Normandy is forever associated in our minds with the World War II D-Day Landings, and those beaches do tell a remarkable story. They are an important part of what is a wonderfully long coastline which starts at the Cotentin Peninsula, with Cherbourg at its tip. Then the coast runs along to Le Mont St-Michel, mysterious and strange in its sea setting even in the height of summer when it is overrun with crowds.
On the south west corner of the Cotentin Peninsula, curiously shaped like a snail's head, Granville is the focal point for some great beaches to the south. St Pair-sur-Mer, Jullouville and Carolles-Plage run down the coast on a sandy 6-km stretch of shoreline. All the resorts are also ideal for walking and cycling, but take your own picnic as cafes and restaurants are few and far between.
Barneville-Carteret on the west side of the Cotentin Peninsula is the closest port to the Channel Islands. About a mile outside the center of Carteret lies the fabulous, empty golden sands of the Plage de la Vieille Eglise. It’s a nationally protected seashore, so there’s very little but yourself and the gulls for company.
More information on Barneville-Carteret
The long, sloping sandy beaches were ideal for the Normandy D-Day Landings in 1944 and Gold Beach, between Arromanches-les-Bains and Courseulles-sur-Mer was one of the important landing beaches. Today you’ll find most of the famous beaches, including Omaha, are wonderfully peaceful with sparkling seas, surfers and the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach.Where to Stay
Stay at La Ferme de la Ranconniere just 5 km (3 miles) from the Landing Beaches.
Trouville became the fashionable seaside place during the Second Empire and still retains the grace of those years in the 1850s when the Cote Fleurie was all the rage. Trouville is delightful with a wooden boardwalk running the full length of the beach. Here the cliffs of the Normandy corniche snake down to the mouth of the River Touques and a lovely little fishing harbor. Less posh than it’s more famous neighbor, Deauville, and more relaxed, it has enough going on to make it a resort for all seasons.More about Trouville-sur-Mer
"Its beach, whose beauty has been immortalized by so many painters, is the embodiment of magic" wrote Guy de Maupassant about Etretat plage. Dominated at both ends by magnificent arches, the scene inspired the Impressionists, Boudin, Manet and Monet. The grandeur of the natural stone needles also inspired Alexandre Dumas, Andre Gide, Victor Huge, Gustave Courbet, Jacques Offenbach, and de Maupassant among many others. Known as the Alabaster Coast because of the minerals that make the rocks sparkle, it’s popular for the bathing, the scenery and the bustling lively town of Etretat itself.
More about Etretat
7. Getting to Normandy
Getting to Caen
See Ferry travel