• Normandy 1
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Normandy

The history of this part of France has been entangled with British history ever since William the Conqueror set sail from Barfleur in 1066. In the most recent conflict of World War II, the Normandy Beaches played a pivotal role in bringing hostilities in Western Europe to an end for over 70 years and hopefully for ever.

With this wealth of historical interest and wide ranging natural beauty, Normandy is an obvious choice for those groups wanting to experience many different aspects of France without covering vast distances overland.

The most popular parts of Normandy are Calvados and Manche because they can offer a great combination of history, beauty, museums, beaches, and culture.

The Calvados département includes the D-Day landing Beaches, Bayeux with its tapestry, the Mémorial Peace Museum in Caen, the Arromanches D-Day and 360 Museums as well as the picturesque Honfleur and the stylish Deauville.

The Manche département reaches from the port of Cherbourg in the North to Mont St Michel in the South, and has many interesting attractions such as the war torn cathedral of St Lô, the cathedral and architecture of Coutances, the museums and workshops of Villedieu les Poêles and the iconic Mont St Michel.

Most groups will find enough to fill their tour in these two départements, but for those who want to travel further afield, a trip towards Paris will take them to Rouen or to Monet’s Garden at Giverny. There is also the beautiful wooded spa of Bagnole de l’Orne or the birthplace of William the Conqueror in the Château of Falaise.

Whatever your interests or reasons for visiting Normandy are, you can be sure that the only thing missing from your stay there will be disappointment.

Sample Itinerary

We recommend a minimum five day itinerary. Each group will have its own special interests and curricular needs. That’s why every visit can be completely tailored around you. All non-travel days are interchangeable and infinitely variable to meet the needs of your group.

Day 1

Travel to Normandy.

Day 2

Visit to Caen Memorial, Pegasus Bridge, Musee du Debarquement and the 360 degree Cinema in Arromanches. Bowling in the evening.

Day 3

Visits to Bayeux Tapestry, Biscuit making and Goat Farm. Special evening meal in a typical French restaurant with a chance to taste snails.

Day 4

Visit the visitors centre above the Landing Beaches – then spend time down on the beaches followed by one or more cemeteries or take a day trip out to the UNESCO heritage site – Mont St Michel.

Day 5

Travel home.

Visits And Excursions

If you only have one day to study World War II, we suggest you start with the Pegasus Bridge museum, then proceed to Arromanches 360, before getting an overall understanding at the Caen Peace Museum. The enormity of the loss of life can then be understood by visiting the British Cemetery at Bayeux or the American Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer.

You’ll find some suggested excursions below, but you can always call us to discuss more options.

Rondo Recommends:

A - Art & Architecture | C - Culture | G - Geography | H - History | L - Leisure | P - Performing Arts | Sc - Science, Tech & Engineering | G - General Tourist Attraction

The Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry

H

The original tapestry is best visited with an audio guide and time should be allowed to visit the museum and watch the informative and entertaining film.

Pegasus Bridge Memorial

Pegasus Bridge Memorial

H

This museum for the 6th Airborne Division and their contribution to the liberation of Normandy on D-Day was opened in 2000 and hundreds of artefacts including the bridge itself are on display.

The Caen Mémorial Peace Museum

The Caen Mémorial Peace Museum

H

If you only have the time to visit one WWII related memorial then this is the one to choose. Its name is chosen to show that peace is more important than war, but as you enter you descend physically and emotionally from the Peace of 1918 to the war of 1939. Films and displays take you through the horrors of war to the light of peace in 1945.

Arromanches 360 Museum - (Click for more information)

History

A 360 degree cinema that puts the visitor at the heart of the action in 1944.

Airborne Museum Ste Mère Eglise - (Click for more information)

History

This remarkable museum records the American airborne landings of the D Day campaign in June 1944, known throughout the world for the paratrooper and his parachute becoming entangled in the church spire.

Villedieu les Poêles - (Click for more information)

Culture History Leisure Activity Science, Technology and Engineering General Tourist Attraction

This small town lies on the way from the north of the county of Normandy to Mont St Michel. Nowhere has more to offer about the history of the Normans with its museums for furniture, bicycles, lace, copper and pewter, its bell foundry and its copperware workshops.

Honfleur - (Click for more information)

Culture Geography History Leisure Activity General Tourist Attraction

The picturesque port so favoured by artists is full of history and charm.

Deauville - (Click for more information)

Culture History Leisure Activity Performing Arts General Tourist Attraction

Still the place to be seen with its famous boardwalks on the beach, its American film festival and noted racecourse.

Cherbourg - (Click for more information)

Culture History Leisure Activity General Tourist Attraction

Best known as a port of entry into France, Cherbourg has so much more to offer with its castle, its market, shops, beaches and its innovative Sea Life Centre.

Rouen - (Click for more information)

Art and Architecture Culture Geography History Leisure Activity General Tourist Attraction

The capital of Normandy has a wealth of history, art and architecture to explore. Don’t miss the light shows on the cathedral.

Caen - (Click for more information)

Art and Architecture Culture Geography History Leisure Activity Performing Arts General Tourist Attraction

The capital of the Calvados region is also a lively shopping centre with a port in the heart of the city and a castle dating back to William the Conqueror.

Bayeux - (Click for more information)

Art and Architecture Culture History Leisure Activity General Tourist Attraction

Known worldwide for its tapestry telling the story of the Battle of Hastings. Bayeux also has fascinating history and architecture and one of the most significant British cemeteries of World War II.

