A Motorhome Tour Of Normandy
A motorhome tour of Normandy is a really good place to start for newcomer’s but it’s also a great region to re-visit for us old timers too. Not only is it easy to reach from Calais and closer ports, but it’s also full of incredible historic sights, rolling countryside, half-frame timber buildings and plenty of great local produce!
We still think France is actually one of the best countries for campervan travels, simply because it’s just so beautiful and diverse across all the regions. Then there’s the easiest system of motorhome facilities ever! Yes the fabulous Aires de Camping Cars or Aire for short, making overnight stops economical and fuss-free.
Bleak in Winter
We’ve been travelling in our motorhome throughout the fabulous landscapes of France for decades. Best of all, it just never disappoints and always brings a mix of beautiful scenery and fascinating history along with fantastic food and very quiet roads.
Don’t forget that France can be bleak in Winter when weather gets extremely cold and those popular Summer regions become deserted.
However – there are still some regions open for business all year round and Normandy is one such location. This makes it an ideal place to visit
Situated in the Northern most part of France, fortunately for us Brits, Normandy is accessible within a few hours of Calais. On top of that, this region is full of historic importance, especially due to the D-Day Landings of the Second World War. Then, there’s the wonderful cows, scrumptious cider and incredible cheese – so what are you waiting for?
A Motorhome tour of Normandy – Motorhome Aires in France and Europe
Our Top Picks For a Motorhome Tour of Normandy
The main focus are the tall white cliffs, looking similar to the South coast of England. You’ll find an array of interesting rock formations as they plunge into the sea – quite a sight. Best of all, it’s an ideal stop on the way from Calais especially if en–route to the more high profile tourist sights further along the coast.
2. Pont du Normandie
No visit to Northern France is complete without driving over this impressive engineering masterpiece. The Pont du Normandie is a massive 2141m long bridge, towering 50m above The Seine Estuary. It links the port of Le Havre to the beautiful, historic town of Honfleur – it’s a magnificent route.
As you cross the bridge you’ll see a visitor centre, here you’ll find displays detailing the construction of the bridge. It also has it’s own toll, so be prepared to pay for the experience!
This sassy little town has the prettiest of harbours, where historic houses and harbour-side restaurants await. Not forgetting a selection of tourist-type shops surrounding the water front.
There’s a huge Aire in Honfleur with probably up to 100 motorhomes in peak times.
There’s also a good walk from the town centre, leading to a view point above the harbour. Ask in the tourist office for details of the route.
4. Deauville – A motorhome tour of Normandy
Deauville is definitely one seaside resort geared for the more discerning tourist. This town is upmarket, chic resort is absolutely full of charisma.
It’s also ideally located, between Honfleur and the start of the WW2 sights with the landing beaches. Think elegant, with sophisticated sports events such as Polo, along with film festivals and very long stretches of sand.
Grab a spot on the beach and relax on one of the luxurious sun loungers for an afternoon of people watching!
5. WW2 Historic sights and The Landing Beaches
The incredible events beginning 6th June 1944 are embedded still in the coastline of Normandy.
The famous beaches of Juno, Sword, Omagh and Gold follow the coast between Caen and Sainte-Mere-Eglise.
It’s absolutely compelling stuff and heart wrenching too. Above all it’s humbling and unbelievably educational.
You can follow marked driving routes between the main sights to make touring easy. Tourist offices have informative leaflets which also help you to get the most of the visit.
Despite visiting several times – we still find it difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the slaughter, sacrifice and destruction that went on here. We leave feeling such gratitude for all those who fought here and most importantly – for those lost forever – never to return.
The Commenwealth war Graves commission has immaculately maintained cemeteries throughout the region.
There is no more profoundly moving testament to the horrors of war than the British Cemetry at Bayeux and the American Cemetery at Omagh Beach.
The latter is one of the most remarkable sights. An unbelievable 9387 immaculately placed white crosses mark the resting places of those fallen American soldiers.
It’s such a dignified reminder of the horrors of D-Day, yet heartbreaking at the same time. To see the carved stone wall, detailing the names of those missing in action is a sight that stays with you forever.
