8 Best Places to Stay in Normandy

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by Brittany Scott-Gunfield


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D-Day beaches, calvados, William the Conqueror, mussels, Joan of Arc… Just some of Normandy’s most famous things and surely enough to make you search for the best places to stay in Normandy for your next holiday. This region in the northernmost part of France is bursting with culture, history and family-friendly activities, so it’s sure not to disappoint – unless you’re expecting sweltering heat each day.

With quaint seaside villages, historic towns and large diverse cities, there are plenty of great areas in Normandy to base yourself in, depending on what your interests are and what transport you prefer. Normandy really has something for everyone.

Best Towns to Stay in Normandy

Normandy is one of the best places to stay in France because the weather in Normandy isn’t as unbearably hot as the South of France can be in summer, which makes it a more enjoyable experience for young children and older members of the family.

But with the long sandy beaches and sea views, rich history, magnificent architecture, and exquisite cuisine, Normandy truly makes for a great holiday destination for people with all kinds of interests.

Here are 8 of the best areas to stay and why they’re most suitable for each group of visitors.

Mont-Saint-Michel – Best for First-Time Visitors

Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most iconic locations in Normandy, with its beautiful abbey located at the top of the winding cobbled streets leading down to the shores of the island pictured on most posters and postcards of France. So if you’ve never been to Normandy before, this is the best place for you.

Over a weekend or a few days, you can happily spend your whole holiday on this delightful island, marvelling at the mediaeval architecture and learning about the history of the fortified island, including the 8th-century Benedictine Abbey of Saint Michael.

The abbey is the highlight of the island, with chapels, crypts and cloisters itching to be discovered, however, you can also learn about Mont-Saint-Michel’s history as a prison, as well as see for yourself why this magnificent town was the first French location to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In the evenings, the abbey is lit up to display its wonderful character through the night, as well as entertaining visitors with a light show in summer.

Take a boat trip or cruise around the island, walk along its shores or even walk to the mainland at low tide, there’s also plenty to do by the coastline of Mont-Saint-Michel if you want to enjoy the Normandy beaches too.

Normandy isn’t necessarily world-renowned for its cuisine, however, there are plenty of delectable local dishes as well as exquisite displays of French cooking in the many restaurants scattered around the streets.

You can also stay at one of the many hotels on the island, or in nearby La Caserne if you have a car and want to enjoy the incredible views as you approach and depart the captivating town each day.

All in all, Mont-Saint-Michel has a bit of everything, which cements it as one of the best towns to stay in Normandy, and the best for first-timers.

Stunning Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy
Stunning Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy

Where to Stay in Mont-Saint-Michel

Hôtel Vert – This cosy hotel is an excellent option for mid-range visitors staying near Mont-Saint-Michele. They have a great location for exploring the area along with breakfast each morning and an on-site restaurant and bar. Click here to check availability

Le Relais Saint Michel – This upmarket hotel is great for those who are after a more luxurious stay while visiting Mont-Saint-Michel. They have a number of gorgeous rooms to choose and some boast incredible views of the tidal island. There is also a shuttle service to the attraction available to guests. Click here to check availability

La Ramade – Situated in the charming town of Avrance, this hotel is a good option if you want to be close to Mont-Saint-Michel but not in the village itself. Situated in an old mansion, they have a range of rooms available and plenty of great amenities available to guests. Click here to check availability

Edd Hostel – If you’re after a hostel option on your trip to Normandy, then this highly-rated option near Mont-Saint-Michel is a good choice. They have both dorms and private rooms and they also offer a shuttle service to nearby areas. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Mont Saint-Michel hotels!

Omaha Beach – Best for Families

Omaha Beach is famous mostly for being a significant place in World War II as the Allied troops landed here in June 1944 to push the Nazis out of France and liberate the nation from Fascism. So it may not be your first thought for a family trip, but there are a number of reasons why this is perhaps the best area to stay in Normandy for families!

WWII is a significant part of world history, whatever country you’re from, and is included in most school history syllabuses, so what better way to teach your children about the impact of such a huge event, than to take them to one of the places it happened.

Both Omaha Beach and nearby Utah Beach have memorials across the long sandy beaches, as well as memorial museums with artefacts from the time to illustrate the story of the D-Day landings in an interactive way that will keep the kids engaged.

You can also visit the Normandy American Cemetery to see the scale of the event and pay your respects to the dead and any loved ones who fought, as well as walk in the footsteps of Matt Damon in the iconic opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.

As well as incorporating a history lesson into your holiday for you and your children, the Normandy coastline is particularly beautiful in this area, with huge stretches of sandy beaches to play on and sunbathe in throughout Summer.

Omaha Beach is a great base if you’re interested in visiting the historic town of Bayeux, known for the famed Bayeux tapestry depicting the Norman Conquest. The town is only about 20 kilometres (about a 25-minute drive) from Omaha Beach.

