If you’re camping in Normandy on a budget, you’ll be pleased to know that there are lots of places to visit and things to do for free in this beautiful region of France. It is an area rich in history and culture, with plenty of opportunity for great photos and Instagram moments!
Here are 7 ideas for free things to do in Normandy, all handy to visit from our campsite in Normandy, Domaine de Litteau:
1. Visit the D-Day beaches
You can combine relaxing sunbathing with a step back in history. Head to Gold and Omaha beaches, both are great for kids to splash and dig sandcastles as well as being able to see the memorials scattered along the sands and coastline.
You can wander for free around the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, taking in the atmosphere of this final resting place for over 9,000 American soldiers who died during the D-Day invasion. Head to the Omaha Beach Memorial which commemorates the soldiers who died during the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach and get the kids to examine all the names of the soldiers on the memorial wall.
There are several museums in the area that are worth visiting, most of which have a small per person fee and usually young children can go for free.
2. Explore the medieval towns and villages of Normandy
Normandy is a great region for photo-ops! Everywhere you go there are beautiful medieval towns and villages, such as Rouen, Bayeux, and Caen. These towns are full of history and charm, and it doesn’t have to be boring for the kids – you can make a visit fun by looking out for top attractions and ticking them off a list!
Your list for Rouen could include Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen, one of the most famous landmarks in Rouen. This stunning Gothic cathedral was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. See if you can get the kids to spot what the designs are in the intricate stained-glass windows and if they can count the towering spires. Then go and see the famous ‘Gros-Horloge’ on the Renaissance arch crossing the Rue du Gros-Horloge. This clock tower is a symbol of Rouen. It was built in the 14th century and is one of the oldest working clock towers in France. And finally, when you’re ready for an ice cream or coffee head to the Place du Vieux Marché, the square that is the historic heart of Rouen and where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. The square is now home to a nice range of restaurants and cafes.
3. Hike in the Normandy countryside
Normandy is of course also known for its beautiful coastline and there are lots of hiking trails that wind through the countryside and over to the cliffs and coast, suitable for all age ranges.
Recently voted the best walking trail in France, the GR21 is a long-distance hiking trail that runs along the Normandy coast from Le Havre to Le Tréport. The trail offers stunning views of the English Channel and the Alabaster Coast. If you wanted to walk all over the 181km you could do this over a recommended ten days, otherwise we recommend you dip in and out of it!
The Suisse Normande is a region known for its rolling hills and lush forests. There are many hiking trails that wind through the countryside, offering stunning views and a chance to see some of the region's many castles and abbeys.
4. Visit the Mont-Saint-Michel
Perhaps the most well-known attraction in Normandy, if not in France (after the Eiffel Tower maybe!) is Mont-Saint-Michel, a striking abbey built on a tiny island just of the coast. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has small winding streets and walls, and you can walk to the top of the hill where you’ll find the abbey. There is a small fee to park close to the attraction and then you can walk along the bridge and wander around the tiny island to your hearts content.
5. Walk along the cliffs of Etretat
Walking the cliffs of Etretat in Normandy is a great way to experience the beauty of the region. The cliffs are stunning, and the views from the top are amazing. There are a few different trails that you can take, so you can choose the one that best suits your fitness level and interests.
The cliff trails are popular so it’s a good idea to start early in the morning to avoid the crowds during the main holiday season. Wear comfortable shoes with good traction and be aware of the tide times if you venture down to the beach. Some of the most popular trails and the Sentier du littoral which runs along the coast and offers stunning views of the cliffs and the English Channel, the Sentier des Falaises (the start of the GR21 trail mentioned above) which takes you up to the top of the cliffs and offers amazing views of the town and the surrounding countryside and the Sentier du Vallon which takes you through a wooded valley and offers a different perspective of the cliffs.
6. Honfleur harbour
Honfleur is a beautiful town in Normandy, France, known for its picturesque harbour and its rich history. Take your camera and see who can capture the best shots of the all the colourful houses and variety of boats moored up in the marina.
7. Enjoy a day at Deauville beach
Deauville Beach is a two-kilometre-long stretch of sand located in the town of Deauville in Normandy, France. It is a popular tourist destination, especially during the summer months. The beach is known for its fine sand, its calm waters, and its lively atmosphere. There are a number of amenities available on the beach, including lifeguards, showers, and changing rooms. There are also several restaurants and cafes located nearby. Deauville beach is a great place to relax and enjoy the sun and the sand. It is also a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
These are just a few of the many free things to do in Normandy. With its rich history, stunning scenery, and delicious food, Normandy is a region that has something to offer everyone.
If you want further handy tips on free things to do on holiday and ways to holiday on a budget then check out our article on 10 tips on keeping down costs on a camping holiday to France.