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.

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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.

Cherbourg

 

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.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

Normandy Cycle Routes

Normandy Cycle Routes

A number of my guests have brought their bikes to Normandy to enjoy some cycling. Normandy has 1600km of véloroutes (cycle routes) giving you cycling itineraries via traditional cycle paths or secure roads with little traffic. The cycle routes are designated by special signposts. 700km of these routes are greenways (or voie vertes in French). Greenways are specially built tracks – often former railways lines or towpaths – where there is no motorised traffic.

Normandy cycle routes

For the serious cyclist there are a number of long routes such as the landing beaches to Mont St Michel. There are 2 options here meaning you can start from either Utah beach or Arromanches. The route is 210km (130 miles long). There’s more information here including a detailed route.

Arromanches

A visit to Mont-Saint-Michel

If you’d prefer to drive and take your bike, then you could cycle near Mont-Saint-Michel. You can’t leave your bike at the foot of the island or take your bike onto the island. The only permitted places to leave your bicycle are are near the Tourist Information Centre (near the parking) and by the dam. However, you can cycle to the foot of the island and back again. Read the information here.

Cycling

There are plenty of cycle routes near to the gite. This website lists some of them. If you scroll down to the bottom of the webpage you’ll see a list of routes – some of which have a bicycle symbol. The cycle route in the image below is around Nicorps and gives wonderful views over the steeples and bell towers of Coutances.

Normandy Cycle Routes

For more information about cycling in Normandy check out the website or watch the video below.

Top 10 Tips For Visiting Mont-Saint-Michel

Top 10 Tips Mont Saint Michel

Top 10 Tips Mont Saint Michel

Here are my top 10 tips for visiting Mont-Saint-Michel.

  1. Factor in time to get from the car park to the island. It could take half an hour depending on where you park. Try and park as near to the shuttle buses as possible. Check out the Tourist Information Centre leaflet which has a map of the car park.
  2. The shuttle buses run very frequently so although there may be a queue you shouldn’t have too long to wait. The shuttle buses are free. There are 4 drop off/pick up points – the car park, the shops, the dam and the island.
  3. Some ticket machines for the car park only take cash and others only take credit card. Take your car parking ticket with you and pay for it before you return to your vehicle. Parking ticket machines are near the Tourist Information Centre and the main walkways to the car parks.
  4. Dogs aren’t allowed on the shuttle bus or in the abbey. They are permitted to go on the island and possibly in bars and restaurants depending on their policy.
  5. Check the tide times and opening times of the abbey. During the summer the abbey is open late. As Saturday is often a day when people start or end their holidays, it can be a good day to visit. The island is always open so if you arrive early before the abbey or shops open, you can still wander round enjoying the views.
  6. There are a lot of steps on the island and in the abbey. Taking a pushchair isn’t recommended due to the steps and cobbled streets.
  7. Restrooms are located near the Tourist Information Office, (inside the main entrance to the island) at the top of La Grande Rue and at the top of the first staircase in the abbey.
  8. Refreshments can be purchased before you get to the island in the shops near the car park or in the bars and restaurants on the island. Food and drink shouldn’t be consumed in the abbey.
  9. If you are going to go to the abbey, plan your route up to it. During peak season, the island is very busy. The main entrance leads to a narrow cobbled street (La Grande Rue) with bars and restaurants that leads up to the abbey. Most people take this route. There is a staircase immediately after the post office (La Poste) which is on the left near the main entrance. Although it’s a lot of steps to climb it can be preferable to the narrow main street. A better option is to avoid the main entrance completely. Instead, as you approach the island, look over to the left where there is a turreted structure and an archway. It’s not always accessible during the high tides. This is a gentler and quieter route.
  10. Take your time in the abbey as doubling back isn’t easy. Pick up a leaflet in the ticket hall that gives a map of the abbey’s layout as this will help you to get your bearings.

For more information, check out this in-depth guide with  more tips for visiting Mont Saint Michel. You’ll also be able to browse photos, videos and practical information.

Mont-Saint-Michel ramparts

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

 

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.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

New Grace Kelly Exhibition At The Christian Dior Museum In Normandy

Christian Dior Museum

Princess Grace of Monaco will be the focus of a new exhibition at the Christian Dior museum in Normandy. As an actress she was known as Grace Kelly and became Princess of Monaco in 1956 following her marriage to Prince Rainier III.

Christian Dior museum in Normandy

A selection of around 90 items from her wardrobe will look at the two facets of her life as a graceful public figure and also a modern woman, wife and mother.

Her glamorous Dior designer dresses and tweed suits are structured outfits befitting her royal status. This contrasts with a contemporary, simple and sporty look reminiscent of her American youth that she chose for her private life. The many dresses printed or embroidered with flowers recall her love of floral paintings and her taste for gardening.

The princess would have been 90 this year. She died in 1982 at the age of 52.

