Beautifully accentuated by Mont Saint-Michel, Lower Normandy begins where the Seine abandons itself to the waters of the English Channel. Its flowery coast contrasts with the long D-Day beaches and the sometimes rough coast of the Cotentin. This is all to be discovered in the same way as one would turn the pages of a history book...
D-Day has left in its trail a few circuits loaded with memories. Yet all that’s left of the Atlantic Wall is a waterfront called the Mother-of-Pearl Coast. Still, between the Orne and Vire rivers, four beaches - Sword, Juno, Gold and Omaha – stretch over 120 kilometres. Before you stroll along their length, your stay in Lower Normandy will take you on a tour of Caen and its Peace Museum: the sober memorial will help you experience, on a giant screen, the Battle of Normandy, as seen from both the Allied and the German sides.
As you leave the city, there are two roads leading to Bayeux and Queen Mathilda’s famous tapestry. The first, which goes past the Ardenne Abbey is more concerned with Romanesque and Gothic marvels than with warfare: one should stop in Rots, Sequeville-en-Bessin and Norrey. On the other hand, the Odon circuit focuses on the fierce battles where the English suffered a great many losses. We advise you to stop at a neighbouring farm close to the Château de Fontaine Etoupefour to sample a glass of fresh, sparkling cider or pommeau, before heading for the coast to reach stern Omaha Beach.
Along the beach, there is a road leading to the American cemetery, which overlooks the Ruquet Valley and the trail opened up by Engineering Corps units. To the North-West, the village of Sainte-Mère-Eglise pays tribute to the American parachutists who died to liberate France.
Like the stem and prow of the Norman Drakkar, the Manche department faces, on its Western flank, the last of the Atlantic waves, while to the East, the enclosed garden of the Bay of the Seine opens its arms.
Whilst on your pilgrimage to Mont Saint-Michel, don’t deprive yourself of the pleasure of passing through the narrow Cotentin peninsula. On the way, why not sail from Saint-Vaast to Tatihou Island, as an excuse to visit the Maritime Museum and to enjoy the dunes and the shores, a favoured hangout for birds. Back on land, check out the Château de Tourlaville, 5 km east of Cherbourg, if only to find out about the tale of the Ravalet lovers.
During your stay in Lower Normandy, you can also enjoy the charm of the small town of Valognes, and to visit Pirou Fort, stopping at Barneville-Carteret Church and at Lessay Abbey-Church, which represented the ultimate refuge to many.
Much further North, a stone’s throw from the estuary, Honfleur and its slender buildings displays their seafood stalls. To the South, Deauville and Trouville, the gambling and party queens, invite you to try your luck: casinos, racetracks, etc. Or to get away, the Norman corniche and the flowery coast are some of the itineraries you shouldn’t miss.
Enjoy Norman cuisine the way Barbey d'Aurevilly did: Norman escalope coated in vintage cream, cockles and oysters from Courseulles and Saint-Vaast, Mère Poulard omelette at Mont Saint-Michel... for your gastronomic stay.
You will then have plenty of time to stretch your legs by taking the Parks and Gardens Route that crosses the Orne, Calvados and Manche departments. This itinerary is a way to discover an exotic Normandy in Plantbessin and Beaumont-Hague, a classic Normandy in La Mansart at Brécy Castle, and a most luxurious Normandy in Granville.
Book your next stay in Lower Normandy in a Logis hotel restaurant and enjoy a friendly, personalised welcome within a setting that is both charming and warm-hearted.