The best things to do this summer in Seine-Maritime include exploring unspoiled landscapes along the River Seine and the craggy Atlantic coastline, medieval marvels, and many curiosities of local heritage. The exceptional beauty of this region has fascinated and inspired French writers and impressionist painters, so we’re confident it will do the same for you.

    This part of Northern France has a remarkable mix of elements. It’s known for its modern architecture and engineer masterpieces as well as its long bike lane that connects Paris to London. By visiting Normandie-Seine-Maritime, you’ll stimulate your senses with scents floating in the countryside air, or feel the urban buzz, delight your taste buds, and enjoy a wonderful palette of colours.

    What are the best things to do this summer in Seine-Maritime?

    1

    Rouen

    Discover the historical capital of Normandy

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    Ideally situated on a bend of the River Seine, Rouen has managed to keep many of its treasures of the past. You’ll find magnificent examples of flamboyant Gothic architecture, winding cobbled lanes, and half-timbered houses here. You’ll be able to discover Cathédrale Notre-Dame, a famous Gothic cathedral that fascinated Claude Monet so much that he painted it 30 times. The city also witnessed the tragic trial of Joan of Arc. A contemporary church is now dedicated to this courageous young woman.

    Classified as a City of Art and History, Rouen has the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which contains a collection of famous European paintings, including works of Impressionists. Don’t forget to enjoy the city’s many gardens, parks, and quays, as well as the spectacular bridges along the Seine.

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    2

    Le Havre

    Feel artistic vibes of the modern city

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    • Food
    • Adventure

    Le Havre is a gigantic port and a UNESCO World Heritage site for its 20th-century architecture. Completely rebuilt after WWII, the bright and dynamic city centre will surprise you with the unusual architectural designs of Auguste Perret and Oscar Niemeyer. Le Havre will also please you with museums, art galleries, and thriving nightlife.

    Facing the sea, Le Havre has long pebble-and-sand beaches where you can enjoy water sports like kitesurfing, paddleboarding, and sailing. There are many seafront restaurants where you can try traditional Norman seafood or some multicultural specialities. The city is also popular for its 1,200-square-metre skatepark, which is the biggest free open-air skatepark in France.

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    3

    Étretat

    Enjoy the impressionists’ beloved place

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    • History
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    • Adventure

    Étretat is a very picturesque tiny town famous for white limestone cliffs and rocks of unusual shape. The exceptional beauty of the place attracted famous French impressionists and writers. Located on the Côte d’Albastre, Étretat is a 30-minute drive from Le Havre. You’ll love this place for its breathtaking views of the cliffs, a large pebbled beach, a beautiful Asian-inspired garden, and a stunning 18-hole golf course. With so many outdoor attractions, it's no surprise that visiting Étretat is considered one of the best things to do in summer in Seine-Maritime.

    The town itself will delight you with beautiful Belle Epoque villas, including the one build for the author Guy de Maupassant. There are also pretty restaurants, shops, a wooden covered market, and the 19th-century villa Le Clos Lupin, where the writer Maurice Leblanc wrote his novels about the French version of Robin Hood, Arsene Lupin.

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    4

    Dieppe

    Discover a fancy 19th-century seaside resort

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    Dieppe is a glamorous seaside resort on the English Channel. It became a favourite vacation destination of Parisians and Britons in the mid-19th century and has remained popular. Visiting Dieppe is one of the best things to do in summer in Normandie-Seine-Maritime as you’ll be able to enjoy the long pebbly beach, water sports, the beautiful promenade, and wide seafront lawns at this time of year.

    Recognised as a City of Art and History, Dieppe has a 15th-century castle, Gothic churches, and a museum with an excellent collection of European paintings. The resort is also popular for its International Kite Festival taking place every 2 years in September. You’ll be fascinated to see thousands of colourful kites being skilfully flown.

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    5

    Château d'Eu

    Visit a royal residence

    • Couples
    • History
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    The Château d'Eu was a big royal residence constructed in the 16th century. Today the castle is a museum – Musée Louis-Philippe – that’s just a few minutes’ drive from Tréport. You’ll discover beautiful interiors here, especially parquets, furniture, and decorations. You’ll see the everyday objects of the French kings, such as linen, porcelain, and silverware.

    If you want to learn more about the history of the castle and its interiors, rent a useful tablet that will guide you through the rooms and tell you about the castle’s illustrious owners. You can also relax and stroll in the elegant French garden surrounding the castle.