Normandy Main War Sights
Don’t miss Pegasus Bridge and the Pont du Hoc as well as the various museums along the coast and the town of Arromanches.
Here, the remains of the Mulberry harbours can still be seen wedged in the sands, on low tide. These are even more poignant for us, as some of the harbours were constructed in our home of Conwy, North Wales. Here, The Mulberry pub on Conwy Morfa has photographs of the construction as a reminder.
Back in Normandy, the scars of war are everywhere. Driving along and you’ll see the remainder of gun emplacements, tanks and various signs. All showing details of an event that took place in a particular spot.
It’s a never ending reminder of the extent of both the planning and bloody aftermath that went into the D-Day landings.
Rouen is most renowned for the ill-fated heroine – Joan of Arc.
She met her death here – burned at the stake in what was then an English held town. Now it has a charming historic centre bringing with it a reminder of its medieval past.
Stroll along at your leisure and admire the lovely ornate timber facades – oozing tonnes of French character!
Bayeux is a town made famous by its incredible Tapestry.
This enormous masterpiece details the battle of 1066 and is UNESCO listed. It’s not all about the needlework though, there’s also an excellent war museum along with the British Cemetery as mentioned earlier.
The tapestry is an absolute must for all those of a similar age to myself – who endured long periods learning about it! Yes think back to those history lessons in 1980’s secondary school!
You can hire an audio guide and listen to the story behind this incredible historic piece. Take a good look at the intricate scenes as you walk through the dimly lit passages – it’s quite remarkable!
8. La Suisse Normandie
La Suissse Normandie is situated around the Orne Valley set amongst rolling countryside, deep gorges and isolated rivers. Surprisingly, this is one location that remains rather undiscovered. Not only that but it’s a great place for hiking as well as rock climbing – not that we do much of that!
Don’t get too excited, because I wouldn’t quite compare it to the scenery of Switzerland. Although it is a lovely place to spend a couple of days, especially if you’re passing close by.
9. Mont Saint Michel
Well, this just has to be one of the most iconic sights in not just Normandy but probably in the whole of France!
Yes, this is a “must see” sight for any visitor to Normandy and no more so than on a motorhome tour to this part of France.
Gone are the days of parking up in the van on the golden sands at the base, and walking over on low tide. The whole approach route has undergone vast re-development, with driving now off limits to the public.
Instead, a very elaborate causeway consisting of an elevated road allows for shuttle buses to ferry visitors from a purpose built car and motorhome parking areas. These are all located a good couple of miles away.
Parking for Mont Saint Michel
We stayed a few miles out on a different Aire which was less expensive than the official motorhome parking.
We then walked and cycled across to the Mont – rather than experience the crossing out of a bus window! The excellent cycle paths and walkways make it a really enjoyable route. However, this place gets so busy in peak season!
Daytime is horrific. In actual fact, we found the tiny alleyways on the Mont itself rather uncomfortable. So much so it made walking up to the Monastery (pay to visit) on the top just a bit too claustrophobic.
Instead, we prefer to visit in the evening. It’s so much more enjoyable when the tourist buses have gone, leaving you to explore the tiny streets at your leisure.
Where to stay or park on a Motorhome Tour of Normandy
Motorhome and Campervan parking is a breeze throughout Normandy.
The usual Aire de Services de Camping Cars, along with the dedicated parking are provided in most locations.
Check out one of the Apps (Campercontact is excellent) or pick up a free map from the tourist office, which often show motorhome parking.
If you want a campsite all year round – don’t hold your breath! France has a very short season with the exception of Ski resorts, so much so that sometimes campsites don’t actually open until May and then close as early as September.
Basically if you’re touring out of season and you need to find a campsite – if you see one grab it while you can!
One last thing – the weather here in Normandy can be hit and miss. Expect Summers to be a bit warmer than the UK but you aren’t guaranteed the full blown sunshine and higher temperatures that you’ll get further South through France.
Winter is very much like home – it can be wet, windy and miserable and also cold.
Having said that, it’s a good Winter destination for the WW2 history element as it’s much quieter out of season, but still benefits from having the main sights open.
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