Looking to explore Calvados but short for time? These ten must-see sites offer you the perfect insight into its identity and the great diversity of landscapes you will find in Calvados.
This truly colourful harbour town was a great source of inspiration for the Impressionist painters! And how not to keel over at the dizzying heights of the tall and narrow terraced houses that surround its Old Harbour, or one of the historic buildings here, that have survived the centuries? Take a stroll through the Garden of Fame, before heading as far as the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace and enjoy unrestricted views over Honfleur.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer
An Olympian setting where heroes are laid to rest. Looming above the immensity of Omaha Beach, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is home to the graves of 9,387 American soldiers who fell during the Battle of Normandy. A rush of emotion awaits you as you cast your gaze over these lines of white marble steles on their velvet green lawn, as far as the eye can see, and as you attend the daily Flag Ceremony.
The Bayeux Tapestry
Not only the ideal departure point for anyone wishing to tour the D-Day Landing Beaches, Bayeux is also renowned for its famous 11th century tapestry. Just like a giant comic strip, this 70 metre-long embroidery tells the story of the Norman Conquest of England by William the Conqueror. This exceptional testimony is now a Unesco Memory of the World site.
The Memorial de Caen
A conservatory for peace and a museum on World War II, the Mémorial de Caen takes you on an eventful journey through history and teaches you how this conflict left a lasting mark on Calvados, Normandy and the world over. A major site and a necessary introduction for visitors wishing to discover the D-Day Landing Beaches.
Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Edified on a hill overlooking the town of Lisieux, this striking basilica is well worthy of the great fervour around St. Thérèse to whom it pays tribute. It is France's second-ranking pilgrimage destination after Lourdes, attracting visitors from across the globe and always surprising by its composite style. Often compared with the Sacré-Cœur in Paris, it is one of the largest churches built in the 20th century.
Deauville is imbued with a scent of elegance, whatever the season. An afternoon stroll here will take you past its proud seafront hotels, the stylish boutiques in its central streets, where Coco Chanel once had her own store and, of course, to the famous 'Planches' boardwalk that runs along the fine sandy beach and where the stars of the American silver screen can be seen every September over the Deauville Film Festival.
Men's Abbey - Caen
Such was the price paid by William the Conqueror for the right to marry his distant cousin, Mathilda of Flanders. It was in compensation to the Church that the Duke of Normandy had the Men's Abbey founded in 1063, where his tomb now houses his only relic, a femur! 950 years later, as you walk through the huge white nave, you can fully grasp the scale of the epic life led by this future King of England.
Thanks to an ingenious artificial port system installed after the Normandy Landings, the vestiges of which can still be seen off shore, reinforcements and supplies for the troops engaged in the Battle of Normandy were shipped in and unloaded right here in Arromanches. Discover this fascinating story at the D-Day Museum and the Arromanches 360 circular cinema.
William the Conqueror's birthplace, the cradle of the Anglo-Norman dynasty has been brought back to life thanks to touchscreen tablets: they reproduce the interiors and the colours that once adorned the various rooms of this majestic medieval edifice. A fantastic journey through time, in the company of those who were there and who now tell you their story.
Rochers de la Houle, in Suisse Normande
Calvados offers a few high spots for climbers: Saint-Omer on the Crest Route in Suisse Normande - a mecca for thrilling outdoor sports. Rocks up to a height of 240m, the GR36 walking route, magnificent panoramic views and even 2 paragliding take-off bases!