September 24, 2020 2 min read
Normandy sprawls across the northwestern corner of France and is shaped roughly like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Because of its location, the region is filled with natural beauty that draws sightseers. Normandy is filled with history as it was the site of one of the most pivotal battles in World War II and it is also the birthplace of the impressionist movement, inspired at Le Havre by Monet’s “Impression” of the sunrise. Normandy is a fantastic place to visit for any traveler. Below are three historical sites to experience while there.
No trip to Normandy would be complete without stopping to see the renowned Cathédrale Notre-Dame, found in the City of 100 Spires. Originating in the 12th-century, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen is a gothic architectural masterpiece. Legend has it that the cathedral is home to relics of the Virgin Mary. The cathedral is located near emblematic sites and ancient homes, each of which are exciting little bits of history to see. Nearby is the Gros-Horloge (Big Clock), which was constructed in 1389, as well as the Vieux Marché. In this region, you can stop for tasty treats at places like the Macaron de grand’mere Auzo (Grandma Auzou’s Macaroon), which are delicious treats made with salted butter caramel and apple.
Known as the Tapisserie de la Reine Mathhilde (Queen Matilda’s Tapestry), this 225-foot-long tapestry was stitched in 1067 and depicts a number of (58 to be exact) comic-strip style scenes, including the epic story of the conquest over England, led by William of Normandy. The tapestry was embroidered by Saxon embroiders by the count of Kent, who was the bishop of Bayeux, and was to be displayed in his Cathédrale Notre-Dame. The tapestry is old but in surprisingly great condition. The scenes offer great detail and depict the record of weapons, clothes, lifestyles and ships of the day. You can find it in the Musée de la Tipisserie. If the French language is not your strong suit, you can listen to free audio guides in English so you can learn more about the tapestry.
This religious site was built by William the Conqueror out of local Caen stone (which was also used for other major historic buildings such as Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London). Part of the Abbaye aux hommes, it was begun in 1066 in Roman style. The buildings now make up part of City Hall and the rooms within are filled with some of the finest paintings found in the city of Caen. William the Conqueror’s tomb once stood inside but was destroyed during the Wars of Religion by 16th century Huguenots, but the choir still remains. You can take a special tour in English during the months of July and August at specific times of day.
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