Way back in 1944, the allied parties decided the best place to invade France was between Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and the mouth of the Orne. The German occupants didn't expect them over there. Their resistance was in vain. It took 27 war cemeteries to bury all the victims.
Nowadays, life is peaceful in Normandy. One should really visit it, if only for your kids historical notion. A good place to begin is the Peace Museum of Caen, but there are lots and lots of museums and memorials. By the way: the french refer to D-day by saying ‘Jour-J'. The landing of the allied forces is called ‘Le debarquement'.
Speaking of kids, they can have fun too. At the beaches, it's a game to catch ‘equilles', some kind of smelt that hides in the sand. At low tide, they come above the sand to get back to the sea. If you're fast enough, you can catch them with your bare hands.
|The cloister island Le
Mont Saint Michel
So there's more then just World War 2 memories in Normandy, even in Caen. For obvious reasons, the city is called Venice of the North. The city of Alencon has been the centre of the lace industry for ages. According to the famous writer Victor Hugo Rouen was the city of a 100 churches. Honfleur is a picturesque harbour village, that has lots to offer to art lovers.
It was Viking king Robert the Devil who built the castle at Moulineaux (Seine-Maritime), the place where some ages later, Jeanne d'Arc was detained.. There are just ruins left, but even in its present state the castle is still impressive. The legendary fighter in the 100 years was killed at a stake in Rouen. Over there a museum is dedicated to her.
In Dieppe the castle where writer Guy de Maupassant was born is open to the public. It is one of the view tempting spots in the cities coastal area that is destroyed by dreary new buildings. The villages center however is worth a visit. You'll find lots of restaurants around the port.
The cliffs in this area are nice, nothing more. More to the south, in the Etretat area, they become very impressive. They're higher. Top of the bill is the Etretat cliff with the elephant trunk sticking out in the sea.
Wheras the cliffs are spectacular, the landscape of Normandy is just a little shelving. English looking cottages are everywhere, so English people mey feel a bit at home in this prosperous part of France.
Exciting: the Pont de Normandie (Bridge of Normandy) over the mouth of the Seine at Le Havre. Clever Fenchmen created a parking lot at the toll station. From there, you can wander on the bridge. Appreciate both the technical wonders above you and the wonders of nature (river and wetlands) deep down below the bridge.
Don't forget: the cloister island of Mont-Saint-Michel, nearly at the border with Brittany. Mostly, it's possible to just walk around the island. The dam connecting the island to the mainland made the sea disappear. French government plans to deflect a river in order to rinse away the sand. Anyway, in high season the place is extremely crowded and extremely pricey.