Challenge your kids to climb the 900 steps of this tidal island to the Benedictine abbey at the top – afterwards you can reward them with a treat from of one of the many souvenir shops, creperies and restaurants that line the winding, cobbled streets. Visit in December to enjoy its spectacular Christmas lights – but remember to wrap up warm!
Every year since 2007, the towns around the D-day landing beaches have put on a three-week programme of more than 100 events to mark the anniversary. This year’s events run from 25 May to 16 June, and although the full schedule is yet to be announced, you can expect concerts, giant picnics, fetes and fireworks. Guided tours of other historic sites, such as ice stores and fortifications, as well military camp re-enactments and guided “memory walks” are also on the agenda.
Daks over Normandy
On 6 June, 1944, almost 160,000 Allied troops stormed the Normandy beaches. On 5 June, 2019, to mark the 75th anniversary of this event, 250 men and women in second world war-style uniforms will parachute in to Normandy’s historic drop zones. Carrying them – and retracing their flight from Britain to Normandy – will be more than 30 Douglas C-47 Skytrain and Dakota planes. Some of these planes, flown in from all over the world, will be on display at Caen airport afterwards, so you’ll be able to see them close up and even take a look inside.
Carnival de Granville
Normandy’s longest-running street carnival, originally conceived as the last chance for cod fishermen to celebrate before they headed out to sea, celebrates its 145th year in 2019. It’s been featured on Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage list since 2016, and this year’s event, from 1-5 March, is expected to welcome 150,000 people; they’ll enjoy concerts, fireworks, brass bands, a children’s ball, colourful parades and a confetti battle.
Experience the ocean of the future
Family-friendly museum Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg will open its new Ocean of the Future exhibition in spring – 16 aquariums housing a huge variety of sea creatures, from the colourful and exotic inhabitants of the warmer seas to those found in the English Channel. Other exhibitions include one devoted to the Titanic and a virtual 50-minute adventure, during which you can meet whales and explore underwater volcanoes.
Just outside Caen, Festyland, Normandy’s biggest theme park, has more than 20 rides for all ages. There’s 1066, a rollercoaster that whizzes you through a castle and out the other side, Le Grand Tournoi, which seats everyone on “horses”, and spins as it travels, and plenty of gentler rides for smaller children too. It’s open from April until September (although opening times and days depend on the season), and children under 95cm go free of charge.
The Rouen Armada
In July 1989, 22 sailing ships gathered in Rouen for its first “Voiles de la Liberté” (Sails of Freedom) event. Since then, the event – now known as the Rouen Armada – has grown in size and popularity; 50 sailing ships from all over the world will arrive on the Seine from Paris between 6 June and 16 June 2019 to celebrate the 30th anniversary. Kids can watch the Flaubert Bridge open and close to let the ships through, plus there will be fireworks, concerts and other entertainment. The special sailor’s mass typically attracts up to 5,000 people and features a choir of 700 children.
This family-friendly music festival, held inside the grounds of Chateau Beauregard, celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2019, and promises a diverse lineup of rock, indie, pop and electronic music. Headliners at the event, from 5 July to 8 July, include Mogwai, Supreme NTM and Tears for Fears. Accompanied under-12s go free.
‘Les Médiévales’ at Chateau de Crèvecoeur
Held annually in the grounds of a 12th-century castle, this medieval-style festival features historic re-enactments and a grand banquet, complete with jugglers and fire-eaters. This year’s festival runs from 4 August to 11 August, but if you can’t make those dates you don’t have to miss out; the chateau holds special events year-round, including fishing days and falconry demonstrations.
The William’s Cathedral Bayeux tapestry light show
The Bayeux tapestry – in the form of a free light show – will be returned to its original setting at the William’s Cathedral, Bayeux, from 1 December 2018 to 5 January 2019. Two 30-metre-long screens bring the original account of the Battle of Hastings to life via animated projections, while special lights highlight the cathedral’s stunning architecture.
Save up to 20% on 2019 Brittany Ferries sail and stay holidays, even during the school holidays. Choose from family friendly chalet camping, apartments, cottages or hotels throughout France and Spain. Book by 5 February