Top 3 Normandy Museums

Normandy museums

There are plenty of museums to choose from in Normandy so I’ve selected my top three. They’re perfect for museum buffs or for a rainy day activity. The three museums are in Cherbourg, Caen and Bayeux.

Cité de la Mer

Cherbourg is much more than a Normandy arrival and departure port for ferries. There is a natural history museum, a museum about the liberation, parks and gardens and a fine art museum. You could easily spend a day here or fill in some time before boarding a late ferry.



The Cité de la Mer is a maritime museum housed in the former ArtDeco railway station built in 1933. There are six separate spaces to visit:

The Ocean of The Future

A new space for 2019. Visitors can explore 17 aquariums spread over three floors.

Cherbourg 1944

This permanent exhibition covers the period from 6th June to 26th June 1944. From D-Day through to the day the city was liberated, you’ll learn how Cherbourg inhabitants were affected during this time. You can view large scale photos and a film to help bring history to life.

The Men and Machines Gallery

The ground floor hosts a unique collection of deep-sea diving craft and submersibles.

Le Redoutable

Visit the Le Redoutable submarine and take an audio guide tour around the control centre, canteen, engine room and cabins.

Walking into the Depths Adventure

This is a 50-minute long immersive trip that transports explorers into the depths of the ocean. On board the simulator you begin a virtual dive down into the mysterious, inhospitable world of the ocean depths.

Titanic, Return to Cherbourg

Take an historic voyage on The Titanic and travel with 50 million emigrants on their way to the New World. The fateful shipped docked in Cherbourg on 10 April 1912 before setting off on its final journey. The stories of those emigrating as well as historic events behind the sinking of the liner can be discovered.

I’d recommend you arrive in the morning to really make the most of the museum. Your ticket is valid all day so you can leave for lunch and return later. Alternatively, you can eat on site. Le Quai des Mers restaurant offers à la carte or set meal options. Seafood platters are very popular. There is also Le Ruban Bleu Snack Bar. You can grab a snack or a drink here although it’s only open during the high season.

The museum is based at Allée du Président Menut, 50100 Cherbourg-en-Cotentin. Check out the website for opening times and ticket prices.

Watch the video below to give you an idea of what to expect in this spectacular Normandy museum.


Le Mémorial de Caen – A Normandy Museum

The Caen Memorial Museum, Centre for History and Peace (Le Mémorial de Caen) is built on a blockhouse used by German troops during the Second World War. The bunker has recently been opened up as part of the museum. There’s a lot to see in this Normandy museum and a minimum of half a day is recommended but to immerse yourself fully you can spend a full day here. The museum covers the events leading up to the Second World War and how the conflict unfolded. There’s also a section on the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy. Visitors can also learn about other conflicts such as the Cold War and the Vietnam War. If you are visiting Normandy to explore some of the D-Day landing sites, the museum is a very good place to start.

D-Day in La Manche

You can download an app, purchase an audio guide or, alternatively, just wander round watching films, reading display boards, looking at exhibits and photographs. History will come to life before you as you walk through the decades of conflict since the Second World War.

Practical Information

The museum is open 7 days a weeks although check opening times on the website. It closes for part of January and opening times differ throughout the year. From April through to September it’s open from 9am to 7pm. There’s plenty of free parking together with a restaurant, snack bar, gift shop as well as various places to sit throughout the museum. Information about the snack bar and restaurant is here. It costs 19,80€ for a single ticket but family tickets cost 51€. A family ticket allows 2 adults and at least one child (under 18) entry although there’s no limit on the number of children. If you want to see other Normandy sites such as Arromanches 360 circular cinema or Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg (a nautical and maritime museum), then there are packages available for joint tickets.

How To Get There

Caen Memorial Museum
The museum is on Esplanade Général Eisenhower, 14050 Caen

GPS N 49° 20′ 24″ – O 00° 37′ 16″

By car: coming from Paris on the A13 or from Rennes on the A84, take the Northbound ringroad (périphérique), exit n°7

By bus: no.2 from the city centre. Easy access for disabled people.

There is access as well as facilities for people with reduced mobility.

For more information visit the museum website.


Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth measuring nearly 70 metres long and 50 cm high and depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. Characters include William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, (later King of England).

Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry

You can read about my visit to the the museum here. The 58 scenes are technically an embroidery rather than a tapestry. I enjoyed my visit here enormously. The intricate embroidery is exquisite in its detail. I particularly enjoyed looking at the 2D facsimile in more detail and spotted all manner of things I’d not seen when looking at the original. The link includes information about each area of the museum, practical information, photos and a video.

The museum is at 21 Allée des Augustines which is just off the rue de Nesmond. It’s open 7 days a week from February through to December but check opening times on the website.


We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.


Visiting The Bayeux Tapestry

Bayeux tapestry

For tourists visiting the Bayeux tapestry, this guide gives you all the information you need. It is most definitely worth a visit and should be on your Bayeux bucket list. It’s probably what visitors associate the most with Bayeux.

Bayeux tapestry

The tapestry is, in fact, an embroidery completed in the 1070s. The detail of the stitching is so intricate. There are 58 embroidery panels in total and they’re joined together to tell a story. They show the events that led to the Norman conquest of England. The final panels depict the Battle of Hastings in 1066 where Harold who was the King of England, was shot in the eye with an arrow.

Bayeux tapestry

You can read more about my visit to the Bayeux tapestry here. I’ve included lots of photos and practical information.

You can also take a look at this website or watch the video below. There are plenty of other things to do in Bayeux. This guide will give you some more ideas.

Visiting Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux cathedral

A visit to Bayeux Cathedral is an absolute must if you are visiting Normandy. The cathedral is just a few minutes walk from the tapestry and is very centrally located. You can see the spires and towers from a distance. In fact you can even spot it from the Bayeux Cemetery and Memorial on the outskirts of the town.

Bayeux CathedralBayeux Cathedral

The Tourist Office provides guided tours of the cathedral in both French and English. You can buy tickets at the Tourist Office and find more information here. If you prefer to do your own tour then entry to the cathedral is completely free. There are some explanation panels about the architectural detail dotted around the cathedral. Alternatively you can purchase a guide book in the Tourist Office. It is written by François Neveux with collaboration from Claire Ruelle. The price is 5,70€. It gives a very good history of the cathedral and guides you round the interior and exterior.

For more information about Bayeux, visit the Bayeux guide here.  Or you can watch the video below showing the exterior of the cathedral.

A Year Of Photos in Normandy

A visit to Mont-Saint-Michel

One of the highlights of being a holiday home owner is exploring the area I live in and sharing it with guests. I love heading out with my camera and taking photos of the area so I’ve had a scroll through my photo album to remind myself what I’ve been up to this year.

Normandy In Photos

In January the Normandy weather wasn’t that wonderful but I did have a drive to a village around 20 minutes away called Regnéville-sur-mer where there’s a ruined chateau and great views across the river.

Regnéville chateau Regnéville

I made two trips to the D-Day landing beaches in February; firstly to Omaha Beach and La Pointe du Hoc and later in the month to Utah Beach and Sainte-Mère-Église. There aren’t really enough words to explain this – it simply was amazing. Both days were cold but sunny with clear blue skies. It was probably the highlight of my year.

D-Day D-Day D-Day D-Day

I’ve subsequently added a very comprehensive guide to the D-Day landing beaches and surrounding areas. You can read it here.

In April I went back to the Omaha Beach area as I had a couple of volunteers staying and one of them had American heritage. I also stopped off at the Peace Statue near Grandcamp Maisy.


There was also a quick trip to Bayeux – somewhere I never tire of visiting.

D-Day Bayeux tapestry Bayeux Bayeux Cathedral

April and May were spent working in the garden. I also took a guided tour around Regnéville which was delightful on a sunny day.

June involved trips to Omaha (yes, that was the third time already that year), Bayeux and a wonderful day out to St Malo. Read my in-depth article about the key sites in Bayeux.

Normandy American Cemetery Normandy American Cemetery

St Malo
St Malo ramparts


I also visited a partly restored castle in Pirou and had a wonderful morning exploring.

Pirou Pirou

The Marché Normand takes place in Gavray every July. The main street is blocked off and there are parades of tractors, cows, classic cars and people in traditional Normandy costumes. Dancing displays and music also entertain the crowds and the usual Saturday market is bigger than usual. It’s a lovely atmosphere.

Marché Normand in Gavray Marché Normand in Gavray

Later that month my family came over and stayed twice. We had our usual trip to Granville on a rather windy day.


August passed me by but as it’s peak gite season I would have been up to my ears in laundry I guess. I did manage a trip to Villedieu-les-Poêles to explore the courtyards where artisans such as coppersmiths and lacemakers worked.

