Calvados, the true spirit of Normandy
The seaside and its many pleasures: from relaxation to watersports
From Honfleur to Grandcamp-Maisy, the coast stretches over a total of 75 miles. An infinite palette of light, reflections and atmospheres awaits you.
From the Ouistreham beach huts to the Cabourg and Trouville-sur-Mer parasols, via Deauville's famous boardwalk, simply marvel at the immensity of Calvados' fine sandy beaches. A romantic sunset stroll, hand in hand at low tide, or hours of fun building the most majestic of sand castles. There are so many simple pleasures to enjoy in the heart of Normandy.
Succumb to the charm of the seaside resorts that are dotted along the Côte Fleurie, admire the elegance of its Belle Époque villas, the enchanting simplicity of the fishermen's homes in Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, or - the most typical among them - in Honfleur.
Normandy's coastline is also the perfect destination for indulging in the joys of watersports. Skim across the beach in Asnelles aboard a land yacht or initiate the kids to surfing at Trouville-sur-Mer, the ideal site for beginners. And for the most foolhardy, why not try out kitesurfing, or sailing? There's never a dull moment on the Calvados coast!
Calvados: nature's generous hand
Suisse Normande, the Pays d'Auge, the Normandy Bocage, the Pays de Falaise. There's so many names, and images depicting the great diversity of our landscapes.
Calvados is an undulating and generous land. Travel the countryside in May, in particular the Pays d'Auge, where through your lens, you can capture the emblematic apple orchards in blossom: a taste of paradise, at arm's reach.
And for walking enthusiasts, just head for Suisse Normande, Normandy's very own "mountains". Or why not take to the waters of the Orne, aboard a canoe? The Pays de Falaise is quite appropriately named. Embark upon the ascent of Mont Joly and learn its fascinating history. The perfect viewpoint to admire the Caen plain, from the breathtaking heights of the Brèche au Diable.
The Normandy Bocage is also well worth a detour and offers many a pleasurable walk. The area is particularly well known for a somewhat surprising activity: bungee jumping. From the Viaduc de la Souleuvre, a former railway viaduct, admire the acrobatic jumps of many a daring adventurer over a family picnic, or why not try it yourself? Thrills are guaranteed!
Not to be missed
Fascinating history, typical towns and picturesque villages; there are sites in Calvados that are simply not to be missed.
Two major historic events have left their mark on Calvados: William the Conqueror's epic adventure and the Second World War. Medieval history enthusiasts are sure to appreciate the many sites associated with William the Conqueror.
The Château de Falaise, overlooking the undulating valley from its rocky spur, is the fortress where the future Duke of Normandy was born. The sites where he established his power can be visited in Caen: vestiges of the ducal castle and two magnificent abbeys (the Ladies' Abbey and the Men's Abbey). Bayeux is home to the famous Tapestry retracing the Battle of Hastings that was to offer William the throne of England.
For a truly comprehensive and accurate insight into the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy, visit the Mémorial de Caen. Then head for the D-Day Landing beaches, following in the very footsteps of the soldiers who came to liberate France. Among the most noteworthy sites - Pointe du Hoc, the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, today a haven of calm and tranquillity, Arromanches and the vestiges of its artificial harbour.
The story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is another fascinating tale, this time of a religious nature. Just follow the blue line throughout the town, as it will guide you through the sites that marked Thérèse's extraordinary destiny: her childhood home, the Carmelite convent and the basilica. Construction of the basilica was initiated on the occasion of Thérèse's canonisation in 1925, in order to welcome the ever-increasing flood of pilgrims to the site. The Basilica of Lisieux is a pure marvel, often compared with Montmartre in Paris.
Typical towns and villages
Fancy a stroll in a picturesque setting? Why not stop over for lunch in Honfleur, the typical harbour town that inspired so many impressionist painters? Then take a leisurely walk through its charming streets, not forgetting a visit to the Eugène Boudin museum.
Not to be missed: 2 quaint villages in the Pays d'Auge, Beuvron-en-Auge and Beaumont-en-Auge. Also worth a detour, the delightful fishing town of Port-en-Bessin, with its striking Vauban tower.
The most magnificent of châteaux
As you meander your way through the Calvados countryside, you are sure to stumble upon fine manor houses and splendid stately homes. Admire the château de Saint-Germain-de Livet near Lisieux, or discover the highest roofs in France at the château de Fontaine-Henry, located between Caen and Courseulles-sur-Mer, to name but two.
Calvados with the family
All members of the family are offered a stately welcome in Calvados.