Useful information

The Grace Kelly exhibition will be open from April 27 to November 17 2019.

From April 27th to September 30th: it’s every day from 10am to 6.30pm (the ticket office closes at 6pm).

From October 1st: every day during the school holidays and from Tuesday to Sunday except school holidays from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 6pm (the ticket office closes at 12noon and 5.30pm).

Full price: 9 €
Reduced price: € 5 (students, visitors with disabilities and job seekers)

Your entry ticket to the Christian Dior Museum gives access to a discounted ticket for one week to the Richard Anacréon Museum of Modern Art in Granville.

Visit the website.

Christian Dior Museum
1 rue d’Estouteville
The Rhumbs Villa
50400 GRANVILLE

Christian Dior Museum

 

Top 3 Things To Do In Normandy

Bayeux

My top 3 things to do in Normandy are Mont-Saint-Michel, Bayeux and one of the D-Day landing beaches.

Bayeux tapestrTop 3 things to do in Normandy

I live around 50 minutes away from Mont-Saint-Michel and just over an hour from Bayeux. There are 5 landing beaches so depending on which one you go to it will take you around an hour or so.

Les Braves Omaha Beach

I usually ask my guests if they’ve got any special trips plans while they’re here and these 3 places come up in conversation regularly. I provide a range of tourist leaflets for my visitors but also created 3 in-depth guides. They’re designed to give a real flavour of what to expect and are full of hints, tips and practical information.

You can read the guides by clicking on the one that interests you.
Mont-Saint-Michel
Bayeux
The D-Day landing beaches

What are your top 3 things to do in Normandy?

 

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.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR THINGS TO DO IN NORMANDY GUIDE

Ranville – A British War Cemetery in Normandy

Ranville war cemetery

Ranville cemetery in Normandy is the final resting place of predominantly British soldiers killed in the Battle of Normandy. Many of the fallen were from the British 6th Airborne Division who attacked Pegasus bridge on D-Day at nearby Benouville.

Ranville war cemetery

Ranville is situated 10km north east of Caen and was the first village to be liberated on D-Day. This part of the conflict was covered by the Sword Beach sector.

The Cemetery

There are 2563 graves in Ranville cemetery. 2152 are British, 76 Candian, 3 New Zealand, 1 Australian, 5 French, 1 Polish, 1 Belgian, 322 German and 2 unidentified nationalities. As with other war cemeteries, it is very well maintained.

Ranville cemetery

 

The Churchyard

In the adjacent churchyard there are 47 British graves and one unknown British soldier. You can find these graves as you go through the main gate to the church. If you then turn right, they’re set against the stone wall surrounding the churchyard.

Ranville war cemetery Ranville cemetery

Ranville cemetery is on rue du Comte Louis de Rohan Chabot. However, there isn’t much parking at the cemetery. There are a few spaces in front of the churchyard and a few at the post office (La Poste) just opposite. Otherwise, there is a hall near to the Mairie (the town hall) and you may find parking spaces there.

Ranville war cemetery

 

How To Find A Grave

As you go through the gate and stone archway, you’ll see the cemetery register which is kept in an open safe. There’s a plan of the plots and a list of all the soldiers and reference numbers for the graves.

I visited the war cemetery on a beautifully sunny February day. For the majority of the time I was the only person there apart from the gardeners and maintenance staff. Below is the grave and register entry for Jack Robinson who was just 19 when he was killed in action on 26th June 1944.

Ranville war cemetery

 

If you’d like to find a grave, you can do so on this website.

Things To Do In Granville

Lucerne abbey

Granville Tourist Office have just produced a number of guides about what to do in Granville.

I picked up four different publications yesterday from one of their offices.

things to do in GranvilleThey’ve produced a magazine, a brochure about forthcoming events, a guide to gourmet delights and a main guide. The information is in English and French.

The main guide runs to 198 pages and gives an overview of the area. There are a number of villages and coastal towns featured.

The high town in Granville also gets a mention. This is a wonderful place to explore the old buildings of the original town. It’s very quaint with cobbled streets and fantastic views up and down the coastline.

Normandy weather

For a spot of culture, Granville is home to an art museum as well as the Christian Dior museum. The abbey at Lucerne is just a short drive away.

Christian Dior Museum

The coastal location means that trips to the islands of Chausey and the Channel Islands are popular with visitors. If you prefer to stay on dry land, then the beaches are family friendly while watching the water sports.

Inland you will find walks, cycle routes and horse-treking trails There really is something for everyone. You can download the brochures here.

You can also read more about the carnival, a cheese shop in Granville and Lucerne abbey.

 

What To Do In La Manche Region of Normandy

What to do in La Manche

La Manche is the most westerly of the five departments that make up Normandy. It’s named La Manche because it juts out into the English Channel (La Manche in French). So, what is there to do in La Manche?

