Planning a visit to Normandy

My husband and son are both fascinated by the World Wars and can often be found watching documentaries on the subject and with Kian studying the facts behind WW2 for his history GCSE I decided to surprise them with a visit to Normandy in France.

We are sailing via Condor Ferries from Poole, making a stop in Guernsey before heading to St Malo and then have a two-hour drive to Eco Gites of Lenault which will be our base for exploring for a week.

I last visited Normandy many years ago whilst still at school, so it is a long time since I last visited France and I have to admit that my French is a little rusty these days. Much of our week will be taken up with visiting the many memorials, museums and cemeteries that remember the brave soldiers who fought in this area in WWII after the D-Day Landings of June 6th 1944 however this holiday is not just for Hubby and Kian, we have the younger ones to consider too.

One of my clearest memories of my visit to the area was exploring La Mont St Michel, which is one of France’s most recognizable landmarks and is part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The Abbey and Monastery sit on top of an island just 600 metres from land which is only made accessible at low tide and it is the one place that I want to visit this holiday, plus they have the Reptilarium in Mont-Saint Michel, a farm with the most amazing array of reptiles: iguanas, crocodiles, lizards, snakes, tortoises and alligators which the kids will love.`

La Mont St Michel

Isaac is learning all about William the Conqueror at school at the moment, so another place we would like to take them is the Bayeux Tapestry Museum to see the 229 feet long, 19 inches high tapestry which tells the story of the Battle of Hastings.

Bayeux Tapestry

Following on from this theme Festyland is a thematic amusement park that brings the times of William the Conqueror to the present day. Kids will have lots of fun interacting with Vikings and pirates in more than 30 attractions designed for the whole family.

There are far too many museums related to WW2 for us to visit in our week-long visit, however top of the kids must visit list is the Normandy Tank Museum, the biggest museum in Normandy and the only place in France where you can ride in a tank! Hubby and Kian are both very keen on visiting the Overlord Museum which is dedicated to June 6th 1944 and the Battle of Normandy. The museum boasts a unique and exceptional collection of over ten thousand objects and documents found on Norman soil, carefully gathered over more than 40 years by a first-hand witness of the conflict.

Omaha Beach

Top of their list though is the Pegasus Bridge Memorial and Normandy Beaches.

Pegasus Bridge

Living on the Jurassic coast, we love our visits to interesting beaches and I would love to see Falais de Etretat which is best known  for its cliffs, including three natural arches, similar to our very own Durdle Door and the pointed “needle”.

Falaise d'Etretat

I have a feeling our week is not going to be long enough for all we want to see, but we will give it a good try!\

Have you visited Normandy – where do you recommend we visit?

22 thoughts on “Planning a visit to Normandy

  1. I managed to see all of these places when I went back when I was studying for my History GCSE – They Bayuex tapestry is a great site! Visiting the graves was also very moving xxx

  2. We’ve spent the past few years exploring Normandy and it is such a wonderful part of France, we visited Etretat last year and it is so beautiful. The beach isn’t particularly beachy but we managed a day there if you don’t mind a few pebbles. Alligator Bay is great, our kids loved this and it is perfect for the younger children. Our children were both quite young at the time we went to Mont St Michel and it was so busy that we got a bit of the way up and came back down as it was just to hectic and there isn’t much space to walk around, it is a beautiful place though.

    We’ve been to Pegasus Bridge and the D-Day landing beaches and American Cemeteries, all very moving places and if you are interested in WWII then well worth a visit, as is Pointe Du Hoc and the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches, very interesting pieces of history.

    Honfleur is a truly wonderful town to visit, the buildings are stunning and we had a great meal out there. For beaches, Deauville is a wonderful beach with plenty of activities and fresh seafood.

    I could go on for ages, there are so many cider farms which all offer tastings an often have little farms attached so even just a mooch around one of these is always a pleasure.
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  3. Thanks for giving Eco-Gites of Lenault a mention and I am looking forward to meeting you all! You certainly look like you have plenty planned. I have just checked the Festyland website and, as I thought, it does not open until April. However as an alternative you might want to consider the Castle at Falaise which was the birthplace of William The Conqueror and that is open. It has some very innovative use of hand-held tablets to really bring the castle alive – http://www.chateau-guillaume-leconquerant.fr/
    Do ask away if you have any questions.
    Rosie

  4. We haven’t visited yet. Sounds like you have lots planned. I think it’s wonderful that your son is interested in this part of our history and it’s fantastic that your encouraging it by taking him there too. Hope you have a fab time x
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  5. Oh fab, such a great way of bringing History allive for them. My son loves History and Geography and travelling really helps with making it all real.

  6. I havent been since my late teens! Mont St Michel was beautiful! And of course I did the obligatory school trips to the bayeux tapestry and various war memorials and the beaches when I was11/12. Beautiful place, must go back!
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  7. I visited Normandy many moons again as a teenager. Would love to go back with the boys think they would love all the history that is there. Have fun and look forward to hearing all about it! x

  8. Yes, we have, last year! We did one of the Normandy beaches where one of the biggest massacres took place during the war and stood in awe of the extent of the sea and the beautiful monument raised in memory of the lost soldiers. We tried to do Mont Saint- Michel but we were running late so we took a glimpse from the car park only. The place can get quite crowded and it is overtly expensive, bring snacks and sun umbrellas if going during the hot season!xx

  9. Oh Kara you will have the most amazing time! We loved our little jaunt around Northern France last year so much history. Sounds like you will be treated to much of the same. Look forward to hearing all about Rosie’s place too 🙂

  10. Such incredible history and so wonderful that so much of it is still honoured so that hopefully we can all continue to learn and not recreate the tensions that started it all. And, how beautiful is Mont Saint Michel. I loved visiting here.

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