and to follow up reconfirm, yes for the D Day beaches Bayeux is the best central location and see the tapestry there of william the conqueror etc
the area of Bayeux tourist council
and my favorite site on DDay events and memories
The US cementary at Coleville sur mer is indeed a must
you have official information here
if you have a car, best way while there, then you can think of Saint Lô ,Villedieu-lés-poéles, Coutances,Fougéres, and the coast to Honfleur plus Rouen. YOu will get a complete feel of all of Normandie.
Enjoy a beautiful region
Fondest memory: D Day beaches Omaha and Colleville sur mer are awesome experience.
This has nothing to do with favourite things or fondest memories!
It's a practical bit of information that could help you budget if you plan on visiting local museums and other attractions.
At over two dozen sites you will see the Normandie Pass advertised. You can buy this for 1 euro with your first full price entry ticket.
It remains valid between April and December in the year of purchase and gives you a discount off the full admission price at all of the partipating attractions.
While the coastline is predominantly flat and dominated by the beaches and sand dunes, it becomes more rugged when approaching north of the Cotentin peninsula, with some spectacular cliffs.
A path runs all along the coastline in Cotentin, so one could walk all the way around it, but there are some spots easily accessible for a short several hours or a day hike.
Fondest memory: My preferred spots on the Manche coastline are :
Mont Saint Michel bay - while rather flat, nothing beats the views of the abbey and its rock
Carteret - around Cap Carteret, you can in a 3 hours walk see all what makes Normandy coastline - a natural harbour, cliffs, long beaches and spectacular sand dunes.
Cap de la Hague - the northernmost and westernmost tip of the peninsula - windswept cliffs, charming bays, its highlights are Baie d´Ecalgrain, Nez de Jobourg. And the view of all the ships plying the Manche canal.
Normandy sports the biggest tides in Europe (well, minimum in France), with the records being of 16m of height around Granville. What makes them impressive along the Manche shore is the fact that the seabed is rather flat, so these 16 or something metres of height represent sometimes more than 5 kilometres.
While the mechanism of the tide is known for a long time (old stories of the sea being a beast and the tide its respiration are no longer believed), it still continues to rhythm the life along the coast.
So one of the first things to catch is a calendar with hours and amplitudes of tides. The hours change every day, as the cycle of high tide and low tide is every 12h 25 minutes. The amplitude varies from 20 to 120, with anything over 100 being an exceptionally high tide and under 45 the water almost staying in place.
The amplitude is determined by the relative positions of the moon and the sun - when they are in line, the tide will be highest, if they are at 90 degrees, the tide will be lowest.
Fondest memory: The permanent change and the views of high or low tides is really fascinating. While the main photo shows the low tide in the Havre de Vanlee, the second one shows the high tide the same day, taken from the same spot...
Apple trees are much more than a common sight in Normandy, it is more like an institution. But most of the apples is not meant to reach the table in solid form...
Everything begins with cidre (or cider), the produce of fermentation of apples in barrels, with just a refreshing gas (akin to a champagne or beer).
The cidre can be distilled to calvados (apple brandy).
And the cider whose fermentation was stopped by addition of some calvados is called pommeau. It is being rediscovered today and makes for a nice aperitif and is a wonder with foie gras or any apple dessert.
Fondest memory: Cidre from Normandy is often less clear than the one from Bretagne. The best ones are the ones directly from a farm (cidre fermier). And prefer the brut to any other...
Calvados can vary in quality and taste, some being transferred into bottle almost directly after distillitation, some being aged in wooden barrells, as a whisky or cognac. You can buy calvados of more than 20 years of age... In normandy it is always drunk straight, without ice.
And pommeau is best served chilled, being rather sweet.
Low lying land and high tides created salted pastures or "pres sales". These are pastures, that are overrun by the sea at least six times a year, during highest tides. They can be found near the harbours, or havres - where a river travels up to the sea and that the high tides will travel upstream, covering all low lying planes.
An interesting sight in itself, the salted pastures are used to raise sheep. The salted water and deposits that the tide brings give another quality to the grass and the result is "agneau de pre-sale" - a delicacy of lamb, uncomparable with any other... (the price too, of course...)
Fondest memory: If self catering, nothing beats a rack of lamb of pre-sale, grilled, knowing exactly from which village it came.
In restaurant, you might come across this dish, but it is very rare, so if you spot a "gigot" from a lamb of salted pastures, do not hesitate...
Bocage is an essential part of any Normandy landscape. A simple earthen wall upon which grows an impenetrable brush and tree one. It was being used since the middle ages to show the limits of the fields and has become a classic image of Normandy.
There was a campaign of destroying the bocage following the second world war, to enable farmers have bigger fields an optimise the usage. But they were soon replanted, when the cattle started being sick (basically catching cold). You will undoubtedly appreciate the windstopping powers of the bocage during your walks or rides.
