A history of power and influence is reflected in the rich Norman landscape. The region's buildings - half-timbered houses, grand abbeys and towering cathedrals - speak of the wealth which built them, while its fields flow with milk and honey. No wonder this is a popular destination for visitors from the UK who come to enjoy a self catering Normandy holiday.
From one of our holiday homes in Normandy its world famous coastline can be explored. From the wide expanses of the Mont St Michel bay with its impressive island abbey, up the rugged Cotentin Peninsula to the sweeping Cote de Nacre, Cote Floury and chalky Cote d'Albatre around Dieppe, the beaches have played their part in history. A boat built in the pretty Cotentin port of Barfleur carried Duke William on his voyage to victory over England in 1066. Nine hundred years later, Cote de Nacre beaches witnessed the D-Day landings, when Allied troops set out to liberate France and end the Second World War.
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For a day trip from your self catering Normandy home visit the beach at Arromanches, where in 1944 the concrete Mulberry Harbour sections which were towed across the Channel from the south coast of England, provide a man-made harbour used to disembark 2.5 million soldiers and their vehicles. Today the bulky remains of the structure sit on the shallow sea bed – iconic reminders of the great battle for Normandy. Along the coast at Omaha beach you will be struck by the sheer scale of the high cliffs and wonder at the bravery of the American troops who landed here and also of the Canadians at Juno beach.
For a glimpse into much earlier history head just a few miles inland and visit the Bayeaux Tapestry museum, as part of your self catering Normandy holiday. This remarkable work depicts the Battle of Hastings – at 80 metres long it is justifiably regarded as a French national treasure!
The Norman coast has also inspired more peaceful pursuits and was the seat of a great artistic flowering during the 19th century as chic resorts grew up along the Cote Fleurie. Sophisticated Deauville has a grand casino, great hotels, chic seafood restaurants and the stunning promenade. Trouville-sur-Mer, a pretty fishing port, shows off its grand 19th century houses and charming market and there are plenty of other activities, including horse riding, golf and water sports available for those taking a break in holiday homes in Normandy. No self catering Normandy holiday would be complete without a trip to see the high, chalky cliffs of the Alabaster Coast. Attractive étretat with shimmering white cliffs, huge rock arches and colourful fishing boats, was much favoured by artists like Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin and the writer Guy de Maupassant. Honfleur has a unique atmosphere capturing its history as a sailing port for those bound for the New World in days gone by. In its picturesque cobbled streets overhung by crooked buildings you will feel as if you have stepped back in time. Today the heart of the town is the historic port, the Vieux Bassin surrounded by tall 17th century slate-fronted houses with galleries, boutiques and cafés perfect for browsing or just people watching with a café crème to sip!
There are many beautiful gardens scattered around the countryside all worth a visit whilst you are on your self catering Normandy holiday, none more famous than Monet’s garden at Giverny, on the River Seine and close to historic Rouen with its Gothic cathedral.
As one of the ideal destinations for a short break in France, holiday homes in Normandy rank high. The lush landscape of the interior is one of dairy herds and apple orchards where cattle graze the meadows to produce the creamy cheeses and butter for which Normandy is famous, while innumerable bees busy themselves pollinating the fruits which make cider and the apple brandy, Calvados, after which this region takes its name. Typical is the Pays d'Auge with the picturesque village of Beuvron-en-Auge at its heart.
To the south-west lies the hilly Suisse Normande, a region popular for outdoor pursuits. From here, the River Orne flows northwards to Caen, favoured dwelling-place of William the Conqueror, a city much-damaged during the war but now restored and retaining some historic gems.
A choice of holiday homes in Normandy from the Rent Villas France collection will mean that you can cook gourmet style meals in the comfort of your own kitchen. Shop in local markets or buy directly from the producers for delicious fresh produce like cream from Issigny, Camembert and Brie or the stronger Pont l’Eveque cheeses, cider, pork and the unique apple brandy called Calvados.