What better place to brush off winter lethargy and enjoy the outdoors than in France’s beautiful Normandy? Just a short hop across the Channel, you’re spoilt for choice of springtime attractions in this coastal region, unfolding the minute you arrive in port and enticingly calm before the summer crowds arrive.
What’s more: 2019 is the year to visit Normandy. This beautiful part of France has been listed as one of the world’s top destinations to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet, CNN, Frommer’s and Airbnb, for a number of exciting reasons.
Following renovations, family-friendly museum La Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg opens its epic new ‘Ocean of the Future’ exhibition this spring. Visitors will embark on an incredible underwater adventure, learning all about the deep sea through spectacular multimedia spaces and visiting 16 impressive aquariums housing beautiful sea creatures, from colourful exotic fish to species from the Channel.
As June marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy, now’s the time to get out and enjoy the D-Day Beaches on foot or on horseback before the military parades and camp re-enactments are set up. Normandy’s coastline is made up of vast stretches of golden sand, dramatic cliffs, pebble coves, sand dunes and sheltered bays, presenting numerous opportunities for taking the sea air. Or inland on the Seine, explore the vibrant city of Rouen in advance of the Armada festival in June, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.
Spring is also the perfect time to discover or rediscover Normandy’s prettiest villages , which all look idyllic in springtime. Six Norman villages have been awarded the Plus Beaux Villages de France label, including the fishing port of Barfleur in Manche with its granite houses and quays. Legend has it that the boat that carried William, Duke of Normandy, was built here. Meanwhile, inland in Calvados, villages rarely come prettier than Beuvron-en-Auge , quintessentially Norman with colourful timber-framed houses, quaint cafés, a relaxed atmosphere and plenty of brocantes and antique dealers.
Several big food and drink festivals are taking place in Normandy this spring: Les Rencontres de Cambremer, celebrating Normandy’s AOC products in Cambremer (4-5 May), and La Fête du Fromage in Pont-l’Evêque (10-12 May). Take the time to savour the region’s world-famous specialities and meet the artisans at the helm of their production.
Spring will have you falling completely in love with Normandy’s parks and gardens , such as Monet’s gardens at Giverny . The dreamy ponds of waterlilies created by the father of Impressionism gave him his greatest artistic inspiration – and thanks to generous donations the flower garden and Japanese-inspired water garden have both been beautifully restored. You should also make time to visit dreamy Bois des Moutiers in Varengeville-sur-Mer, which featured in Wim Wenders’ latest film Submergence. The outstanding gardens were planned by English architect Sir Edward Lutyens in collaboration with English landscape designer Gertrude Jekyll.
The best way of exploring? In the comfort of your own car, packed with everything you need. Normandy is easily accessible via Brittany Ferries’ ports of Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth. What’s more, their superb choice of spring breaks, make getting there great value too!
Book now with Brittany Ferries and enjoy a 2-night sail & stay hotel break from just £121 per person.