NORMANDY

NORMANDY REGION

A. MANCHE  1. Cherbourg 2. Coustances  3. Mont St-Michel    
B. CALVADOS  1. D-Day Beaches  2. Bayeux  3. Caen  4. Deauville  5. Trouville  6. Honfleur  
C. SEINE-MARITIME 1. Le Havre  2. 
Étretat   3. Alabaster Coast  4. Dieppe  5. ROUEN
D. EURE  
1.
Évreux  2. Les Andelys  3. Giverny
E. ORNE  

RIVERS:  1. Orne  2. Eure  3.  Seine   

Javascript is required to view this map.

 

NormandyUnfettered. This is perhaps the adjective that many travellers would allude to when they remember Normandy. (That along with the long lingering memory of unforgettable soft cheese, freshly caught seafood and fine cider) A phenomenal feat considering the sizeable number of gawking, littering and orotund tourists this region attracts on a yearly basis.Conveniently accessible from either side of the channel by trains, cars or ferries, Normandy is a much-needed reprieve from the city with her vast population of lazy cows grazing her unending emerald pastures. September’s gorgeous weather is probably the best time to descend upon this haven though she is relatively pleasant (but unpredictable) year round. An element of surprise, no?

Arrive with a hearty appetite because this is the motherland of Camembert, seafood and brioches. Cuisine is highly revered as it is in all other regions of France. If you like knowing where your food has been, Normandy is the place to be. Get ready for a smorgasbord of meat dishes (many, many cows remember?) that include meals cooked à la mode de Caen where various meat appendages are slow-cooked with tripe, onions, leeks, herbs and cider. The less squeamish can give a go at innards fashioned into tasty sausages called andouilles. Those in an adamantly non-carnivorous mood can traipse down to a fish market and arrive at a seafood-lovers’ heaven where the catch has just bounced off the fishing boats docked nearby.

When not busy gorging on the fine local produce and cuisine, you will most probably find yourself amidst the sights that hold the magnetic draw for tourists to this region. D-day remains a hauntingly real memory- countless rows of solemn white crosses in cemeteries commemorating the war dead, vast stretches of beaches that are sporadically littered by German gun emplacements, bunkers and memorial museums. Mont Saint-Michel (trivial: the French attraction that comes in second to none other than the Eiffel Tower in terms of visitors) is listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites and rightly so on the basis of the sheer number of wars it has stood fort for as well as the magnificence of its imposing gothic-styled abbey sitting stoically above a rocky islet. Culture mavericks will be sure to know that Le Harve is the birthplace of the Impressionist movement in painting and should definitely make a trip down to immerse in the idyllic surroundings painters such as Eugene Boudin once drew inspiration from. Also, art lovers would and should definitely pay homage to Monet by visiting his tranquil     pink house with green shutters situated in Giverny. Largely untouched by time, Monet’s canvas springs to life before your vey eyes when you enter.

Normandy is not unfettered by time- seeing how modern architecture is entwining curiously with that of its past landscape. It is however unfettered by the psyche of modernity. The folks may not necessarily be the most welcoming but they do warm up with time. This is perhaps how the region retains its allure- by not getting too caught up in being pandering to tourist ideals. Rather on relying on gimmicks, Normandy charms visitors with the real deal- impeccable food, rich history and dappled sunlight across unforgettable sights that have inspired generations of painters.

 


The cave paintings in Normandy, particularly in Eure and Calvados,  place its antiquity in prehistoric times.  More is known about the Celts whose artifacts have been dated to 4th Century BCE with the discovery of Iron Age artifacts in burial grounds.  The Celts and Belgians (together known as the Gauls) were conquered in 98 AD by the Romans, and later in 5th Century AD the Franks became the dominant ethnic group.  The Vikings hammered the region in the 8th Century AD

At the turn of the 8th century, the invaders established themselves in the area and began practising Christianity. An agreement between King Charles the Simple and Viking chief Hrolfr led to the area being handed over to Norsemen (Normans) and the preceding inspiration for the country’s name.

After a lull of approximately two centuries, William the Conqueror, the duke of Normandy, led troops into the Battle of Hastings and defeated the English and was thereafter triumphantly crowned King of England. This historical turn of events is the reason why the Channel Islands came under English rule and remain so till this very day. With his conquest, Norman-French culture and language began to infiltrate England. His rule however began to pose a threat to the King of France and resulted in a division of loyalty between the House of Anjou (claiming stake over France) and the House of Valois (claiming stake over England and France). The Hundred Years’ War that resulted (1337-1453) pretty much ravaged the region. Normandy swung between English and French rule during this period of time before France managed to assert her sovereignty towards the end.

Peace, however, was further disrupted by the French Wars of Religion (1562-98) where conflict between the Catholics and Protestants led to massive civil wars. Whether the wars were ended with the Edict of Nantes or the Peace of Alais, one thing that was certain was the staggering number of casualties resulting directly or indirectly from the four decades of fighting– the population of France dwindled from 16-18 million to approximately 2-4 million.

The next historical event that thrust Normandy into the world spotlight happened on 6 June 1944. D-Day, as it is popularly known, involved Operation Neptune and Operation Overlord that saw a staggering 175,000 troops landing across the stretch of the Normandy coast. D-Day is remembered for it was pivotal in the liberation of Europe from Nazi-rule that came 25 August in the same year.

 


 

                                                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                A.  MANCHE  1. Cherbourg  2. Coutances  3. Mont Saint-Michel  4. Saint-Lô  5. Utah Beach   

                                                                                                                                                                B. CALVADOS 1 to 4. D-Day Beaches (1.Omaha 2.Gold 3.Juno 4.Sword)  5. Bayeaux  6. Caen  7. Deauville  8. Trouville  9. Honfleur   

                                                                                                                                                                C. SEINE-MARITIME 1. Le Havre  2. Côte d`Albâtre (orange line between Le Havre and Tréport)  3. Étretat  4. Dieppe  5. Rouen

                                                                                                                                                                D. EURE  1. Les Andelys  2. Évreux  3. Giverny (Monet's Garden)          

                                                                                                                                                                E. ORNE  1. Alençon

Javascript is required to view this map.