There are also plenty of campsites in this area, many of which have play areas and activities for children, so you can keep your costs low on your holiday. Moreover, Omaha Beach is just a few hours’ drive from the ferry port of Saint-Malo or the Eurotunnel at Calais.

Omaha Beach in Normandy
Omaha Beach in Normandy

Where to Stay in Omaha Beach

Villa Omaha – Located right on Omaha Beach, this is a great option if you want to explore the history of the D-Day landing beaches. They have a number of great rooms to choose from and an unbeatable location for exploring the area. Click here to check availability

Résidence La Plage d’Or – This beachfront boutique hotel located directly on Omaha Beach is a great place to stay in this part of Normandy – including the D-Day beaches and nearby Bayeux. They have an array of bright and comfortable rooms to choose from and offer free parking. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Omaha beach hotels!

Port-en-Bessin – Best for Food

You can get delicious seafood in many places along the Normandy coast, but perhaps nowhere does seafood quite like the small fishing village of Port-en-Bessin. With no outstanding landmarks or particular historic monuments of note, this quaint village is a delightful place to stay in the region thanks to its picturesque marina and wonderful beaches.

But the highlight of Port-en-Bessin is the shellfish. With a scallop festival – Le Goût du Large – held each November and drawing visitors from across Europe, and a long history as a fishing community, they have perfected the preparation of all things seafood and have a tonne of restaurants all over the village that can attest to this.

Scallops, mussels, oysters, crabs, langoustines… You name it – if it lives in the sea and has a shell, you can gorge on the freshest that money can buy in Port-en-Bessin.

Spend your day on the beach or hiking around the countryside before taking a romantic walk around the marina and heading for a cocktail at sunset such as the classic French La Tomate (pastis, grenadine and water) or try a fruity French martini or sumptuous Kir Royale.

Then head to a high-quality restaurant, such as Le Bistrot d’à Côté, with impeccable seafood in a cosy atmosphere, or L’Équipage for moules marinière to die for (mussels in a cream or white wine sauce accompanied by thin crispy chips), located right on the seafront.

With B&Bs, campsites, gîtes and budget hotels a-plenty, there are many options for accommodation to suit all budgets.

Port-en-Bessin
Port-en-Bessin

Where to Stay in Port-en-Bessin

Le 6.3 Resto Home B&B – Located less than a kilometre from the beach, this bed and breakfast is a great option for mid-range visitors to Port-en-Bessin. They offer a continental breakfast each morning, have free parking and are located close to many highlights of Normandy, like the D-Day beaches and the town of Bayeux. Click here to check availability

Chateau La Cheneviere – This charming hotel in Port-en-Bessin is perfect for those looking for a luxurious stay in Normandy. Situated in an old manor house, there are plenty of beautiful rooms to choose from and gorgeous ground to explore, as well. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Port-en-Bessin hotels!

Caen – Best for Those without a Car

If you’re wondering where to stay in Normandy and you don’t have a car, one great option is the city of Caen. Just a 20-minute bus journey from the port of Ouistreham that has regular ferries to and from Portsmouth in the south of England, you can reach Caen solely on public transport and spend a great 4 to 5 days in the city.

Caen offers a bit of everything for visitors, from stunning architecture, 1000-year-old history as the hometown of William the Conqueror, and great places to eat and drink as well as have a night out.

Take a tour of the impressive 11th-century Men’s Abbey built by William the Conqueror and the Women’s Abbey built by his wife Matilda and learn about the great history of the famous couple, before wandering around the museums of the city of Caen housed in the wonderful Caen Castle.

Over a second day in Caen, you can discover the old town of Caen, the Vagueux district, that survived the major destruction of the city in WWII, with beautiful mediaeval Caen stone houses lining the streets and squares.

Here you can also delight in the wonderful restaurants, bars and nightclubs, where many of the city’s student population gather in the evenings. Don’t forget to try the local ciders and calvados, regional cheeses camembert and Pont l’Evêque, and if you don’t mind the very strong smell, large-intestine-sausage Andouillette, or local tripe stew, Tripes à la Mode de Caen.

For a third day in Caen, you can amble around the pretty marina, Le Bassin Saint-Pierre or spend your time in the modern city centre, with shops, restaurants, parks and buildings constructed after the war using the same famous Caen stone of the old town, which is also what the Tower of London was built using, by order of William the Conqueror.

If you have time to spend a fourth or fifth day around Caen, you can rent bicycles if you’re feeling active or take a bus from the town centre to the nearest beaches, just 20 minutes away. Walk or cycle along the shore or lounge at your leisure; Caen is full of activities and by far one of the best towns to stay in Normandy.

