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From Rouen to Mont Saint-Michel : the must-sees of Normandy

Updated: Jul 9


Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy
Mont Saint-Michel

Discover the Iconic Sights of Normandy, France


Normandy is a beautiful region in the north of France. It has a lot of history and stunning natural scenery.


This travel blog post will take you on a trip from the historic city of Rouen to the famous Mont Saint-Michel abbey.


You'll see all the top sights along the way. First, drive to the lovely city of Rouen. Wander around the well-preserved old town. See the impressive Rouen Cathedral and learn about the city's connection to Joan of Arc.


Next, visit the medieval Mont Saint-Michel. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site built on a rocky island. The Gothic architecture is incredible, and you can enjoy stunning views.


Journeying between these two points, you'll encounter delightful coastal towns, beautiful countryside, and significant WWII landmarks. They all show how special Normandy is. This guide will help you see the very best of Normandy. Get ready for a memorable trip!t


Welcome to an extraordinary tour of Normandy. Region in the north of France, where history and beauty are in perfect harmony.


From the iconic Mont Saint-Michel to the historic city of Rouen, stunning landscapes combine with a rich cultural heritage.


Get ready to explore some of the region's most famous treasures! Let's delve into the history of DDay and enjoy Étretat's stunning coastal scenery.


Join us on this unique journey! Discover the unmissable destinations that make Normandy an unparalleled treasure!



The Normandy region and its history


Where is Normandy, France
Normandy, France

Venture to the Northwest of France and discover the captivating allure of Normandy. Their rich history intertwines with breathtaking landscapes.


The Second World War (WW2) takes a decisive turn with the Normandy Landings, D-Day. It marks the beginning of the liberation of France, occupied by Nazi Germany.


Rouen, the capital of Normandy, plays a crucial role in the history of France. Stage of battles and power struggles witnessed the execution of Joan of Arc. This event had a profound impact on the country.


During the French Revolution, Rouen was a major center of resistance against the monarchy and the nobility. The city was crucial for the National Assembly and the Committee of Public Safety. Both were instrumental in the execution of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.


Rouen was also a hub of cultural and artistic activity during this period. The city was home to several prominent artists and writers. Impressionist painter Claude Monet captures the region's light and vibrant colors. Writers such as Gustave Flaubert and Marcel Proust portrayed Rouen in their novels. They all immortalized the city in French art and literature.


Normandy is also known for its incredible cliffs and medieval architecture.


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Roadmap Overview & Itinerary


From Rouen to Mont St Michel: Normandy Itinerary

  1. Start your trip by leaving Paris and heading to Rouen. On the way, stop at the beautiful Giverny Gardens.

  2. The journey continues towards the picturesque villages of La Côte Fleurie (Flower Coast). Discover the luxurious Deauville, home of the American Film Festival. Visit Trouville, Cabourg, Honfleur, and Houlgate. And from there, go to the cliffs of Étretat.

  3. Head to Bayeux, home of the famous Bayeux Tapestry and rich in historical heritage.

  4. Immerse yourself in D-Day history with a tour of the Omaha Beach and Utah Beach landing beaches.

  5. End your trip on the majestic island of Mont St Michel! An architectural marvel with beautiful ocean views.


If you don't like hopping from hotel to hotel, I recommend doing 2 to 3 bases. The villages are pretty close, and I prefer to drive 1 hour along beautiful roads.

Suggestion:

  • Rouen to visit the city, Giverny and Monet's house and garden

  • Trouville or Cabourg as a base for the flower coast and Étretat

  • Bayeux and the D-day landing beaches

  • Mont St Michel to enjoy the tides


Day 1: Giverny and Monet's Garden


Jardins de Monet , Giverny

Giverny was home to Claude Monet for over 40 years and served as inspiration for some of his most famous works. The city's main attractions are the artist-designed Gardens. Admire the vibrant colors and lush florals.


I had a super bucolic picnic in these Gardens!


Walk the winding paths adorned with wildflowers! Admire the iconic Japanese bridge over the lily pond. Explore Monet's pink home, decorated with his personal collection of Japanese prints. Giverny is a peaceful retreat that offers a glimpse into the life of one of the greatest masters of Impressionist Art.


If you have time, visit the Impressionism Museum in Giverny. This museum houses a collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works.


Don't forget to visit the small but charming church of Giverny, where Monet is buried.