During the Normandy campaign, bocage was used as a great means of defense by german soldiers - it effectively blocks the sight and when passing through, tanks lunch upwards, exposing their belly and being very vulnerable... At least until the allied engineers found the solution of welding to the front of Shermans iron "teeth" made from rails that simply uprooted the bocage in front of them...
Fondest memory: Besides making roads ressemble tunnels in places, bocages are a great source of raspberries in the autumn, so look carefully...
The design of the village churches changed only slightly since the middle ages and they are an easily recognizable feature of Normandy landscape.
Built from grey granit or other stone, they offer few windows and ressemble medieval fortresses with their sturdy form and one tower.
The overall feal is slightly reminiscent of motte and bailey castles that littered Normandy and their early conquests...
Underwater (at least half of the time) farms for growing oysters and mussels litter the Normandy shore.
Farmers use tractors to go and fetch their produce on low tide, or flat bottom boats, that they will ferry to the sea by tractor when the tide is high - this use of tractors that litter the beach is something to recall you that it remains an agricultural country - both on land and on the sea.
You can spot different growing stages of mussels, with horizontal poles when they are small, then being moved to vertical ones, spiralled around them. In the middle, you will see some iron nets or cages, used to grow oysters.
Fondest memory: They are easily accessible on foot when the tide is sufficiently low. A very nice promenade goal, around 2 kilometers from the shoreline. It is just forbidden to pick any produce, even mussels lying in between the poles.
You can buy the produce direcly on the farms in the coastal villages or in any supermarket. The cost is far from prohibitive. Or you can go to "peche a pied" all by yourself...
There are 8 havres (harbours), which are unique to the western coast of Manche. They are created on a place where a small river breaks through the dunes and comes onto the sea.
It is a unique environment, created by the mixture of sweet and salt water, high tides that can make the river run backwards from the sea and create a tidal wave (mascaret), low lying salted plains that are flooded during high tides and serve as pastures for sheep and home to many bird species (more than 200 only in the Havre de Regneville).
From south to north, you will find the following harbours :
Havre de la Vanlee
Havre de Regneville
Havre de Blainville
Havre de Geffosses
Havre de Lessay
Havre de Surville
Havre de Port Bail
Havre de Barneville-Carteret
Fondest memory: In the past, these harbours served as natural harbours and were also used to exploit salt and tangue (earth from the bottom of the sea, used as fertilizer).
Favorite thing: Due to the sea's presence and the (little) effect of the warm current in the Atlantic, Normandie's coastline has a very soft climate. Temperatures hardly ever go sub zero and almost never top over 25 degrees. Therefore the region allows many (sub)tropical plants to grow here, which can be seen in some exotic gardens along the coast of Normandie or around castles or mansions.
The province of Normandie excists of two parts (departements). In these pages I am almost constantly referring to Basse-Normandie, roughly situated on the Cotentin peninsula and furthest away from Paris (that is why it is named "Basse" or Lower, not because of the elevation of the area). Etretat, Rouen and Yport are however in the Haute Normandie departement and can be found under these VT-pages. In these Basse-Normandie pages I sometimes refer to them, but this is just because I do not want to make an almost empty Haute Normandie page. We visited this region only on our travel to and from Cherbourg and Basse-Normandie.
Fondest memory: Early morning breakfast on the beach in Etretat, with our view on the white cliffs there.
The history of Normandie (though this term wasn't excisting at that time for sure) starts already in neolithical times. Many menhirs and some stone graves have been found throughout Normandie. The menhirs are quite mysterious stones, as no-one for sure can tell what they are for. During Roman times Normandy was a occupied part of France through which some important trade routes ran between England and Rome. In medieval times Normandy appeared when Vikings settle here in a colony (Vikings = Normans -> Normandy). Their king Rollo turned to Christianity in the 9th century. In the centuries that followed these events Normandie would be a part of England, after William the Conqueror rightfully took his place on the thrown of ENgland, while separately being the Duke of Normandy. During the 100 years war, Normandy slowly fell into French hands to stay there until the second world-war, when almost all of Europe was occupied by Nazi forces. In this war Normandy's keyrole was crucial, as it was on the beaches of this part of EUrope, where the main invasion of liberation took place and succeeded (although with enormous amounts of casulaties and under tremendous lucky circumstances). Since then Normandy is a significant part of France attracting many tourists that commemorate these D-day events or ... simply love Normandie.
Fondest memory: On holiday together with Irina and Ilja. Making fun at the beach of Maupertus-sur-Mer and the magnificent Bay d'Ecalgrain. Enjoying the Normandian delicatesses, such as Camembert and Cidre. Watching the waves struck on the rocks at Cap Levi and more and more and more ...
Route du Mont Saint Michel, BP 8, Mont-St-Michel, Basse-Normandie, 50170, France
Good for: Solo
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