Where to live in Normandy as an expat

Considering a move to France? Normandy, located in northern France, is a region favoured by many British expats for its rich history, scenic landscapes, and quality of life. In this article, we’ll delve into key insights about Normandy and why it’s a popular choice for expats. We’ll also highlight some of the best towns in the region to consider for your relocation, providing valuable information to help you make an informed decision about your move to Normandy. 

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Overview of Normandy

Normandy, located in northern France, is a region celebrated for its historical significance, especially its pivotal role during World War II. The region’s diverse landscapes encompass dramatic cliffs, rolling countryside, and picturesque sandy beaches, making it a visually stunning place to live and explore. Normandy is divided into five departments: Calvados, Eure, Manche, Orne, and Seine-Maritime.

Normandy experiences a temperate maritime climate, characterised by mild winters and pleasant summers. The region benefits from relatively moderate temperatures year-round, with summer highs typically reaching around 25°C (77°F) and winter lows rarely dipping below freezing. Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year, contributing to the lush greenery that is a hallmark of the Normandy countryside.

Normandy’s proximity to Paris makes it highly accessible, with excellent transportation links including trains, buses, and highways. The region is well-connected by the extensive French rail network, with major cities such as Rouen and Caen easily reachable from Paris in just a couple of hours. For international travel, Normandy is served by several airports, including Deauville and Caen, and the larger Paris airports are within a few hours’ drive.


Normandy is particularly favoured by British expats, thanks to its geographical proximity to the UK and its welcoming atmosphere. The short distance across the English Channel means that many British expats find it convenient for visiting family and friends back home. Additionally, the region’s rich history, coupled with its scenic beauty and lower cost of living compared to the UK, makes it an attractive destination for those looking to relocate.

Living in Normandy

Living in Normandy offers a high quality of life, characterise by a strong sense of community, vibrant local culture, and access to excellent services and amenities. The region’s cost of living is generally lower than that of major French cities like Paris, making it an attractive option for expats seeking a more affordable yet fulfilling lifestyle.

Daily life and socialising

Normandy’s residents enjoy a relaxed pace of life, often entered around social and community activities. Market days are a significant part of life, with towns and villages hosting regular markets where locals gather to buy fresh produce, artisanal goods and local delicacies. These markets are not only shopping destinations but also social hubs where people catch up with friends and neighbours. 

The food scene in Normandy

Normandy’s culinary scene is renowned for its local specialties, offering a gastronomic delight for food lover. The region is famous for its cheeses such as Camembert, Livarot and Pont-l’Évêque. Fresh seafood is abundant with oysters, mussels, and scallops being regional favourites. Apple-based products like cider and Calvados are also staples of Normandy’s cuisine. Meals in Normandy often emphasise fresh, locally sourced ingredients, reflecting the region’s agricultural heritage. 

Community and social life

Normandy’s social life revolves around a variety of activities and traditions. Festivals and local events are common, celebrating everything from historical anniversaries to food and wine. Villages and towns often host events that bring the community together, such as music festivals, art fairs, and sports competitions. The sense of community is strong, and expats often find it relatively easy to integrate and make friends, both within the expat community and among locals.

Outdoor activities

The temperate climate, with its mild winters and pleasant summers, encourages outdoor activities year-round. Hiking, cycling, and horseback riding are popular in the picturesque countryside. The coastline offers opportunities for sailing, fishing and beach combing. The region’s natural beauty and well-maintained parks and gardens provide a perfect backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts. 

How to find housing in Normandy

Finding housing in Normandy can be a straightforward process with the right approach and resources. Here are some steps to help you navigate the housing market and secure your dream home in this beautiful regions. 

Research online property listing

Start your search by exploring online property listings on popular websites such as Seloger or RightMove. These platforms offer a wide range of properties. 

Engage a local real estate agent

Working with a local real estate agent can be incredibly beneficial. Agents have in-depth knowledge of the Normandy housing market and can provide valuable insights into different areas. They can help you identify properties that match your criteria, arrange viewings and navigate the negotiation and buying process. Additionally, real estate agents often have access to listing that may not be publicly advertised, giving your a broader range of options.

Join expat forums and social media groups

Consider joining expat forums and social media groups dedicated to living in France or specifically in Normandy. These communities can be a great source of information and support. Other expats who have already gone through the process of finding housing can offer valuable advice, share their experiences, and recommend reputable real estate agents. 

Typical property types in Normandy

Normandy offers a diverse range of property types to suit different preferences and lifestyles. Here are some of the most common types of properties you can find in the region: 

  • Traditional farmhouse: Normandy is known for its picturesque countryside dotted with traditional farmhouses. These properties often feature large plots of land, barns, and outbuildings, making them ideal for those looking for rural charm and space for gardening or small-scale farming.
  • Charming cottages: Charming stone cottages are a hallmark of Normandy’s villages and small towns. These properties exude character and often come with quaint gardens, offering a cozy and peaceful living environment.
  • Modern apartments: In the larger cities and towns, such as Rouen and Caen, you can find modern apartments with all the conveniences of urban living. These properties are suitable for those who prefer a more contemporary lifestyle and want to be close to amenities and services.
  • Seaside villas: For those dreaming of coastal living, Normandy’s seaside towns offer beautiful villas with stunning views of the English Channel. These properties provide easy access to the beach and are perfect for enjoying the region’s maritime activities.

