"The quintessential image of Normandy is of a lush, pastoral region of apple orchards and contented cows, cider, and pungent cheeses - but the region also spans the windswept beaches of the Cotentin and the wooded banks of the Seine valley.
Normandy gets its name from the Viking Norsemen who sailed up the river Seine in the 9th century. Pillagers turned settlers, they made their capital at Rouen, today a cultured cathedral city that commands the east of the region. Here the Seine meanders seaward to a coast that became an open-air studio for Impressionist painters during the mid- and late 19th-century.
|The cliffs at Falaise d'Aval, famously likened to an elephant dipping its trunk into the sea|
North of Rouen are the chalky cliffs of the Côte d'Albâtre. The mood softens at the port of Honfleur and the elegant resorts to the west. Inland lies the Pays d'Auge, with its half-timbered manor houses and patch-eyed cows. The western half of Normandy is predominantly rural, a bocage countryside.
|Cemetery from D-Day|
The modern city of Caen has two great 11th-century abbey churches built by William the Conqueror and his queen, Matilda. In Bayeux, the story of William's invasion of England is told in detail by the town's famous tapestry. Memories of another invasion, the D-Day Landings of 1944, still linger along the Côte de Nacre and the Cotentin Peninsula. Thousands of Allied troops poured ashore onto these magnificent beaches in the closing stages of WWII. The Cotentin Peninsula is capped by the port of Cherbourg, still a strategic naval base. At its western foot stands one of France's greatest attractions: the monastery island of Mont-St-Michel." (DK Eyewitness Travel: France)