September was full of history and heritage. I had a trip to a water mill near to Cherbourg and also the Chateau de Carneville.

Réthoville water mill Normandy history and heritage

Later that month was a heritage weekend when many places are open free to charge. I went to Hambye Abbey and then up towards Saint-Sauveur Le Vicomte to visit the castle and abbey. The following day I visited the Chateau at Gratot (near Coutances) and one of the churches in Coutances.

Photos of Normandy Photos of Normandy

Chateau Gratot St Sauveur Le Victomte

Abbey St Sauveur Le Vicomte Chateau Gratot

In October I visited Granville – both the high town and also had afternoon tea in the main town.

The first Sunday in the month from November through to March means that entry to the abbey at Mont Saint Michel is free. The weather was lovely and sunny and the tide was out so a perfect opportunity to take more photos of my favourite place. I’ve written about how to make the most of a visit to Mont-Saint-Michel here.


Mont-Saint-Michel ramparts
Mont-Saint-Michel ramparts
Salle des Chevaliers at Mont-Saint-Michel
Salle des Chevaliers at Mont-Saint-Michel

In December I went to see the son et lumière show on the exterior of Coutances Cathedral. It’s the first time this event has been put on and I really enjoyed it.

So, that’s been my year in Normandy in photos. I hope that my guests have enjoyed discovering Normandy as much as I have. As we approach the end of the year, I’d like to wish you the most amazing 2019. May it be peaceful, happy and healthy.


We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.


Visiting The Bayeux War Cemetery and Memorial

Bayeux War Memorial and Cemetery

The Bayeux War Cemetery and Memorial honours almost 6500 soldiers Second World War. It’s the largest cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France. The cemetery contains 4,648 burials, mostly of the Invasion of Normandy. Opposite the cemetery stands the Bayeux Memorial which commemorates more than 1,800 casualties of the Commonwealth forces who died in Normandy and have no known grave.

Bayeux War Memorial and Cemetery D-Day












The sites are located on Boulevard Fabian Ware on the outskirts of Bayeux. There is no parking at either site but parking is available at the Memorial Museum of the the Battle of Normandy a little further down the same road.

The Bayeux Memorial

Bayeux War Memorial

The Bayeux Memorial is built in white stone and faces the cemetery. The Latin epitaph along the frieze of the memorial references William the Conqueror and the invasion of England in 1066. The inscription reads: NOS A GULIELMO VICTI VICTORIS PATRIAM LIBERAVIMUS. This translates as: “We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror’s native land.”


On this memorial are engraved the names of the 1,808 men of the Commonwealth who died in the Battle of Normandy and who have no known grave. At either end of the memorial is an inscription to the fallen. One is in French while the other is in English. Beneath the inscription is a small metal safe containing a memorial register. All the names of the soldiers with no known grave are included in the memorial register as well as being inscribed on the walls of the pillars. The majority of these names are of British soldiers.

Bayeux War Memorial Bayeux War Memorial and Cemetery










The Bayeux War Cemetery
Bayeux War Cemetery Bayeux War CemeteryBayeux War Memorial and Cemetery

















France assigned the cemetery grounds to the United Kingdom in perpetuity in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defence and liberation of France during the war. Of the 4648 graves, 3935 are from the United Kingdom. In addition, there are 466 graves of German soldiers, 181 Canadian, 25 Polish, 17 Australian, 8 New Zealand, 7 Russian, 2 from both the Czech Republic and Italy and 1 South African.

Locating A Grave

Two stone chapels on either side of the cemetery contain burial registers similar to the memorial registers held at the War Memorial. There are 27 plots numbered in roman numerals from I to XXIX (there’s no VI or VII). Furthermore, each plot contains a number of rows indicated by capital letters starting at A. And finally each grave then has a number.

This is the entry in the burial register for a William Robinson and his grave. He’s not a relation of mine (as far as I know) but I always look for names from my family tree.

Bayeux War Cemetery Bayeux War Cemetery




You can see the plan of the cemetery here.

You can also consult the records online at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. The list can be sorted in various ways; by surname, regiment and date of death.

Poignantly, the gravestones include the ages of the soldiers. They range from 17 through to 58. The cemetery is beautifully kept, incredibly serene and a sombre reminder of the sacrifices made.

The video below shows the cemetery and war memorial.

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.


