Normandy is a region in the northwest of France that’s rich in history, culture and natural beauty. From its stunning coastline to its picturesque countryside, Normandy offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveller. In this guide, we'll delve into the essential information you need to know before visiting this enchanting destination.
Why you should visit Normandy
A trip to Normandy has something to offer for every type of traveller.
History enthusiasts will be drawn to the many World War 2 sights and museums, the medieval town of Bayeux with its tapestry depicting the adventures of William the Conqueror and the stunning Mont Saint-Michel Abbey.
Food lovers will relish in Normandy’s culinary delights. The coastal region offers everything from fresh seafood to famous cheeses and every kind of apple product imaginable.
If you enjoy spending time in nature, then explore the Alabaster Coast with its dramatic white cliffs, go hiking or canoeing in the Suisse Normande or take a leisurely stroll along the many beautiful beaches.
The region of Normandy is full of charming towns that are great for exploring, shopping for local products and enjoying the local cuisine. Drive around the stunning countryside and be amazed by the stunning views you’ll encounter along the way.
With its charming towns, historical sites, and warm hospitality, Normandy offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
Check out our “Top 10 Things to Do in Normandy” article to plan your own unforgettable trip to Normandy!
The official language of Normandy is French. Museums cater to tourists and provide notes in both French and English. While some locals in touristy places like Honfleur will speak English, communication can be more challenging in picturesque tiny villages. However, we found that even when people did not speak English, they made an effort to help as best they could and we managed reasonably well with English and some basic French phrases.
The Euro (€) is the official currency in France. We paid by card everywhere we went, even tiny restaurants and cute shops accepted payment by card. However, it's a good idea to have some cash on hand for tipping, as not all places have the option to add a tip when paying by card.
Tap Water Safety
Tap water in Normandy is generally safe to drink. However, if you prefer, bottled water is readily available in stores and restaurants.
How to get to Normandy
There are many travel options if you plan on visiting the Normandy region of France, each with its own advantages and unique travel experiences. Consider your preferences and travel plans to select the option that best suits your needs.
Arriving by Car:
If you prefer the flexibility and convenience of travelling by car, Normandy can be easily reached by road. Major highways connect the region to other parts of France and neighbouring countries. It takes approximately 2 hours to drive from Paris to Normandy.
Arriving by Boat:
Arriving by boat is a scenic option for reaching Normandy. Le Havre and Cherbourg serve as major ferry ports with connections to the United Kingdom. Ferries offer the option to bring your own vehicle, which makes it a practical option that gives you more freedom to roam around the region at your own leisure.
Arriving by Plane:
Normandy is served by several airports that offer domestic and international connections. The most prominent airports include Caen-Carpiquet Airport and Deauville-Normandie Airport. These airports offer flights to and from various destinations within France and Europe. Another popular option is flying to Paris and then taking a train or renting a car to reach Normandy.
Arriving by Train:
Normandy has well-connected train stations that offer efficient rail connections to other parts of France. The major train stations in the region include Caen, Rouen, Le Havre and Cherbourg. A train ride from Paris to Normandy takes around 2 hours.
How to get around in Normandy
Getting to and navigating around Normandy is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected transportation network.
Getting around by car
There are many things to see in Normandy and the easiest way to get around is by car. This allows you to travel along the coastline, drive through picturesque backroads, and take in the region’s scenic countryside and charming towns at your own pace. The road infrastructure is excellent and there are numerous car rental agencies available if you don’t have your own car with you.
Toll Roads in France
If you plan on travelling by car it’s important to note that France has many toll roads. These are marked by the signs with the word ‘Péage’. You have to pay to use these roads, either in cash or by card. Above each toll booth is a sign indicating which payment method is accepted, just drive up to the toll booth of your choice. (Note that the ones with a yellow T are for ‘Télépéage’, which is only for cars that have an electronic transponder to automatically pay the toll fees.)
Getting around by public transport
Public transportation, including trains and buses, provides efficient and affordable options for getting around. The train network connects cities, while buses offer access to smaller towns and villages. It's advisable to check schedules in advance, especially for rural areas with limited service.
Getting around by bicycle
Cycling enthusiasts will appreciate Normandy's well-maintained cycling routes. This way of travelling offers a scenic and active way to explore the region at a slower pace.
When to visit Normandy?
Normandy has a temperate oceanic climate, resulting in mild seasons. Each season has its own unique charm and beauty. That being said, the summer months are the most popular and therefore busiest time to visit this area. The weather in this region is quick to change, even during one day, so it’s always advisable to wear layers or pack an umbrella.
- Spring (March to May): The countryside bursts into bloom and the temperature warms up with more sunny days. It's an ideal time for outdoor activities and exploring the region.
- Summer (June to August): Summer temperatures in Normandy remain relatively mild with an average of 25℃ (77℉). During the summer, the coastal towns come alive with many festivals and events. It's the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds.
- Autumn (September to November): The foliage transforms into vibrant hues of orange and red, creating a picturesque setting. It's a quieter time to visit with mild temperatures. Since this is apple season, it’s the perfect moment for all kinds of apple cider and calvados tastings!
- Winter (December to February): The region experiences colder temperatures averaging around 5℃ (41℉), but it rarely dropping below 0 ℃ (32 ℉). During the holiday season, Christmas markets and cosy cafes add a magical charm. Keep in mind that many museums may close for a couple of weeks in January.
Normandy is a gorgeous region with plenty to see, do and eat. To make the most of your visit, it's helpful to plan your days in advance. You probably won’t be able to do everything Normandy has to offer in one visit, so some planning will help you get the most out of your trip!
There’s a lot to do in Normandy and some sights are a couple of hours by car from each other. Depending on how many days you are visiting it’s a good idea to make a list of the things you absolutely want to see and do. Try to group them by region and go to a nearby town for lunch or dinner. Also, make sure to check for public holidays! Some days we found that everything from supermarkets to shops and museums was closed.
Dinner is usually served between 19.00 and 21.00 o'clock. It’s a good idea to make dinner reservations, especially during peak seasons. Popular restaurants with good ratings will be fully booked!
More Normandy Travel Inspiration
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