Normandy, a French region rich in historical and cultural heritage, is a must-visit for any history and art lover. With its picturesque landscapes, World War II landing beaches, and charming towns and villages, Normandy attracts millions of international visitors each year.
In addition to its landscapes, Normandy is a prime destination for art and history, housing a multitude of fascinating museums. These museums cover a variety of subjects, from the era of the Vikings, to the history of World War II, to the Impressionist movement.
In this article, we spotlight a selection of the best museums to visit in Normandy, for a deep dive into the history, culture, and traditions of Normandy. Prepare for a memorable journey through time and space, discovering the hidden gems of this captivating region.
1. Bayeux Tapestry Museum
The Bayeux Tapestry Museum, a must-see attraction for history and culture enthusiasts, is conveniently located in Bayeux, in the Calvados department of Normandy.
The Bayeux Tapestry Museum is home to one of the most recognized and valuable works of medieval art: the Bayeux Tapestry, also known as Queen Matilda’s Tapestry. This remarkable embroidery, stretching nearly 70 meters long and dating back to the 11th century, depicts the story of William the Conqueror’s conquest of England in 1066.
To preserve this valuable work and provide visitors with an immersive experience, the tapestry is displayed in a gallery specifically designed for this purpose. An audio guide, included in the admission price, allows visitors to follow the historical narrative and the details of the embroidered scenes across 58 panels.
In addition to the tapestry itself, the museum hosts a permanent exhibition on the tapestry’s creation, its unique history, and its preservation. Temporary exhibitions and cultural events are also regularly offered to enrich your visit.
- Opening hours: from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the low season and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the high season.
- Admission fees to the museum are €9.50 for adults, €7.50 for students and seniors, and €5.50 for children aged 10 to 18.
- Admission is free for children under 10 years old. Group rates and family packages are also available to make your visit more advantageous.
- Address: 13B Rue de Nesmond – Bayeux.
- For more information, visit our website: www.bayeuxmuseum.com
2. The Caen Memorial
The Caen Memorial is a must-visit historical site, located in the city of Caen, in the Calvados department of Normandy.
Inaugurated in 1988, the Caen Memorial is more than just a museum: it is a center of history dedicated to the Second World War and the Battle of Normandy. This unique place of memory and reflection offers an unparalleled educational approach to this crucial period in history, with a particular focus on the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, and the subsequent battle for the liberation of France and Europe.
The museum’s journey is rich in period artifacts, photographs, archival documents, and audiovisual testimonies, allowing visitors to better understand the causes, issues, and consequences of this conflict. The Caen Memorial also addresses issues of peace and reconciliation, with spaces dedicated to the Cold War and European construction.
- Opening hours: Open every day except December 25 and the month of January. Hours vary according to the season (9:30am-6pm in low season, 9am-7pm in high season).
- Prices: €19.80 for adults, €17.50 for students and seniors, €5.50 for children aged 10 to 18, free for children under 10. Group rates and family packages are also available.
- Address: Esplanade Général Eisenhower – Caen
- Website: www.memorial-caen.fr
3. The Museum of the City of the Sea in Cherbourg
The Museum of the Sea and Marine of Cherbourg is located in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, in the department of Manche, in Normandy.
The Museum of the Sea and Marine of Cherbourg focuses on the maritime history, shipbuilding, and marine environment of the region. The museum is located near the port of Cherbourg and the city center, providing an ideal setting to explore the region’s rich maritime heritage.
The museum’s collection includes ship models, paintings, photographs, marine maps, navigation instruments, and objects related to life aboard ships. The exhibits trace the history of shipbuilding in Cherbourg, from the earliest wooden boats to modern nuclear submarines.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, and lectures to deepen visitors’ knowledge of maritime history and environmental issues related to the sea.
- Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 12:30pm and from 2pm to 6pm. Closed on Mondays and certain holidays.
- Prices: Entry prices may vary depending on the exhibitions and events. Consult the museum’s website for up-to-date information on prices.
- Address: Quai Alexandre III – Cherbourg-en-Cotentin
4. Museum of Fine Arts of Caen
The Museum of Fine Arts of Caen is located in Caen, in the department of Calvados, in Normandy.
Founded in 1809, the Museum of Fine Arts of Caen is a significant art museum located within Caen Castle, a historic monument dating back to the 11th century. The museum houses an eclectic collection of artworks ranging from the 15th century to the present day.
The museum’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints by masters such as Paolo Veronese, Pierre Mignard, Simon Vouet, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Vuillard, and Pablo Picasso. The works displayed cover a wide variety of styles and movements, such as the Renaissance, Baroque, Romanticism, Impressionism, and Cubism.