Son Et Lumière Show in Bayeux


Throughout December and into early January 2019 two of Bayeux’s most iconic tourist attractions will be combined in one stunning spectacle. The Bayeux Cathedral will host a ‘son et lumière’ show (light and sound) featuring projections of the tapestry onto the cathedral walls. An historical narrative will also form part of the show. Between 1st and 22nd December, it will take place every Saturday evening with sessions at 6pm, 6.30pm, 7pm, 7.30pm and 8pm. From 26th December through to 5th January shows are each Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. The session times remain the same and each performance is limited to 200 people. This is the third year that this event has taken places and it’s free to attend. For those of you visiting Normandy over the Christmas and New period, this is a unique event to attend.

This link shows a video of the event from 2016.

More information in French can be found on this page

For additional pictures of the event, see this link

Bayeux cathedral
A light show will be projected onto the interior walls of Bayeux cathedral


A Guide To The Bayeux Tapestry

Bayeux tapestry

A Guide To The Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth measuring nearly 70 metres long and 50 cm high which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. Characters include  William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, (later King of England), and culminates in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Bayeux tapestry
It is thought to date from the 11th century, within a few years after the battle. It was originally housed in Bayeux Cathedral but is now displayed in the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy.
Bayeux tapestry museum

The Design

There are 58 scenes embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns and Latin descriptions. It’s not technically a tapestry as it is not woven but has predominantly been known as such. Two methods of stitching are used: outline or stem stitch for lettering and the outlines of figures, and couching or laid work for filling in figures. Nine linen panels were sewn together after each was embroidered and the joins were disguised with subsequent embroidery.

The main yarn colours are terracotta or russet, blue-green, dull gold, olive green, and blue, with small amounts of dark blue or black and sage green. Later repairs are made in light yellow, orange, and light greens. Laid yarns are couched in place with yarn of the same or contrasting colour.
Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry

The History

The earliest known written reference to the tapestry is a 1476 inventory of Bayeux Cathedral and there are two schools of thought about its origins. One is that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William’s half-brother, and made in England in the 1070s. However, French legend maintained the tapestry was commissioned and created by Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife, and her ladies-in-waiting. Subsequent analysis in the 20th century concluded it was probably commissioned by Bishop Odo who became Earl of Kent after the Conquest. There were three reasons for this conculsion: The first was that three of the bishop’s followers mentioned in the Domesday Book appear on the tapestry. Secondly the tapestry was found in Bayeux Cathedral which was built by Odo. Finally, it may have been commissioned at the same time as the cathedral’s construction in the 1070s, possibly completed by 1077 when the cathedral was dedicated.
The end of the tapestry is missing. The final scene (number 58) is headed Et fuga verterunt Angli (and the English left fleeing) and was added shortly before 1814 at a time of anti-English sentiment.
Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry

The Museum, opening times and tariffs

The museum is at 21 Allée des Augustines which is just off the rue de Nesmond.
From 01/02 to 28/02 and to 01/11 to 31/12 : 9.30 am to 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm – note the lunchtime closing
From 01/03 to 31/10 : 9.00 am to 6.30 pm (to 7.00 pm from May to August)
It’s closed from the afternoon of 24th December afternoon to 26th December morning inclusive and also
from 31st December afternoon to 31st January 2019 inclusive.
Last admission 45 minutes before closing time
Full rate : 9,50 Euro
Reduced rate :7,50 Euro
Schoolchildren and Student rate : 5 Euro
Free under 10 years old
An audioguide is available in 16 languages : French, English, German, Chinese, Danish, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Polish, Portuguese brazilian and Czech and is included in the price
Combined tickets for the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy and/or the MAHB Museum of Art and History are available and can be purchased at any of the three museums. These museums give an insight into the preparations for D-Day and the subsequent battle and take you on a  journey through the history of European art. The website for the museum is here.

The visit

Climb the steps to this rather grand building and the two ticket desks are immediately inside. There may be a queue for tickets as it’s a very popular attraction. I’ve been a couple of times and been lucky not to have to queue though. Purchase your tickets and then present them and have your bag searched before joining the queue for the audio guide. Ask for the audio guide in your chosen language and it will be programmed for you. The room the tapestry is displayed in is fairly dark. The audio guide will start playing automatically as you enter the room. Each scene is numbered and the commentary references this as the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings is told. You can’t pause the audio guide so just keep moving in front of the large glass case. The detail of the tapestry is amazing and the friezes above and below each scene are fascinating. The audioguide lasts perhaps 15 minutes or so. As you exit the tapestry room into daylight, your visit isn’t yet finished.

