Heading from Paris to Normandy, you will pass by Giverny – a very small town located an hour's drive from Paris or CDG airport. This is where the Impressionist painter Claude Monet spent the last years of his life.
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The Normandy Coast
Following the coast east from Honfleur, you will reach Deauville – famous for the American Film Festival and its beachside boardwalk. Deauville is a touristy town - we prefer some of the more typical beach resorts, such as the more laid-back Trouville-sur-Mer just next-door to Deauville. We always recommend the most typical, authentic places to visit to our travelers.
The Normandy Backcountry
A few miles inland, Pont-l'Évêque is famous for its creamy cheeses, which include the famous Livarot, Pont l’Evêque and Camembert cheeses. The Norman hinterland is covered with apple orchards used to make Normandy's famous apple cider and Calvados apple brandy. To discover Normandy must sees and hidden beauties, check out our Normandy self-drive itineraries.
Towns to visit in Normandy
Caen is the main city in the area. The Caen War Memorial museum is very interesting and deserves a visit. It will be of special interest to history lovers or people who are retracing their ancestors’ footsteps. Unfortunately Caen experienced heavy bombing during World War II so not much of the old town remains. However, its neighbor city Bayeux has a beautiful old town with half-timbered houses and the gorgeous Bayeux Cathedral. This is a great base from which to explore the sites of the World War II Normandy Invasion as well as the Norman backcountry. You should also check out the Bayeux Tapestry that depicts the Norman Invasion of Britain in 1066, and dates back to the 11th century.
The World War II Normandy landings beaches
Omaha Beach is a 20-minute drive from Bayeux. Most of the main World War II Normandy landing sites - that is, those that were key to the success of Operation Overlord - are about an hour's drive from Bayeux. Right behind Omaha Beach is the US Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer and towards west is the strategic Pointe du Hoc cliff. If you keep driving west you will get to Utah Beach and Sainte Mere Eglise. The British and Canadian Beaches - Sword Beach and Juno Beach - are located on the eastern part of the coast between Bayeux and Deauville.
From Mont Saint Michel to Brittany
About 1h30 from Bayeux towards the South-West is one of the most visited places in France Mont Saint Michel – a town built on a rock in a bay at the border between Normandy and Brittany. Not far from Mont Saint Michel, we recommend a visit to some of Brittany's typical ports. Here you'll find granite-stone houses and gorgeous seaside sceneries. Saint Malo is a must-see, but there are also smaller places such as Cancale where you can really immerse yourself in the ambiance of Brittany.