Normandy and Northern France

Normandy is in northern France and is located on the southern side of the English Channel. Its location over the years has resulted in many historic events and these incidents have resulted in the area being an interesting place for tourists to visit.

Just a small section of the Bayeux Tapestry

It is one of the easiest places for tourists in the UK to visit with the nearby port of Calais being only 26 miles from the UK mainland. Within Normandy there is the port of Le Havre which is the region’s biggest city and it offer a regular time table of journeys to Portsmouth. The same destination in England is reached from the ferry port at Cherbourg.

One of the regions most visited sites is the Bayeux tapestry which is on display in the Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux. It consists of an embroidered cloth which is nearly 70 metres long, accurately detailing the events of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It includes 50 detailed scenes that show the events leading up to the conquest and includes King Harold getting struck by an arrow in his eye at the battle of Hastings. The tapestry was previously on display in the Bayeux Cathedral and there are plans for it to be displaced at the British Museum in London 2022.

Normandy is also renowned for the D-Day Landings in June 1944. The beaches of the region were the landing point for an army of both service and recreational boats, carrying Allied troops across the channel to liberate France and the rest of north-west Europe.

It consisted of almost 7000 vessels carrying almost 195,000 troops. The operation was also helped by 24,000 troops being parachuted in to the region and the French resistance were also mobilized. The Germans had heavily defended the coastline and the invasion resulted in many fatalities in the landings. Estimates suggest that the Germans lost in the region of 8,000 men while the Allies lost 4,500 troops, with a further 6000 being injured.

The famous Camembert Cheese

Many of the beaches today that were part of the landings are visited by tourist parties. There are a variety of museums in the region with the Musee du Mur de l’Atlantique Le Bunker depicting what it was like for the German soldiers defending the beach from their cramped bunkers. There are many cemeteries remembering those who lost their lives in the battle.

Normandy has been the home to many famous painters and one of its most famous artists was Claude Monet. His painting Impression, Sunrise painted in Le Havre in 1872 resulted in the creation of the impressionist movement.

This resulted in many artists visiting the area taking advantage of its special light and its natural beauty. One of the most popular destination was at the mouth of the River Seine as it entered the English Channel at Le Havre. There are many museums such as the Musee Andre Lemaitre in the area, celebrating the work of William Turner, Gustave Courbet and Alfred Sisley, as well as Monet himself.

Normandy is a productive agricultural area. It is important in France as many of the products that are grown in the region cannot be produced in the drier regions of the country. Dairy farming is especially productive and as well as producing an abundance of milk and cream, the area is famed for its cheeses.

Two of the most famous cheeses are Pont l’Eveque and Camembert. These are both soft, creamy cheeses that reflect the richness of the local milk. Camembert is produced around the village of Camembert from unpasteurized milk which is warmed and then transferred to cylindrical Camembert moulds. There are many markets that tourists visit that sell the local produce, and Normandy is home to many food festivals. One of the most famous in the Pont l’Eveque: Fete du fromage Festival, which celebrates all of the cheeses in the region.

The restaurants in the area are famous for the dishes that are produced. The combination of the rich agricultural industry with the quality of the local fish makes dining a wonderful experience in this part of France.