Caen Town Hall
Caen Town Hall

Where to Stay in Caen

Hôtel Mary’s – This is one of the best hotels in Normandy for mid-range visitors. Situated in the centre of beautiful Caen, they have a number of comfortable rooms for guests to choose from along with a superb breakfast each morning. Click here to check availability

Clos Saint Martin – Situated in a 16th-century mansion, this bed and breakfast is the perfect choice for those after a boutique hotel in Caen. They have a great location for exploring the city, plenty of rooms on offer and a great breakfast available daily. Click here to check availability

City’O aparthotel – If you’re looking for all of the options of having your on flat with the conveniences of a hotel, then this aparthotel in Caen is a great choice. They have a range of great apartments to choose from, a good location for exploring the city and plenty of other amenities. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Caen hotels!

Honfleur – Best for Couples

Honfleur is a beautiful port closer to Calais on the Normandy coastline, with a stunning marina, spectacular restaurants, great activities and a bit of nightlife if you fancy a few drinks All of this adds up to make it one of the best towns to stay in Normandy for couples.

Spend a romantic trip taking long walks along the beaches and stroll around the marina, before stopping in a gorgeous restaurant for a Fruits de Mer (seafood) sharing platter and enjoying sunset from your hotel balcony looking over the seafront or marina.

Enjoy the perfect photo opportunities and amazing experience provided by Naturospace Honfleur – an indoor tropical garden where you can discover some wondrous exotic plants whilst surrounded by large and colourful butterflies.

This is also a great activity for children, as the harmless butterflies flutter around you, landing as they please, allowing your children to get up close with one of nature’s prettiest creatures. If you have a vehicle, you can also drive or cycle out to the Labyrinthe de Honfleur for a fun family-friendly activity.

If you prefer to spend a more relaxing time inside the town of Honfleur, you can book a couple’s massage and a variety of beauty treatments in one of the excellent spas located just outside of the marina.

Port of Honfleur in Northern France
Port of Honfleur

Where to Stay in Honfleur

B&B Le Fond de la Cour – Mid-range visitors to Honfleur will love tis quaint bed and breakfast in the centre of town. They boast clean and comfortable rooms, a hearty daily breakfast and a lovely garden and terrace for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability

A L’ecole Buissonniere – This is another delightful bed and breakfast option for those looking for a romantic escape in Normandy. Not only do they have a great location for exploring Honfleur and the Normandy countryside if you’re on a road trip, they have a number of great rooms to choose from and a hearty breakfast. Click here to check availability

La Ferme Saint Simeon Spa – This beautiful 5-star hotel on the outskirts of Honfleur is the perfect option for those looking to splurge a bit on a romantic getaway. There are countless opulent rooms to choose from and an array of swish amenities on offer to guests to ensure that you want for nothing. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Honfleur hotels!

Rouen – Best for City Slickers

If you want to know where to stay in Normandy and prefer a more urban surrounding, but still only an hour’s drive north or east to the nearest beach, Rouen is the best place to stay in Normandy for you!

With a large city centre boasting shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars, museums and nightclubs, you’re certainly not short of things to keep you occupied over a few days in Rouen.

Positioned on the famous river Seine, the capital of the Normandy region has plenty to offer visitors with a historical interest to boot. Gothic churches are scattered across the city, with the enormous Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen taking the number one spot for the most iconic building in Rouen.

This 11th-century cathedral consecrated by William the Conqueror in 1063, is a marvel of three architectural types – Gothic, Flamboyant and Renaissance, shown off by its three intriguing spires and ornately carved doorways.

You can discover some paintings of the cathedral and surrounding area by legendary impressionist painter Claude Monet in the city’s Fine Arts Museum, among many other incredible artworks from every artistic period, just a ten-minute walk away from the cathedral, and free to enter. Monet fans may also like to visit nearby Giverny where he produced his famous water lily series.

While in Rouen, you also shouldn’t miss out on a visit to the location of the burning at the stake of French heroine, Joan of Arc. The 19-year-old who led France to victory in the Hundred Years War became a symbol of freedom in France and has been memorialised in Rouen by a monument and a statue beside a church dedicated to the young woman.

You can also enjoy an afternoon wandering around this area, as the beautiful half-timbered houses, still intact from the Middle Ages, line the streets and hide away some gorgeous cafes and restaurants, including La Couronne, the oldest auberge in France, first opened in 1345.

Another remnant of the 14th century is the astronomical clock, the Gros Horloge. You can see this magnificent clock from the street, and for just a few euros, enter the church beside the clock to see how it functions and learn about its origins.

Plus, if you fancy a day out in the wilderness, you can take a bus out to the Parc naturel régional des Boucles de la Seine Normande, for an enjoyable walk in the lush greenery.

