pm. Open bank holidays and weekends in March, April and October.
37. MUSEE JEANNE D’ARC ROUEN
In the Vieux Marche square in Rouen, in the spot where Joan of Arc made history, visit a 15th century vaulted cellar displaying models, engravings, books and reconstructions. Upstairs, some 50 life size waxwork figures retell the life of Joan of Arc.
Open every day except 01/01 and 12/25
38. LE BOIS DES MOUTIERS V ARENGEVILLE -SUR-MER
Beyond the house and enclosed gardens, the park stretches down to the sea; it contains plants from all over the world: Magnolias, camelias, mixedborders, clematites, roses, vivaces, annuelles, borders, azaleas, spectacular rhododendrons, rose hydrangeas (hortensias), erables du Japan, chenes garden, jungle, Japenese maples, liquidambar, the d’Amerique, liquidambars, feeries des coloris view of the sea, autumn colours.
Open from March 15th to November 15th every day from 10am to 7:30pm
39. MUSEE ET SITES ARCHEOLOGIQUES VIEUX-LA-ROMAINE
Opened in 2002 the museum complex comprises of a museum, past archeological sites and a dig in progress – a veritable village on top of an ancient roman town. Diagrams, reconstructions and plenty of hands on experiences. Additional features include an exhibition “Future past” from June to September. Highly recommended for children.
Open Year-round Closed Wednesdays.
40. Coming Soon 😉