Many travelers fly into Paris, then drive or take the train to Normandy. However, Normandy does have two regional airports, Aéroport de Caen-Carpiquet (CFR), which welcomes regular flights from Air France and regional airliners, and Aéroport de Deauville-Normandie (DOL). Rental cars are readily available at any of the airports. Other options from Paris include traveling by train, bus or with an organized tour, of which there are any number of companies offering day trips.
SNCF trains depart from Paris' Gare Saint-Lazare and Paris-Montparnasse several times a day to a variety of towns in Normandy, including Rouen, Giverny, Caen and Le Havre, among others.
For all routes and rail timetables see the SNCF website: https://www.sncf.co.uk
Ferries run from Portsmouth to Cherbourg (around £125) and Le Havre (around £200). Taking a car by Eurotunnel costs around £53 one way.How do I get around Normnady?
Most visitors to Normandy bring their own car or will rent one on arrival. Having your own car is the best way to explore the countryside and coast. Most larger towns have car rental companies. Avis and Europcar have offices at the Rouen train station. If you do decide to drive yourself, plan ahead: sites are widely spread and you need to work out an itinerary to avoid wasting time or getting lost.
Trains serve Rouen, Amiens, Caen, Bayeux and Le Havre. Elsewhere, you’ll be relying on local buses.
For more information on getting around Normandy, refer to Getting Around.
The best time to visit Normandy is June to August. This is also when French families take their holidays, which also makes it the most crowded time of year. If you are driving, be prepared for heavy traffic. Though this is the height of the peak tourist season – which can last from May to mid-October – this period also promises the most pleasant weather. Fall and spring can be great shoulder seasons if you're hoping for fewer crowds and better accommodation rates, but a visit during this time will likely be a bit chilly and may require coats. Winter is a great time to visit if you are looking for cheaper hotel rates, but some of the businesses in the region's small towns and cities will likely close up shop for the season. Also note, some of the region's top museums close for the month of January.What is the food like in Normandy?
Cuisine in Normandy celebrates the 3 main products of the region: dairy, seafood and apples, which are produced in the region’s rich pastures and farmlands.
Specialties from the sea include Dieppe sole and Normandy oysters, along with lobsters, scallops and shrimp on many menus of the region. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample Normandy’s world-famous cheeses: Camembert, Livarot, Pont l’Eveque and the heart-shaped Neufchatel. There is even a Route des Fromages that highlights the four cheeses through stops at museums, farms, towns and restaurants. The cheeses are often served as dessert and pair well with the ever-present apple-based beverages from the region, such as cider, perry, Calvados and Pommeau, made from local apples and pears.
Normandy is renowned for its variety of meats, from the delicate flavor of saltmarsh lamb to creamy chicken "à la Vallée d'Auge" and duck "à la Rouennaise".
Local desserts include "bourdelots" or "teurgoule", or such sweets as Isigny toffees or apple sugars from Rouen.
Normandy boasts the most exquisite works of arts and crafts. Woodworks, tapestry, pottery, umbrellas, are all made by local craftsmen. Shops are open to exhibit and purchase these local products. Many of these places not only have their crafts available for purchase, but you can also watch the process by which the craftsmen produce them.
If you are an Antiques shopper, Normandy offers an array of stores, specially in Bayeux. You’ll find those that specialize in porcelain, old lace, and old furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries, or others that offer a variety of antique items including paintings, old weapons, jewelry and glass items. The stores are open every day with the exception of Sundays and they all close for lunch.
Being such a popular holiday destination in France and the world, Normandy has many festivals that feature the region’s rich history and others that present the most prestigious national and international artists with cutting-edge productions.
Normandy offers many regional festivals that celebrate Medieval history, given Normandy’s Medieval history. From May to August, many towns host these celebrations with street music, parades, markets, minstrels, tournaments, replications of historical events and more. Below are a few of these highlighted festivals:
- The Fetes Jeanne d’Arc and Medieval Markets on May 27th and 28th in Rouen celebrating Joan of Arc
- Les Andelys on June 17th and 18th
- Bayeux Medieval Festival on July 1st and 2nd
- Mont-Saint-Michel’s Pilgrimage along the shore on July 18th
- Medieval Festival at Crevecouer in the second week of July
Annually from mid October to the end of November, Normandy hosts its Autumn Festival in several cities of the region. This is Normandy’s hallmark festival offering locals and visitors more than 60 theater, music and dance performances, and an array of eclectic presentations such as installation videos, carnival events and experimental multidisciplinary performances. Spectacular circus performances ensure entertainment for the whole family.
From east to west, the main beaches are Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah. Omaha Beach tends to attract more Americans since it is also home to the cemetery dedicated to fallen U.S. troops and features the cliffs where Germans defended against the Allied invasion. Each beach has its story, with memorials and museums open to the public.
It’s best to do some research on them beforehand to choose which one or two are most important to you to visit and then plan accordingly.
To understand the importance of each beach, there are exhibitions dotting the coastline and towns around Normandy. Some of the most famous include the Musée du Embarquement in Arromanches where the artificial port was built, Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie in Bayeux, the Le Mémorial in Caen, and the Utah Beach Landing Museum.
It will be impossible to visit every beach and museum, so, it’s best to choose the one or two that seem the most interesting to you.
The currency of France is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airports and train stations. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in France by clicking here.I don`t speak French. Will many people speak English?
English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-French guidebook or app and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.What are some interesting facts about D-Day?
- The code name of D-Day was "Operation Overlord".
- The naval phase of D-Day was code named "Operation Neptune".
- D-Day was the largest naval amphibious invasion ever conducted and involved almost 7,000 ships including 4,126 landing craft.
- 24,000 paratroopers were dropped behind the German lines beginning late on June 5th and continuing into the early morning of June 6th.
- At 3 am on June 6th, 1,900 allied bombers began dropping 7 million pounds of bombs on the German defenses.
- At 5 am a naval bombardment of the German defenses started and lasted until 6:25 am.
- At 6:31 am the first US troops went ashore followed by the British and Canadian troops an hour later.
- US troops landed at Utah and Omaha Beach, the British at Gold and Sword Beach and the Canadians at Juno Beach.
- There are 9,387 graves in the American Military Cemetery above Omaha Beach. Every one of them faces west toward America.
- There are 21,500 German graves in the German Cemetery at LaCambe.
In an emergency dial 112 is the general emergency services number or 114 for hearing assistance.