Travel back in time while exploring Normandy, a rural region with rich culture and history.
Cross the English Channel to continental Europe and arrive in the historic region of Normandy in northern France—home to coastline, countryside, and centuries-old hamlets. Inhabitants here are known as Normans and the region is the historic homeland of the Norman language, a French dialect with Norse influence.
In 2016, Normandy became united with the joining of the older “Upper” and “Lower” regions. Bordering the English Channel, Upper Normandy contains a collection of seaside towns as well as several historic sites, including Omaha Beach, while Lower Normandy is characterized by its idyllic pastoral landscape and verdant valleys.
Calling all cheese connoisseurs! Normandy is the birthplace of Camambert, but turophiles can also try local Boursin, Brillat-Savarin, Livarot, Neufchâtel, Petit Suisse, and Pont l’Évêque. Pair these delicious dairy products with a crisp cider—another one of the region’s top exports.
Hone in on history. Travel to Omaha Beach, the site of the D-Day landings in 1944 that resulted in the Allied liberation of western Europe and learn more about the largest seaborne invasion in history in the place where it happened.
Home to some of the most beautiful villages in France. Normandy is a blend of port towns and postcard-like landscapes; from charming châteaux forts and dreamy beach bungalows to fairytale towns, this region offers inspiration unlike anywhere else.
The muse of the Impressionists. Art enthusiasts can visit several sites in the region that have been famously captured on canvas. Experience firsthand the cliffs of Étretat, the cathedral of Rouen, and the water lilies in Giverny which were all painted by renowned French artist, Claude Monet, who made his home in Normandy.
The city's pride and jewel. What once was the tallest building in the world, today the Rouen Cathedral is famous for its three distinctive towers, each in a different architectural style. Having been built and then rebuilt in a span of eight hundred years, the eclectic cathedral contains features from the Early Gothic to late Flamboyant and Renaissance eras.
The City of Books. Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in all of France, known for its monostatic manuscripts and the first translation of Aristotle’s writings from Greek to Latin. This tidal island is home to a gravity-defying Benedictine abbey and beautiful bay. In 1979, it was added to the list of World Heritage Sites for its architectural, cultural, and historical significance.
Annabel H., EF Gap Year Class of 2019 Boston University Class of 2023
My gap year took me out of my comfort zone so many times—and my life is better because of it. Now, as I head off to college, I am able to focus on my excitement rather than feeling nervous, because I have built so much confidence within the past year. If anyone is searching for a path to follow, a way to achieve their goals, or even just who they are, they need to take a gap year.