I feel I really only got a glimpse of what this diverse region of France has to offer because the few places I did visit during my time in Normandy were fantastic. Below are some of the highlights!
Camembert was the first stop on two weeks worth of a largely cheese and wine filled diet while in France.
(Funny side note, while French women may not get fat, this was certainly not the case for me. I actually gained more weight here than in Italy with the combination of pastries, crepes and fresh breads this country has to offer. I left with not a single food related regret though.)
My group kicked this half month of eating with a visit to La Maison du Camembert or the Camembert Museum to sample some of their goods, in the process learning a bit about the cheese itself.
Camembert originated in 1791 and is now sold around the world. It can only be called as such when it was made in this region of France, otherwise it’s not true camembert which I found interesting. The museum is quite small and you can see everything in about half an hour max.
There is of course, a small shop on site and we purchased camembert alongside some local cider, which came in two varieties of pear and apple. This was lunch for the day and it was amazing.
Entrance to the Camembert museum
Next up was a stop in Arromanches, which is where the D-Day landing occured on 6 June, 1944 during WW2.
The beaches here are the location of the Allies invasion into German occupied France, and the battle was a key event in bringing down the Nazi hold on Western Europe and ultimately the end of the war.
A visit to the Musée du Débarquement or D-Day Museum is a must do. Besides the standard museum expectation of information on the event itself and the nations which took part, my favourite aspect of it was the 360 degree movie production that is screened inside.
The filmmakers manage to create a production which really makes you imagine the scenes which would’ve taken place in this very location many years ago.
The scenery in Arromanches is rather pretty and there’s a small amount of stores around, but it’s hard not to imagine the bloody past of this place on the same beaches which now seem so tranquil.
Bayeux was the town my tour stayed in for a night and it was lovely, I’d definitely stay another day if I was here by myself.
We just made it in time to visit the Bayeux tapestry before the viewing closed for the day. Who wants to see a tapestry you might think, I know I posed the question! Let me just say, I had no expectation of it and I was blown away.
This tapestry is about 70 metres in length and has been mentioned in history as far back as the 1400s. It is believed William the Conqueror’s wife was commissioned to create it along with her ladies in waiting. The tapestry tells the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings and marks the Normans victory over England.
When you see it today, it is ridiculously well preserved with colours that are so vibrant for its age. Understandably, no photos are allowed but google it and trust that it’s worth a look!
The Bayeux War Cemetery is one of the largest of its kind in France and contains over 4000 graves from soldiers of all nationalities. It is a somber site to behold.
Pictures from Bayeux
Fun fact – the Mont Saint-Michel is featured in the Bayeux tapestry and was the final place I visited in the Normandy area.
I don’t know how, but I had never heard of this UNESCO heritage site before which is crazy since it’s such a massive drawcard for tourists when in France!
On that note, Mont Saint-Michel is an island located close to shore but it’s not large, so the place gets pretty crowded during peak season. You can walk to it across a bridge or there are buses which will take you to the entrance.
It has an interesting past, having been used as a prison during the French revolution and by its nature and fortifications, as a defensive post throughout history too.
For the best vantage point, there’s an abbey and monastery at the top of the Mont, which are not only worth seeing themselves but the views from here are great too.