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Sightseeing in Normandy

Historic Site
“What can one say? Many ways to get there. Bus. Horse drawn carriage. By foot. Also guided walking tours across the bay to the Mont (prepare to get wet in the process). A unique experience. ”
257local recommendations
“Situés dans un ancien fort dont les bastions offrent une vue exceptionnelle sur la mer, le port et la ville basse. Les Jardins suspendus proposent un voyage botanique à travers différents jardins.”
32local recommendations
“Utah Beach is one of the two American landing zones in Normandy. This beach was created by British general Bernard Montgomery who wished to establish a beachhead directly in the Cotentin peninsula in order to capture Cherbourg faster, because of its deep water harbor and its major logistic importance.”
40local recommendations
Historic Site
“This really surpassed our expectations. The story of the D Day landings is beautifully captured - you can walk into the bomb craters and shelters. Fantastic views too. ”
30local recommendations
“This medieval castle is enormous and fascinating. The audio commentary describes the history of Brittany as well as the castle. A great place to visit.”
14local recommendations
Historic Site
“ Don't miss the wonderful experience that is visiting this castle. Children and adults alike will love it.”
27local recommendations
Historic Site
“Original pour apprendre l'histoire de Jeanne d'Arc. An original scenography for who may want to learn more about Joan of Arc”
13local recommendations
Historic Site
“The moulin is ideally located central to many historical and other delights. Two abbeys worth visiting are l’abbaye de Hambye and l’abbaye de la Lucerne. L’Abbaye de Hambye A beautiful 12th C ruined Benedictine abbey set, like the moulin, in the valley floor of the Sienne. There are often activities, generally with a medieval theme. You will need to check at the boutique for what is on offer from week to week. There are also lots of walks around the immediate area for the more adventurous. Brief history of the abbey The Abbey of Notre Dame of Hambye was founded around 1145 by William Painel, Lord of Hambye, and Algare, bishop of Coutances. The monastery was established by Benedictine monks from Tiron (Perche region in south-east of Basse-Normandie). Fuelled by an ideal of rigor and austerity close to that of Cistercians, Benedictine monks built a sober and elegant abbey, typical of the early Gothic period. The construction took place in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The religious community reached its apogee in the 13th century and then, after a long decline over the following centuries, disappeared in the 1780s. Like all French abbeys, it became national property at the beginning of the Revolution. Eventually, the abbey was sold in 1790. The new owners transformed or destroyed buildings and scattered the furnishings. Having belonged to the abbey for three centuries (16th-18th centuries), the altarpiece was also sold. The convent buildings became farm buildings. The abbey church was used as a quarry from 1810 and was gradually dismantled. Getting there L’Abbaye de la Lucerne (Abbaye Sainte-Trinité de La Lucerne) This Abbaye is about 25-30 mins away near La Lucerne-d'Outremer. It has some beautiful grounds with a 14th C moulin and an aqueduct. Church services are still held there. Reconstruction has been carried since 1959. Brief history of the abbey The abbey was founded in 1143 by Hasculf de Subligny, son of Othoerne, the tutor of William Adelin, both of whom perished in the White Ship disaster of 1120, and later had the support of the English crown. The new monastery was settled from Dommartin Abbey near Hesdin. The foundation stone of the permanent buildings was laid in 1164 by Achard of St. Victor, who was later buried here. Construction lasted from 1164 to 1178 and was in the Romanesque style, in the restrained and sober manner of Cistercian architecture, except that the complex was dominated by an Anglo-Norman Gothic tower. La Lucerne was the mother-house of four other Premonstratensian monasteries: Ardenne Abbey, Mondaye Abbey and Belle-Étoile Abbey (at Cerisy-Belle-Étoile) in Normandy, and Beauport Abbey in Brittany. Major structural renovations were carried out in the 15th and 17th centuries. During the French Revolution, in 1792, the abbey was suppressed. Its buildings were at first turned into a cotton mill and then used as a source of stone. Getting there Coutances Coutances sits on a 700 million years’ old volcano! Once called Cosedia, the capital of the Celtic Unelles was renamed Constantia in the 4th century AD, in homage to the Roman emperor Flavius Constantius Chlorus (father of Constantine the Great). Variations of the name appeared at various times: Constantia (~400), Constances (1210), Coustances (1283 and again in 1437), Constances (1497 and 1608), Coutances (1631). Roman name derivation is rare in France. Although a great many cities and towns were founded, named or re-named by the Romans when they occupied Gaul (France) for around 500 years from the time Julius Caesar finally defeated Vercingetorix at the Battle of Alesia in 52 BC , most lost their Roman titles after the Romans left. When the Romans left in 486 AD , most city names were often changed to reflect the names of the Gallic tribes that occupied that region. Some (such as our local