For too many, Normandy is simply a history lesson or the part of France they drive through – often at night – on the way to somewhere else. But it is an area with much to offer. Glorious chalk cliffs stand behind golden beaches for much of its varied coastline, and behind them lies a treasure trove of man-made and natural beauty to rival any in France. This is rich farming country with the pockethandkerchief fields and secret lanes of the Cotentin peninsula, or Bocage, in the west, contrasting with a feast of fertile, rolling, wooded countryside, meadows and apple orchards to the west. Do not miss William I’s great tapestry at Bayeux, the great Norman cathedrals, the half-timbered manoirs of the gentle Pays d’Auge and the sudden crags, cliffs, forests and gorges of Little Switzerland. Drive south from Cherbourg and you will find an almost continuous chain of beaches leading to the great landmark of Mont St Michel. Drive east and in a broad crescent is a succession of small ports, fine resorts and quaint, pretty fishing villages: Barfleur and St Vaast in the Bocage; Arromanches, fulcrum of the Normandy landings; fashionable Deauville, and lovely old Honfleur. An oasis of joie de vivre, rich in natural and cultural treasures.
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