Upper Normandy: majestic coastline
The coastline of Upper-Normandy with its famous cliffs abounds with picture-postcard scenes. But don't make the mistake of thinking that's all Upper Normandy has to offer. The region is overflowing with hidden treasures. A native of the region, Muriel Petit has worked in the INTER-HOTEL La Cour Carrée in Eu near Tréport for 17 years.
"It is a beautiful region with its high cliffs. The relief is sheer compared to Lower Normandy which is more rolling." The Etretat cliffs easily come to mind when we think about this region. The sunsets immortalised by the Impressionists painters are still spectacular. "Inland, other little villages are as distinctive as the sunsets and the perfect stop-off point for walks in the open natural spaces such as the Forest of Eu which covers more than 9000 hectares."
Muriel Petit & Audrey Bordas
The protected beauty of the Bay of Somme
"The Bay of Somme is without a doubt one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Known for its ecological abundance, it extends from the tip of Hourdel, in the south, to the tip of Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont in the north. "The place is unique for its sedentary and migratory birds, the grazing sheep in the bay and, wait for it, its seals," adds Muriel Petit. "As soon as the sun comes up, our beaches are particularly popular with tourists." For Parisians, it's a breath of fresh air and a chance to get away from it all without going to far. Scarcely two and a half hours in the car and you can leave behind the daily stresses of Parisian life."
Children have a great time swimming among the waves in the sea, which can get a bit rough at times. Sailing activities, windsurfing or even kitesurfing (a simplified version of windsurfing where the participant is propelled by a kite) can be enjoyed at several places on the coast, near Fécamp and Dieppe in particular. Near the coast, the medieval town of Honfleur and the village of Beuzeville, famous for its stained glass windows, are ideal for those looking to explore the authenticity of Normandy.
In Fécamp, stopping at the Palais Bénédictine museum which dates back to 1888 is a must. For views of Dieppe, climb the steps leading to the castle top and enjoy a magnificent panoramic vista. The region is also ideal for a game of golf with a range of green plains reminiscent of Britain.
Heritage and gastronomy
Stopping off during a hike or bike ride to sample the ocean fish and seafood is essential. The Dieppe scallops and Fécamp shrimp are just a taster of what awaits you on the menus.
More generally, Normandy is also well known for the cow's milk that makes Camembert one of our national treasures. And the apples make the best cider and Calvados in the country.
"Rouen is without a doubt a Gothic architectural wonder," adds Muriel Petit. Its Notre-Dame cathedral is famously beautiful, reproduced by Claude Monet in his series currently on display in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Time should also be taken to admire the Saint-Ouen abbey-church and the Palais de Justice which are just two examples of the wonders in store in the neighbouring town of Bois-Guillaume.
Le Havre, the second port in France after Marseille, is just as fascinating for fans of post-war architecture. UNESCO also named its centre a Humanities World Heritage Site in 2005. Another must-see is the André Malraux museum, especially for fans of Impressionist art.
Evreux boasts an episcopal city and its Notre-Dame cathedral, seat of the diocese. This cathedral incorporates major architectural styles between the Roman era and the Renaissance. The Evreux museum of art, history and archaeology retraces several centuries of history, reflected by the remains of Gallo-Roman ramparts dating from the third century. In close proximity to Evreux, the town of Le Neubourg, the scene of several wars, has played an important role in Norman history.
"Our heritage and history are very appealing to tourists searching for authenticity and the history of France. Over the years, the boldness of the Vikings, William the Conqueror and the Americans during the landing has created a place of character." To discover or rediscover now!