Just a hop across the channel, Normandy is a veritable camping haven and a great choice for a no-fly holiday.
There’s a beautiful coastline and plenty of pretty countryside with lots of great camping and glamping sites making the most of it all. It’s a land full of culture and history so there’s plenty to see and do too from visiting the famous beaches and historic towns that have been the battleground of both ancient and more modern wars, to exploring picture-perfect countryside. Pack your tent and book your ferry crossing to this near but foreign landscape in northern France for a camping holiday to remember.
Want to go on holiday abroad but don’t want to fly? How about camping or glamping in Normandy? France is the obvious choice when it comes to no-fly holidays from the UK - and Normandy is a destination that’s within relatively easy reach with ferries straight to its shores. But it’s not only proximity to home which makes Normandy appealing - it’s a fantastic destination in its own right with beautiful coast and country and a larger-than-average clutch of world-famous sites. There’s Monet’s Garden at Giverny, the tapestry at Bayeaux, the historic D-Day beaches and medieval Mont St Michel, to name but a few. There are also four natural parks - and it’s the home of both Camembert cheese and Calvados apple brandy too. In short, there’s plenty to do on days out during a camping or glamping holiday - and the Normandy scenery provides a great backdrop.
France is full of classic campsites - places where you can pitch a tent, park up in a campervan or caravan and set up your home-from-home. Having spent years checking out French sites for our Hipcamp guides to France, we think we have a pretty good idea of what makes a site special. And there are plenty which qualify in Normandy; they are all sites with a little “je ne sais quoi” but otherwise each is unique. There are campsites near Normandy’s beaches, campsites with lakeside pitches, forested campsites and campsites in idyllic countryside. Some campsites are relatively new and some have been going for years. Some are tiny places with just a few pitches and others are larger and more typical of French camping - but with something that sets them apart. There’s a fair few châteaux campsites too - a peculiar speciality of France and especially common in the north west of the country - these are campsites where you can pitch your tent in grounds that are fit for nobility.
Classic camping is about as eco-friendly as holidaying gets and it’s a great value way to holiday too but the real reason for choosing camping is that it’s good old-fashioned fun. There’s something satisfying about being self-sufficient and plenty of regular campers will be proud of the tents and camping gear that they’ve honed to perfection. Once the tent is pitched (or the camper van parked), your new home is the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors. You’ll be relaxing in it, eating in it and sleeping in it all while soaking up the sights and sounds of your destination. In Normandy, this could be the rustle of leaves in a forested site, the sound of the waves if you’re by the sea or the quack of ducks at a lakeside pitch. It should be a welcome way of getting back to basics.
If getting back to basics isn’t your motivation for a camping holiday, how about glamping instead? With a few luxuries thrown in, you might just find that you can enjoy a camping holiday after all. It’s the perfect solution for families where the love of camping is not universal (perhaps the kids love camping but you’re not so keen?) or for families who don’t have their own tent. There are lots of sites where you can hire a pre-erected luxury tent so you can just turn up and settle in without having to do any of the hard work yourself. Bell tents, yurts and tipis can be found across France just as they are in England. Another type of pre-erected tent, the safari tent is particularly popular in France. These are often kitted out very well and can be a good option for families. For more luxury, more space and more mod cons you might like to try a cabin, roulotte (gypsy caravan) or shepherd’s hut. There are plenty of glamping sites with these and some with more quirky options too like geodesic domes and treehouses.
Normandy offers history, culture, countryside and coastline… so no matter what you like to do when you’re on holiday you should find plenty of options here. Top of the must-see list for most people is the much-photographed tidal island of Mont St Michel. At Normandy’s westernmost point, this little island with cobbled streets and a medieval monastery looks like something out of a fairy tale. It’s a mile off the coast but, at low tide, a causeway offers a link to the mainland so you can walk across. Other popular but poignant places to visit are the D-Day beaches and associated Second World War sites. This is where allied troops landed in June 1944 to begin the liberation of Europe during the Second World War. An earlier battle is remembered in the historic village of Bayeux where the 70-metre-long, 11th-century tapestry depicting the 1066 Battle of Hastings and conquest of England is displayed.
Another of France’s most famous historical figures, also linked to battles with the English, is remembered in the city of Rouen. This Norman city is the place where Joan of Arc was executed and you can learn about her story in a museum dedicated to her. The city has lots of historic buildings and a magnificent cathedral, the subject of paintings by Monet. You can see more of the scenes that inspired him at the artist’s garden in Giverny. While there are lots of sites to see and places to visit, you may be content to take things a little easier and enjoy the coast and countryside at a leisurely pace. Normandy is loved by walkers and popular with horse riders too. The long sandy beaches, countryside, regional parks and banks of the River Seine are perfect for exploring out of town and there are lovely villages with distinctive Norman buildings and produce for sale. Camembert cheese, made in a village of the same name, and Calvados apple brandy are two of its best known delicacies so make sure you try them for a true taste of Normandy on your camping holiday.
From the famous beaches and historic towns of both ancient and modern wars, to the picture-perfect countryside and dynamic, white-cliffed coast, Normandy is a haven for holidays. Discover the best campsites and glamping getaways in the region with our hand-picked collection of truly exceptional outdoor stays.