    Location: Place Champ de Mars, 76260 Eu, France

    Open: Mid-June–mid-November: Wednesday–Monday from 10 am to 12 pm and from 2 pm to 5.30 pm (closed on Tuesdays and Friday mornings)

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    6

    Boucles de la Seine Natural Regional Park

    Follow a walking trial to explore Normandy’s landscapes

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    • Families
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    • Budget
    • Adventure

    The Boucles de la Seine Natural Regional Park is a great destination for nature lovers. Stretching along the Seine River between Rouen and Honfleur, this natural environment was a source of inspiration for famous French impressionist painters. You’ll be captivated by the unique combination of light and landscapes, featuring forests, marshlands, hills, plains, valleys, and the river.

    You can follow signposted walking trials to better appreciate the park. Take the Fruit Trail to enjoy orchards and see fruits ripening in the summer sun around you. You can also visit the Gothic Château d'Ételan, its chapel, and beautiful gardens. If you want to learn more about the park, head to the Maison du Parc information centre.

    Location: 692 Rue du Petit pont, 76940 Notre-Dame-de-Bliquetuit, France

    Phone: +33 (0)2 35 37 23 16

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    7

    The Normandy Bridge

    Cross one of the largest cable-stayed bridges in the world

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    • Budget

    The Pont de Normandie (Normandy Bridge) has been elegantly spanning the Seine estuary since 1995, connecting Honfleur and Le Havre. This civil engineering masterpiece will impress you with the delicacy of its structure and its elegant curve. With a length of more than 2 km, the bridge is one of the largest cable-stayed bridges in the world.

    There’s a pedestrian sidewalk protected by a curb allowing you to cross the bridge on foot. You’ll be amazed by the exceptional diversity of the landscapes as the bridge stands in a natural reserve. If you want to know more about the reserve or the bridge’s construction, you can sign up for guided visits departing from either side of the river.

    Location: 9 E44, 76430 Sandouville, France

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    8

    Varengeville-sur-Mer

    Discover the world’s largest collection of hydrangeas

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    • Adventure

    Varengeville-sur-Mer is a small village renowned for its splendid gardens and beautiful manors. A few kilometres away from Dieppe, the village has attracted many French artists and writers throughout its history. You’ll find sumptuous gardens like the Bois des Moutiers facing the sea, the Shamrock garden with the largest world collection of hydrangeas, and the rich botanical Vasterival garden that's planted by Princess Sturdza.

    Sea lovers will appreciate Petit Ailly, a pleasant sandy beach surrounded by impressive vertical cliffs. Unlike many coves in the area, this beach is accessible by car and has parking nearby. If you happen to come at low tide, you can practice your shore fishing with the locals.

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    9

    Funicular railway in Tréport

    Enjoy spectacular views on the Atlantic coast

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    • Photo
    • Nightlife
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Tréport is a pretty seaside resort on the Côte d’Albastre. The best way to discover it is to take a free funicular railway. Constructed in 1907, the railway is a popular attraction of the city. You can park on the top of the cliffs and enjoy a 2-minute ride down. You’ll be able to enjoy stunning views of the town and the Atlantic coast.

    The funicular arrives directly in the Cordiers’ neighbourhood, where you can wander in little streets and discover some historical monuments, lovely shops, and restaurants. The town is popular for its herring, mussel, and sea festivals, but you can enjoy water sports, the casino, or the local dish of omelette tréportaise (made with mussels and prawns) all year round.

    Open: Hours vary by season

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    photo by Marc Ryckaert (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    10

    Pays de Bray

    Taste the oldest Norman cheese

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    • Food
    • Adventure

    Just 30-minutes from the sea, Pays de Bray offers splendid panoramas of hilly meadows, groves, forests, and cultivated lands. This countryside region is the home of the heart-shaped Neufchâtel cheese, the oldest Norman cheese. Visit one of the farms in Nestle-Hodeng village to try it. You can also learn more about the region and its produce at the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions Mathon-Durand.

    Besides cheese, Pays de Bray is also known for L’Avenue Verte (the Green Avenue), a 406-km-long cycling route connecting Paris and London. Using the route of the old railway line, the cycling route crosses the region between Dieppe and Saint-Germer-de-Fly. Take this opportunity to discover the beautiful Norman landscapes by bike.

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    Elmira Alieva | Contributing Writer

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