Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

This northwestern region of France attracts many visitors to see the memorials and monuments of the D-Day Beaches of World War 2, not far from the city of Caen. Further back in time, Rouen was one of the largest and richest cities of Medieval Europe. Also a city where Joan of Arc is thought to have been burned at the stake. Where Monet painted his famous cathedral series. The Seine River Valley is know too for the many beautiful abbeys and monasteries. Normandy was heavily attacked by the Vikings from the 9th century onwards. Normandy has been the site of many conflicts, including the Normandy Campaigns in the early years of the 1200s, the Hundred Years War from 1337, and the 16th century Wars of Religion. Each of these has had a visible impact on the built environment, and what it is that tourists come to see.

Reasons to Visit Normandy

Seaside painting by Eugene Boudin.
Jumieges Abbey Normandy
Castles, Forts & Abbeys,
D-Day Beaches,
A selection of popular cheeses from Normandy, France.
… and Cheese, Cider & Calvados.

Interesting Things to Know About Normandy

Normandy is perhaps best known for its crucial role in the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi occupation and bringing World War II to an end. Particularly the D-Day landings that began on the morning of 6 June in 1944. Allied forces stormed the beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Visitors can explore these beaches and the cemeteries and memorials to reflect and pay tribute to the soldiers who fought and sacrificed their lives.

Normandy has a rich monastic heritage, with numerous abbeys and monasteries across the region. These religious institutions played a significant role in medieval Normandy, fostering art, education, and spirituality. Many of these abbeys feature stunning architecture in picturesque settings, offering visitors a glimpse into the spiritual and cultural history of the region.

William the Conqueror, born in Normandy, led the Norman invasion of England. Following his success in the Battle of Hastings, and despite some attempts at resistance, William was crowned king of England on 25 December 1066 in Westminster Abbey. This event is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, more correctly an embroidery, which can be seen in the city of Bayeux. 

Normandy has deep Viking roots, as it was once known as ‘Norman land’ or ‘Land of the Northmen’. In the 9th and 10th centuries, Viking invaders settled in the region,  and after much destructing assimilated with the local population. This fusion of Viking and Frankish cultures laid the foundation for the Norman identity that would shape both Normandy and England – as a consequence of the Norman Invasion.

Normandy has three sites inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The tidal island of Mont Saint, with its extraordinary medieval abbey, was listed in 1979. It is also part of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France. The borders of France have a number of forts built for King Louis XIV by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, these are listed by UNESCO. Two such forts, one at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue and the other on the nearby island of Tatihou, are in Normandy. The third site is the port city of Le Havre, a perfect example of modern architecture. The city was completely destroyed during World War Two, and rebuilt following the plans by the architect Auguste Perret.

Find Places to Visit in Normandy

Off the Beaten Track in Normandy

Frescoes on the ceiling in the church of St Peter and St Paul in Aumale, Normandy.

Church of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul

Normandy is one of the top destinations in France, for very good reason. Some say Normandy is the birthplace of impressionism. And the region also has a tumultuous past, having been invaded by the Romans, the Vikings, the English, and much later by the Germans and then the allied forces during the second World War. For lovers of art and architecture, here, as with all other regions of France, it is still possible to go off the beaten track and find some real gems tucked away in small villages. One of these is the Saint Peter and Saint Paul church in the town of Aumale.

Five Popular Attractions in Normandy

Bayeaux Tapestry

Bayeux Tapestry

Remnants of a German bunker on a beach in Normandy, France

D-Day Beaches

Mont Saint Michele at dusk France

Mont Saint Michel

Monets House Summer

Monet’s House & Garden

Rouen Cathedral Front Portal Detail

Rouen Cathedral

Explore Normandy more deeply

Historic Cities in Normandy




Le Havre


What to See in Normandy

Roman Sites & Museums

Normandy may not be the first choice of regions to visit in France for Roman ruins. But this part of northern France should certainly not be overlooked. Many larger towns that have been occupied since the Gallo-Roman era still have a few remnants to see, usually ramparts. But it is in the museums in these towns where one finds artefacts recovered from rescue excavations. In the smaller, less populated villages are the more substantial surviving sites to visit.

Castles & Fortresses

Normandy has a number of great fortresses and castles to visit. From the fortified town and abbey on Mont Saint Michel to the castle forts associated with such important historical figures as Richard the Lionheart and William the Conqueror. At the northern end of Normandy is Château d’Eu, a royal residence from the 16th century and later King Louis-Philippe’s summer residence. As English and French rulers fought over Normandy for centuries, so the fortresses and castles developed, in appearance and function.

Monasteries & Abbeys

Normandy is where you will find the world’s most well known and frequently visited medieval abbey, namely Mont Saint Michel. Scattered around this vast northern region of France, however, are many other equally spectacular monasteries and abbeys. Given the age of some of these religious sites it is perhaps not surprising that some, like those at Savigny and Saint-Evroult, are now in ruins. So evocative is the ruined Benedictine Jumiéges Abbey that it has frequently been described as France’s most beautiful ruins.
Remnants of a German bunker on a beach in Normandy, France

World War II Sites & Memorials

On 6 June 1944 Allied forces, including the United Kingdom, the Unites States of America and Canada mounted what is the largest and most complex combined airborne and amphibious military operation in history. Each year millions come from all over the world to see the sites of the Atlantic Wall and the D-Day beaches, as well as the cemeteries and memorials that have been created since. Museums and a variety of attractions with state-of-the-art technologies provide visitors of all ages with a range of experiences about this period of history.

Museums & Art Galleries

Normandy has a number of world class museums and art galleries. Not only in the culturally vibrant cities, but also the smaller towns. Museums  and galleries that reflect the breadth of the region’s history and range cultural heritage. From the earliest Stone Age inhabitants to the thriving contemporary art scene. And forget about dusty glass cabinets filled with curious objects. Normandy’s museums have some of the most exciting use of multimedia to tell the region’s many and varied stories.