town of Hambye) have Frankish names after the Franks took over Gaul in the power vacuum left after the Romans departed. Coutances, however, retained its Roman name, probably in deference to its Christian connotations . Christianity having taken hold in most of the empire. Coutances cathedral. Not destroyed during the revolution, and miraculously barely touched during the tumult of the Allied bombings and landings of 1944 - even though much else around it was destroyed! The cathedral’s roots date back to when a Roman temple occupied the spot. This temple was changed into a church in the 5th century, which was later destroyed by Vikings in 866 AD – as was the original Roman aqueduct. Two centuries later the church was rebuilt as a Romanesque cathedral and was consecrated in 1056 in the presence of William the Bastard (better known later, perhaps, as William the Conqueror!). in 1180 it was restored and altered and in the 13th century transformed into the Norman Gothic style, although aspects (such as the twin towers and the columns in the nave are from the original Romanesque period). It is possible that the columns (or sections of them) date to the original Roman temple/basilica. One of the 13th century stained glass windows depicts the life of Thomas Becket. Getting there 12th century Eglise de Notre-Dame in Savigny including 14th century frescoes of the Last Supper (with an interesting twist) and the fate of Saint Barbara together with 16th century sculptures of the Madonna and Child and Saint Barbara. All saved from the revolutionaries by a fast thinking parishioner with a bit of white wash and quick burial!! They were all re-discovered in the late 19th century. Getting there Getting there – combining the two Chateau Ducal de Gavray With roots in the 11th century, this ruin is well worth visiting. It has spectacular views over Gavray and beyond. Parking can be a problem, and it may be easier to walk up from Gavray itself. Gavray to the left and the chateau to the right. Only 20 mins from the coastal beaches! Day trips Avaranches Avaranches has numerous restaurants and smaller eateries with the Scriptorial of Mont-Saint-Michel a must-see. It is worth visiting BEFORE the Mont itself as it has the history of Mont-Saint-Michel well covered. Original parchments are also on display, and there is hands-on section to show how the manuscripts were made. The staff also speak numerous languages. You can also see the site of the cathedral where Henry II did penance for the murder of Thomas Becket. Unfortunately, the only remains of the cathedral are now below ground level as it was destroyed during the revolution. However, the site does have spectacular views of the Baie du Mont-Sant-Michel (and the Mont itself) and one can only wonder at the magnificence of the structure with its views. One of the sarcophagi uncovered during archaeological excavations at the site in the 1970s can be found in the Scriptorial. Mont-Saint-Michel. A must-see. If you are feeling adventurous, it is possible to walk across the bay (the long way) to the Mont with a guide. These have to be pre-booked and you need to be prepared for getting a little wet. Otherwise, you can walk to the Mont from the new carpark, or catch the free shuttle buses, or take a horse cart ride (not free). Bayeux Where the famous tapestry (actually an embroidery) can be seen. It is worthwhile getting there early to avoid the crowds. Bayeux itself is a beautiful town. Getting there Normandy Landing Beaches For those intrigued by WWII history, the beaches where the Allies landed in Normandy can be evocative. There are quite a large number of museums in the area which are also worth visiting. ”
139local recommendations
Historic Site
“Issu d’un milieu modeste, Raymond Isidore s’installe dans une petite maison dans le quartier chartrain de Saint-Chéron. Lors de ses promenades, il prend l'habitude de ramasser des morceaux de verre et de faïence qu'il transforme en mosaïques pour embellir sa maison.”
9local recommendations
“Beau château XVIII. A voir : les intérieurs meublés, les jardins et la collection de voitures à cheval. ”
5local recommendations
Historic Site
“For those who love the outdoors the park has so many trails to discover for all levels. ”
7local recommendations
“Petit musée qui retrace l’arrivée des 1ers libérateurs de la 6e Division Aéroportée Britannique en Normandie dans la nuit du 5 au 6 juin 1944. Documents, films et objets d’époque. Visites guidées du musée, du Pegasus Bridge. Beaucoup de pièces en exposition et notamment les fameux planeurs.”
11local recommendations
“La place du vieux marché est l'endroit où Jeanne d'arc fut brûler. Il y a plein de restaurant et de bar, c'est l'endroit le plus animé de Rouen”
8local recommendations
“One of the oldest Markets in France. Very high quality - lots of restaurants and cafés in the place. ”
6local recommendations
4local recommendations
Historic Site
“L'office du tourisme de Saint Valery se trouve dans la Maison Henri IV, splendide demeure, classée Monument Historique, construite en 1540 par un riche armateur valeriquais, époque où les normands découvrirent le Brésil et en rapportèrent de nouveaux produits. De nombreuses effigies, sculptées dans le bois, représentent des scènes dites "exotiques", évoquant ces voyages, tels cet homme agenouillé sous le soleil et ce bûcheron en train d'abattre un arbre du Brésil.”
3local recommendations