Best towns to live in Normandy as an expat

Rouen

  • Attractions: Rouen is steeped in history, boasting medieval architecture, including the majestic Rouen Cathedral, famously painted by Claude Monet. The city’s cobblestone streets are lined with charming cafes, boutiques, and museums.
  • Lifestyle: Expats in Rouen can immerse themselves in a vibrant cultural scene, with frequent art exhibitions, music festivals, and theatre performances. The city also offers excellent educational institutions and healthcare facilities.
  • Community: Rouen has a diverse expat community, with regular meet-ups, language exchange programs, and social events catering to international residents.

Caen

  • Attractions: Caen is renowned for its historical landmarks, including the Caen Memorial, dedicated to peace and reconciliation, and the beautiful Abbaye aux Hommes and Abbaye aux Dames. The city’s medieval streets are dotted with charming shops and cafes.
  • Lifestyle: With a bustling city centre and a large student population, Caen offers a dynamic lifestyle. Expats can enjoy a wide range of cultural events, nightlife options, and recreational activities, including parks, theatres, and sports facilities.
  • Community: Caen’s expat community is diverse and welcoming, with numerous expat groups, language clubs, and community organisations helping newcomers settle in and feel at home.

Le Havre

  • Attractions: Le Havre boasts modern architecture, including the striking St. Joseph’s Church and the UNESCO-listed city centre designed by Auguste Perret. The city’s maritime heritage is celebrated at the Museum of Modern Art André Malraux.
  • Lifestyle: Expats in Le Havre can enjoy a laid-back coastal lifestyle, with sandy beaches, seaside promenades, and waterfront cafes. The city also offers a thriving arts scene, with galleries, theatres, and cultural events throughout the year.
  • Community: Le Havre has a growing expat community, with international residents drawn to its relaxed atmosphere and coastal charm. Regular expat meet-ups, language exchanges, and social clubs provide opportunities for networking and making new friends.

Bayeux

  • Attractions: Bayeux is famous for the Bayeux Tapestry, a remarkable piece of medieval embroidery depicting the Norman Conquest of England. The town also boasts a beautifully preserved medieval city centre and the stunning Bayeux Cathedral.
  • Lifestyle: Expats in Bayeux can enjoy a tranquil lifestyle surrounded by historic charm and natural beauty. The town’s picturesque streets are lined with quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants, perfect for leisurely strolls and relaxed dining.
  • Community: Bayeux has a small but tight-knit expat community, with friendly locals and fellow internationals welcoming newcomers with open arms. Regular community events, cultural activities, and volunteer opportunities help expats connect and integrate into local life.

Honfleur

  • Attractions: Honfleur is famed for its picturesque harbour, immortalised by artists such as Claude Monet and Eugène Boudin. The town’s cobbled streets are lined with art galleries, seafood restaurants, and charming boutiques.
  • Lifestyle: Expats in Honfleur can enjoy a laid-back coastal lifestyle, with leisurely walks along the waterfront, fresh seafood dinners overlooking the harbour, and scenic boat trips along the Seine estuary.
  • Community: Honfleur’s expat community is small but welcoming, with a mix of retirees, artists, and expats drawn to the town’s beauty and tranquility. Regular expat gatherings, cultural events, and community initiatives provide opportunities for socialising and making connections.

Deauville

  • Attractions: Deauville is synonymous with luxury and elegance, boasting pristine beaches, grand Belle Époque architecture, and a world-class casino. The town is also famous for its annual American Film Festival and prestigious horse races.
  • Lifestyle: Expats in Deauville can indulge in a sophisticated seaside lifestyle, with upscale boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and exclusive clubs catering to the town’s affluent residents and visitors.
  • Community: Deauville attracts a discerning expat community, including affluent retirees, professionals, and celebrities seeking a glamorous retreat by the sea. While the expat community may be smaller than in other towns, the town’s social scene offers plenty of opportunities for networking and socialising.

7 reasons you should live in Normandy

Normandy offers a myriad of compelling reasons to make it your home. Here are seven enticing reasons why you should consider living in this charming region:

  1. Rich history: Normandy’s history is woven into its landscape, from medieval castles and cathedrals to the iconic D-Day landing beaches. Living here means being surrounded by centuries of fascinating stories and historical landmarks.
  2. Beautiful landscapes: From the rugged coastline of Étretat to the picturesque countryside of the Pays d’Auge, Normandy boasts diverse and breathtaking landscapes. Whether you prefer beachside relaxation or countryside serenity, Normandy has it all.
  3. Cultural scene: Normandy is alive with cultural experiences, including museums, art galleries, festivals, and concerts. Whether you’re interested in art, history, or music, you’ll find ample opportunities to immerse yourself in the region’s vibrant cultural scene.
  4. Affordable living: Compared to major cities like Paris, Normandy offers a more affordable cost of living, making it an attractive option for those seeking a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.
  5. Gastronomy: Food lovers will delight in Normandy’s culinary delights, including world-renowned cheeses like Camembert and Pont-l’Évêque, crisp apple cider, and fresh seafood from the region’s coastal waters.
  6. Quality of life: Normandy prides itself on its high quality of life, with excellent healthcare facilities, top-notch schools, and a strong sense of community. Whether you’re raising a family or enjoying retirement, Normandy offers a safe and welcoming environment.
  7. Proximity to Paris: While enjoying the tranquility of Normandy, you’re just a short journey away from the bustling capital city of Paris. With efficient transportation links, you can easily explore Paris’s cultural attractions, shopping districts, and culinary delights on weekend getaways or business trips.

Final notes

Normandy offers a diverse range of living options for expats, combining historical charm, natural beauty, and modern amenities. Whether you’re seeking a vibrant urban environment or a tranquil countryside retreat, Normandy has something to offer everyone.

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