Day 2: Rouen and Notre-Dame de Rouen Cathedral


Cathedral Notre-Dame de Rouen, Normandy
Cathedral Notre Dame de Rouen

The historic city of Rouen, the capital of Normandy, is surprising. I didn't expect to see much besides the Cathedral and the memorial to Joan of Arc. However, the historic center is charming, with alleys full of shops and cafes. Preserved medieval architecture and other impressive buildings.


Admire its impressive Gothic Cathedral, immortalized in the works of the famous painter Claude Monet. You can also visit the site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake during the Inquisition. Additionally, we recommend walking through the city's cobblestone streets and enjoying the architecture.


Le Gros Horloge, Rouen
Le Gros Horloge, Rouen

While in Rouen, visit the Museum of Fine Arts, which houses a collection of European art.


The Gros Horloge, a 14th-century astronomical clock, is another must-see attraction! So is the ancient market where Joan of Arc was martyred, now marked by a modern church dedicated to her.


Don't miss Les Vitrines de Rouen, where you can admire stunning ceramic murals showcasing historic scenes from the city. They provide a unique perspective on its past.


Day 3: Cabourg and Houlgate


On day three, visit the coastal towns of Cabourg and Houlgate. Cabourg is known for its beautiful beaches and the famous Marcel Proust promenade. A seaside promenade that pays homage to the writer who frequented the city. The length of the beach is massive!


Mapa Costa Florida Normandia

Cabourg is not only a place of natural beauty but also a center of cultural and sporting activities. In the summer, the city hosts music festivals and horse races.


Houlgate offers a perfect combination of beach, nature, and history. Houlgate flourished during the Belle Époque, a period known for optimism and elegance. This era left a mark on the city's architecture with the construction of Norman and Anglo-Norman-style villas and cottages.


The constructions made of wood and brick feature charming details like slate roofs, ornate porches, and flower gardens. Norman architecture is the best preserved in the region. So, walk through the city center after the beach to enjoy it!


Day 4: Étretat and Étretat Cliffs


Chalk Cliffs of Étretat
Cliffs of Étretat


On day four, take a trip to the coastal town of Etretat, famous for its stunning limestone cliffs. You can walk to the top and enjoy impressive views of the ocean.


Praia De Etretat, Normandia

There is also a beautiful beach to relax and soak up the sun. Be sure to visit the Notre-Dame de la Garde church, built on one of the cliffs.


The city of Étretat is famous for the Arc de Étretat, a natural rock formation extending over the sea. A spectacular setting for photos.


For adventure lovers, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding provide a unique perspective on the grandeur of the cliffs.


Tip: Don't go on holidays or weekends, especially in high season! We were surprised by a crowd of cars parked 3km from the center. Yes, 3 km.


As we didn't know what it was, we continued and spent 1h30 in a traffic jam we'd never seen before. No place to park. We had to go back and leave the car back there. 3km from the center!

Having lunch was impossible! Huge queues at the doors of absolutely every restaurant. We bought a sandwich at Carrefour and ate it on the sidewalk!


If you are a fan of the Arsène Lupin detective stories by novelist Maurice Leblanc, don't miss the Le Clos Lupin - Maison Maurice Leblanc museum in Étretat. A fun experience! For those unfamiliar, watch the recent series on Netflix before you go!


Day 5: Deauville/Trouville and Honfleur


Marina Deauville, Normandy
Deauville Marina

The Flower Coast owes its name to the verdant landscape of its interior and the flower gardens of its seaside resorts. A tradition inherited from the 19th century, where newly built villas are adorned with lush gardens, rivaling each other in beauty.


In Deauville, you will find a charming historic center, a casino, and an elegant beach. The city is a popular destination among the rich and famous. It is known for its annual film festival and vintage car race.


Trouville, Normandy: view from the bridge
Trouville sur mer

Explore the luxury boutiques and gourmet restaurants. Or stroll along the beach! Notice the famous colorful umbrellas and beach huts named after movie stars. A walk around the hippodrome can be a fun way to experience local culture.


To get to Trouville, cross a bridge on foot. In Trouville, the atmosphere is more relaxed and familiar. Relax on the beach! Sample fresh seafood at local restaurants and explore the charming fishing port.


Heading east, arrive at Honfleur! It is a picturesque medieval town that once inspired several Impressionist artists. Get lost in the narrow cobblestone streets! Admire the Vieux Bassin (the old port basin)! Visit the Eugène Boudin Museum, dedicated to the work of the local painter.


Honfleur is considered the most beautiful village in Normandie. I didn't think so. I preferred the charm of Bayeux, the still-untouched architecture of Houlgate. Or the Deauville's effervescence. But go, and tell me later.