Mont-Saint-Michel is at the top of most visitors’ to-do list. It’s located in the south of the region and is an island commune with a stunning abbey on the top.

Mont St Michel, Normandy

The impressive island of Tatihou is in the north of the region. The coastline to the east of Cherbourg takes in Tatihou, Barfleur and Saint Vaast La Hougue.

 

Vauban Tower

Heading south down this coastline is Utah Beach – one of the D-Day landing beaches. You’ll also find Sainte-Mère-Église which is home to the Airborne Museum.

D-Day Sainte-Mère-Église church in Normandy

The towns and villages are full of history and heritage each with its own story to tell. Hambye has a fantastic abbey, Granville is the childhood home to Christian Dior, Villedieu-les-Poêles is an artisan town and Coutances boasts an impressive abbey.

Whether you enjoy water sports, beach activities, horse riding, cycling or walking, the region, with it’s mix of coast and countryside offers plenty of opportunities. 

Take a peek at the video below for a glimpse of what to do. alternatively, you can visit the website.

 

A Gourmet Day Out in Normandy

A Gourmet Day Out in Normandy

For a gourmet day out in Normandy, the town of Lonlay l’Abbaye is the perfect choice. There’s even some history thrown in for good measure.

There are five activities on the tour – three gourmet experiences, lunch and an abbey visit. The tours are run every Wednesday throughout the year. Places must be booked and the tour will be in French. However, as much of it involves food and drink, that may not be an issue.

gourmet day out in NormandyYou can download the brochure here.

To book your place on the tour all you need to do is contact the tourist office directly.

Office de Tourisme
12 place de la Roirie
61700 DOMFRONT
Tél : 02 33 38 53 97
info@ot-domfront.com
Website

Alternatively, you can visit each of the suggestions yourself so let’s take a look at them in more detail.

1.Biscuit Factory – La Biscuiterie de L’Abbaye

Biscuits have been made here since 1090. They offer a guided tour and free tasting. This lasts around an hour. You’ll be provided with a protective hairnet and overall to wear as you watch how the biscuits are made. You get to see the kneading, cutting, baking and packaging.

Places need to be booked. For more information and to book just call Mathilde on +33 (0)2 33 30 64 64 or email mathilde@biscuiterie-abbaye.com

The biscuit factory details are as follows:
Biscuiterie de l’Abbaye – Route du Val – 61700 Lonlay l’Abbaye
The English version of their website is here.

gourmet day out in Normandy

2.The Abbey Church – Abbatiale Notre Dame de Lonlay

You can do your own tour from 9am – 7pm every day. Entry is free. If you’d like to find out more about the abbey church that was built in the 11th century, download the brochure.
The abbey church is accessed via Place Saint-Sauveur in the centre of the town.

Lonlay L'Abbaye Lonlay L'Abbaye

3.Lunch – Le Relais de l’Abbaye

This is the suggested restaurant although there are other options outside of Lonlay l’Abbaye. Le Relais is at 16 Place Jules Levée, Tel 02.33.37.89.65. They offer a formule (set menu) for 15,90€ that includes starter, main course, dessert, quarter carafe of wine, coffee.

4.Beer tasting – Le Château de la Bière

For an additional gourmet experience you could visit this artisan beer producer. Their details are Le Château de la Bière, Le Fay, Tel 02.33.38.07.86 email contact@chateau-de-la-biere.com
Their website is here.

5.Dairy ice creams – Les Glaces de la Ferme Bidard

A final gourmet visit awaits just a short distance outside of Lonlay. Contact details: Les Glaces de la Ferme Bidard, La Guerche Carée
Tel: 06.48.99.63.98 Website.  This farm is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

gourmet day out in Normandy

This gourmet day out is a great way to explore the small town of Lonlay l’Abbaye in Normandy.

 

What To Do In Villedieu-les-Poeles

What to do in Villedieu-les-Poeles

For inspiration of what to do in Villedieu-les-Poeles, visitors can take a look at the 2019 tourist guide. It’s produced in English and French and includes a map of the town to help you to plan your trip.

 

What to do in Villedieu-les-Poeles Hambye abbey

Villedieu is an historic town that once housed various artisan trades ranging from lacemaking to metalworking. The various trades were carried out in courtyards that radiate from either side of the main street. These courtyards also housed the artisans and their families on the upper floors of the narrow houses. The ground floor of each house was the workshop. There are a number of museums in Villedieu that explain the various trades in more detail.

Normandy market days

There’s also a busy market in Villedieu, a bell foundry and a church. To discover the history of the town tourists can ask about tours at the local tourist office. The English version of their website is here.

Hambye Abbey Villedieu-les-Poeles in Normandy

In the area surrounding Villedieu you can visit the beautiful abbey at Hambye, take a trip to the zoo at Champreus or play mini golf.

The brochure is available in the tourist office or you can download it here.