Discover a different side of Normandy in the Pays de Falaise, with stretches of unspoilt countryside to explore and plenty to see and do, from medieval castles to World War II memorials.
1. Authentic Normandy
Far from the hustle and bustle of the beaches and major tourist sites, discover the real Normandy, with its rich and varied landscapes and its impressive heritage. The Pays de Falaise is also the ideal base for exploring further afield: it is less than an hour from the D-Day landing beaches, the Ouistreham ferry terminal, and the towns of Deauville and Honfleur. Two hours away you will find Mont Saint-Michel, Rouen and Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, and in three hours you will be in Paris.
2. Cliff Castle
An essential residence of the Dukes of Normandy, the Château de Falaise is one of the largest medieval fortresses in Europe. Dynamic screens and touchpads bring to life the illustrious characters who have lived here over its 1,000 year history – and there are no less than three dungeons to explore!
3. Medieval City of Falaise
The birthplace of William the Conqueror is a fortified city with an exceptional heritage. Take the time to discover the ramparts, gates, towers and churches. La Fontaine d’Arlette marks the meeting of Robert the Magnificent and Arlette, the parents of William the Conqueror. History buffs will want to follow the 90-minute medieval circuit of the city (information from the tourist office).
4. Falaise Memorial
A unique and moving site, the Mémorial de Falaise – La Guerre des Civils is the first museum entirely dedicated to civilians of the Second World War. Specially designed for families, the course takes you over three floors and immerses you in the daily life of families in Falaise during the war. Discover moving testimonies, everyday objects and an immersive and moving film taking place in the ruins of a mansion destroyed during the bombings of August 1944. You will also discover the Battle of the Pocket of Falaise-Chambois, the battle inferno that ended the Battle of Normandy some two months after D-Day. Also be sure to visit the Montormel Memorial, 30 minutes away by car, at the top of Hill 262, where the pocket was closed on the 21 August 1944.
5. Swiss Normandy
With bocage and forest punctuated by steep rocky massifs overlooking turbulent rivers and typical Norman villages, the Suisse Normande is the ideal setting for outdoor activities. On foot, by bike or on horseback, miles of marked trails await you. The village of Pont-d’Ouilly, crossed by the Orne and the Noireau, is the place to go to start your kayak descent of the Orne valley. And don’t miss a visit to Clécy and the magnificent natural belvedere of Roche d’Oëtre.
6. Trails galore
Whether on foot, by bike or on horseback, the region is home to more than 600 km of marked trails and fantastic routes await you: take the VéloFrancette cycle path, which leads through Suisse Normande to the Atlantic; stroll on the 210 km equestrian route of the Chevauchée de Guillaume on which you can follow in the footsteps of William the Conqueror; travel the old pilgrimage routes of the Chemins du Mont Saint-Michel; and offer your outdoor adventurer the marvelous landscapes of the Pays d’Auge, the Suisse Normande and the Plaine de Falaise.
7. Culinary specialties
Visit Normandy’s first vineyard at Les Arpents du Soleil, created on the site of a former quarry. Or learn how saffron and yuzu are grown at an organic farm between Falaise and La Hoguette, where you can purchase a range of delicious delicacies from the farm shop. And then there are the fabulous local cheeses, of course: don’t miss the Camembert de la Maison Jort and Le Moulin de Carel.
8. Castle of Vendeuvre
Immerse yourself in the 18th century at the Norman replica of Versailles, with its magnificent English and French gardens and its surprising bodies of water. The Orangerie houses a fascinating collection of thousands of miniature pieces of furniture, silverware and objects.
9. Automata Museum
Stroll through a reconstructed Parisian street with more than 300 animated automatons displayed in the windows of Parisian department stores such as Les Galeries Lafayette and La Samaritaine for the Christmas holidays between 1920 and 1960.
10. Fantastic Festivals
Why not time your vacation to attend one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year? Les Médiévales de Falaise (August) reconstructions of medieval tournaments, with fireworks, games…; Les ExtravErties (May) outdoor activities and music concerts; Les Faltaisies music festival (July); La Fiancée de Falaise (August 2022) Sound and light show on the theme of the Second World War; and magical exhibitions in December, on the theme of Alice in Wonderland.
Find out more: www.falaise-suissenormande.com
Main photo credit: The charming village of Pont-d’Ouilly © OT Falaise Tourisme Anibas Photography