- Countryside Fecund farmland-on-sea
- Country life Beachcombing, rustic roaming
A vast rural region of castles, Camembert and clifftops, Normandy is as rich in history as it is in mouthwatering rustic produce.
Normandy’s miles of fertile field and orchard are its heart and soul; Channel-side, sandy strands and chalky cliffs are punctuated by ports great and small, as well as elegant seaside resorts such as Deauville and Trouville. It is weightily historic, the place where William the Conqueror was born, Joan of Arc perished at the stake, and Allied forces invaded and liberated Europe during World War II; you’ll find rich pickings among castles, cathedrals and museums. Gastronomically, Normandy is celebrated for Camembert, oysters, forestfuls of fungi, and all things appley, from sugar candy to Calvados. And don’t fret about food miles – in a fat-of-the-land destination like this one, your lunch will have travelled no more than yards.
Do go/Don’t go
As you’d expect of a northwesterly, coastal area, Normandy can be wet and windy. July and August are the sunniest months, June and September quieter. Whenever you go, take rainy-day gear. As you’d expect of a northwesterly, coastal area, Normandy can be wet and windy. July and August are the sunniest months, June and September quieter. Whenever you go, take rainy-day gear.
Planes Catch a domestic flight from Lyon to Rouen (www.airfrance.com) if you’re coming from the Midi. Paris Charles de Gaulle is the nearest access point for passengers from the UK and elsewhere.
Boats Channel-side Normandy is served by a glut of ports providing easy access by ferry from the UK. For Honfleur, Le Havre is nearest, though Dieppe will do nicely (www.ldlines.com). Alençon is a two-hour drive from Le Havre.
Trains From Paris, it’s a swift two hours between the Gare Saint-Lazare and central Caen (www.sncf.com). For Lower Normandy, take the TGV from Paris Montparnasse to Le Mans (one hour). Marseille to Rennes is a six-hour schlep (www.tgv.com).
Automobiles From Paris | the A13 and A11 motorways take you to the north and south of the region respectively. Rouen is a two-hour drive from Calais | 90 minutes from Paris | or one hour from Le Havre.
- Taxis There are few Norman towns big enough to warrant cabbing it. In Rouen, you’ll find taxi stands on both sides of the river. Caen’s pick-up points include the train station. In remoter areas, ask your hotel to book a car for you.