Normandy offers a wealth of opportunities for those armed with a strong curiosity for history and culture. The region’s remarkably rich history, natural scenery, unique local customs and way of life mean that anyone in search of Normandy tours that focus on niche topics or attractions will not likely come away disappointed.
With that in mind, we design bespoke tours of the region that are truly unique and unforgettable: ones that will allow you to experience a region the history of which goes back over a millennia, to at least 911AC. Plunging into centuries of tradition and events both beautiful and terrible, you’ll encounter Normandy’s past firsthand. This region is also perfect for a romantic getaway or honeymoon: take a peek at this wonderful bespoke stay we organised for past clients.
Read Related: Luxurious Things to Do in Normandy.
Considered one of the great wonders of the Western world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is certainly one of the most iconic places in France. At once a medieval village, abbey and an astounding natural site, Mont Saint Michel is surrounded by water at certain times of the day, meaning it can only be accessed at low tide. This also means that you can visit it at several times of the day and experience something remarkably different, witnessing how the scenery changes with the tides. The sea, sun, sand and clouds play hide and seek, making for unforgettable memories (and photo ops, of course..) Why not surprising your sweetheart with a romantic proposal in this magical place ? Find out why the Mont Saint-Michel should be on your bucket list.
Historical Normandy tours will allow you to plunge into the tragic and moving past of a region that played a major role in WWII. Many who have never set foot on any of the Normandy beaches know their names, which have been forever inscribed in history books, never to be forgotten. Remains of that fateful time may be contemplated here and there by the budding historian and visitor, who can take in the living history of memorial sites.
Meanwhile, the independent islands of Jersey and Guernsey, lying offshore, are the only part of the Great Britain to have been occupied by the Nazi army. And after the war, it goes without saying that vast reconstruction work was necessary in Normandy, especially in Caen and Le Havre where the devastation from bombing was extreme. Visiting these reconstructed cities and their interesting new architecture is a sobering reminder of all that was destroyed.
Many celebrated artists have settled in Normandy, in part to make the most of the beauty of the rolling countryside and the dazzling landscapes studded with flowering plants and trees. Claude Monet was one of these: he left his indelible mark on the art of the nineteenth and twentieth century. One of France’s great colourists of the twentieth century, Camille Hilaire, also lived not far from Normandy. Each of these artists, in his own special way, has brought the beauty of the region into his work. You can’t fail to smile when contemplating a Normandy-inspired scene by Hilaire: its atmosphere abounds in joy and peace. Meanwhile, Monet’s paintings depicting Normandy towns such as Pourville and its dramatic seaside cliffs are sublimely beautiful, and visiting his house and gardens at Giverny is an absolute must for anyone with an interest in the artist’s work.
Are you seeking a truly original Normandy tour? For those interested in “old stones”, or megaliths, you certainly won’t be disappointed: the region is peppered with these monuments to early European history. It is here too that you can find the Gouy Cave, with its prehistoric inscriptions dating from the Magdalenian period. This is the oldest northern cave and prehistoric art of its kind in Europe.
In addition to sumptuous natural landscapes and quaint countryside, the region boasts a plethora of architecturally interesting buildings, which stand as testaments to a world long-gone. Allow yourself to be transported back in time on the wave of your imagination. Over the centuries, the land has become the workplace of enthusiastic archaeologists, whose digs have unearthed objects dating to long-forgotten periods. These objects are preciously preserved in the numerous museums throughout the region. One of those is the world’s most celebrated embroidery that depicts the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066 from an unashamedly Norman perspective. The well-preserved cartoon strip tells the dramatic, bloody tale with verve and vividness as well as some astonishing artistry. Particularly incredible are its length – nearly 70m long – and fine attention to detail.
In Normandy, there is one star product that outweighs them all: the humble apple. You can drink or eat it: raw, cooked, caramelized, in a tart, a salad, or with poultry. Apple liqueur, or Calvados, is of course the official regional libation of choice and tradition.
As a destination of wide-open fields perfect for grazing cattle, and a coastal location for the easy sourcing of fresh fish, the cuisine of Normandy is defined by its high-quality dairy produce and array of seafood dishes. Butter and crème fraîche are generously used in most dishes, and of course, there is the Camembert and a huge variety of delicious cheeses. The region is also acclaimed for its orchards, with is apples largely used in desserts and for the production of cider and calvados. Try the famous digestif ‘Trou Normand’ between courses!
But gastronomy in Normandy offers much more, too: incredibly fresh fish and shellfish supplied by the region’s large fishing harbours. World- famous Normandy cream and butter, and of course, Camembert cheese. This region has, moreover, served as a bread basket for Paris, supplying the best dairy products, beef and produce.
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