The Museum of Fine Arts of Caen also offers temporary exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and cultural events to deepen visitors’ understanding of art and art history.
- Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday, from 9:30am to 6pm. Closed on certain holidays.
- Prices: Free admission for the permanent collection. Specific prices apply for temporary exhibitions and events.
- Address: Château de Caen – Caen
- Website: www.mba.caen.fr
5. André Malraux Modern Art Museum (MuMa)
The André Malraux Modern Art Museum – MuMa is located in Le Havre, in the department of Seine-Maritime, in Normandy.
Inaugurated in 1961 and dedicated to the French writer and politician André Malraux, MuMa is one of the first modern art museums in France. It houses a remarkable collection of 19th and 20th century artworks, with a particular emphasis on Impressionist and Fauvist art.
The museum boasts one of the most substantial Impressionist art collections in France, featuring works from Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas, and Boudin, the latter being a native of Le Havre. MuMa also displays artworks from other major artists, such as Matisse, Marquet, Derain, Dufy, Braque, and Friesz.
The building, designed by architect Guy Lagneau, offers a stunning view of the sea and Le Havre beach, and its modern, bright design enhances the displayed artworks. The museum regularly organizes temporary exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and educational activities for all ages.
- Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on January 1, May 1, July 14, and December 25.
- Admission: Free entry for permanent collections. Specific prices for temporary exhibitions.
- Address: 2 Boulevard Clemenceau – Le Havre
- Website: www.muma-lehavre.fr
6. Rouen Museum of Fine Arts
The Rouen Museum of Fine Arts is located in Rouen, in the Seine-Maritime department, in Normandy.
Founded in 1801, the Rouen Museum of Fine Arts houses one of the most significant collections of artworks in France, featuring paintings, sculptures, drawings, and art objects dating from the 15th century to the present day. The museum is particularly renowned for its collection of Impressionist art, which includes masterpieces by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, and many other major artists of the movement.
The museum’s layout is organized chronologically and thematically, allowing visitors to discover works from different periods and styles, from flamboyant Gothic to contemporary abstraction. Other featured artists include masters such as Caravaggio, Rubens, Velázquez, Ingres, Delacroix, Modigliani, and Picasso.
The Rouen Museum of Fine Arts also offers temporary exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and guided tours to enhance visitors’ experience.
- Opening hours: Open every day except Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25.
- Admission: Free entry for permanent collections. Specific prices for temporary exhibitions.
- Address: Esplanade Marcel Duchamp – Rouen
7. Utah Beach Landing Museum
The Utah Beach Landing Museum is located in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, in the Manche department, in Normandy.
Inaugurated in 1962, the Utah Beach Landing Museum is dedicated to the memory of the Allied soldiers who landed on this historic beach on June 6, 1944, during the famous Operation Overlord. The museum is located right next to the beach, on the very site of WN5, one of the German resistance points.
The museum’s tour presents an impressive collection of objects, photos, archival documents, and testimonies related to the landing and the Battle of Normandy. Among the key pieces are an authentic B-26 Marauder bomber, an LVT(A)-4 amphibious tank, as well as various weapons, uniforms, and equipment used by the soldiers.
The museum offers an educational and immersive approach, allowing visitors to better understand the stakes, strategies, and living conditions of the soldiers engaged in this crucial battle for the liberation of Europe. Temporary exhibitions, film screenings, and commemorative events are also organized throughout the year.
- Opening hours: Open every day. The schedules vary according to the season (10am-6pm in low season, 9:30am-7pm in high season).
- Prices: €9 for adults, €7 for students and seniors, €5 for children aged 6 to 15, free for children under 6. Group rates and family packages are also available.
- Address: 50480 Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
- Website: www.utah-beach.com
8. Vernon Museum
The Vernon Museum is located in Vernon, in the Eure department, in Normandy.
The Vernon Museum displays collections of archaeology, local history, decorative arts, and fine arts.
The museum’s painting collection highlights Normandy artists and painters who have stayed in the region, including Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by Claude Monet, Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Utrillo, and André Derain. The museum also owns works by older artists such as Nicolas Poussin and Philippe de Champaigne.
The museum also exhibits objects of prehistoric, Gallo-Roman, and medieval archaeology, as well as decorative art objects such as porcelains, faience, and tapestries. Temporary exhibitions and cultural events are regularly organized to complement the visit.
- Opening hours: Open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 2pm to 6pm. Closed on public holidays.
- Prices: €4 for adults, €2 for students and seniors, free for under 18s and people with disabilities. Group rates are also available.
- Address: 12 Rue du Pont – Vernon