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A Week in Normandy: What to See and Where to Eat in Northen France

Ah, Normandy! Although a few months have passed, I am still thinking about this trip that I somehow randomly organized around Christmas last year and that has turned out to be one of my favourite trips ever. 

This region of Northen France, that I reached by car from Milan with a some stops along the road, is an incredible mix of tradition, nature, history and breath-taking landscapes. If you are considering a tour of those areas, here are my suggestions.

Here is what to see and where to eat in Normandy! Profitez en bien! 

DIJON

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A house in Dijon | © Caterina Zanzi

I suggest considering Dijon as a stop when going to Normandy from Milan. It is home to the famous Dijon mustard and it also is a very relaxing town where you will stroll around with pleasure. I stopped there both on my outward journey and while coming back and I stayed at the gorgeous Grand Hôtel La Cloche, an affordable 5 star hotel with exquisite breakfast and private parking included. Before hitting the road to Normandy again, have a walk on the cute streets in the centre, admire the Notre Dame and  pay a visit to the Maille store where you can purchase any type of mustard you could ever think of!

ROUEN

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Rouen| © Caterina Zanzi

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L’Aitre Saint Maclou di Rouen| © Caterina Zanzi

I chose Rouen as the first official stop-over of my trip, a pretty university town, a true eye-candy with its historical centre, the flower shops, the restaurants serving omelettes and the antique buildings. Furthermore, the position of Rouen is quite strategic: if you are based here, for the first days at least, you can easily reach other attractions in Normandy such as Omaha Beach and Etretat.

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A flower shop in Rouen | © Caterina Zanzi

Don’t miss the old town, the romantic Place du Vieux-Marche and l’Aître St-Maclou. I won’t tell you where I stayed because, unfortunately, it turned out to be a dump (my first disappointment after years of using Airbnb), whereas for lunch or dinner I suggest the Libanese restaurant Payiz.

ÉTRETAT

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A cliff in Étretat | © Caterina Zanzi

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Étretat| © Caterina Zanzi

Possibly among the most beautiful landscapes I saw in Normandy, and among the 10 best I have seen in my life: that’s Étretat, a small and picturesque village with an indoor market and, most importantly, a pebble beach between two cliffs where you can admire the majesty of wild nature plunging in the sea. You must hike to the top of at least one of the cliffs – it is an easy hike even for a lazy person as me –  and the view from above will be worth it.

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Raw fish in Étretat| © Caterina Zanzi

After this effort you can enjoy some raw fish servings at La Marie Antoinette, where I had an excellent plateau with every seafood goodness possible!

BAYEUX

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An omelette in Bayeux | © Caterina Zanzi

The third stop after Dijon and Rouen was Bayeux, a little village that was perfect for discovering the western part of Normandy. The few central streets are pretty and here you will find the famous Bayeux Tapestry that I didn’t have the chance to see because it was closed for Christmas holidays. If you also decide to have a stop-over here, I suggest La Maison de Mathilde hotel, whereas for dinner you should check out the tasting menu at Le Pommier. It will take you about an hour and a half  to reach Mont Saint-Michel from Bayeux, while for Omaha Beach it will only take 20 minutes!

THE D-DAY BEACH

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Omaha Beach | © Caterina Zanzi

The beach of D-Day is one of the absolutely must visit places, and I am not saying just because of my history degree, but visiting this place was emotional. This is where the liberation of Europe from the Nazis started, and you will enjoy this place both for the historical meaning and for the amazing landscape. I went to Arromanches, where 2 and a half million soldiers arrived, in Omaha Beach, almost 7 kilometers of coast where to most important battle took place and I also went to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Trust me, a visit here will be good for you.

MONT SAINT-MICHEL

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Mont Saint-Michel | © Caterina Zanzi

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Mont Saint-Michel | © Caterina Zanzi

I confess that the idea of a trip to Normandy was due to my desire to see Mont Saint-Michel. The journey was worth it and it was compensated with one of the most romantic moments ever. When you get on the shuttle and the profile of this island start to be more defined, you can’t but be touched. Discover the more you can: get between the alleys, enjoy the tides, visit the abbey and take load of photos: you will be thinking about this for long after you return home! 

HONFLEUR

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Honfleur | © Caterina Zanzi

Honfleur, a tiny village along the Seine, is one of the cutest and most romantic town that you can visit crossing the spectacular Pont de Normandie. In summertime a visit to the nearby fishing tows of Deauville and Trouville must be worth it, at least for a fish based lunch. After Honfleur I also visited Caen that I didn’t find to be anything special and that I won’t recommend unless you have a lot of time. In case you do have time you can go westbound and visit St.Malo and Cancale!

Before leaving, check out my other pics of this holiday on my Instagram profile or searching the #ConoscoUnPostoGoesToNormandy hashtag. In the meantime have fun and enjoy your holiday! 

Read the original article on Conosco un Posto. This English version was translated by Tamara Ilic.

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