Normandy France Travel Guide: Top 6 Things To See & Do in Normandy

mont saint michel
“With a rich history, stunning coastline, beautiful scenery, and poignant memorials, Normandy is as impressive as it is varied.”

Normandy boasts a varied landscape full of summertime seaside resorts, dramatic cliffs, peaceful valleys, and untouched countryside. In addition, Normandy also has a rich history with imposing castles, idyllic churches, rustic fishing villages, medieval towns, and World War II memorials. With something for nature lovers, water sport enthusiasts, and medieval/modern history buffs alike, there is so much to do in Normandy.

To make sure that you get the most out of your adventure in Normandy, let us explore the best historical sites, tourist attractions, and hidden gems that you simply cannot miss, along with some insider top tips.

Top Things To See & Do In Normandy, France

Mont Saint-Michel

mont saint-michel

A tiny island and mainland commune, Mont-Saint-Michel really is tiny, with an estimated population of just 30 living on the island. Despite its size, this island is drenched in history and contains some of the most beautiful attractions and sights in all of France. Laying just a few hundred metres from land, many pilgrims have walked across the silt to Mont-Saint-Michel at low tide for centuries. However, you’ll be glad to know that it is now accessible by a purpose-built bridge.

Mont Saint-Michel in Pictures

mont saint michel high tide night
Mont Saint-Michel at Night with High Tide
Cemetary at Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre
Cemetary at Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre
mont saint michel from above
Aerial Shot of Mont Saint-Michel
mont saint michel low tide night
Mont Saint-Michel at Low Tide
La Grand Rue on Mont Saint-Michel
La Grand Rue on Mont Saint-Michel
mont saint michel from above
Aerial Shot of Mont Saint-Michel From Far Away

Things to See & Do in Mont Saint-Michel

1. Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey

mont saint michel abby shown from above

The Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, or Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel, is what everyone goes to the island to see. The abbey is very impressive, and interestingly has had a monastic presence on the site since as early as the 8th century. We recommend you take the guided tour to learn about the history within the walls. Also, make sure to take some time to really enjoy the views, explore the abbey, and stroll through the beautiful courtyards.

2. Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre

Cemetary at Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre

When you are walking up the abbey, why not take a stop off at the Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre, a quaint and peaceful chapel halfway up the mount. This small chapel oozes tranquility and can be a much-needed space to regain a sense of peace away from the large crowds of tourists. For a hidden gem that is even more off the beaten track, check out La Chapelle-Saint-Aubert.

3. La Grande Rue

la grand rue mont saint-michel

La Grande Rue is the main street in Mont-Saint-Michel and is something out of a fairy tale or story book. To admire its beauty when it is less crowded by tourists, walk down the street at dusk or during the off-season. It is also very steep, so remember to wear sensible shoes.

Mont Saint-Michel in Video

Caen Memorial Museum

caen memorial outside

The Caen Memorial Museum is dedicated to the Battle at Normandy and the Normandy Landings, including a war memorial for those who suffered in the Battle for Caen and World War II. Here are some expert insider tips for making the most out of your trip to the Caen Memorial Museum.

Caen Memorial Museum in Pictures

spitfire in caen memorial museum
Spitfire in the Caen Memorial Museum
gun tied in knot
Gun Tied in a Knot Outside The Caen Memorial Museum
caen memorial outside
Outside the Caen Memorial Museum

Tips for Visiting the Caen Memorial Museum

1. Start your D-Day Sightseeing Tour Here

outside caen memorial museum

Caen Memorial Museum is often considered the best place to start any D-Day sightseeing tour. However, this means that it can often be very busy with tourist groups in the morning. Even when it is busy you should not expect to queue for longer than around half an hour, although it can become quite crowded inside.

2. When To Visit (and when to avoid)?

spitfire in caen memorial arena

If you wish to avoid the crowds or are not doing a full D-Day sightseeing tour, it gets much quieter in the afternoon, especially after 3pm. As tourist groups are more prevalent during the week, it is also best to visit on a weekend to avoid large crowds. The busiest times of the year are usually in summer, but there are also lots of school trips around May. Check school vacation times to prepare for how crowded the museum might be at that time of year before visiting.

Caen Memorial Museum in Video

Omaha D-Day Landing Beach and Museum

normandy beach with allied equipment

Omaha Beach is the location of one of the most amazing battles in World War II. Sadly, it was also the site that faced one of the largest numbers of casualties. In 1944, American, Canadian, English, and French troops landed on the beach as part of Operation Overlord. Visiting Omaha Beach can be an emotional yet once-in-a-lifetime experience that is drenched in history.

Omaha D-Day Landing Beach and Museum in Pictures

d-day equipment on normandy beach
D-Day Equipment on Normandy Beach
cliffs along omaha beach
Cliffs Along Omaha Beach
american cemetery near normandy coast
Aerial Shot of American Cemetery, Normandy France
aerial view of omaha beach memorial museum
Aerial View of Omaha Beach Memorial Museum

Things to See & Do at Omaha D-Day Landing Beach and Museum

1. Omaha Beach

omaha beach normandy

Visit the beach itself, which is dotted with the remains of German bunkers. On the shore you will find an imposing sculpture aptly called ‘The Brave’, which was created to honour the courage and sacrifice of those who faced danger during the war.

2. Omaha Beach Memorial Museum

aerial view of omaha beach memorial museum

The front of this museum blends into the horizon of the beach with an infinity pool, becoming an extension of the beach itself, that allows you to immerse yourself and reflect on its history. Omaha Beach Memorial Museum has an impressive display of military uniforms, vehicles, and objects from WWII. Much of the collection will leave you to ponder the effects and sufferings of the fighting, the most poignant being a well-loved teddy bear that was owned by a child caught up in the war.

