It’s one of France’s most iconic images: the slender spires, stout ramparts and rocky outcrops of Mont St-Michel rising dramatically from the sea – or towering over slick, shimmering sands laid bare by the receding tide. Despite vast numbers of tourists, both the rock-top abbey and the narrow alleys below still manage to transport visitors back to the Middle Ages.
The bay around Mont St-Michel is famed for having Europe’s highest tidal variations. Regardless of the time of year, the waters sweep in at an astonishing clip, said to be as fast as a galloping horse.
But the Mont’s star attraction is the stunning ensemble crowning its top: the abbey. The buildings on the northern side of the Mont are known as ‘The Marvel’. The famous cloister, the beautiful refectory and the architecture of the abbey church will have no secrets for you.
D-Day landing beaches
The beaches of Sword, Gold, Juno, Omaha and Utah, chosen for the Allied landing on June 6th 1944, are among the most exciting sites in the region. They will immerse you in one of the most glorious and dramatic episodes of the 20th century. From the Côte de Nacre to the start of the Cotentin, I invite you to discover these high places of the Battle of Normandy, and to immerse yourself in the great history. Treading on the sand on these beaches, walking through the alleys of military cemeteries, entering a blockhouse of the Atlantic Wall is the best way to immerse yourself in the history of the Landing and to try to imagine what these thousands young soldiers lived on D-Day morning.
The old harbour, with its bobbing pleasure boats, is the best Honfleur’s postcard : houses are reflected in the peaceful waters of the Vieux Bassin protected by the green slopes of the surrounding hills. But the harbour which Samuel de Champlain sailed to found Quebec City is more than that. Honfleur is a city with a prestigious historical past, resolutely turned to the future. In turn, maritime city; starting point for major expeditions to new lands, an internationally renowned commercial port and artistic city, the cradle of famous personalities, Honfleur crossed the centuries marking history. Spared, for the most part, by the trials of time, the small city has preserved the witnesses of this rich historical past which make it today one of the most visited cities in France.
Caen became a strategic city in the Middle Ages, under the leadership of William the Conqueror. This glorious past remains today, in the heart of the city, a huge castle and two superb abbeys. From the top of the ramparts of the castle, the panorama of the city, the marina, and the Saint-Pierre church is magnificent. The Normandy Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, both located within the castle grounds, are worth a detour. The Abbaye-aux-Hommes and the Abbaye-aux-Dames, founded by William the Conqueror and his wife, Mathilda of Flanders, are among the most remarkable monuments of Caen. Between these monuments stretches the historic center, its medieval streets, its dormant cemeteries, the Saint-Sauveur square lined with superb private mansions. Places not to be missed! A little further from the city center is the Memorial, a museum that traces the history of the Second World War and also pays a vibrant tribute to peace.