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Normandy has been under different types of rule. During the tenth to thirteenth centuries, the glorious periods of the Dukes of Normandy, this place has gained its independence from the English. William the Conqueror and Richard the Lionheart built castles, abbeys, churches and other magnificently designed and constructed architecture masterpieces that made Normandy as one of the most abundant provinces during their respective reigns.
This contributed largely in making Normandy as a very attractive tourist destination for all types of travelers, especially the ones who are fascinated with Gothic-styled buildings, historical landmarks and relics that date back to the Middle ages, and antique places that have long been standing, even after the second world war. Here are the most attractive tourist spots that you should most definitely visit during your vacation at Normandy.
William the Conqueror’s Castle
This is a medieval castle located at Falaise which is also known as the residency of the Dukes of Normandy. The bastard son of Duke Robert the Magnificent, William the Conqueror, became the future King of England after his father’s time. This is where William the Conqueror was born.
Chateau de Caen
Chateau de Caen has been shadowing the topmost corners of the city and is circulated by massive battlements and a dry moat. As mentioned earlier, William the Conqueror established many buildings during his reign. This is one of them.
Tourists could roam around the premises of the Chateau and come across the twelfth century old Eglise St-Georges which is rarely open, only during temporary exhibitions. There also lies the Echiquier which has ben around since 1100. It has been recognized as one of the oldest standing civic buildings in Normandy. The Jardin des Simples that grows both medicinal and fragrant flora and herbs have been around for centuries, some of them are even poisonous.
Maison de Claude Monet
Located at the Northwest part of Paris in going to Rouen, the Maison de Claude Monet is the actual residential home of the world-renowned artist from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. He had been living at this home-museum for forty-three years. There lies a shop in the area where tourists could buy souvenirs such as copies of Monet’s masterpieces and other items that will make you remember this wonderful place by.
Maison et Jardins de Monet
This magnificent garden, also located by Claude Monet’s residential home, is the main inspiration for his masterpieces. The famous Decorations des Nympheas or Water Lilies, one of Monet’s paintings, is the exact replica of the beauty of this magnificent garden. One of the parts of the property holds the Water Garden, which the artist bought in 1895.
During late spring of the year, the daffodils, tulips, rhododendrons, wisteria and the irises would appear and followed by the blooms of the lilies. During the month of June, the nasturtiums, roses and sweet peas would then bloom giving evidence of how tremendously unique and colorful this tourist destination is, making it a must see for every tourist traveling in Normandy.
Bayeux Tapestry Museum
The world’s most commemorated embroidery pieces made during the conquest of the English in early times can be found here. 58 scenes fill the central canvass and religious allegories of everyday life during the eleventh century. The Battle of Hastings has been interpreted into embroidery and is showcased at this establishment’s exhibit. Halley’s Comet which blazed visibly from the sky during the 1066 also is shown here. Scholars have believed that the 68.3 meter length tapestry was commissioned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux which is the famous William the Conqueror’s half-brother at the Bayeux Cathedral during the early 1000s.
Almost seventy years have passed since the Second World War. During which, Normandy have been part of the battlefields, especially the site of the D-day Landings located here in Normandy. Tourists love to roam around these beaches and re-live the chaos that was World War II with a number of war vehicles and structures built just by the beaches that are still standing until now. The beaches Omaha, Juno, Gold, Utah and Sword are the center of the D-Day landings. These beaches are interconnected with one another and tourists would love to walk by the shores and feel the rush of fresh breeze coming from the sea or even spend quality family time by the beach and conduct picnics with the kids.
Pointe du Hoc Ranger Memorial
During the sixth of June, 1944, the Army Rangers of the Americans scaled the thirty-meter cliffs at Pointe du Hoc where the Germans built batteries of huge artillery guns to defend these beaches from invasion. Today, the site where the French turned over to the US government during 1979 looks just as it did during those times. The premises still have bomb craters, shell holes visible from the replicas, and the German Command Post (which is forbidden for tourists to visit because of its hazardous position by an eroding cliff) is still visible until now.
This circularly-shaped cinema would make you feel the thrill and anguish of the Battle of Normandy. Here, they showcase films of D-Day and unpublished footages that are all about the one hundred days of never-ending battles of the World War II. This establishment will really make you see history as if you were standing right at that very moment along with the raging battles.
Normandy American cemetery and Memorial
This seventeen-kilometer wide cemetery located in Bayeux is the largest American Cemetery in Europe. The movie “Saving Private Ryan” by Steven Spielberg was filmed here. This cemetery comprises of about almost a thousand American soldiers of those who lost their lives during the Second World War, even those whose bodies were never recovered. Tourists come here to pay their respects to the fallen heroes of one of the world’s most tragic events ever recorded.
Cathedral Notre Dame de Bayeux
This cathedral is so tremendously designed that would definitely impress every tourist that would ever visit here. It has a mix of Romanesque and Gothic designs from the eleventh century until the thirteen century. During the former, the Conquest of England led by Duke William of Normandy during the early 1000s would show that the designs of this building including sculptures that depict the life of Thomas Becket, an Archbishop of Canterbury, were the times that the English and Norman ties were strong.
This beautiful harbor is like a painting that’s come true to life. It has even been the inspiration to many artistic pieces known around the world. It has beautiful walks, historical sites, cafés, bars, art galleries, and interesting shops for every traveler to visit while shopping and dining by the water of the bay. Its compressed buildings and numerous boats that are located just by the harbor are mirrored by the clear waters around it making it a very attractive and serene landscape that tourists would love to take pictures of or with.