Day 6: Bayeux


Catedral de Bayeux, Normandia
Catedral de Bayeux

The Bayeux Tapestry is a stunning embroidered fabric that chronicles the events that led to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. A masterpiece of medieval art, it is almost 70 meters long and 50 centimeters wide.


It is a detailed visual account of the Battle of Hastings and the events that preceded it. The scenes embroidered with colored wool threads offer valuable insights into daily life, military organization, and customs of the time.


You can visit the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum and enjoy the tapestry on display.

Many talk about Rouen Cathedral, but Notre-Dame de Bayeux is grand and beautiful. A notable example of Norman-Romanesque architecture.


Its richly ornamented facade, with detailed sculptures and imposing portals, impresses from the first glance. The central tower, 77 meters high, dominates the city's skyline.


The interior is spacious and bright, divided into three naves. The massive columns and semicircular arches create an atmosphere of grandeur and solemnity. Colorful stained glass windows filter natural light, projecting a kaleidoscope of colors onto the stone floor.


If I had to choose between Rouen or Bayeux Cathedral, I would choose the second. It's wonderful!


The city also has a charming historic center, where you can stroll and enjoy the medieval architecture. It is also an excellent base for discovering the beaches and history of D-Day.


Day 7: D-Day and Landing Beaches


Pointe Hoc: D Day
Pointe Hoc

Stay in Bayeux to tour the D-Day beaches, one of the most important events of the Second World War, WW2.


You can visit the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum and the Colleville-sur-Mer American Cemetery. We also recommend Pointe du Hoc, a strategic landing site for the Allies during the war.


This day is an opportunity to reflect on the historical events on these beaches.


 Dia D Normandia

I would start at Pointe du Hoc to get a more concrete idea of ​​what the soldiers faced during the disembarkation.


Pointe du Hoc is a towering rocky promontory between Utah and Omaha Beaches. It was one of the most important strategic points on D-Day.


Climbed by American Rangers under intense fire, the mission to destroy German artillery batteries was fundamental to the success of the landing.


Today, we can explore bunkers, bomb craters, and trails and gain a powerful insight into the bravery and sacrifice of Allied soldiers. Super informative!


Landing D-day beaches Map , Normandy
Landing beaches Map

D-Day beaches like Omaha, Utah, Sword, Gold, and Juno hold poignant memories of the Allied invasion. Explore the bunkers, memorials, and museums that tell stories of heroism and loss.


Walk the sands where thousands of soldiers first set foot on French soil! Reflect on the magnitude of Operation Overlord.


In addition to the beaches, Normandy offers several attractions that tell the story of D-Day and the Second World War:

  • Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum in Caen for a comprehensive overview of the conflict.

  • The Colleville-sur-Mer American Military Cemetery. It is the largest American cemetery outside the United States.


Day 8: Mont Saint-Michel


Abbey Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy

Finish this Normandy travel itinerary in style with a visit to the iconic Mont Saint Michel! A rocky island topped with an impressive medieval abbey. The site is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the region and in France.


To get to the city, you can walk or hop aboard one of the free buses that run around the island. Explore the narrow, charming streets with several shops and restaurants. Indulge in the delicious flavors of the region with shucked oysters and other mouthwatering seafood.


Mont Saint- Michel, Normandy

The tides surrounding Mont Saint-Michel add to its mystical allure. The island can be accessed on foot during low tide but is surrounded by water at high tide.


When the tide is low, you can take a scenic walk to the village and ascend a long staircase of 365 steps to reach the historic abbey.


Find out about tide times and stay one night at Mont St Michel. Watching the tide come in is a spectacle in itself! In 20 minutes, the Mont becomes an island! The next day, when the tide is low, return to the mainland.


The island has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries!

An alternative is a personalized guided tour of Mont Saint-Michel and its surroundings. Explore the experiences offered by GetYourGuide and Viator.


Visit the Mont Saint Michel Historical Museum for an insight into the site's history and architecture. At dusk, enjoy the spectacle of the tides, which transform the mountain into an island, providing a magical and unique view.



Conclusion


Normandy is a perfect combination for a vacation trip. It combines history, beaches, natural beauty, and lots of charm.


With this itinerary, you can explore some of the most renowned places in the region and enjoy the top attractions in Normandy.


Be sure to try the local cuisine, including the famous Camembert cheese and apple cider. Be sure to visit a Cidrerie, local markets and buy fresh produce and regional crafts. Bon Voyage!

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