The Normandy region of France is a fascinating destination for visitors. It has a rich and varied history, illustrated by ancient ruins like those at Jumièges Abbey or more modern traces of the past such as the artifacts and allied cemeteries of the first and second world wars.
Base Yourself in Medieval Bayeux
The ancient town of Bayeux in Calvados makes an excellent base from which to explore Normandy’s colorful past. It is most famous for being home to the Bayeux Tapestry, which tells the story of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. However, its cobbled streets and historical center which clusters around the impressive Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux make it a charming destination in its own right.
The cathedral, a national monument, was the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry which today can be seen in the Bayeux Museum.
Also at the Bayeux Museum, you will find a chilling record of the events surrounding the Battle of Normandy. It includes the preparation of D-Day to August 29th, 1944 and the advance of Allied troops. There is a collection of military equipment, vehicles, weapons, uniforms and more. Spending an afternoon here before visiting any of the D Day beaches or allied cemeteries, makes their attendance all the more poignant.
There are many great hotels in the Bayeux area, including the exceptional five-star Villa Lara Hotel. Several Michelin recommended restaurants in the area make sure you will eat well while stationed here too.
D Day Beaches and Operation Overlord Tours of Normandy
June 6th, 2019 marks the 75th Anniversary of D Day and the Battle of Normandy. The coast is still littered with memories of this historical period and the day and weeks that followed. Gun batteries and caissons, old vehicles and damaged buildings tell their story, but the most moving markers are the war cemeteries with their acres of silent white crosses to mark the fallen.
The American Cemetary at Colleville-Sur-Mer above Omaha Beach is the largest allied war cemetery in Normandy, France. 9,387 Americans are buried here. The graves, all marked with the same simple white Italian marble headstones, are in no particular order, as traditionally, all soldiers are equal in death.
Even so, some names may be more recognizable than others. General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. is here, as are the two Niland brothers, whose tragic story was told in the movie, Saving Private Ryan.
The majority of those that lay here do so at the request of their next of kin who elected to have their loved ones laid to rest with their brothers in arms, close to where they fell. 307 of the graves are unnamed, and there are over 1,500 M.I.A.’s on the Wall of the Missing.
There are public tours of the WWI and WWII, but a more personal experience can be had by organizing a private trip. A knowledgeable expert will go with you to the D Day beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword and share factual accounts of the real people that fought and died there.
If you have relatives buried in one of the allied cemeteries, a private guide will help you locate and spend some quiet time in acknowledgment of their sacrifice.
Don’t Miss Deauville
Also in Calvados, the pretty coastal town of Deauville is an upscale holiday destination. It has been known since the 1800s for its grand casino, belle epoque villas, golf courses, half-timbered buildings, horse races, and American Film Festival.
A visit to Deauville would not be complete without a walk along Les Planches, a 1920’s style boardwalk with bathing cabins adorned with the names of famous movie stars of the day.
Impressions of Normandy
The region is rich in art history. If Normandy is the birthplace of Impressionism, Claude Monet who lived in Giverny from 1883 to 1926 is its father. Although not the first Impressionist artist, Monet became the best known and it was his painting of a sunrise, called Impression that gave the movement its name.
Today art lovers can visit Monet’s home in Giverny and see for themselves the tranquil gardens that inspired his Water Lily series.
The Normandy Impressionist Festival is a bi-annual multidisciplinary event that showcases the Impressionist movement and its links to the area through exhibitions of painting, photography, music concerts, film screenings, theatre, and dance performances,
The next one runs from April to September 2020. If you are interested in the art history of the Normandy, your travel expert will make sure that your Normandy tour itinerary includes a few key events from the Impressionist Festival.
A Taste of Normandy
Food lovers have much to enjoy here too. The apples of the area burst with flavor, and the Normans put this to good use in their apple brandy and ciders. Enjoy specialty cheeses like Camembert, Livarot and
Traditional seafood dishes of Normandy include fresh mussels and lobsters. Even the local lamb dishes are seasoned by the sea. Agneau de Pré-salé is a famous local dish made from sheep that graze on the salt marshes in front of Mont Saint Michel at low tide.
Getting the best from your tour of Normandy
Normandy is a rich tapestry of history, art, tradition, and culture. A travel expert with the right local knowledge and contacts will add a depth of experience to your trip that is simply not possible to find in any other way. Your custom designed travel itinerary for Normandy will be as individual as you are.
First, discuss the aspects of Normandy that interest you the most. Decide how many days you want to spend then sit back and let our experienced France travel experts custom plan an itinerary for you.
More Things To Do in France
France is an amazing holiday destination. For couples, or families, honeymooners , groups or solo travelers, there is something special for everyone. Unless you are very familiar with the country, you might not even be aware of all the wonderful things you can do in France. But that’s where a Trekerie travel expert comes in.
You tell us about your likes and preferences and any information about your trip to make it extra special, and then leave it up to France travel experts to design the perfect itinerary – just for you.
France has many excellent five star hotels, but there is a select few that are given an even higher accolade, called Palace Hotels. Le Meurice, Le Royal Monceau Raffles and the Shangri-La Paris are all great examples of this exclusive breed.
There is so much to see in this beautiful city; great works of art and art collections and magnificent examples of architectural styles that span back through the centuries. The right private guide will bring your Art and Architecture tour of Paris to life with tales of the lives and times of the artists whose work you admire.
Dining Out in Paris
You will build up a good appetite as you roam the city’s famous galleries and where better to satisfy your hungry than in Paris, one of the greatest culinary destinations in the world. Street cafes, patisseries, salon du the and fabulous five-star Michelin starred restaurants, all await your pleasure.
If you are in Paris to see it’s wonderful collection of old masters, then you must send at least one night in Montemarte where the spirit of many artists and writers lives on including Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Salvador Dali