Things to do/see in Normandy
August 8, 2013 1:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Normandy for a week in August - staying near Caen and then near Cherbourg. Besides all the D-Day sites, does anyone have any good suggestions for things to see /do? Thanks

Any sights, scenery, restaurants that anyone can recommend?
posted by DamPots to Travel & Transportation around Normandy, MO (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Bayeux Tapestry is between Caen and Cherbourg and well worth seeing.

Mont St Michel is about 2 hours south of Cherbourg, but I thought it was awesome and well worth the drive.
posted by chrispy108 at 2:01 AM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Find, and drink, farmhouse cider.
posted by mr vino at 4:04 AM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Came here to suggest the Bayeux Tapestry and cider, and I've been beaten to both!

The Bayeux Tapestry truly is remarkable. Don't miss the video that explains the history/background as well since it will make looking at the actual embroidery that much richer of an experience.

With your cider, try a savory crepe as well. Enjoy your trip!
posted by fantine at 5:27 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you'd like to make your Mont-Saint-Michel trip a little more special, I'd suggest making a dinner reservation (or an overnight, although it sounds like you have lodging all locked up), at Le Manoir de la Roche Torin. There, you'll eat the regional delicacies like pré salé, but you'll do so looking out over Mont-Saint-Michel in the distance. Dinnertime, coinciding with sunset, is absolutely magical.

St. Malo is also said to be lovely. Haven't ever been but it's always floated as a wonderful place to go. Someday!

I would also seek out some opportunity to sample the regional flavors. Someone already suggested cidre, but also calvados and Camembert are protected names produced in the Normandy region. It would really be a shame to miss seeing some of those options. One way to do that - if a distillery tour or cheese cave tour isn't your thing - would be to look into when the farmer's market is in Caen and Cherbourg. Even if you're not staying at a place where you can cook with the local delicacies, many you can just enjoy right then and there. might be helpful in that regard.

If you're not familiar with visiting France (you appear to be European so I suspect this is superfluous advice, but maybe helpful for someone who is someday researching their own vacation in Normandy), there is a bit of basic travel information that will help you enjoy the place most fully. Very nearly every single town of more than like 12 people has a Tourism Office (Office de Tourisme), usually located in or near the centre ville (town center). The folks there have no purpose but to make sure you see the things in their region that are worth seeing. And many of them speak English and other languages. So don't be afraid to ask for suggestions. Pre-planning is great, but sometimes the best stuff happens out of pure serendipity.
posted by jph at 5:29 AM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Honfleur is a beautiful town and worth the 1h drive from Caen if you visit a few other places on the way.
posted by rom1 at 6:18 AM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

There were some good suggestions in a similar question I asked a while back.
posted by Liesl at 6:34 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Forgot about St. Malo but yes, it's fantastic. If you end up there, don't miss the extremely odd bar decorated with hundreds of dolls. The bar stools are swings (good luck with that after a couple of drinks).

Yes, the reviews on TripAdvisor are shit but you're not going there for the service.
posted by fantine at 7:09 AM on August 8, 2013

Nthing St. Malo and Honfleur. Have you considered Guernsey and Jersey? Not cheap, but interesting historically, and very beautiful.
posted by Capri at 7:55 AM on August 8, 2013

Le Havre is picturesque, and Rouen has some great architecture and museums. Nthing Mont St. Michel.
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 9:05 AM on August 8, 2013

Cancale is known as the oyster capital of Brittany, and you can go straight to the beach wall and buy and eat wickedly good inexpensive fresh oysters there. Worth a side trip for just that reason if it is on your way in between places.
posted by coevals at 1:06 PM on August 8, 2013

If you pass through Caen, consider a visit to the Peace Museum.
posted by tully_monster at 8:25 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Menhirs and Dolmens.
posted by whuppy at 7:05 AM on August 9, 2013

Also: for tours of battlefields and major WWI/WWII campaign areas, I strongly recommend the Major and Mrs. Holt's Battlefield series--their guide to the D-Day landings (available on Kindle) will help you spot some interesting memorials in the public squares and churches of towns through which you pass.

I loved Normandy and would return in a heartbeat, given the opportunity. Such a beautiful region, with lots of lovely small towns and villages and a magnificent coastline. The American tourists we encountered there seemed mostly to be of a higher, more serious caliber than the typical American in Paris, and the local residents apparently have long memories and treated us very kindly.

Thirding the cider and adding Calvados and salted caramels (which are everywhere these days, but the originals come from around Isigny). And the wonderful seafood, of course.

I will never forget that visit...
posted by tully_monster at 9:31 PM on August 13, 2013

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