Lower Normandy is France’s leading producer of turnips, and breeds more horses than any other region. They must like the turnips. The region also leads in the production of butter, apples, leeks and flax, but has yet to combine these into a successful regional dish.
William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and was also known as William the Bastard. William’s dad was Robert the Magnificent, so Will’s nickname must have come as a disappointment to him. Will’s missus, Matilda, was only 4’2″ tall and in 1066 she became England’s smallest Queen. Matilda was famous for her long pig-tails. (Though, Matilda being vertically-challenged, they may in fact have been normal-length pig-tails). Legend has it, that Will courted Tilly by dragging her off her horse by her pig-tails. It must have been the turnips.
Willy and Tilly were also cousins, and the Pope was not at all happy about their union. Will soon smoothed matters over by building the Pope the Abbey of Saint Étienne at Caen. Everyone has a price, even the Pope. Will was buried at Saint Étienne, but his bones were scattered twice, once during the Wars of Religion and again, just for good measure, during the Revolution (see our guide to Ile-de-France). Despite all this upheaval, the Abbey custodians are pretty sure they still have his left leg.
Willy and Tilly co-star in the Bayeux Embroidery (yeah, you needle-workers, I’ve done my research.) In the world’s first embroidered comic-strip, Norman-Man does battle with evil mastermind Harold Godwinson. You can tell the good guys from the bad guys because the Saxons all have moustaches, while the Normans shaved the back of their heads. Mmm sexy. How Harold actually met his end is the subject of some debate. The Latin text “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him!” appears over three mortally-wounded Saxons: one (as you know) with an arrow in his eye, one with a spear through his chest, and one with his legs chopped off. One modern theory is that they’re all Harold, which suggests that the Norman army was nothing if not thorough.
Further mystery surrounds the scene in which a priest is seen slapping a lady called Ælfgifu, while two naked men crouch nearby, one shamelessly displaying his meat-and-two-veg. One theory is that the scene may depict a well-known celebrity sex scandal of the day. If this is so, it suggests that prurient, invasive journalism was already rife in the eleventh century, though unlike today’s paparazzi, the Bayeux needleworkers would have had to embroider really quickly to be sure of getting a scoop. A Victorian reproduction of the Bayeux Embroidery hangs in Reading Museum, and is accurate in every detail, except that they gave meat-and-two-veg man some pants. The Victorians weren’t great turnip-eaters. Even more mystery surrounds the Embroidery’s missing panels. Apparently, two sequels were planned, provisionally entitled The Bayeux Supremacy and The Bayeux Ultimatum.
In more recent times, Lower Normandy has produced a saint and a helicopterist-person. St. Thérèse of Lisieux was born in Alençon, and is the patron saint of florists, tuberculosis, Cheyenne (Wyoming) and aviators. Paul Cornu, also of Lisieux, achieved the first manned helicopter flight in 1907. As pilot and only passenger, Paul had to announce to himself, “We will be flying at an altitude of 30cm and arriving at our destination of just over there in approximately 20 seconds.”
© 2008 richardheacock @ mac.com
Lower Normandy Location
Lower Normandy is located on the North Coast of France. To the North is the English Channel and on the East Upper Normandy. To the South, Lower Normandy borders Brittany, Western Loire and Centre regions. A predominantly rural area favoured by British buyers. There are 3 departments: Orne, Manche and Calvados.
Lower Normandy Landscape
With about 600 kilometres of coastline there is a wonderful mixture of cliffs, pebbly coves and long stretches of golden sands – this has always been a popular destination for holidaymakers. The Cherbourg peninsula is renowned for family holidays – the most top destinations being Deauville, Trouville, and Cabourg. The Gulf Stream warms the sea here!
Inland the sparsely populated rural area is home to apple orchards (Calvados) and other fruits. There are many sleepy market towns to wander around and enjoy the local foods – including fresh bread, cheeses, fruits and a glass or two of calvados!
Lower Normandy Attractions
Apart from the many and varied beaches around the coastline, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. The D-Day landings in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 were the focus of the largest and most complex invasion ever attempted. There are many D-Day sites to be visited including:
Memorial at Caen
Remnants of “Port Winston” – an artificial harbour built in England and floated to the bay at Arromanches.
Longues-sur-Mer – fortified German gun emplacements.
Bayeux Tapestry – is a 50 cm by 70 m (20 in by 230 ft) long embroidered cloth which depicts scenes commemorating the Battle of Hastings in 1066, with annotations in Latin. The tapestry presently exhibited in a museum in Bayeux.
Other lovely coastal attractions are Honfleur and Deauville. In particular, Honfleur is a popular destination. A quaint fishing port with a thriving “artist” element and lovely small shops. The restaurants are well frequented too!
This is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area, the wide bay of Mont- Saint-Michel, abutting Brittany and Lower Normandy, claims the strongest tides in Europe. This “Wonder of the Western World” towers above the vast mud-flats that surround it.
Do not miss : Visit to the abbey.
Weather is similar to the South of England with distinct seasons. Perhaps slightly warmer and sunnier in the Summer! The countryside is green so it does rain.
From Calais ferry port / Eurostar driving times are about 5 hours. You can travel by Autoroute (tolls) all the way.
Caen and Cherbourg ports are located in Lower Normandy so you can arrive in the heart of Lower Normandy from the UK. St Malo, Dieppe and Le Havre are also close by.
Dinard (Brittany) – flights arrive form East Midlands, Stansted and Luton. You can also fly to Paris and get to Lower Normandy in 3 hours.
Just under 1.5 million inhabitants
Caen is famous for its historical buildings built in the time of William the Conqueror, who was buried here, and for the Battle for Caen – fighting that took place around Caen during the Battle of Normandy.
Cherbourg is a commercial and military port, but none the less one of the most popular ports in France.
Deauville is a glamorous seaside resort, symbolising elegance, prestige and sophistication. Nearby the Polo and Horse Racing re-enforces its tradition.
Alençon is synonymous with lace and once was the lace capital of Europe. The industry has long since departed and Alençon is now the centre of manufacture for Moulinex! North of Alençon is Sées with its gothic cathedral
Saint-Lô is perched on a rocky outcrop in the heart of the Cotentin peninsular. The town is surrounded by ramparts and overlooked by the Notre Dame cathedral.
Coastal properties are more expensive.
Inland village, town and rural properties are much cheaper. Unfortunately the days of bargain barns for renovation are long gone. There is still a strong demand for properties at the cheaper end of the market.
Apartments: 60,000 euros (Coast)
Farmhouses: 30,000 euros (needs renovation)
Townhouses: 30,000 euros
Coastal Houses: 100,000 + euros
Land: from 6 euros per sq. m
Lower Normandy Property SelectionListed below are the departments in the region of Lower Normandy; the number of properties in each department are denoted in brackets - click on a department to see the properties available.
All the properties in Lower Normandy by department.
(Number in brackets = number of properties)
Calvados Property (65)
Manche Property (591)
Orne Property (73)