Normandy has a host of cities perfect for a short break

Thursday, 26 January 2012 8:33 AM

Normandy is perhaps best known for the D-Day landings, and while this is a major draw for tourists, French holidays here make for a fantastic city break. The region's historic cities mix all the facilities you would expect, but with stunning scenery.

Indeed, with many cities jutting out over the sea and nestling in rolling green hills, you may be surprised at just how varied breaks to Normandy can be.

Perhaps one of the most popular cities to visit while staying in villas in Normandy is Cherbourg. This maritime location faces the English Channel and is therefore popular with some of the biggest and luxurious cruise liners in the world.

The harbour itself is definitely worth a visit, with the two mile ramparts dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Why not indulge in the popular French activity of people-watching as you sit outside a cafe with a coffee, soaking up the picturesque view?

Cherbourg is also home to the Chateau des Ravalet, which was built in 1575 and comes complete with 42 acres of parkland. Children and adults alike, meanwhile, will be fascinated by the Cite de la Mer, where visitors can board a glass lift and plunge 10,000 m into the water.

Another fantastic destination for a short Normandy city break is Le Havre. The landscape here is much more contemporary and modern, which contrasts with the beautiful yacht port. It can be easy to forget you are holidaying in a bustling city when peacefully observing the comings and goings of vessels on the glistening sea.

Le Harve became a UNESCO World Heritage Site after it was rebuilt following being bombed in 1944. Between the modern glass buildings you will not fail to miss the 350 ft octagonal lantern tower of the Saint-Joseph church. It was designed by Auguste Perret, who also drew up the plans for the rebuilding of the city.

Art fans will no doubt enjoy a visit to the Malraux museum, which houses the biggest collection of French impressionist works after the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

People booking holiday villas in France who want to enjoy some glitz and glamour should certainly head to Deauville. The seaside resort is popular with celebrities due to it hosting horse-racing events, international polo competitions and the American Film Festival.

Whether you want to sunbathe, enjoy fine wine and dining or try your luck at a casino, a city break to Deauville combines a cosmopolitan getaway with a laidback seaside holiday.

Of course, like all of Normandy, it has a rich culture and history you can soak up. The Villa Strassburger was built in 1907 by Baron Henri de Rothschild and was classed as a historic attraction in 1975. In 1924 the property was acquired by Ralph-Beaver Strassburger, an American millionaire.

The luxurious and opulent decor is well worth a look at to while away an hour or so.

If you have booked a short break to Normandy so you can appreciate its turbulent past as a result of the second world war, the city of Caen could be the perfect destination for you. After leaving your mark of respect at the D-Day beaches, head over to the Caen Memorial.

This was inaugurated in 1988 and heavily promotes a peaceful existence, with the Nobel Peace Prize gallery showcasing all of the recipients of the accolade since it was established.

The cities of Normandy are therefore varied and offer something unique to holidaymakers depending on their interests. For a getaway that combines top-notch city facilities with stunning surroundings, look no further than this part of France. 

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