3. Pay your respects at the Normandy American Cemetery

american cemetery omaha beach normandy

Above Omaha Beach you will find the Normandy American Cemetery, which lays rest to almost 10,000 American soldiers who lost their lives in the battle for Normandy. Take your time to reflect on the graves and pay your respects before winding down to the beach to imagine how courageous they must have been.

Omaha D-Day Landing Beach and Museum in Video


coastline near etretat france

Étretat is one of Normandy’s most picturesque coastal towns, known for its chalk cliffs and representation in many famous pieces of art over the years. Whether you prefer the popular sandy beaches or hidden gems, Étretat has something for everyone.

Étretat in Pictures

aerial view of etretat coastline
Aerial View of the Étretat Coastline
natural rock arch near etretat
Closeup of Natural Rock Arch near Étretat
coastline near etretat france
The Stunning Coastline near Étretat in Normandy Étretat
Notre Dame de la Garde on Normady Coast
Notre Dame de la Garde on near Étretat
etretat old town
Étretat Anglo-Norman Old Town

Things to See & Do in Étretat

1. Étretat Cliffs

coastline near etretat france

The impressive, grand, white, chalky cliffs in Étretat make for some of the most magical views. Its cliffs include three naturally formed arches and a pointed formation known as L’Aiguille, or the Needle. The Needle rises 230ft above the sea, and some of the cliffs are as high as 300ft. There is no wonder why this area has inspired many famous artists, including as many as 80 works by Claude Monet.

2. Anglo-Norman Old Town

sunrise calvi citadel

The Old Town in Étretat is the perfect place to explore while taking a leisurely stroll and can be a nice place of solace when the beaches are very crowded. The Old Town has some fantastic examples of Anglo-Norman half-timbered houses and architecture, some of which have intricate wooden decorations on their roofs, pillars, and beams.

3. Notre Dame de la Garde

sunrise calvi citadel

For the best views of Étretat, climb to the Notre Dame de la Garde chapel. Though this chapel is relatively new, dating from 1950, it replaces a seafarers’ chapel that was destroyed by WWII in 1942. From here you will get unrivalled views of the chalk cliffs.

Étretat in Video

Château de Fontaine-Henry

Château de Fontaine-Henry

The Château de Fontaine-Henry is a stunning Renaissance property that has been passed down in the same family for over 800 years. With one of the highest castle roofs in France, the magnificent wonder of the Château de Fontaine-Henry is an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

Château de Fontaine-Henry in Pictures

Château de Fontaine-Henry
Château de Fontaine-Henry
Château de Fontaine-Henry Tour
Tour of Château de Fontaine-Henry

Things to See & Do at Château de Fontaine-Henry

1. Play an Old Game

Château de Fontaine-Henry

The grounds of the Château de Fontaine-Henry boast around thirty old games that are installed for the public to use. If you are feeling a bit more daring, attempt to escape or simply stroll around the human-sized labyrinth. Whilst in the grounds, take a moment to admire the richly sculpted façade of the château.

2. Take a Guided Tour

Château de Fontaine-Henry tour

The interior of the Château de Fontaine-Henry can only be visited on a guided tour, which lasts for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour and a half. The tour will take you through the lounges on the ground-floor, to the fine furniture and antique paintings of the upper floors, and also include a visit to the seigniorial chapel from the 13th and 16th centuries.

Château de Fontaine-Henry in Video

Côte Fleurie

Côte Fleurie Flowered Coastline

The Côte Fleurie, or ‘Flowery Coast’ is a 25 mile stretch of coastline forming the Lower Normandy coast that runs between Merville-Franceville-Plage and Honfleur along the English Channel. The Côte Fleurie also includes the Côte de Grace and Dives-sur-Mer. This coastline has a number of long sandy beaches, imposing cliffs, and flowering countryside.

Côte Fleurie in Pictures

traditional homes on deauville beach
Traditional Homes on Deauville Beach
flowered coastline Côte Fleurie
Flowered Coastline of Côte Fleurie
honfleur harbour
Honfleur Harbor in Normandy France
section of bayeaux tapestry
Section of the Bayeux Tapestry
villa strassburger deauville france
Villa Strassburger, Deauville, France
saint catherine church, honfleur, france
Saint Catherine Church, Honfleur, France

Things to See & Do along the Côte Fleurie

1. Deauville

traditional homes on deauville beach

Deauville is the closest seaside resort to Paris and so rose to prominence as a fashionable holiday resort for the international upper class. To this day it hosts glamorous events such as polo matches, horse racing and the Deauville American Film Festival, as well as being home to two world-class golf courses and many high-end hotels. Don’t miss the famous wooden boardwalk and seawater swimming pool.

2. Honfleur

honfleur harbor normandy

In contrast to the prestigious Deauville is the rustic and authentic seaport of Honfleur, with picturesque streets and colorful cafes. The old harbour at the heart of Honfleur, Vieux Bassin, is particularly well known for its iconic narrow, tall, colorful timber-framed houses.

3. The Musée de las Tapisserie de Bayeux

section of the bayeux tapestry

The main attraction of the Musée de las Tapisserie de Bayeux is of course the 230 feet long Bayeux Tapestry, but there is much more to the museum, too. It really is a must-see attraction along the Côte Fleurie. The museum is usually closed during January every year so double check the opening hours before planning your visit.

Bayeux near Côte Fleurie in Video