Summer is the perfect time for families and friends to experience all that Normandy has to offer once the sun goes down. From light shows and firework displays to evening markets and nights out in Caen or Rouen, there are just so many reasons to go nocturnal in Normandy. Here is our pick of what not to miss over the next few months…
It’s that time of year when the sun sets late and temperatures are mild – the perfect weather for a light show! See the façade of Rouen Cathedral come to life with William the Conqueror and Viking history, or follow a colourful narrative depicting life and freedom, displayed on Bayeux Cathedral and its magnificent Liberty Tree. Venture south to the city of Sées and marvel at the annual light show projected onto its cathedral, a national monument and well worth a visit. For something off the beaten track, visit the Manoir du Courboyer in the Perche Regional Natural Park for a spectacular lightshow telling the heritage of this area, famous for its Percheron horses.
- Rouen: 15 June-22 September at nightfall at Rouen Cathedral | Free entry | bit.ly/RouenLightshow
- Bayeux: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 17 July-1 September at nightfall | Free entry | bit.ly/BayeuxLightshow
- Sées: Fridays and Saturdays in July, August and September at Sées Cathedral | Tickets: €5-€14 | bit.ly/SéesLightshow (French only)
- The Perche: Fridays and Saturdays, 13 July-11 August at 10:30pm | Tickets: €6.50‑€13.50 | bit.ly/PercheLightshow (French only)
Mont-Saint-Michel by moonlight
Experience Normandy’s most iconic landmark the Mont-Saint-Michel like never before, for when night falls on the bay this summer, not only will the famous abbey light up, it will also open its doors to visitors after hours. Visiting the mount at night when it’s quieter makes for a magical atmosphere, so be sure to take advantage of one the chance to take a self-guided tour around the abbey, which this year will revolve around Chronicles of the Holy Mount. Parking at the mount is free after 7pm.
- Abbey of the Mont-Saint-Michel: Monday-Saturday, 10 July-26 August, 7:30pm-midnight | Tickets: €8-€10 / free for under 25s | abbaye-mont-saint-michel.fr/en
A night at the races
Enjoy an evening of family fun at the Cabourg Hippodrome and take your pick of races, games and concerts taking place every Tuesday and Friday night throughout the summer. Children can also take part in a range of activities, including stable visits and the chance to take photos with the horses.
- Summer nights at Cabourg Hippodrome: Tuesdays and Fridays in July and August | Tickets: €17 | bit.ly/HippodromeCabourg (French only)
Evening markets and events
Favoured by tourists and locals alike, evening markets are always bustling with life by sundown, and are a great way to spend a summer evening hunting for local produce and crafts. Visit market stalls and enjoy music on the quays of Cherbourg every Thursday night over the summer as part of the city’s Summer on the Quays season, watch metal sculptors light up the port of Granville with their forges at the Nuit des Soudeurs festival, and enjoy Summer Fridays with all the family in the pretty spa town of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne. Wherever you happen to be staying in Normandy, there is bound to be an evening event not too far away…
- Summer Fridays: Every Friday, 13 July-17 August at 9pm in Bagnoles-de-l’Orne | Free entry | bit.ly/SummerFridaysBagnoles (French only)
- Summer on the Quays: Every Thursday in July and August from 6pm-11pm on the Quay de Caligny in Cherbourg | Free entry | cherbourgtourisme.com
- Nuit des Soudeurs: 4-5 August in Granville | Free entry | nuitdessoudeurs.org (French only)
Bastille Day celebrations (13 and 14 July)
Everyone loves fireworks, and the best time to watch a kaleidoscope of colour light up the night is around Bastille Day on 14 July. Once the sun sets, fireworks will be set off in villages, towns and cities all across Normandy to celebrate the birth of the French Republic, a sight not to be missed. This year, the Tour de France will also pass through Normandy on these two days, so why not combine watching the cyclists speed past with your next holiday? The Seine-side town of Vernon will not only celebrate Bastille Day and the Tour de France on the 14th, but also its annual Vernon Côtés Seine festival, so be sure to stop off here to see cycling, concerts, DJ set, fireworks and more!
- The Tour de France in in the Orne and Eure départements of Normandy: 13-14 July | Free entry | letour.fr/en/stage-7 | letour.fr/en/stage-8
- Vernon Côtés Seine: 13-16 July in Vernon | Free entry | vernon-cotes-seine.com (French only)
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Fran Lambert, UK & Ireland Press Officer, Normandy Tourist Board | +44 (0)20 7061 6637 | firstname.lastname@example.org