Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen#3 in Best Things To Do in Normandy
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- 0.0Food Scene
Dating back to the 12th century, this Gothic cathedral was the world's tallest building for about five years – 1876 to 1880. But its beauty in changing light is what drew the impressionist artist, Claude Monet, whose work can be viewed at the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, to paint it several times. Today, the cathedral is one of the defining pieces of architecture in this part of Normandy. Aside from its striking architecture, it's also famous for its tombs – one of which houses the heart of Richard the Lionheart.
Visitors recommend going inside to view the many parts of this working Roman Catholic cathedral, including the lovely stained glass in the Lady Chapel, the transepts and the ambulatory monuments. Others add that it is worth coming at night in the summer to see the free light shows displayed outside. Reviewers also recommended reading up on the history of the church before you visit to enhance your experience and develop a better understanding of the many architectural styles on display.
The cathedral is open daily; hours depend on the day. It's also closed for tours during Mass. You can visit for free, though a tour of the underground crypt will cost you 2 euros (about $2.20).
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#1 D-Day Beaches
World War II's successful Operation Overlord took place on the coast of France. Although there were heavy Allied casualties, this invasion turned the tide in the war and helped lead to the fall of Nazi Germany. Today this piece of coastline, which includes Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah beaches, is collectively known as the D-Day Beaches.
Visitors can tour the approximately 50-mile stretch of sand and pop by a number of museums, memorials and cemeteries that are spread out alongside the coastline either with a tour or on their own. If you're driving yourself, start in the town of Arromanches, which hosts two museums that help provide context for the battle sites. The American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer and the Pointe-du-Hoc bomb craters are also especially moving. If you'd rather let someone else do the driving, recent visitors recommend going with a tour guide to fully appreciate the area's historic importance and receive a comprehensive overview. If you're visiting in June, you'll likely come across several ceremonies and reenactment groups commemorating the anniversary. Thanks to Normandy's unpredictable weather, you'll want to dress in layers (no matter the time of your visit) and bring rain gear, according to past visitors.
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