Top 5 must-see French towns for your school tour to Normandy

Published: 3rd June 2016

It may be a destination your school chooses to visit every year or it might sit as your staff’s favourite tour which is due its turn in the new academic year. Either way, Normandy continues to be our most popular destination chosen by schools supporting students through a learning experience outside the classroom. Here, we aim to help you by highlighting our top 5 towns to visit in the Normandy region easily accessible from our Château du Molay and the educational benefits each provide.

Arromanches

Arromanches Mulberry Harbour | Normandy

While troops may not have landed on the beaches of Arromanches during D-Day, it remains one of the strongest reminders of the Allied invasion. Located just 20 minutes north of Bayeux, students can explore the site chosen by the Allies to create an artificial port enabling the flow of essential supplies into Western Europe. Remnants of the portable Mulberry Harbour still remain and stand as huge memorials stranded across the beach. A unique site to visit, the beaches of Arromanches highlight to students the staggering war effort on the French coast that required complex logistical coordination and saw over 2.5 million men make their way through the temporary port. 

The area is also home to the D-Day Museum which details the story of the Normandy campaign. Built in commemoration of June 6th 1944, the museum overlooks Mulberry Harbour and provides students with a greater understanding into the landings, the logistics, and the vast operation the temporary harbour commanded as well as the role of Arromanches during wartime. 

Don’t miss… the Arromanches 360 cinema, which provides school groups with a unique insight into the Battle of Normandy using archived images.

Bayeux Tapestry | Normandy

Bayeux

A favourite with schools is a trip to the historic town of Bayeux. Sitting north-east of our Château du Molay, Bayeux presents multiple opportunities for students to engage in activities that support curriculum learning.

Bursting with noteworthy historical references, the world famous Bayeux Tapestry is one stop schools will not want to skip. Stretching out across 231 feet, students can marvel at the intricate needle work used to depict the events leading up to the Norman Conquest.

The area is also synonymous with stories of trade and conquest with references of William the Conqueror extending beyond the Bayeux Tapestry. Dominating the town’s skyline, Bayeux Cathedral stands as a national monument of France and was the original home of the famed tapestry. 

A visit to the British and Commonwealth war cemetery will give students the chance to reflect on the effects of D-Day on the town of Bayeux. Though there was little fighting in the town itself, Bayeux was one of the first to be liberated by the Allies.  

The town of Bayeux also provides an excellent location to develop language skills. With a market area and Travelbound’s ‘Bayeux Apprenti’ challenge, there are plenty of opportunities to encourage students to engage in conversation and develop comprehension. 

Don’t miss… out taking part in the French Market Assignment which sees students combine their business brain with language skills to purchase ingredients for a lunch back at the Château du Molay.

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Caen | Normandy

Caen

Filled to the brim with heritage, Caen is the ideal city to support students through historical enquiry as they deepen their knowledge of the area and the events that have shaped the region. Located on the River Orne, which stretches north from the small port of Ouistreham, Caen is a great place to explore the Normandy landings. 

Utilising multimedia interactive activities, le Memorial de Caen engages students on a journey from World War One to the Cold War. The museum also places the D-Day landings in context with schools provided with the chance to take on a guided tour of the Battle of Normandy area. The added benefit of a stop at le Memorial de Caen is the chance to take part in organised workshops. There is also the option of workbooks to record the students’ journey through the museum.

Keeping with the World War Two theme, a short journey to Pegasus Bridge will present students with the chance to see first-hand a pivotal stronghold in the war effort. Crossing the Caen Canal, the site saw a ferocious battle led by Major John Howard to capture the bridge and to hold until relieved. The Pegasus Museum details the events of the assault on the previously named Bénouville Bridge and also stands as a memorial to the 6th Airbourne Division. 

Don’t miss… the Château du Caen (c.1060). Continue the story into Lower Normandy’s heritage with a visit to the home of William the Conqueror.

Honfleur harbour | Normandy

Honfleur

Situated on the Seine’s estuary, the idyllic location of Honfleur presents school groups with a chance to explore a strategic spot built for commerce.  With the picturesque port adorning many of the postcards in the region, it comes as little surprise to hear Honfleur is a popular stop with artists. Characterised by the front slate façades that adorn the houses around the port, Honfleur presents students with a comparative setting to the neighbouring towns. Its architecture extends to the church which remains the largest church in France to be constructed from wood. 

Honfleur is also the ideal place for students to engage in language opportunities. The quayside is dotted along with small shops and restaurants providing the perfect platform for students to interact and develop their confidence with the French language. 

There is also a lot of history around the quayside with Honfleur known to have been boosted in its development by wealthy families building high-rise homes where they could overlook vessels docked in the port. The town’s museums and galleries provide additional information on local history and the many famous names it has attracted, including Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet.

Don’t miss… out on taking in the sights, smells and tastes of Honfleur’s market on a Wednesday. 

Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel | Normandy

Yes - Mont Saint-Michel can be spotted a mile off, but it is so much more impressive up close. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a favourite with schools with its distinctive position 600 metres from the mainland providing students with a unique location to explore. Sitting in the bay where Normandy and Brittany merge, school groups will be taken aback by the prominent sight of Mont Saint-Michel even before they step foot on the island. 

The island is one of France’s most recognised sites and has long held a strong strategic position remaining unconquered during the Hundred Years’ War. Sitting atop the fortified position is the medieval monastery which has been one of Europe’s major places of pilgrimage. Students can explore the island on Travelbound’s adventure trail which leads groups up the winding village streets to the Benedictine abbey. A great addition to your school tour to Normandy, Mont Saint-Michel rightfully takes its place on our list of top 5 towns your school should explore on an educational tour to Normandy.

Don’t miss… out on catching Mont Saint-Michel against the backdrop of a sunset. Be sure to take some time to admire the view from the mainland. 

With so much to explore in Normandy, the Travelbound team can support your school in designing a bespoke itinerary to cater to the needs of your students. With many of the towns mentioned above home to noteworthy museums and points of interest, no matter your subject focus everything from chances to engage in conversations with native speakers to opportunities for historical inquiry are available. 

To find out more about school tours to Normandy or to speak to a member of the team, speak to us on 01273 244572 or click to Contact Us

 

By Tim Jenkins

 

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