EXPERIENCE NORMAND COUNTRYSIDE
The stunning Countryside of Normandy is full of charming inland towns and villages. Rich history is on every corner in this area, from the greatest Impressionist in Giverny, to the picturesque areas like Vernon, Saint-Symphorien, and Pont-Audemer, also known as Norman Venice for the many waterways that run through the town. Exploring these countryside villages is like walking through history, with an abundance of monumental buildings and landmarks, rugged landscape, cultural attractions, and lively, authentic markets and shops.
Things to see and do
A must see in this area is Claude Monet’s house in Giverny. This fantastic attraction is excellent for anyone, but especially for lovers of Impressionist art. Monet’s Garden is beautiful, with lush flowers everywhere that was part of the artist’s inspiration in his paintings. The Le Clos Normand garden, located in front of the house, is absolutely stunning from springtime through autumn with colorful blossoms all over, planted in a natural way so that they look like wildflowers.
Also on the property is Le Jardin d’Eau (Water Garden) where you’ll find a Japanese bridge and waterlily pond surrounded by weeping willow trees. The water garden was depicted in Monet’s Water Lilies series of paintings. Monet spent many years here painting many different features of his garden. It is recommended that you take a guided tour to make the most of your visit to Claude Monet's house and garden at Giverny.
Also located in town is the Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny where visitors can discover more than 200 Impressionist paintings, as well as temporary exhibitions. The museum is encompassed by a meadow and a beautiful garden with landscaping reminiscent of Monet’s Garden.
Nearby in the town of Vernon (about a 10-minute drive), the Musée de Vernon showcases several masterpieces painted by Monet, along with works by other Impressionist artists (who belonged to the Giverny colony of painters).
Jumièges is a historic abbey and must see in the area. Built in the 11th century, the Abbey of Jumièges became a learning center under the rule of William the Conqueror. The Gothic style and grandeur of the abbey reflects the immense wealth it held. Sadly, the abbey was mostly destroyed during the Hundred Years’ War. However, the ruins reveal the distinguished past of a building that was once the most glorious monument in Normandy.
One of the most beautiful villages in the rural countryside, Le Bec-Hellouin is listed as one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. The tiny village is nestled in a peaceful valley and has lush open green space with leafy trees. Here, you’ll find old-world charm with half-timbered houses nestled around an old church, the
Discover the beautiful town of Evreux, home to the Cathedrale Notre-Dame. The cathedral was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 13th century in Gothic style. Evreux is also where the Musée d'Art, Histoire et Archéologie housed in the Palais Episcopal. The museum offers a diverse collection of ancient artifacts, historical objects, and European paintings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Also noteworthy sites of the town are the Tour de l’Horloge (Clock Tower), and the former Abbaye de Saint-Taurin (abbey church), which contains the 13th-century sacred relics of Saint Taurin, an exemplary piece of goldsmith’s work.
Active and Outdoors
Take a hike through one of the nature trails that wind through the hills above Giverny. The beautiful panoramic views of the village, the Seine valley, and the neighboring town of Vernon are absolutely stunning to see unfold beneath you. Two of the area's trails start at a signboard behind the city hall, found just up Rue Blanche Hoschedé-Monet.
There are some sections of the trails on the forested hillsides that can be very challenging. Make sure to wear the appropriate shoes and bring enough water. Information on the other scenic hiking trails can be found at the Tourist Office in Vernon.
Forêt de Bizy is also a beautiful place for a picnic or nature walk, and is a good way to get away from the crowds.
Normandy’s culinary heritage is one that’s well worth exploring, offering a wide range of fantastic ingredients produced in the region. Here you’ll find the freshest seafood (mussels and oysters in particular), robust duck and game dishes, and the region’s famous apples that are turned into a whole range of tasty treats from cider to tarts. The region is also known for its dairy products, like butter, milk, cream and cheese. Most restaurants in Normandy offer locally sourced products and try to support as many regional farmers as possible. Even the smallest village will offer memorable culinary treats for any serious foodie.