Top 5 excursions for an educational tour to Normandy with Travelbound
Published: December 9th 2013
For years Normandy has been a firm favourite with schools and student groups as a destination that ticks all the boxes for educational value, culture and not to mention it being a short hop across the Channel. The World War II Landing Beaches, war cemeteries and number of informative museums have made it a key stop for students studying the battlefields, but it is worth remembering Basse-Normandie has so much more to offer your students. To provide our schools with the latest information and expert opinions on the destinations we offer, we sent out our International Executive Souwoon to the region. We caught up with Souwoon to hear about her recent trip and her top 5 excursions for an educational tour to Normandy.
Having been invited to experience one of our most popular school group destinations, I ventured out to the region to meet with the Normandy Tourist Board and to experience first-hand what we can offer our groups. The trip not only gave us an insight into existing and new offerings for students looking to learn more about WWII, but highlighted Normandy as a key destination for other subjects including food technology, geography and medieval history.
Located just 25 minutes away from Bayeux, our Château du Molay is a popular choice for school groups. On-site activities including archery, initiative exercises and survival tasks are aided by the great facilities at the Château. Football and rugby pitches, a tennis court, outdoor swimming pool and wildlife pond reserve all provide opportunities to enhance the children’s learning. A dedicated Château team means the Party Leaders have the chance to step back or get involved in the activity themselves. It’s no surprise Party Leaders choose to return to the Château year after year.
During my visit to Normandy I also had the chance to visit our hotel partners, which gave me the opportunity to inspect the rooms and facilities we offer our school groups. We ensure that all the accommodation used for our groups comply with our stringent Health and Safety policy. We also try and recommend school-friendly accommodation with facilities such as games rooms and classroom facilities for both day and evening activities. Going the extra mile to only choose accommodation that meet our standards means we can offer a great range of options from youth hostels to 3* accommodation to suit all budgets, group sizes and school group needs.
The visit allowed me to enjoy a number of the excursions we offer while also exploring some lesser known gems. We have designated Account Managers and Tour Co-ordinators to help tailor your trip to meet your needs, but below I have picked 5 stops that really stood out for me on my visit and would recommend as part of your visit to Normandy.
Local Cider Farm and Calvados Producer
I never realised how many products you could make out of apples! After a quick photo shoot of some beautiful apples piled and sorted by colour in the outside courtyard, we had a tour and a talk from a fifth generation member of a local Calvados producing family located along La Route du Cidre. To hear about how this farm has developed from a tradition into a business that continues to thrive in this economic climate is truly inspirational. We learnt about the differing fermentation processes that are carried out to make the various products including Cider vinegar, Apple Juice and Calvados. Set within beautiful surroundings, it was brilliant to explore something that has existed for so long. Best of all, we even got to taste and purchase some of the local products before we left!
Mont Saint Michel
It was great to see and experience the new visitor arrangements and renovations at Mont Saint Michel for ourselves. The new shuttle bus frequently departs the mainland for Mont Saint Michel. To make the most of your visit here, it is best to allocate a whole day to see this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site. The information centre has been recently renovated and is an ideal stop for the group to learn more about the site in both English and French. We can even arrange talks in advance for school groups about the ecological reasoning behind the changes – great for Geography students!
We also stopped off to look at the new Mont Saint Michel Dam, just a few minutes’ walk from the visitors centre. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time for a guided tour, but this would also be a great addition to a Geography tour to Normandy.
This is a must-see visit if your group are in or near Arromanches during their Normandy tour. If you’ve been before and seen the film – add a rooftop guided tour to learn more about the strategic importance that the Mulberry Harbours played in the D-Day landings. This unique experience will offer your students the chance to look out and imagine the Allies ships running-down the coastline. A view that allows you to appreciate the scale of the assault, it is a great opportunity to capture some excellent photos.
The film itself provides a great overview of the battle of Normandy whilst paying tribute to soldiers and civilians from various countries including Canada, USA, Germany, England and France. It is therefore a very popular excursion with our International Schools where the students come from all four corners of the world. Just 19 minutes in length, the film shown on 9 High Definition screens doesn’t fail to leave an impact on those that visit.
Eglise Saint Joseph
This concrete structure stands tall with its 110 metre spire protruding from the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Le Havre. From its cold-looking exterior, I was taken aback by the light and colour coming through the thousands of tiny panes of coloured glass. Looking up, it almost felt like you had accidently stumbled into a space ship in Normandy! A self-guided visit is free but if you wanted to learn more about its history and architecture, guided tours can also be arranged for school groups.
Falaise Castle (Chateau Guillame le Conquerant)
Beyond the battlefields of Normandy, lie the fascinating sites and stories within medieval history. Located just 40km south of Caen, Falaise Castle is a great way to provide students with another historical insight into Normandy region. Being the birthplace of William the Conqueror, this site is steeped in history as recognised in its historical listing by the French Ministry of Culture. Nevertheless, the curators have done a great job bringing the visiting experience into the 21st Century using iPads and augmented reality. Visitors are able step back in time and see for themselves what the castle and grounds used to look like.
With so much to see in Normandy it is difficult to pick out just 5, but those mentioned above show the great range of excursions available. There are many towns in the Normandy region that allow student groups to test out their language skills in markets, visit working goat and oyster farms, taste the sweet treats from master French chocolatiers and even tour art museums like the Musee des Baux Arts in Caen. The options for your trip are limitless as are the experiences you will be able to offer your students with an educational tour to Normandy.
If you are planning a trip to Normandy or would like to find out more about the options available to your group for an educational tour abroad call 01273 244572 or click to Request a Quote.