Astronomical Clock at Rouen
Astronomical Clock at Rouen

Where to Stay in Rouen

Hotel Cardinal – This mid-range hotel is great for those looking for an excellent base for exploring Rouen. They have an array of lovely rooms to choose from, a perfect location in the city centre and a lovely terrace to lounge on. Click here to check availability

Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde – If you’re looking for luxury, you can’t go wrong with this opulent 5-star hotel while visiting Rouen. They have an endless array of amenities available to guests and countless plush rooms for you to choose from. Click here to check availability

La Villa – These flats in the centre of Rouen are a great option if you’re after self-catering accommodation while on your trip to Normandy. There are a number of apartments to choose from equipped with all you may need during your stay. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Rouen hotels!

Dieppe – Best for a Relaxing Retreat

For those who want an escape from the city and prefer to find the best place to stay near the Normandy beaches, Dieppe might take the crown.

With its gorgeous white cliffs, long sandy beaches, walking routes for miles around, you can easily rent a gîte or a hotel and spend a few days around Dieppe, taking in the fresh sea air and listening to the cuckoos and black woodpeckers hiding in the treetops.

Dieppe itself is a small fishing town, so you can spend your evenings in a cosy local restaurant, eating fresh fish and local produce and sipping on the local ciders and apple liqueurs after your days out rambling in the countryside.

To add a bit of culture to your trip, you can always enjoy a morning in one of the town’s museums, such as the museum and aquarium of ESTRAN Cité de la Mer, where you can learn about the history of the Normandy coast, the shipbuilding communities and the ecological ways the town continues to provide the freshest fish while protecting marine habitats.

Or, head to the Château de Dieppe, a large fortification that houses the town’s museum, predominantly detailing the history of the community’s involvement in the ivory trade and the generations of skilled craftsmen that lived and worked there.

There are plenty of hotels and apartments in the centre of the town, as well as gîtes and holiday lets in the surrounding countryside if you prefer to be closer to nature.

Castle in Dieppe
Castle in Dieppe

Where to Stay in Dieppe

Hotel Aguado – This hip hotel is great for mid-range travellers. Offering panoramic views of the sea, they have a number of chic rooms to choose from, a lovely outdoor terrace, room service and free parking available to guests. Click here to check availability

Parc Beausejour Aparthotel – This aparthotel is a good choice for those looking for their own flat while staying in this area of Normandy. They have a range of apartments on offer along with plenty of great amenities for guests – including breakfast available in the mornings. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Dieppe hotels!

Le Touquet – Best Place for Nightlife

Another small coastal town, but one with a very different atmosphere, is Le Touquet. Known as Le Touquet Paris-Plage due to the historic number of Parisians who would descend on the town to sunbathe on the beaches during summer.

Thanks to this population, Le Touquet has a large number of magnificent villas along the coastline, that served as summer houses for the rich urbanites, which you can enjoy views of as you amble along the beaches.

The Parisians also brought other displays of opulence, opening golf courses, casinos and cocktail bars across the town, which you can still enjoy today and give the town centre a wonderful lively atmosphere as the sun goes down, especially around Rue Saint-Jean.

With a few parks, charming squares, delightful walks along the beaches, and a small museum dedicated to the town, you can have a relaxing day out in Le Touquet, before heading out for some great food and a fun evening out in the bars and restaurants.

There’s also a fantastic venue, L’Orangerie de la Baie: this horse racing track also has a huge greenhouse that hosts dinners, cocktail parties and DJ sets throughout the year, making it a great place to visit in Le Touquet if you’re in the mood for a party.

While the best places to base yourself in Le Touquet to enhance your experience are the luxury hotels and apartments dotted around the town, there are also plenty of budget hotels, campsites and places to park your caravans if you’re after a more budget-friendly option on the Normandy coast.

Buildings in Le Touquet
Buildings in Le Touquet

Where to Stay in Le Touquet

Hôtel Gaspard – This chic hotel is located less than a kilometre from the beach and is a great choice for those after a mid-range option. They have a range of great rooms to choose from along with breakfast on offer in the morning. Click here to check availability

Le Manoir Hôtel – Boasting an outdoor swimming pool, a golf course and countless other plush amenities, this luxury hotel is a great choice for those looking for an upmarket stay in Le Touquet. They have a range of gorgeous rooms for guests to choose from and a fab breakfast each morning. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Le Touquet hotels!

Choosing the best area to stay in Normandy is a tough decision as there’s at least a thousand years of history to cover as well as the beautiful beaches, bars and city streets, without even mentioning the incredible seafood. But each town and village has its own character and charm, so it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone in Normandy.

Are you wondering where to stay in Normandy? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Brittany Scott-Gunfield

Brittany is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Colchester, England, she is slowly but surely travelling the world as a digital nomad. She loves to hike around different landscapes and has a deep love for travelling around France (and elsewhere in Europe).

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