Driving Through Normandy France: A Vacation Rich in History

By January 26, 2013European Travel

In less than 10 hours, the drive from Paris to the western coast of France is jam-packed with both ancient and modern history. William the Conqueror set out to take over the English throne from Normandy in 1066. The D-Day Invasion beaches remain to be explored. Travel Showcase put together a 6-stop journey that allows you to experience the land’s powerful scenery, enchanting architecture, delicious food, and historical culture.

From Paris you start by driving to Rouen. This big city hosts many historical sites to see at its center, including the Place du Vieux Marche. This Old Market Square is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. Wandering up the street you’ll find the resting place for several of Claude Monet’s paintings, the gothic Cathedrale Notre-Dame.

After Rouen you arrive at the alluring harbor town of Honfleur. Historically, the town attracted Impressionist Painters, and today Honfleur continues to be a meeting place for artists. This is a great place to spend the night. Sit by the Vieux Bassin (the Old Dock) for a glass of wine and an outdoor dinner.

The next stop through Normandy is Bayeaux, where you see the Bayeaux Tapestry. Created in 1066, the 20 inches wide and 230 feet long tapestry tells the story of the Norman Invasion of England from the French perspective. The tapestry even depicts that year’s passing of Haley’s comet.

The D-Day Invasion Beaches are only about 10 miles away from Bayeaux. Here you visit a museum or two, stop in cemeteries to honor the brave soldiers that died there, and walk the beaches for the opportunity to reflect on what happened there.

End your drive by visiting Mont Saint Michel. This monastery is one of the greatest sights of France; it is perched high on a rock in the middle of the bay. The view from a distance is spectacular. The surrounding area can be crowded with tourists, but remember, the stalls that are now selling snow globes and ash trays were once selling candles and medallions. They have been attracting pilgrims and tourists for centuries.

When returning to Paris, your drive through Normandy stops in Giverny to see the gardens that Monet so often painted. It is an amazing way to end the historic drive, as the exuberant beauty of Monet’s gardens contrasts the reflections of the 1944 war.

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