An immense historical and cultural heritage

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Normandy is like a great open-air history book! The region’s countless châteaux, keeps and other centuries-old monuments bear witness to over 1,000 years of highly visible history. Going from the Vikings via Richard the Lionheart and Joan of Arc to the Industrial Revolution and the D-Day landing beaches, during a professional gathering here, you can feel the great weight of the past at every turn.

3000 – that’s the number of buildings listed or cited on the French register of historical monuments. On top of that, we should mention the exceptional number of archaeological sites dotted around the region (c.30,000). These statistics speak volumes about the region’s historical heritage and its impact on French history. In each of Normandy’s five départements, or counties, explore archaeological sites, museums and protected heritage.


You can’t consider Normandy’s history without thinking of the Vikings, those exceptional Scandinavian navigators who founded the Duchy of Normandy. In fact, the region was originally called Normannia, a contraction of Northmannia, signifying ‘‘men of the North’’. Their most famous descendant, Duke William, became ‘‘the Conqueror’’ when, in 1066, he invaded and won England. The events are retold in the Bayeux Tapestry, in fact an amazing embroidery of that period. Then of course there’s Richard the Lionheart, who had Château Gaillard built, its dramatic vestiges attracting many thousands of visitors every year.


D-Day, the Longest Day… many terms have entered common parlance to evoke 6 June 1944. Yes, the biggest amphibious operation of all time played out on Normandy’s beaches. Codenamed Omaha Beach, Juno Beach, Gold Beach, the strands west of Caen remain etched in the collective memory.
Many sites, museums and monuments commemorate these historic events. Among the very best known are the American War Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer and the Mémorial de Caen.

In short, along Normandy’s coastline as well as inland, you can’t fail to be struck by all the signs of an exceptional past, making Normandy such a unique region.