Cathedral Notre Dame de Rouen
This Rouen Cathedral inspired by Gothic art is composed of three towers, the Tour Saint-Roman, Tour de Beurre, and the Tour Lanterne which have about 56 bells, utilizing 740 tons of bronze and iron and also rises up to about 150 meters.
The left portal of the Cathedral has been standing since the twelfth century. Its tympanum depicts the martyrdom of the late DS.t John the Baptist. The lower part of the establishment is where the Salome performs his entertainment before King Herod and is likewise the site where the famous saint was executed. The upper part on the other hand illustrated the entrance of the saint into heaven just before his death. The main door is designed with artfully crafted sculptures that illustrates the Family Tree of Jesus. The right portal is dedicated to the late St. Stephen which was recognized as the first ever martyr of the Christian beliefs. Other parts of the cathedral depicts events that happened during the twelfth to fifteenth centuries making it a perfect tourist destination for history buffs.
Abbaye du Mont Saint Michel
Have you ever seen the movie series Harry Potter? At first, you would think that they filmed the movie at an artificial set right? Well, think again. It was actually inspired and shot here at the beautiful Mont Saint Michel (Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the movie). This religious and military architecture was one of Christianity’s most significant pilgrimage sites from the eight to eighteenth century. It composes of clerical buildings including abbey church, reflectory, cloister, gardens, and monk’s ambulatory. The sight of this magnificently designed architecture is best viewed during sunsets as you will get to see a beautiful landscape of the building along with the clear surroundings of rock and shores. It has likewise been recognized as a world heritage by the UNESCO.
Abbaye Aux Hommes
This is one of Caen’s Romanesque abbeys founded during the eleventh century during the reign of William the Conqueror. This is where Matilda of Flanders, his wife, and her cousins were pardoned by the Church after marrying each other incestly. This is also the place where William the Conqueror believed to have found his final resting place. The original tomb was destroyed by various revolutions by the Calvinist mob though a thighbone of William remained undestroyed. Today, the eighteenth century convent buildings composes of the town hall.
Saint Catherine’s Church
Saint Catherine’s church was first established to be just a temporary structure and has been standing ever since for a period of five centuries. It was constructed by the people of Honfleur during the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries after the various events led to the destructions due to the Hundred Years War. Since then, wood have been used to keep the fortifications standing. It has been a well-known tourist attraction because of its double-vaulted roof and twin naves that resemble overturned ships’ hulls. There also lies the Clocher Ste-Catherine that’s located just across the church’s square. This wooden bell tower was structured a distance from the actual church to refrain from being hit by lightning strikes that would damage the clock’s bells.
The Benedictine Palace is designed with Renaissance and Gothic styles. Similar to other sites and buildings in Normandy, this artfully structured establishment composes of the Benedictine liqueur. It has a distillery and hammered copper stills that is where the distillations and infusions of twenty-seven different herbs and spices are made to produce the Benedictine liqueur. Other parts of the establishment comprises of a museum of sacred art that showcases collections of sculptures, enamels, paintings, manuscripts and metalwork that are over two centuries old. Alexander the Great was believed to be the founder of the Benedictine. It is also a world famous destination that houses exquisite contemporary art exhibits in Normandy. Tourists are also given a free tasting at the winter garden.
Normandy has been known as the center of all things art. It is home to various noted artists since the early times and is likewise the center inspiration of all their masterpieces. The Exposition Impressionistes is the perfect site for such artists to find the best choices of scenic art inspirations such as green and fertile meadows, picturesque villages and paths along La Bouille and Sahurs, the beautiful clear river and the attractive city of Rouen that’s packed with tons of artistic buildings that have immortalized the masterpieces of skillful impressionist artists.
Zoo du Jurques
Now what would a beautiful city be without a zoo? The Zoo de Jurques is home to about six hundred and fifty different species of animals from all over the globe such as lions, tigers, penguins, giraffes, panthers, monkeys and birds. It is the only zoo in Normandy that hold the rare white lion and offers contact with snakes.
Tourists can stroll through the park and witness true-to-life wildlife activities of these different animals… you even get to see them have their meals.
This zoo is located at the crossroads of many tourist destinations in Normandy which makes it easily accessible to tourists who originally plan to see Caen, Bayeux, Mont Saint Michel and all the other tourist attractions since it’s just about an hour’s ride from those places.
Marche aux Poissons
This is a place in Trouville that gives tourists the opportunity to shop for freshly caught raw fish and oysters. Everything they sell here are seafood. Since you’re in France, you know what they say… “The French are the masters of the kitchen.” So, you better get your food shopping going here at the marches aux Poissons and participate in cooking the French way.
The Le Pommier is a restaurant where tourists can taste the authentic Norman dishes. They serve classics such as the Caen-style tripe and steamed Pollock. There is also a choice for the vegetarians with plates such as soya beans steak in Norman cream. The restaurant offers a romantic ambiance designed with bare stone walls and hardwood floors making it perfect for couples to enjoy a hearty meal.
The L’Absinthe is located by the Vieux Port and has been a well-favorite choice for those who wish to enjoy fine French dining. They serve their cuisines with fresh ingredients with specialties such as sole meuniere roasted pigeon and blue Breton lobster.
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This newly-established restaurant is worth visiting when you’re all famished after your tours in Normandy. This place is beautifully styled with modern and traditional designs with the food that’s equally eclectic. They offer mostly seafood cuisines. You should definitely try the Andouilles a la Plancha or grilled tripe sausage because it’s absolutely to die for!