There is so much to see and do in Normandy, so much so that the region will keep you coming back. So many of Normandy’s most famous sights and chateauxs include fantastic outdoor space so it is an ideal place for toddlers. You can sightsee and toddlers will enjoy being outdoors, running around in the stunning gardens or on the beaches. There are also loads of nature reserves, zoos, aquariums and play areas designed for younger kids.
Explore the Towns of Normandy
The upmarket resorts of the Cote Fleurie, Deauville, Trouville, Cabourg, Houlgate, and the old city of Honfleur are popular destinations. Deauville, an elegant seaside town which provides a mix of traditional and modern, but with a twist of glamour. A fabulous promenade, great shops, superb beach and a jam-packed cultural events programme keep the town buzzing and is an ideal place for families to visit or base themselves. Bayeux is home to one of Normandy’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites – The Bayeux Tapestry, an 11th century canvas, telling the story of the Norman invasion of England, is a must-see historical document. Rouen is known as “the town with a thousand spires”. It’s where Joan of Arc was martyred and the home of many masterpieces of religious architecture. The city lives, with gastronomic delights, relaxing strolls along the Seine, and numerous boutiques. Caen is the capital of Lower Normandy is a paradise for you culture lovers. Caen is a thriving university city, with fascinating churches and monasteries. William the Conqueror’s 11th Century fortress features the magnificent Abbaye aux Hommes, a part Romanesque/Gothic masterpiece that as begun in 1066 by order of William. Cabourg was once a fishing village, but now a large seaside resort steeped in Edwardian elegance, Cabourg boasts a yacht marina stylish villas, formal gardens, a casino and a racecourse. Finally, Luc Sur Mer is perfect for a relaxing break. Its peace and tranquillity in the attractive gardens as well as ‘The House of the Whale’ which, like it says on the tin, houses the skeleton of a massive whale that beached here in 1885 means that kids of all ages will love it.
The the Cotentin Peninsula is also worth visiting with the lively harbours of Barfleur and St-Vaast in the Val de Saire, as are the wild and rugged landscapes around La Hague. Nature lovers will enjoy a walk around la Cap de la Hague, west of Cherbourg, or choose to walk to Mont Saint Michel from the mainland. Varengeville with its old church perched high up on a rock and its enchanting park (Bois de Moutier) are also worth a look as is the the ancient water mills on France’s tiniest river in Veules les Roses and the Benedictine monastery of Fécamp.
D Day Beaches
If you are interested in history, the D-Day landing beaches are not to be missed on a trip to Normandy. Omaha Beach is one of the five Landing beaches. When you visit this beach which extends over Vierville-sur-Mer, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer and Colleville-sur-Mer, you will gain a clearer understanding of the progress of the battles. A visit here begins at the Visitor Center where the details of Operation Overlord are explained. Outside, a viewpoint diagram placed in front of a water mirror, shows the beaches where the Allied forces landed. Looking to the West one can see the cemetery and behind it, a round chapel. The cemetery contains 9,387 gravestones perfectly aligned on a majestic expanse of green lawn. Every day, at the end of the afternoon, visitors can watch the ceremony of the Lowering of the Colours. To the sound of a military hymn, the American flag is lowered and folded.
Also worth visiting in this area are:
Omaha Memorial Museum at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer: on the actual site of Omaha Beach, the museum, which has an area of 13,000 sq ft, displays a fine collection of uniforms, weapons, personal objects and vehicles. Numerous scenes, vivid archive photos, maps and a film commented by American veterans, explain the landings on Omaha and the Pointe du Hoc.
Statue les Braves: On the sand of Omaha Beach, at Saint Laurent sur mer, stands the Statue des Braves. This steel sculpture is a fine homage in honour of the soldiers who landed here on 6th June 1944.
The pointe du Hoc in Cricqueville-en-Bessin is the symbol of the courage of the young Allied soldiers. This famous point was one of the strong points of the German fortifications.
Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel is a must see if you are in Normandy. It s one of Europe’s most unforgettable sights. Set in the mesmerising bay where Normandy and Brittany merge, the island draws the eye from great distances. The staggering location has long inspired awe and the imagination. Aubert, bishop of the nearby hilltop town of Avranches early in the 8th century, claimed that the Archangel Michael himself pressured him into having a church built atop the island just out to sea. If you are travelling there with babies or toddlers, you can park at the Mont car park and walk across the causeway into the town. There are a lot of hills and steps however so bring a fold up stroller if possible or take a baby carrier, older toddlers will love the labyrinth of streets and won’t even notice the climb. There are a lot of tourists around in the summer months, so make sure you bring a harness or keep a close eye on little ones.
