Updated on 15 December 2022
Reading time: 7 minutes
Brimming with history, culture, stunning natural scenery, remembrance sites and great good & drink, Normandy truly has it all! We invite you to escape, to enjoy and to explore all that our beautiful part of France has to offer. Just in case you need convincing, here is a list of ten good reasons to visit Normandy next year:
1. It has been voted ‘Most Desirable Region in Europe’!
On Tuesday 8th November, hundreds of the world’s foremost travel leaders convened at the Tower of London for the 21st Wanderlust Travel Awards, presented by legendary travel broadcaster Simon Reeve. For the very first time, a French region took Gold for the Most Desirable Region (Europe), and that region is Normandy! Over 50,000 people took part in the vote, and Normandy came up against strong contenders with Andalusia nabbing Silver just ahead of the Greek Islands. We are over the moon to have won this Gold award and hope that many of you will come and see just how desirable Normandy is in 2023!
2. It’s hosting the 8th edition of the world-famous Rouen Armada
Come and marvel at the world’s finest tall ships during this festival on the banks of the River Seine in the host city of Rouen from 8 to 18 June. This key event in the international sailing calendar will bring together visitors from near and far with thousands of French and foreign sailors. Fifty magnificent tall ships, along with military boats from all over the world, will line Rouen’s quaysides for ten days of celebrations, finishing with the parade along the River Seine, which will see the fine ships head downstream towards the estuary between Honfleur and Le Havre. The Rouen Armada is the only event of its kind in France. In 2019, around 4 million spectators were welcomed to Rouen over the 10-day period, and thousands of sailors from across the world walked the streets of Normandy’s capital city. 2023 promises to be bigger and better than ever before!
3. It’s home to France’s Favourite monument
Each year, viewers of the “Monument Préféré des Français” TV programme are asked to vote for their favourite French monument out of a selection of 14 contenders. The Cité de la Mer proudly represented Normandy in 2022 and won the title! Another good reason to visit this unique and amazing family-friendly site. The imposing building that houses The Cité de la Mer offers a rich insight in to the city’s maritime history. Inaugurated in the 1930s, this listed Art Deco structure was once the Transatlantic Terminal of Cherbourg, combining a maritime and railway station. Make sure to visit Le Redoutable – the only ballistic missile nuclear submarine in the world that is open to the general public. The Cité de la Mer is a fantastic place for families with children and it features great attractions for all ages.
4. It will see the opening of the new D-Day Museum in Arromanches
The Musée du Débarquement (D-Day Museum) in Arromanches was the very first museum built to present the events from 6 June 1944 onwards in Normandy. In March 2023, the museum will unveil a new 1200 m2 exhibition space to help visitors understand the incredible technological challenge of building the artificial port, a gigantic project initiated by Winston Churchill. The new building is located just a few steps away from the former museum, and right in front of the remains of the artificial port.
5. It’s full of new experiences
Want to try something out of the ordinary? Take your pick from our unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences – a selection of sights and activities that are exclusively available in our region and which enable visitors from all over the world to experience Normandy to its full potential, and engage with local people, places and traditions. New experiences include painting like Claude Monet on the clifftops of the Alabaster Coast, an Aéroplume flight in a historic airship hangar or a two-wheel escape to Giverny.
6. It’s home to Bagnoles-de-l’Orne, a true green heaven
The beautiful spa town of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne received an award in September 2022 at the international Green Destinations Awards, in recognition of its efforts for sustainability, strategy and green achievements. This programme certifies and promotes sustainable tourist destinations at the international level according to environmental, socio-economic and cultural criteria. Nestled in the very heart of the lush countryside of the Orne, this small town is the perfect retreat to escape the hustle and bustle!
7. It will see the arrival of the Rolex Fastnet Race this summer
For the second time, the city of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin will host the finish of the iconic and successful Rolex Fastnet Race for the 50th edition of the biennial sailing race. In 2021, a record breaking-sized fleet of 337 boats from 24 nations took part in the sailing contest. A Race Village and many festivities are planned in the heart of the city to invite sailing enthusiasts to take part in this great ocean festival. Cherbourg-en-Cotentin is one of France’s most famous channel ports, closely linked to naval history and transatlantic adventures, and the Cotentin Coast is home to the many prominent water sports events.
8. It will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Transat Jacques Vabre
In its 30 years of existence, the biannual Transat Jacques Vabre has managed to establish itself as the toughest and longest-running two-handed transat. The original concept is simple: the source of this great race is a historical route, the coffee route. Le Havre and coffee share the same legend, that of the trade which saw the best sailors of their time taking on the Atlantic to bring back to Europe the beans used to extract the precious beverage. The regatta is the ideal opportunity for visitors to discover this famous sailing competition, for a whole week (during 10 days end of October) in the bustling race village, which is traditionally set up around the place where the boats are moored. The festivities end the day before departure with a huge party and a spectacular firework display over the basin.
9. It’s great to visit all year round
Explore Normandy’s major visitor attractions in the spring before the crowds arrive, make the most of our numerous outdoor events and light shows in the summer, visit our many mouth-watering food festivals in the autumn or, once winter hits, enjoy the magic of the festive season at one of our Christmas markets. There is always something going on in Normandy!
10. It’s easy to get to!
If you live in the UK, simply hop on the ferry and a few hours’ later you’ll be in Normandy. Our beautiful part of France boasts four ferry ports linking us to Portsmouth, Poole and Newhaven. You can travel in the comfort of your own car and enjoy lots of space and fresh air once on board! If you’re a cycling enthusiast, you can take your bike too. If you’re travelling from the US or Canada, Normandy is just an hour’s drive from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. You can also catch a train from Paris Saint-Lazare station and 60 minutes later you’ll be in Giverny or 80 minutes later in Rouen!