Haute-Normandie has had many invaders over the centuries starting with the Viking Norsemen who came in the 9th-century. The Vikings made Rouen their capital and today, this stylish, yet still medieval city has been well-restored after much damage in WWII as well as by occupation by the English during the Hundred Years War when Joan of Arc was burned here.
The region has its share of fortified castles and beautiful countryside. To the north of Rouen are the white-chalky cliffs of the Côte d'Albâtre (Alabaster) and towns like Dieppe and Fécamp are not to be missed. Le Havre sits on the coast and is an example of a city completely razed by WWII and rebuilt with more modern materials. The Haute-Normandie region was controversially divided from Basse-Normandie in 1956 and there has been thought that it may be regrouped at some point.
Haute-Normandie Departmental Information
Notable Towns and Sights in the Haute-Normandie Region
|Côte d'Albâtre (Seine Maritime) are the tall (alabaster) white cliffs that stretch for 62 miles (100 km) from Dieppe to Étretat. West of Étretat is the Falaise d'Aval, which has eroded into natural arch into the ocean. The two main towns along this coastline are Fécamp and Étretat.|
|Dieppe (Seine Maritime) is an ancient seaside town that sits between two chalky limestone cliffs. Notable here is 15th-century Le Château-Musée set high over the city with incredible views of the sea below. The museum has displays of Dieppe's maritime and art history with historical maps, paintings, model ships, and information about the town's ivory-carving during the 17th-century. The Citée de la Mer is an exhibition dedicated to fishing techniques, models, and five large aquariums.|
|Évreux (Eure) is a cathedral town set amidst agricultural land in the valley of the Iton river. The Romanesque-Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame is famous for its 14-15th century stained glass and is the seat of the Bishop. Nearby, the Musée Municipal, in the former Bishop's Palace, has bronze Roman statues of Apollo and Jupiter as well as 18th-century furniture and decorative art. Also notable is the Église Saint-Taurin which has a 12th-century nave from the former abbey church, choir from the 14th-century, and the 13-century shrine of Saint Taurin. The Hôtel de Ville has a belfry from the 15th-century. Le Vieil-Évreux (old É) is 3-1/2 miles southeast of Évreux and here are the remains of a Roman theatre, a palace, baths, and an aqueduct as well as various relics.|
|Fécamp (Seine Maritime) was always known as a fishing village until the 6th-century when drops of Christ's blood were said to be found here. Crwods of pilgrims soon came and Benedictine monks established a monastery along with their special elixir. The concoction recipe was lost, rediscovered in the 19th-century, then produced commercially as an after-dinner liqueur called Bénédictine. Sights here include the architecturally-eclectic Palais Bénédictine museum, an ornate building from 1900 which was inspired by the Hôtel de Cluny in Paris which has religious art from the 12th-18th centuries. The Abbatiale de la Sainte-Trinité was the most important pilgrimage sight until Mont Saint-Michel was built. Nearby are the remains of a fortified château built by the Dukes of Normandy in the 10th-century. Also here is the Museum of Arts et de l'Enfance with Gallo-Roman objects from the the 19th-century.|
|Giverny (Eure) sits on the right bank of the Seine river 48 miles (80 km) west of Paris and the village has remained a small rural setting with a modest population. The medieval village church here has some Romanesque features with later additions. Claude Monet lived here from 1883 until his death in 1926 and some of his most famous paintings such as his water lily and Japanese bridge paintings were of his garden in Giverny. The town has seen a boom in tourism since the restoration of Monet's house (called Fondation Claude Monet) and gardens which were opened in 1980 after restoration work. Another main attraction of the village is the Musée d'Art Américain which has excellent original 19th and 20th-century art works.|
|Le Havre (Seine Maritime) was developed in 1517 and is France's second most important port- it is situated on the right bank of the mouth of the Seine River with the English channel to the west. Though nearly obliterated in WWII, it was rebuilt in the 1950-60's and has several interesting sights which make up for the city's urban gray appearance from its concrete buildings. Église Saint Joseph is a symbol of the city and has one of the tallest bell towers in France at 348 feet (106 m). The very modern Musée des Beaux-Arts André Malraux has works spanning five centuries including the most extensive Impressionistic collection after the Orsay in Paris. Tourisme|
|Les Andelys (Eure Seine Maritime) is located at the confluence of the Seine and small Gambon rivers. This small elongated town is divided into two parts- Grand-Andely and the older Petit-Andely which lies along the Seine. The main sight here is the 12th-century Château-Gaillard which was the stronghold of English king, Richard the Lion Heart.|
|Rouen (Seine Maritime)
is the capital of Haute-Normandie and is known for Notre-Dame Cathedral which was the subject of a series of paintings by Claude Monet, some of which are exhibited in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Rouen is also noted for having nearly 2000 surviving half-timbered buildings and a wonderful medieval centre. Sights include the Gros Horloge (Rue du Gros Horloge), a 16th-century astronomical clock with a movement thought to be considerably older (1389). Other famous structures include the 15th-century Flamboyant Gothic Église de Saint Maclou and the Aître Saint-Maclou which was a plague-victim cemetery and is now a garden. It has half-timbered buildings decorated with macabre symbols and a courtyard used as a burial ground for the plague victims. Also here is the Gothic Eglise Saint Ouen (photo) with 14th-century stained glass and the spectacular Cavaille-Coll organ (photo), and the Palais de Justice which was once Normandy's parliament. In the center of the Place du Vieux Marché is the Église Saint-Jeanne d'Arc, a large modern structure which dominates the square. Also the Tour Jeanne d'Arc is one of eight towers from a 13th-century château where she was imprisoned. There are excellent museums in Rouen including the Musée des Beaux-Arts with major works from the 15-20th centuries; the Musée de la Céramique which contains thousands of pieces of faïence (colorful glazed earthenware) and porcelain for which Rouen was renowned during the 16th to 18th centuries; the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles in a 15th-century house with antique wrought ironwork. Ville de Rouen Musées
Les Plus Beaux Villages in the Haute-Normandie Region