Aquariums & Zoos
Normandy is filled with aquariums, zoos and family friendly farms where older babies and toddlers can interact with animals and learn about life under the sea.
Alligator Bay, 62 route du Mont Saint-Michel, Beauvoir 50170
Beauvoir is situated at the foot of Mont Saint-Michel. Here, kids can discover the alligator glass-house and experience an adventure full of sensations. Walking accross the woodern pontoons, you will see 200 alligators and crocodiles. There is a dragon maze stocked with 200 boas, iguanas, chameleons and komodo dragons and an exceptional playground ! You can also stroke one of the 300 turtles from the Seychelles.
Cerza Park Zoo, Départementale 143, 14100 Hermival-les-Vaux,
With a host of wild animals roaming the park, from lions and tigers to rhinos and giraffes, Cerza Park Zoo is always a popular day out. Discover some 800 different wild animals over a surface area of over 60 hectares devoted to the breeding and reproduction of endangered species.There are African animals in the wild valley which you can observe via 2 walking routes and on safari train excursions. The park also has a snack bar, restaurant and a covered picnic area. Entertainment. An 12-minute educational film to increase awareness on the protection of wild animals and respect for the environment.
Le Roc de Harmonies, 1 boulevard de Vaufleury, Pointe du Roc, Granville, 50400
This unique park combines animals and minerals, and gives them a magical appearance. Visitors travel through four fabulous worlds: the Butterfly Garden, the Aquarium and its sea lion pool, the Mineral palace and the Shell fantasy.After the visit, you can taste the sweet and savoury snacks at the Roc des Gourmandises and admire the magnificent view of the port and the bay from the terrace. .
La Cite de la Mer
At La Cité de la Mer discover the history of the ocean depths in this unique scientific, technological and cultural tourist attraction. Explore the world’s largest submarine that is open to the public, learn all about deep sea exploration, see Europe’s largest cylindrical aquarium and visit the exhibition dedicated to Titanic and to emigration from the Old World to the New World.
Animal Park, Montaigu la Brisette, Hameau Masson, 50700 Montaigu-La-Brisette
Through a wooded 6-acres site, with some centuries old trees, you will discover animals coming from Asia and Africa. 2ou will also be charmed by the four-ponds valley.
Parc Animalier du Beauquet Marais, Ferme du Beauquet Marais, 14230 Neuilly la Foret
This educational animal farm is quite unique. It has over 15 hectares of forest surrounded land with rare species left free to roam the estate. Over 200 animals and 100 different species. There is a picnic area, refreshment kiosk and ice creams for sale on site.
Ecouves, “La Houssaye”, 61500 Le Boullion
This wildlife park of Ecouves, allows you to discover 200 animals of 30 species from the 5 continents on 12 hectares. The ethos of the park lies in the breeding of endangered French breeds and exotic animals including Llamas, alpacas, dwarf zebu cattle, camels, yaks from Tibet, water buffalo.The park has a covered picnic area and offers equipment for babies if required.
Zoological Park Champrepus, 493 rue Saint-Gaud, Champrepus 50800
Located between Villedieu-les-Poêles and Granville, Champrépus offers adults and children a voyage across the 5 continents. The park is organised in 5 themed gardens designed according to biotopes offering animals (50 different species) conditions close to their original environment. A citizen and responsible park, Champrépus is an original and friendly garden ideal to relax, learn and have fun in family or with friends. The park has a kids play area, a restaurant, a bar and baby changing facilities.
Parc Zoologique de Jurques, La Butte, 14260 Jurques
In the heart of this wooded park, you can see 650 wild animal species such as the extremely rare white lion. A total change of scenery awaits you in the African, South American and Australian plains, the land of the wolves, the reptile village and the ‘African mountains’ where there is a platform overlooking a 40 metre-deep quarry Here, you can admire over forty animals (mandrills, Barbary macaques and mouflons). In the summer season, you can even touch the snakes or watch the penguins, the wolves and the monkeys feed. The park also has a mini-farm, play areas, inflatable structures, a cafeteria a boutique, a shop and a covered picnic area.
