Touring Southern Normandy

Exploring France’s medieval heritage.

In two earlier articles we outlined tours of Upper Normandy (Haute Normandie), around the vicinity of its regional capital, Rouen. Now we move on to Lower Normandy, (Basse Normandie), comprising the departments of Calvados, Manche, and Orne.

This region of France is a great medieval treasure chest (think Battle of Hastings, William of Normandy, and magnificent castles.) But it’s history extends beyond that. This was the jumping off point for the Viking invasions of western Europe in the 9th century and where the allies landed on D Day in the 20th century. Here is where you can see the Bayeux Tapestry (in the town of Bayeux, of all places) which tells the story of William the Conqueror. Here is where the island abbey of Mont Saint-Michele is located, where Calvados, an apple brandy, is produced, and where Monet painted water lilies. Southern Normandy is also home to great cheeses, such as Camembert, and to a host of renowned regional dishes and cream sauces, and some of the most beautiful medieval towns France has to offer.

In other words, there’s lots of stuff to see and do and taste here.

We put together 3 itineraries that will give you a very good feel of this region. We use the city of Deauville as our home base — it’s more or less centrally located, and as a seaport town is a fun place to come home to after roaming the countryside.

The maps below lay out each itinerary, followed by pictures of each town so you can get a sense of the area’s charm. There are lots of websites you can go to for specific information on each destination.

As with all of our driving itineraries, we recommend that you load each town in your GPS, scout out parking lots and restaurants near each destination, and print out this itinerary so you have a hard copy to take with you.​

As you look through each itinerary, you will probably find that not all towns are worth a stop — some are just drive throughs and some you might want to skip altogether. That’s the joy of these tours, you can see what you want and skip what you don’t. But we expect there will likely be a few destinations that you’ll find more than worthwhile.


This one is an easy drive (about 140 miles roundtrip) and includes 3 of the D Day beaches. While you likely will spend some time at one of these, a quick stop may be enough for the other two. And the towns we list on this itinerary are smallish and so won’t require a lot of visiting time.

  • Dives-sur-mer


At 340 miles, this drive is more of a challenge. But if that’s too much for you, you can reduce it to about 220 miles by eliminating Fourgeres and Dinan. That will also give you more time to spend at Mont Saint-Michel, the highlight of this itinerary.

  • villedieu-les-poeles

This is a very manageable drive of 113 miles, which could be made an even more manageable 90 miles if you eliminate Lisieux. Honfleur and Caen are the key destinations and might require some roaming around time, while the other 3 (Lisieux, Beuvron-en-Auge, and Beaumont-en-Auge), may be a drive through.

  • Lisieux

If you’re interested in our articles about Upper Normandy, click on the links below:

Lower Normandy Part 1

Lower Normandy Part 2

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