Got a group of travel-hungry friends together and thinking of visiting Normandy? You’ve made the right choice – it’s a region ripe with things to do. From exploring the varied and dramatic coastlines to fantastic foodie experiences that’ll tickle your curiosity as much as your tastebuds, we’ve found some of the best things to do in Normandy that your friends can enjoy in the region. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, our gorgeous luxury villas and chateaux in Normandy will make sure your accommodation is just as indulgent as your day trips.
1. Take a food tour of Normandy with La Compagnie des Terroirs
Food is one the most important (ahem) ingredients for a brilliant holiday, so what better way to see Normandy than with a gastronomic tour? La Compagnie des Terroirs sees local culinary guru Etienne introduce tourists to his personal passions for regional cheese, cider and calvados; an apple brandy often called ‘the cousin of Cognac’. His guided tours are intimate and personal, as he takes his guests off the beaten path to local farmers and food producers, fully immersing them in the unique cuisine and culture of Normandy. With guests picked up from their accommodation for the half- or full-day tours learning about (and tasting) a range of cheese and cider, it’s the perfect group activity.
Book: Online at La Compagnie des Terroirs
Location: 1 rue Arcisse de Caumont 14 000 Caen, France
2. Sit back and see the city with ByCyclo
Rouen is one of Normandy’s most beguiling cities, renowned for its Gothic Notre Dame cathedral, its astronomical clock and its pretty half-timbered houses – not to mention its historical links to Joan of Arc. There’s no better way to explore the city than on the back of an electric rickshaw. ByCyclo is a company that offers groups the opportunity to see the sights from the rear seats of a comfortable and modern rickshaw. Not only is it the most original, offbeat and relaxing way to experience Rouen, but it’s also one of the most informative, as your enthusiastic driver and guide will share his/her own personal insights and detailed history of the city as they drive through the pretty cobbled streets.
Book: Online at ByCyclo
Location: 76000, Rouen, France
3. Sip Normandy’s tastiest drink at Bénédictine Palais
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, Normandy is best known as the birthplace of calvados (apple brandy) and pommeau (an aperitif with brandy and apple juice). But there’s another local drink that eclipses both when it comes to national and international acclaim… and that’s the Bénédictine. Said to have been invented by Venetian monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli in 1510, this herbal liqueur is made from 27 different plants and spices. It is now distilled in a flamboyant palace-cum-factory in Fécamp. There are regular tours of the palace, which is filled to the brim with spectacular paintings, striking sculptures, amazing old books and more. But most of all, it’s the best place in the world to taste the unique aperitif. Consider joining a mixology workshop to craft your very own Bénédictine cocktails.
Book: Call +33 2 35 10 26 10
Location: 110 rue Alexandre Le Grand, 76400, Fécamp
4. Learn about the Normandy landings from the D-Day Historian
Tuesday 6th June 1944 was one of the most important days in Norman, and global, history. It’s when 156,000 Allied troops landed on the Normandy coast in the largest seaborne invasion in history, and secured a decisive victory that helped defeat the Nazis. Paul Woodadge, aka ‘the D-Day Historian’, is a historian and author who conducts guided tours of the Normandy battlefields for select groups of visitors. He offers several tours across thousands of square miles of battlefields – some focused on the American landing forces, some on the British, and others on particular units and battalions – plus the region’s many D-Day related museums, cemeteries and memorials. With Paul, groups of tourists will get incredible insight into the political landscape and harrowing personal tales of the fateful day.
Book: No need to book just show up!
Location: Place de Quebec, Bayeux, France
5. Set sail for an island with Vedette des Îles Chausey
What do you call Channel Islands that aren’t Channel Islands? Chausey! Admittedly, it isn’t much of a joke, but it is an interesting story. This group of tiny islands is situated closer to Jersey than much of mainland Normandy, but since 933 when it was annexed by the Duchy of Normandy, it has belonged to the region. Today, it’s only possible to get there by ferry from the Norman coast. So catch a ferry crossing by Vedettes des Îles Chausey, who will not simply take you into the heart of the archipelago but also give you a guided tour of some of its finest features, from deserted golden-sand beaches to imposing 16th century fortresses. There’s also some incredible island wildlife to see, from sea birds such as playful puffins, cormorants and gannets to pods of dolphins swimming in the ship’s wake.
Book: Online at Vedette des Îles Chausey
Location: Gare Maritime, rue des Isles, quai Sud 50400, Granville
6. Take a break from the sightseeing at Spa Pom
If you are looking for a quiet spot to relax, unwind and de-stress during your visit to Normandy, look no further than Spa Pom. This luxurious spa, set at the very heart of the gorgeous Le Perche Regional Nature Park, provides a harmonious, natural atmosphere designed to refresh and reinvigorate body and mind. The extensive facilities include a hydro massage swimming pool, a steam room and sauna, yet the main draws are the wonderful (and affordable) spa treatments. From relaxing back massages to vigorous body scrubs to refreshing facials and beauty therapies, you can treat your entire body to a day off.
Book: Call +33 2 33 83 11 01
Location: Domaine de Villeray, 61110 Condeau, France
7. Go horseback riding with the Centre Equestre de Ouistreham
Soothing and spiritual or stirring and stimulating: horse-riding can be anything you want it to be. And whether you are a first-time rider or an old farm hand, the Equestrian Centre in Ouistreham (just a short drive from Caen) is a welcoming place to enjoy a popular local activity. The centre organises a variety of horse-riding experiences within Normandy, from easygoing beach walks to brisk woodland hikes, dramatic show jumping to elaborate dressage events. It’s suitable for groups of all sizes, and age, experience and mobility are not barriers to you getting involved. Add in the fact that it will work muscles you didn’t even know you had, and it’s one of Normandy’s most appealing group activities.
Book: Call +33 2 31 96 41 41
Location: 12 rte de Caen, 14150, Ouistreham
Don’t forget our friendly concierge team is on hand to help you arrange your ideal group holiday! They can help you book, or if you’re feeling spoilt for choice just let them know the kind of property you’re looking for and they’ll find you the perfect match. Still looking for a bit more Normandy travel inspiration? Our blog is full of great travel tips and articles, so why not see which Normandy towns are great for cider tasting or even find more information on Normandy’s most historic seaside towns. You can also discover more things to do and see why historic Normandy is the Perfect French Holiday Destination.