Normandy is situated along the English channel and a short train ride from Paris. This year marks Normandy’s first annual Impressionist Festival beginning June 4th and lasting well into September. Many of the paintings on display will have never been seen before. This alone would be reason to make visiting Normandy a priority and yet this region of France has so much more to offer. Here are five more reasons to put it on your must-see list.
Take a walk through Monet’s gardens in Giverny and you are sure to be left with a lasting impression. Here you can see a Monet painting come to life as you take in the water lilies floating atop his water garden, or take a walk across the little jade-colored Japanese foot bridge that was originally built by a local craftsman. These were all scenes that inspired some of Monet’s greatest works of art. As spring approaches within the garden you’ll find yourself inhaling the sweet smell of roses, tulips, peonies, oriental poppies and clematis just to name a few.
Follow the scent of apples in search of the perfect balance of tangy and sweet on Normandy’s cider trail. Beginning at Cambremer this antique path follows over 25 miles of trails. You can try Calvados, a type of brandy made from apples, that is native to this region. Apples or even pears are preferred and used to make cider over the typical use of grapes for wine.
It is a commonly held belief and and often repeated phrase that the first is the worst and second is best. The overwhelmingly magnificent presence of Mont Saint-Michel is certainly a testament to this saying. It holds the position of being the second most popular attraction in all of France, second only to the Eiffel Tower. Yet it could certainly be argued that its architecture and presence built atop a rocky island is more magnificent than the famous Gustav tower. This Benedictine Abbey is occasionally completely surrounded by water. There is a causeway that connects the mainland to the monastery and can easily be accessed. Many believe that this abbey was built upon the request of the Archangel Michael himself. I would argue that it’s a structure that would be impressive to even an Archangel.
Even people who found themselves nodding off in their fourth period history class would find it hard to not appreciate the largest military landing in history took place on Normandy’s beaches. On June 6th 1944, or D-Day, the entire direction of the war changed. In the age of Saving Private Ryan it would seem irreverent to visit Normandy without some acknowledgement of this incredible turning point in the history of WWII and in the history of our country. A visit to Omaha beach has been credited as life changing by many and it is certainly a place that I hope to visit one day.
France is known for its cuisine and food markets and Normandy is no exception. After visiting the historical sites a little shopping at the markets in Caen is the perfect diversion. With over 300 shops even the most inept at shopping could find something they like whether its a piece of fresh fruit or some memento from a flea markets that reminds you of your wonderful trip.
Why would you visit Normandy?