Normandy is an area in France that is known for its history and culture, as well as the beautiful countryside. This region of France has so much to offer, from beaches and seaside towns to breathtaking cliffs and picturesque villages. Normandy’s rich history includes many WWII sites, which are a fascinating part of the region’s heritage. There are also plenty of popular landmarks that kids will like to see! We will explore 10 amazing things you can do in Normandy with your kids.
Table of Contents
- 1 How much time do you need in Normandy for a vacation with kids?
- 2 What should parents know about traveling to Normandy?
- 3 When is the best time to visit Normandy?
- 4 Where should you go in Normandy with kids?
How much time do you need in Normandy for a vacation with kids?
Normandy is a large region, so it may be best to set aside at least one week for your visit. Two weeks would be an ideal amount of time for a visit. It would allow you to explore the region as best as possible with your family.
What should parents know about traveling to Normandy?
When vacationing in Normandy with kids, it is best to stay in hotels that are on the outskirts of each town. This will allow you to explore different areas by day, and return back home at night for a good restful sleep. There are so many attractions and landmarks to visit in Normandy, that it is best not to wear out your children by walking too far in a day.
When is the best time to visit Normandy?
The best time to go is during the summer when days are long and warm with plenty of sunshine for outdoor activities. It may be more crowded during the summer months, but it is also a great time to enjoy the beaches and let the kids have a little more freedom in the outdoors.
Where should you go in Normandy with kids?
Normandy has many popular attractions that are best for children. These include Mont-Saint-Michel, Bayeux Tapestry Museum, Château de Falaise, and Caen Memorial Centre. The following are ten places that you should not miss if you are visiting Normandy.
Many people would say that the most famous landmark in all of Normandy is Mont Saint-Michel. This ancient monastery and town can only be accessed by foot or boat. If you plan to visit Mont Saint-Michel, set aside a full day for exploring.
Mont Saint-Michel is a very popular destination so consider visiting during the week. In order to get to Mont Saint-Michel, there are several options for doing so. You can choose between walking (about 50 minutes) or hopping on a motorized shuttle and getting your point of interest within 12 minutes. If you’re up for something more traditional and slow-paced then hop on the “Maringote”, which is pulled by two draft horses.
You may want to consider taking the shuttle bus back to your car at the end of the day when you are all weary from exploring this amazing place.
Insider tip: For an absolutely incredible experience, consider doing a guided walk across the bay of Mont Saint-Michel. It is truly the most unique way to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Another popular destination in Normandy is Caen – about an hour from Mont Saint-Michel. This city boasts many interesting attractions like Le Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen (the Fine Art Museum) and The Mémorial de Caen which is a museum and war memorial commemorating World War II.
The Mémorial de Caen is one of the best places to visit in Normandy. It offers many interactive activities and is a poignant tribute to those who died. If you plan to visit WWII sites during your time in Normandy, this makes for a great first stop.
This museum tells the story of World War II and Normandy in a way that visitors can understand. The exhibits focus on what happened to Normans during the war, how civilians responded, and their contributions to liberation as well as German occupation.
When you head to the Normandy coast, you’ll want to stop in Honfleur. This charming medieval town is home to restaurants, shops, and perhaps the cutest harbour in all of Normandy. Be sure not to miss Le Vieux Bassin (the old harbour) when exploring this beautiful coastal destination.
Take your kids for a stroll through the Naturospace gardens on your way to the Place du Butin. You will have a great view of the Pont du Normandy from the beach. On your walk back, stroll through the Jardins des Personnalités and then head to the famous carousel on the edge of Le Vieux Bassin.
WWII Sites in Normandy
Normandy was significantly impacted by WWII. As such, there are many sites to visit that commemorate this important time in world history. From the American Cemetary and Memorial at Omaha Beach to Pointe du Hoc which is a cliff where Allied forces struggled against German troops during D-Day, Normandy has plenty of outdoor activities for kids who want to learn more about WWII.
Juno Beach Centre is a museum dedicated to the efforts of Canadian soldiers during the war. It is situated next to Juno Beach, one of the D-Day landing sites, is also a must-see. The museum offers an interactive experience for kids. It allows them to experience history rather than just read about it by winning “poppy points” after each exhibit.
