Discover a different side of Normandy in the Pays de Falaise, with plenty of unspoilt countryside to explore and lots to see and do, from medieval castles to WWII monuments.
1. Authentic Normandy
Away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches and main tourist attractions, discover the real Normandy with its rich and varied landscape and 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 cities of Deauville and Honfleur. Two hours away you will fi nd Mont Saint-Michel, Rouen and Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, and within three hours you will be in Paris.
2. Falaise Castle
The unmissable home of the Dukes of Normandy, the Château de Falaise is one of the largest medieval fortresses in Europe. Dynamic displays and touchpads bring to life the famous characters who have lived here throughout its 1000-year history – and there are no fewer than three dungeons to explore, either!
3. Medieval City of Falaise
The hometown of William the Conqueror is a fortified city with an exceptional heritage. Take your time to discover the ramparts, gates, towers and churches. The Fontaine d’Arlette marks the meeting of Robert the Magnificent and Arlette, parents of William the Conqueror. History buffs will want to take the 90-minute medieval walking tour of the city (contact the Tourist Office for details).
4. The Falaise Monument
A unique and moving place, the Mémorial de Falaise – La Guerre des Civils is the first museum entirely dedicated to the civilians of World War II. The tour, specially designed for families, takes you over three floors and immerses you in the everyday life of families in Falaise during the war. Discover moving testimonies, everyday objects and an immersive, moving film set in the ruins of a mansion destroyed in the August 1944 bombing raids. Here you can also learn about the Battle of the Falaise-Chambois Pocket, the infernal battle that ended the Battle of Normandy about two months after D-Day. Also visit the Montormel Memorial at the top of Hill 262, 30 minutes’ drive away, where the Cauldron was closed on August 21, 1944.
5. The Swiss Normande
With bocage and forests punctuated by sheer cliffs overlooking raging rivers and typical Norman villages, the Suisse Normande is the perfect place for outdoor activities. Miles of marked hiking trails await you on foot, by bike or on horseback. Crossed by the Orne and Noireau, the village of Pont-d’Ouilly is the starting point for your kayak descent in the Orne Valley. And be sure to visit Clécy and the stunning natural viewpoint of La Roche d’Oëtre.
6. Trails galore
Whether hiking, cycling or horseback riding, the area is home to more than 600 km of marked trails and some fantastic routes await you: ride the VéloFrancette cycle path, which runs through the Suisse Normande to the Atlantic; ride along the 210km Chevauchée de Guillaume equestrian route, where you can follow in the footsteps of William the Conqueror; Walk the ancient pilgrimage routes Chemins du Mont Saint-Michel; and indulge your outdoor adventurer in the beautiful landscapes of the Pays d’Auge, Suisse Normande and Plaine de Falaise.
7. Culinary specialties
Visit Normandy’s first vineyard at Les Arpents du Soleil, planted on the site of an old quarry. Or learn how saffron and yuzu are grown on an organic farm between Falaise and La Hoguette, where you can buy a range of delicious treats from the farm shop. And then of course there are the fabulous local cheeses: make sure to try the Camembert from Maison Jort and Le Moulin de Carel.
8. Vendeuvre Castle
Immerse yourself in the 18th century in Normandy’s answer to Versailles, with its stunning English and French gardens and surprising water features. The Orangery houses a fascinating collection of thousands of miniature furniture, silverware and objects.
9. Automata Museum
Stroll along a reconstructed Parisian street featuring more than 300 animated vending machines that were on display 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 Celebrations
Why not plan your vacation by attending one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year? Les Médiévales de Falaise (August) Re-enactments of medieval tournaments with fireworks, games and more; Les ExtravErties (May) outdoor activities and music concerts; Les Faltaisies (July) music festival; La Fiancée de Falaise (August 2022) World War II themed sound and light show; and magical exhibitions in December with an Alice in Wonderland theme.
Find out more: www.falaise-suissennormande.com
Lead Photo Credit: The pretty village of Pont-d’Ouilly © OT Falaise Tourisme Anibas Photography