Mont St Michel - (Click for more information)

Art and Architecture Culture Geography History Leisure Activity Science, Technology and Engineering General Tourist Attraction

One of France’s most iconic landmarks with its stunning monastery perched on the rock face, and must be visited along with the hustle and bustle of the shops and cafés of the steep approach.

The Castle of Falaise - (Click for more information)

History

The birthplace of William the Conqueror. The latest technology is used in the castle and groups are offered personal iPads which enables visitors to visualise the castle rooms as they were in the 11th century.

The Castle of Caen - (Click for more information)

History

Learn more about the history of William the Conqueror and his preparations for the invasion of England.

The Landing Beaches - (Click for more information)

History

A tour of the landing beaches, which is a way marked route, gives a good overall view of the enormity of the invasion that led to the end of World War II.

Arromanches Landing Museum - (Click for more information)

History

Built on the edge of the artificial harbour wall, this museum tells the entire story of the landings in this part of Normandy.

Merville Battery - (Click for more information)

History

This museum has been developed by the 9th battalion of British Parachute Regiment and allows visitors to experience the conditions suffered by soldiers in the war.

Bayeux Cemetery - (Click for more information)

History

This is the major British cemetery in the area and your students may want to look up the graves of members of their families.

The American Cemetery - (Click for more information)

History

The sheer size of this coastal cemetery at Colleville will give your students a huge sense of the scale of the loss of young life. This is an immaculate and thought provoking site.

Goat Farm Visit - (Click for more information)

Culture Geography Science, Technology and Engineering General Tourist Attraction

In the south of Calvados you can visit Monsieur Martin’s farm and learn all about goats and their production of milk and cheese first hand. The students can sometimes help with the feeding and milking. This is an extremely fun visit for the ‘kids’!

Bakery Visit - (Click for more information)

Culture Geography Science, Technology and Engineering General Tourist Attraction

This visit combines nicely because of its location with the cheese makers and apple farm visits to make a great ‘foodie’ day. The students will enjoy a hands-on experience of making organic bread.

Apple Farm Visit - (Click for more information)

Culture Geography Science, Technology and Engineering General Tourist Attraction

To the north east of Caen a visit to this apple farm will teach your group about growing and harvesting apples right the way through to the making of cider and Calvados. The new visitor centre is a fine example of energy efficiency as the bi-products of the manufacturing are used to heat the buildings.

Cheese Making Visit - (Click for more information)

Culture Geography Science, Technology and Engineering General Tourist Attraction

Thirty miles to the south east of Caen your students can learn all about the making of the famous Norman cheeses such as Camembert, Livarot and Pont l’Evêque at the Graindorge cheese making plant.

Espins

This hamlet to the south of Caen is home to one of our favourite centres.

La Grange d’Espins is a family run centre in its own extensive grounds. There are a maximum of two groups at any one time and there is plenty of outdoor space for activities and relaxation. The accommodation is simple, clean and comfortable. The welcome is always warm and groups return regularly, if they book the space soon enough!

Port En Bessin

This lively and colourful fishing village is known locally as ‘Port’ with its harbour full of in-shore fishing boats. The pleasant atmosphere is enhanced by the picturesque narrow streets that surround the sea front and give the town its character. There is a beach to the south of the outer harbour, and an eastern harbour used by pleasure craft.

The Eisenhower Hotel is right in the centre of the village and offers hotel style accommodation suited to youth groups. The owner was a chef in Paris, so you can enjoy his excellent cooking as part of your package.

Asnelles Sur Mer

The small seaside town of Asnelles sur Mer is situated opposite the artificial port of the Landing Beaches at Arromanches. The traditional villas and promenade offer a quiet and safe environment for school groups.

The Tamaris centre is right next to the beach, yet still offers its own grounds for students to enjoy themselves freely and safely.

Les Tourelles is the neighbour to Tamaris and offers similar facilities with its grounds and access to the beach.

Merville Franceville

This small community on the Côte Fleurie, 10 miles north of Caen and 4 miles west of Cabourg, was the strongest point in the coastal defence. It was taken by the British in 1944 and one of the four pill box shelters is now a museum.

The ever popular Bon Séjour centre is right on the beach and offers an ideal environment for school groups to explore Normandy.

Thury Harcourt

This is a small market town 16 miles to the south of Caen. There is a public swimming pool and tennis courts on the same site as the centre. In the town centre there is a good selection of small, typically French shops.

Our preferred accommodation, Le Traspy, only takes one group at a time.

The Cotentin peninsular also offers good accommodation opportunities for groups wishing to stay in Normandy. The area from Cherbourg to Mont St Michel is rich in tradition but was less involved in World War II. The fishing and shipping port of Cherbourg is now the home of an excellent Sea Life Centre, which also hosts a Titanic exhibition and has a submarine to explore. The historic cathedral of Coutances dominates the skyline for miles around. The town of Villedieu les Poêles houses many workshops and museums that offer a thorough insight into Norman traditions. The varied coastline leads down to the historic and impressive abbey on the Mont St Michel. Day visits to the Channel Islands are easier from here than from the UK.

Coutainville

This small coastal town is the seaside neighbour of Coutances; a quiet resort that offers sand yachting and a safe beach for young people. Le Home du Cotentin is close to the beach and was designed for families and youth groups, so offers an ideal option when visiting this area.

Granville

This popular and colourful port and marina offers a large youth hostel close to the beach, which is very popular with marine and naval students.