The best place to find souvenirs in Normandy is, of course, the D-Day beaches themselves! From a plastic “bunkers” and sandcastles kit for kids to engraved stones that commemorate fallen American soldiers or German bunkers used as shelters during combat, there are plenty of options from which tourists can choose.
Norman Invasion Bayeux Tapestry is one of the best-known and most celebrated pieces from the Middle Ages. It is on display in its entirety at this stunning museum. It chronicles William’s conquest, his coronation as King of England following his victory over Harold at Hastings.
The tapestry is housed behind glass in a darkened room. You walk along with an audio guide telling you exactly what is happening. The “Kid’s Audio-Guide” tells them about each event as if they are reading from some book, helping guide their understanding of history and visual art at once.
Bayeux is also one of the most picturesque towns in Normandy. The winding streets and beautiful buildings make for a wonderful walk around town while you enjoy all that this historic place has to offer. You may be surprised to learn it was the first French town liberated by Allies during WWII. Everywhere you look there are flags from liberation countries flapping proudly on every street corner.
Château de Falaise
Located in the town of Falaise, this castle was a major battleground during WWII. The home to William the Conqueror’s family for many years, it is now open as a historical museum and reconstructed battle site. It gives visitors an idea about how Normans defended themselves from invading English troops led by Henry II after they conquered England.
Children will enjoy visiting Chateau de Falaise and watching the interactive videos of how this battle unfolded.
Towering cliffs that offer some of the best coastal views in all of France. The white chalk rock formations have been inspired artists for centuries. Now they are a popular tourist destination with many beautiful photo opportunities to enjoy as you walk along the beach or explore hidden coves.
The limestone cliffs with three natural arches that make up Étretat are best admired from the cliff-top promenade, or from a distance with binoculars. You can also visit Les Jardins Étretat, a park with grassy lawns and gardens bursting with colour that offers a sensational view of the cliffs.
The village of Arromanches-Les-Bains was an important part of WWII history, but it is now a popular tourist destination. The best way to get there from Caen is by bus or bike (it’s just about an hour away).
The village preserves memories of the beaches where Allied troops landed on D-Day. You can still see parts of the temporary harbour built for the invasion. There are now hotels and restaurants, as well as a superb museum about WWII and a 360-degree cinema that showcases the building of the Mulberry Harbour.
Children will love exploring the beach, walking along the boardwalk, and hiking up to the hill overlooking the village.
Deauville and Trouville-Sur-Mer
The Seaside resorts of Deauville and Trouville-Sur-Mer are a 20 minute drive from Caen. They are popular with tourists in the summer but quieter and more family-orientated on weekdays.
The best place to explore is La Grande Plage, a kilometre long beach that stretches for miles along the coast of Normandy. The water is shallow enough for children to play safely. The wooden boardwalk along Trouville-Sur-Mer’s beach dates back to 1867. It is lined with restaurants and cafes, while the promenade in Deauville features an elegant old-fashioned casino.
For a day out, the Château Gaillard is an excellent choice. Built in 1190 by Richard The Lionheart during the crusades to capture French territory from Philip Augustus, this castle sits on top of a rocky spur overlooking the Seine and has great views across Normandy.
Château Gaillard is a great place to visit and has lots of important history for children to learn. Part of the chateau has been restored to its original state, and children will love exploring the ruins. The hike up to it takes quite a bit of time from town proper shoes, water, and some snacks to entice the kids to keep going!
Insider tip: make sure you climb the hill next to the chateau for a beautiful photo of the castle from against the Seine.
Normandy has many options for families looking for an enjoyable day out on a beautiful stretch of French coastline where you can find sandy beaches, crashing waves, verdant forests, and interesting sites from WWII.
Written by Casandra from Karpiak Caravan Adventure Family Travel
We are an adventure travel-loving family who loves history, has an obsession with France, will always head to vineyards on child-free getaways, and endlessly explores our beautiful province of British Columbia. Education is a focus during our travels, whether that is learning about ranch life on a dude ranch or visiting the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy. We are more of a DIY travel family so you won’t often find us at all-inclusive resorts unless they are steeped in historical locations where educational travel is possible.