Famed for its sprawling apple orchards, dramatic coastal landscapes, beautiful green pastures and quite decadent local cuisine, Normandy is nothing less than a magnet for British holidaymakers. The stunning northern coast of France has never been easier to reach with so many convenient and affordably ferry crossings available from multiple UK ports such as the regular ferry to France service run by Brittany Ferries. With outstanding beaches, endless countryside and the richest history and heritage imaginable, there really are few places in Europe more suitable for fun-filled family getaways.
Though the region in its own right represents a truly remarkable experience, there are nonetheless a number of events and activities in Normandy that should not be passed up. It is a region of France that is fantastic to visit at any time of the year, but there’s no disputing the way in which things really seem to come to life during the late spring and summer months.
So if you happen to be heading out to Normandy this summer, be sure to check out at least one or more of the following top pick events, activities and attractions:
Normandy Festival of AOC
First of all, if you happen to be heading to France with the intention of sampling the finest French cuisine the country has to offer, you might want to think about doing so during early May. Every year, the first week of May brings around the Normandy Festival of AOC. Taking place in Cambremer, this extraordinary two-day event celebrates the very best wines, cheeses and general gastronomic delights from around Normandy. Perfect for the whole family and with plenty of entertainment on offer.
Joan of Arc Festival
Early May also brings with it the annual Fetes Jeanne d’Arc and Medieval Market, which take place in Rouen. The incredible story of the legendary girl herself is both told and celebrated with dramatic reenactments, a religious procession, a parade and a variety of other festivities. Even for those with no specific interest in French history, it really is a hugely enjoyable experience.
Mont-Saint-Michel: A Magical Journey
A trip to Mont-Saint-Michel at any time is an absolutely unforgettable experience to say the least. A UNESCO World Heritage site and a truly unique geographical feature on the French landscape, Mont-Saint-Michel has recently been given something of an overhaul to enhance the experience for tourists. There is a new bridge offering access to the mount itself, while for a limited period during the summer the visitor experience will be taken to a new level with the addition of atmospheric lights and sounds. Head to http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com for more information.
While the anniversary of the historic D-Day Landings is unlikely to be quite on the same scale as that of the 70th anniversary back in 2014, there will still be plenty happening throughout the first week of June. The vast majority of principal sites, exhibitions and areas of importance will be open free of charge and hosting a variety of special events. An important, educational and genuinely moving experience for the whole family.
2016 Normandy Impressionist Festival
Continuing throughout the summer until the 26th of September, the 2016 Normandy Impressionist Festival represents one of the real highlights on the region’s cultural calendar. This year will mark the third edition of the festival in which the central theme will be portraits. From musical concerts to sound and light shows to organised outdoor picnics, there will be a great deal happening across Rouen, Caen, Honfleur, Le Havre and Giverny.
Tour De France 2016 Starting from Mont-Saint-Michel
Even if you have no particular interest in competitive cycling, the incredible spectacle that is the start of the Tour De France is something not to be missed. From the 2nd to the 4th of July this year, the annual cycling extravaganza will begin right at the foot of Mont-Saint-Michel, with the first stage crossing the Cotentin peninsula to Utah Beach.
Sample The Herring and/or Scallops In Dieppe
Summer in Normandy is also the very best time to find yourself a beautiful alfresco seating area and sample the local scallops and herring in Dieppe. The historic port city of Dieppe is where so much of the region’s finest seafood is unloaded each and every day. Suffice to say, the spectacle of it all happening makes it a worthwhile journey in its own right – the absolutely decadent seafood you get to gobble down being no less than the icing on the cake!
Celebrating Medieval Normandy and the Anniversary of the Battle Of Hastings
This year represents the 960th anniversary of the battle of Hastings. Throughout the summer in Normandy, a wide variety of medieval events, markets and special celebrations take place each and every year. This year however, the festivities are being stepped up to high gear due to the significance of the anniversary. It’s a great time to visit the region to explore its medieval past.
Civilians In Wartime Memorial
Scheduled to be opened to the public for the first time on the 9th of May, this brand new museum is dedicated to the reality of civilian life during the Second World War. An extraordinary exhibition and important educational experience for the whole family.
Grandma, What Was It Like During the War?
Another outstanding temporary exhibition at the Juno Beach Centre this summer sets out to answer some of the most important questions with regard to life during times of war. What was everyday life like? How did the occupiers treat civilians? What role did the Canadians play in liberating the people of Normandy? Originally created for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, the exhibition was such an immediate hit they decided to keep it running indefinitely.
Normandy Sailing Week
If the life aquatic is something that appeals to you, Normandy sailing week will once again be taking place at Le Havre between June 1 and 5. Even if you do not intend to take part, it is still an extremely impressive sight to see.
Monet’s Gardens in Giverny
For reasons that require no real explanation, Monet’s Gardens in Giverny are particularly stunning during the spring and summer months of the year. As an artist famed for creating masterpiece landscapes, it is hardly surprising that he would surround himself with such opulence. Discover firsthand exactly what inspired so many of his most famous works.
The Cider Route
Last but not least, it would be a crime to visit a land of such sprawling apple orchards and cider production heritage without actually sampling the local libation for yourself. The 40km long “Route du Cidre” passes through the most important cider production areas, where guided tours and sampling sessions are regularly available.