Its towns, castles and museums organise fun-filled and instructive tours and events for children. Renowned for their initiatives specifically designed for young visitors, the seaside resorts of Cabourg and Villers-sur-Mer were the first towns in Calvados to be awarded the "Famille +" (Family +) quality label.
Here are a few suggestions for a day out with the family. Thanks to a specifically designed guided tour, your children are sure to enjoy a visit to the Juno Beach Centre, a museum devoted to the history of the Canadian landings on D-Day, located in Courseulles-sur-Mer.
Or spend a day at the Festyland amusement park, an infinite source of thrills and enjoyment via a vast range of attractions depicting various periods and themes.
Then lose yourself in a maze of foliage for hours of fun as you meander your way to the exit. Amidst the corn fields, the mazes in Caen, Bayeux and Honfleur offer fun-filled trails, changing their theme each year.
Set out for a wildlife adventure in Hermival-les-Vaux near Lisieux where the CERZA zoological park offers a breeding ground of over 50 hectares for endangered species. Lions, giraffes, antelopes, zebras, deer, bears... The zoo is home to 500 different animals, including a few Indian rhinoceros, the only of their kind in France. From the savannah to the Bocage, some 600 animals have taken up residence in the Jurques Zoological Park. Welcome to the kingdom of the white lions, where you are free to caress the royal pythons, admire birds of prey in flight, revel at the sight of the animals feeding...
Discover all of the visits specially suited for families in the Family friendly pages of the Calvados Tourisme website.
Calvados' gourmet pleasures
Cooked meats, dairy products, seafood, sweets, apple-based drinks... There are so many tempting delights await you in Calvados!
Our beautiful Normande cows, born and bred in our prairies, produce one of the most exceptional of raw materials, milk. Which is used to make our renowned butter, fresh cream and cheeses. Camembert, Pont l'Eveque and Livarot are among the most famous. Tripe "à la mode de Caen", Andouille de Vire chitterling sausage, Bayeux pork or locally produced beef all combine to offer our towns and our tables a fine reputation.
A further source of delectation: the sea, offering a wealth of fish varieties (seabass, brill, sole, mackerel...), shellfish (oysters, clams, whelks...) and crustaceans (prawns, crabs...). But don't forget our excellent Red label Scallops.
Calvados' emblematic fruit is, of course, the apple. Transformed into cider, calvados, and pommeau, it contributes to our regional renown across the globe. Finally, Calvados is also sure to charm those with a sweet tooth, thanks to its teurgoule, apple tarts, Asnelles butter biscuits, Isigny caramels, or locally produced honey and preserves. And you are not only offered the pleasure of tasting all of these delicious specialities, you can also delve into the secrets of their production thanks to guided tours (distilleries, cheese makers, caramel production...).
Major events and fairs throughout Calvados
Calvados welcomes a vast range of events all year long.
In February, the Omnivore Food Festival in Deauville reunites a panel of renowned French and international chefs.
In March, take a trip to Asia, via the Asian Film Festival, also in Deauville.
Then in April, you can admire the most stunning of kites on the beach at Houlgate during the Plein Vent Festival. May is the month of the walking and sports weekend in Suisse Normande: routes to suit all levels, from adventure trails to raids.
The month of June marks the commemoration of the D-Day Landings in Normandy via anniversary celebrations. A vast range of events are organised including the D-Day Festival in Bayeux and the surrounding area. Over recent years, the Festival de Beauregard in Caen has become the pop-rock event of the summer. For those interested in the Middle Ages, two major events are organised every year - early July, in the centre of Bayeux, while in August, you can head for the Médiévales de Crèveceour en Auge.
In Calvados, autumn is the season to honour Uncle Sam via the Deauville American Film Festival, where the public is offered the opportunity not only to view films, but also to rub shoulders with stars from the silver screen. It is also the season for the Fêtes Thérésiennes in Lisieux, during which you can discover the striking basilica and the lively town streets.
October is a month reserved for horses with the Equiday's Festival, and for gastronomy via the Prawn Fair in Honfleur, the Pays d'Auge Apple Festival and the Andouille chitterling sausage fair in Vire. The scallop is in turn honoured during the month of November, thanks to the "Goût du Large" (taste of the high seas) festival. Finally, the "Hivernales de Falaise" winter fair is sure to enchant you in December.
Calvados in Normandy, your next holiday destination!
- By train: stations in Caen, Lisieux, Bayeux, Deauville-Trouville
- By plane: Caen-Carpiquet airport, Deauville St Gatien airport
- By car: A13 motorway
- By ferry: Caen Ouistreham/Portsmouth
Contact and Information
Calvados Tourisme (Calvados Tourist Board)
Tel: +33 (0)2 31 27 90 30 – Fax: +33 (0)2 31 27 90 35