In northern France, a dark green rural interior, dotted with medieval spires, gives way to chalk cliffs, infamous beaches and the English Channel.
While it at first might seem an unassuming corner of the country, Normandy has played an integral role in Europe’s tumultuous history, from the invasion of England in 1066 – intricately retold in the tapestry at Bayeux – to the burning at the stake of Joan of Arc in Rouen, and the infamous D-Day landings of 1944.
With such a fascinating past, you’ll find the region home to some of France’s best museums and romantic old towns, such as the picture-perfect Mont-Saint-Michel, a medieval island monastery that is a must see. The ominous remnants of the Second World War and stirring cemeteries that memorialise the sacrifices made here are solemn sites of pilgrimage that are, for many, the primary reason for visiting.
The rest of the coastline is dotted with a smattering of charming fishing towns such as Honfleur (and some wonderful seafood best paired with local cider) and scenic walks, while inland you’ll find the gardens of Monet at Giverny and, in Rouen, the incredible cathedral that inspired the artist to paint 30 canvases of it.
When to go
The best months to visit this part of France are from May to September when the days are warmer, but be prepared for rain any time of the year. The north of France has a very similar climate to the south of UK. July and August could be busier since that's when many locals take their holidays.
What to do
- Visit the D-Day landing beaches
- Explore the medieval island monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel
- Stroll through the gardens of Monet at Giverny