Europe is filled with places that are artistic, beautiful, historic, and amazing. One place that is all of those things is Normandy. Sitting on the English Channel in North West France, Normandy has a rich history and several sites that no traveler should skip over. Normandy is the perfect stop to make when traveling from England to France. You can take a ferry from Portsmouth to Caen which will show you all that the beautiful English Channel has to offer. When you get there here are some of the best things that you can see and do.
Visit the D-Day Beaches
If you’re like me, you hear the D-Day beaches and can only remember the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. I promise the beaches are not as grim as they were on that day. This once focal point of WWII, which its take over by allied forces is a highlight of the war, is now one of the best places for travelers to go to. For one reason, its free. Anyone can walk onto any of the five beaches that, collectively, make up the D-Day beaches. These beaches are Juno, Sword, Gold, Omaha, or Utah. As you walk the 50-mile stretch of beach (maybe take a couple of days?) there are museums, monuments, soldier cemeteries, and and different bomb shelters that you can visit. This is bound to be a moving experience for not only history buffs, but everyone. Tours are available if you would like a little more direction during your visit.
Go to the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Rouen
This cathedral was, at one point from 1876-1880, the tallest building in the world. The cathedral is comprised of two towers that stand tall against the French sky. The cathedral became famous for the way that it changed in the light. So much so, that famous impressionist Claude Monet would study the cathedral for hours on end and it became the subject of many of his works and influenced the way he painted changes of light. If it was marvelous enough for Monet, it is definitely marvelous enough for me! Beauty is not the only reason to take a visit, inside the cathedral is the tomb of Richard the Lion Heart. And again, the best part about this site is that it is free.
See Claude Monet’s House and Gardens
The impressionist artist painted most of his work inside his Normandy home. Much of the house has been preserved in fantastic condition. This allows visitors to get as close as they can to seeing exactly what Monet saw during his days painting. And taking a walk outside can show you just where Monet got his inspiration for his Japanese Bridge and Water Lilies paintings. Without his garden, Monet would not have produced some of the best impressionist work of his era. The house and gardens are only open for tours from April to November. So plan your trip to Normandy during those months to make sure that you won’t miss out on this treasure. Tours cost about 8 euros or 11 USD.
What are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Normandy today and use these three stops as jumping off points into your next adventures!