Chateauxs and Castles
From imposing medieval strongholds to peaceful half-timbered residences with thatched roofs, Normandy is a land rich in castles and manor houses. Many prestigious monuments give rich examples of Norman military architecture from the days when English kings were Dukes of Normandy, such as the castles of Caen and Falaise (Calvados), Château-Gaillard at Les Andelys, Gisors and Harcourt (Eure). The châteaux of Balleroy, Saint-Germain-de-Livet (Calvados), Bizy, Champ-de-Bataille (Eure), Carrouges, Le Haras du Pin (Orne), the Manoir d’Ango in Varengeville-sur-Mer (Seine-Maritime) are fine examples of grandiose non-military architecture. These residences occasionally recall prominent historical figures, such as Henri IV and Chateaubriand at Fervaques (Calvados), Michelet at Vascoeuil (Eure) or Guy de Maupassant in Miromesnil (Seine-Maritime). Among these architectural gems, some are also famous for the beauty of their parks and gardens: Champ-de-Bataille (Eure), Vendeuvre (Calvados), the Château de Canon (Calvados), Vauville (Manche), Bosmelet (Seine Maritime), Beaumesnil (Eure) and many more. Toddlers will love the opportunity to run around the gardens and stretch their legs. If you are visiting any of these chateauxs, remember that there can be steps to traverse and a baby carrier can be useful for touring inside.
Theme Parks & Soft Play Areas
Bellefonte Village, 7 route du Moulin, 50520 Bellefonte
The Enchanted Village is a nature and leisure park. The ideal spot for the whole family. Walks through woods and rivers, farm animals, garden, games, automaton theatre, miniature railway, circuit in the trees, the rope bridges of the pirate lake.
Play Park, 59 avenue de Tourville, 14000 CAEN
This park has loads of play areas for little ones, including a ball pit.
Anges Michel Leisure Park, 50730 St-Martin-De-Landelles
Between Avranches and Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, the Ange Michel leisure park offers a range of activities for young and old on a landscaped site: tourist train, bumper boats, rapids, ponies, karting for adults, electric cars for children,… paddling pool, toboggans, roller coaster for all the family.
Ferme de Boisjugan, Boulevard de la Commune, 50000 Saint-Lo
Ferme du cheval de trait , La Michaudière, 61140 Juvigny Sous Andaine
6 km away from Bagnoles de l’Orne, an atypical farm from the Norman Bocage: thirty horses (Percheron, Norman and Breton cobs) show their power and elegance in surprising shows (Hungarian positions, driving, dressage, aerobatics). Presentation of the largest horse in the world. Opportunity to enjoy the formula ‘Lunch and entertainment’, single, couple or family. Lunch based on local products.
Leisure Park, Quai Est, 14470 Courseulles sur Mer
This leisure park for kids has loads of bouncy castles that are sure to keep little ones entertained.
Labyrinthe miscanthus de la baie, 3 la Maison Neuve, 50300 Saint Loup
This children’s play park has a maze and indoor and outdoor play areas.
Fun Kid’s, Impasse de Lavoisier, Zone d’activité de Launay, 14130 PONT-L’EVEQUE, MONDEVILLE
This Kids play area has ball pits and climbing and soft play areas. Sure to keep little ones entertained.
Le Girafou, ZA Clos de la Hogue, 14970 BENOUVILLE
Girafou is an indoor 1,300m2 children’s play and leisure area: giant multi-play module, ball pool, slides, giant inflatable structures, go-karting circuit, kid’s cinema, mini kid’s disco, toddler’s area … from 2 to 12 year-olds (accompanying adult compulsory), booking required
Parc Festyland, Route de Caumont, 14760 BRETTEVILLE-SUR-ODON
In the heart of Calvados, the Festyland Amusement Park offers a recreational insight into Normandy’s history, via a range of thirty attractions for the whole family to enjoy. There is a Belle Epoque-style atmosphere and loads of attractions such as the Carrousel, the Paris-Granville. In the Vikings’ Drakkar you can also journey with the pirates on the Captain Roc. From the harrowing experience of William the Conqueror-themed white knuckle rides, you can chill out in one of two cinemas or hop over to a live show throughout the summer. Great for a full day of family fun.
Royal Kids , ZI de la Sphère, 284 rue Marie Curie, 14200 HEROUVILLE-SAINT-CLAIR
Royal Kids is a brand new indoor children’s play centre, just 5 minutes from Caen, for kids aged up to 12 years.
Parks & Gardens
Normandy boasts an extraordinary number of parks and gardens open to the public. A wide range of garden styles are displayed, from simple cottage gardens to grand, formal schemes via walled kitchen gardens, botanical collections, subtropical plantations and landscaped “English-style” gardens and there are also loads of mazes to entertain families. There are gardens that house national collections, and beautifully landscaped parkland, home to exotic birds and animals.
The “Château de Bosmelet” gardens are over 100 years old, or visit the two hundred years old cedar tree at the “Château de Miromesnil“. You can visit Monet’s favourite spot in the gardens of Giverny or see the garden at the Bois des Moutiers in Varengeville. Also worth seeing is the Château de Miromesnil near Dieppe and the incredible restoration of the Gardens at Château du Champ de Bataille.
See Normandy Tourism Information for more information on the parks and gardens in the region.