Go up a flight of stairs to the main exhibition and wander round at your leisure learning about the tapestry and the story it depicts. There’s plenty to entertain adults and children alike.

Another flight of stairs (or the lift) leads you to a room where a 2D facsmilie of the entire tapestry is displayed. This really allows you to see the complexity of the stitches and the intricate details you may have missed. This floor also houses the cinema where a 16 minute film is played regularly alternating in French and then English.

Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry museum Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry


The scenes of the ships and the horses are particularly beautiful. Scene 57 (the penultimate one) shows Harold’ demise – killed by an arrow in his eye. Once you’ve watched the film you then return to the ground floor and exit via the shop if you’d like a souvenir.


Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry Bayeux tapestry

Bayeux tapestry


For a more detailed look at the tapestry this video, filmed in the room where the tapestry is displayed, gives a good overview. David Dimbleby describes the historical significance of the Bayeux Tapestry for his 2009 BBC One Series, Seven Ages of Britain here.

On 18 January 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the Bayeux Tapestry would be loaned to Britain for public display. It is expected to be exhibited at the British Museum in London from 2022. It will be the first time that the Bayeux Tapestry has left France in 950 years. Allez!

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.


Take A Guided Tour of Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux cathedral

The cathedral at Bayeux is simply stunning. If you want to take  a tour you can join a paid visit via the tourist office, wander round for free on your own or purchase an information guide from the tourist office. Information about the tours are available here

The information guide is by François Neveux and Claire Ruelle and is priced at 5,70 euros. It’s crammed full of professional photos, a plan  and information about the history of the cathedral. It really will help you to guide you around the cathedral and the not-to-be-missed features.

If you want to do your own visit (with or without the booklet) then there are a few different doors you can enter though. I’d suggest using the entrances on the Western facade where the two towers rise majestically. There are three doors here – a red one in the middle which is not usually open and two smaller ones on either side.

Bayeux cathedral

Take the left hand door and you’ll enter a small lobby area which dates back from the 11th century when the cathedral was originally built. The lobby area on the other side is the only other part of the cathedral which remains from this period. The left hand lobby houses these stone figures.

Bayeux cathedral

And, as you walk into the cathedral, this is the sight that greets you.

Bayeux cathedral

The majority of the cathedral dates from the 13th century which was built in a gothic style following major fire damage in the 12th century. The very ornate detail in the stonework arches along either side of the nave is amazing. Monsters, a monkey catcher, lovers and lions are all depicted in stone. Beware of a sore neck from gazing up at them!

Bayeux cathedral Bayeux cathedral

Bayeux cathedralBayeux cathedral

I spent well over an hour just taking photos, admiring the stained glass windows, visiting the crypt and marvelling at the sheer beauty of the building. The photos don’t really do it justice but a visit is definitely recommended. If you visit Normandy, this has to be on your must-see list.

We spent 3 weeks creating the best online guide to Normandy on the web. It includes everything from a bucket list, must see attractions to the best places to eat and drink.

It covers Mont St Michel, Monet’s garden, the D Day beaches, wine tours and much more. .

It’s packed with our personal recommendations, maps and videos.


Bayeux in Normandy

Bayeux in Normandy

Day 22 of my Normandy Advent Calendar in which I share some of my favourite things about Normandy. Bayeux is located in the Caldos region of Normandy. Here you'll find the Bayeux Cathedral which was originally home to the Bayeux tapestry. The tapestry is now located in a museum just a short walk away. It is technically an embroidery, rather than a tapestry, and tells the story of the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. You can see the tapestry but taking in the detail is not easy. The tapestry is replicated on display boards which are in a separate room and which you can then peruse at your leisure – the detail is fascinating. Also in Bayeux is the British War Cemetery and the Battle of D-Day Museum. A beautiful and stunning town to visit.

Posted by Chris at Normandy Gite Holidays
#normandyadventcalendar #bayeux


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Best places to visit medieval Normandy

Best places to visit medieval Normandy

This year is the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. A series of events will be held throughout the region to celebrate. If you'd like to find out more about William the Conqueror's Normandy this article from Brittany Ferries highlights the best places to visit.

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Photo of Bayeux Cathedral by Chris

#normandy #battleofhastings #medievalnormandy #bayeux #williamtheconqueror


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