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Discover Normandy History and Heritage

Published on September 13, 2018 by Chris Robinson

This weekend is a celebration of Normandy history and heritage. The 15th and 16th September is a nationwide event called Les Journées européennes du patrimoine (heritage weekend). Normandy history buffs

Most of us know about the role Normandy has played in history; William the Conqueror, the Bayeux tapestry and the D-D landings are probably the best known. Since I moved to Normandy I've really enjoyed discovering these historic buildings and places. Many of them have been damaged or destroyed over time and others have been restored. Some of the restoration and renovation projects are simply amazing and they allow the modern-day generation to really understand the history and bring it to life.

lace making and metalwork Pirou

Highlights This Weekend

This article from Côté Manche highlights 15 of the activities that you can enjoy over the two days. They include:

  • The Christian Dior museum at Granville. This pink villa called Les Rhumbs was built in the late 19th century in the middle of a small park overlooking the sea. Dior was born in Granville in 1905 and lived here until he was 6. At that point the family moved to Paris but kept the villa which became his childhood holiday home. In the 1990s the villa was transformed into the museum which showcases the fashions which carry his name. There are usually two exhibitions each year featuring Dior items from across the decades.

  • Bayeux cathedral. It was originally built in the 11th century and consecrated in 1077 at a ceremony attended by William the Conqueror. The civil war less than 30 years later, fires and a further civil war saw in destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. The largest part of the Cathedral dates from the 13th century. The original Romanesque architecture gave way to the new Gothic style although some of the Romaneque style has been preserved. The cathedral we can see to day was finished in the 19th century. The scale and detail of both the interior and exterior is breath-taking.

Bayeux cathedral

  • A walk around Coutances. The gothic cathedral and two adjacent churches survived the bombings during World War 2 reasonably unscathed while buildings surrounding them were destroyed. The hospital quarter is home to a number of chapels. The walk is an opportunity for you to discover some of the lesser-known parts of Coutances.

Coutances

During the weekend you can visit abbeys, castles and even a priory and chapterhouse or two. An old railway station escalator, underground tunnels and bunkers are some of the more unusual events. Earlier this week I visited the Marie Ravenel water mill (le moulin à eau de Marie Ravenel) and it will open its doors this weekend. Later the same day I spent time at the park surrounding the Chateau de Carneville. The restoration project currently being undertaken at the castle is incredible.

Normandy history and heritage Normandy history and heritage

Some events have a reduced tariff but the majority are free. Most of them allow you to turn up on the day but if you need to book due to places being limited then it will be detailed. There's a whole range of events to choose from; you can find the programme of events here.

The video below shows some of the heritage sites in La Manche region of Normandy. I'd better start planning my weekend of discovering more Normandy history and heritage!

Meet The Author
Until 2014 I worked in central London as a marketeer for a membership organization. Years of watching property renovation programmes on TV sparked a dream to do this in France having studied French and worked there previously. I left my job and completed the sale of my house on the same day (a stroke of luck rather than good planning) and headed off to Normandy. I undertook a barn renovation project managing the artisans’ workload. The result is a 3 bedroom gite which I now market all year providing me with endless opportunities to increase my skills and knowledge.
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