You’re bound to know Normandy for its history, D-Day beaches, Mont Saint-Michel and Bayeux Tapestry, but perhaps you don’t know about its culture.
Our land is a hotbed for all forms of art and culture, fuelled by a historical legacy that brings Normans together to have fun and let the good times roll.
The region does its utmost to promote its thriving cultural scene in the entire area. It supports venues, artists and festivals all year round in the town and countryside to bring culture to the masses. Read on to find out more!

Through the ages

Normandy has always inspired artists. Some famous painters and writers were born and bred here, others moved here to recharge and get their creative juices flowing. Just take Monet, Corneille, Maupassant, Pissarro, Flaubert and Géricault: they all unearthed the region’s artistic side and shared its beauty beyond its borders.

Impressionism put the spotlight on Normandy’s beaches, ports and landscapes in the 19th century. The pioneering period made its mark on the Seine-Normande area, as you can still see in Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny and the Normandy Impressionist Festival.

This multidisciplinary approach to art has spanned the centuries and is kept alive by events and seasons at the region’s cultural venues.

Cinema, the 7th art

Normandy’s locations have gone global ever since the Second World War. The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan – films that everyone has heard of and shed light on a milestone event in world history – were shot in Normandy! The area has also provided locations for more recent movies: the last scene in Intouchables in Cabourg; The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc by Luc Besson in Sées dans l’Orne; A Monkey in Winter starring Jean Paul Belmondo and Jean Gabin in Villerville and many more.

  • 100 cinemas
  • 300 screening rooms
  • 60,000 seats/70 “art et essai” arthouse cinemas (2 in 3)

Normandy is now a favourite among acclaimed directors. Arnaud Des Pallières and Quentin Dupieux have shot several of their films here. Thomas Lilti directed his latest feature, A Real Job, in Caen and Cherbourg starring Vincent Lacoste, François Cluzet and Adèle Exarchopoulos. The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan by Martin Bourboulon was shot in Calvados: François Civil plays D’Artagnan with Pio Marmaï, Vincent Cassel and Romain Duris as the three musketeers. The Netflix series Arsène starring Omar Sy as Arsène Lupin was filmed in Etretat. 

Festival du Film de Cabourg
journées romantiques de cabourg calvados
festival film américain deauville calvados

Normandy plays host to film festivals too with the likes of the Cabourg Film Festival and Deauville American Film Festival in Calvados. Let’s not forget short film festivals such as Courtivore or This is England in Rouen and Off Courts in Trouville. There’s even amateur film festivals with KinoCaen and Du grain à démoudre.

The Normandie Images association promotes the region’s audiovisual industry and supports production teams in the area with everything from scriptwriting to screening and casting to filming. 

Let’s face the music!

Music comes in every form and style in Normandy: jazz, rock, pop, rap, reggae, electro and punk!  Six SMAC venues (popular music venues) in Caen, Hérouville Saint-Clair, Rouen, Le Havre, Saint-Lô and Alençon put popular music centre stage. There are also live music venues in Cherbourg, Cléon, Evreux and Coutances.

  • 100 music festivals
  • 200 music venues (concert and performance venues, clubs etc.)
CamilleLegrand
Cemented-Minds Festival Beauregard Caen

Normandy plays host to countless festivals including Jazz sous les pommiers in Coutances, Papillons de nuit in Saint-Laurent-de-Cuves, Art Sonic in Briouze in Orne, Festival Beauregard in Hérouville Saint-Clair and Chauffer dans la noirceur in Montmartin-sur-Mer. Most of them are implementing sustainable processes and trying to reduce their carbon footprint. (Lien vers festivals engagés) Headliners include Normandy’s very own Orelsan, Rilès, Fakear and Petit Biscuit. We’re so proud of our homegrown stars!

Let’s not forget classical music. Rouen Opera House is the best-known venue alongside Théâtre de Caen (listed as a “scène lyrique” stage) and Orchestre Régional de Normandie which tours the region. Dozens of “Musicales” performances over summer showcase classic music. The Aspects de musiques d’aujourd’hui festival at Conservatoire de Caen or Festival de Pâques in Deauville give chamber music the recognition it deserves. The showcase has seen Les Arts Florissants by William Christie and the Accentus chamber choir founded by Laurence Equilbey flourish.

Marie-Anais Thierry / CRT Normandie

A whole host of associations support the diverse regional music scene: Norma (popular music in Normandy), La Fabrik à Sons and its Sonothèque and Normandie Lyrique et Symphonique.

Contemporary art, street art

Contemporary art is integral to the regional artistic ecosystem. The Frac centres (regional contemporary art foundations) in Caen and Rouen, Artothèque in Caen, Le Shed in Rouen, Le Point du Jour in Cherbourg and Les Bains Douches in Alençon host and design visitor projects to raise the art form’s profile every year.

  • Over 30 contemporary art venues
  • Over 100 galleries

You don’t always have to go to an exhibition to see contemporary art. Street art takes pride of place in Normandy’s towns with famous artists! Oré and Solice have left their mark on Caen-la-Mer’s walls; Le Havre is awash with Teuthis’s sea creatures; Seb Toussaint from Caen painted over 200 murals for his international “Share the Word” project; Manche graffiti artist Blesea has taken over the bunkers in Le Cotentin. The annual Palma Festival sees street artists come from all over the world to paint murals in the Caen area.

Severine Freres / CRT Normandie
F. Lambert / CRT Normandie
Un_ete_au_Havre_-vie-culturelle

In terms of festivals, Interstice celebrates digital art in Caen, art takes over town for Un été au Havre and there’s something big coming up in 2024 for Normandie Impressionniste…

The RN13BIS network provides day-to-day support to artists and venues working in the area. Oblique/s is a digital art and culture network in Normandy promoting local projects.

Theatre and performing arts

3 regional CDN drama centres (Caen, Rouen and Vire), several dance centres (Caen, Falaise and Le Havre), national theatres (Cherbourg, Le Havre, Alençon, Evreux and Dieppe), two circus centres (Elbeuf and Cherbourg) and many more performance venues set the scene for an exciting year-round schedule with the focus on variety. The modern creations bring together dance and comedy, theatre and music, puppets and circus acts to the delight of children and adults!

  • 250 venues and facilities (theatre, dance, performance, circus, street arts etc.)
Philippe Delval
Salle du Théâtre de Caen

There are festivals and milestone events to experience too, for the performing arts fans who are looking for something to do while in Normandy: Spring, a festival celebrating new forms of circus arts in Normandy; Sorties de Bain in Granville; Viva Cité in Sotteville-lès-Rouen; Eclats de rue in Caen; Danse de tous les Sens in Falaise etc.

Did you know that some of the leading artists started out in Normandy? For example, Thomas Jolly, the artistic director for the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2024 Olympics, comes from Rouen. David Bobée is now the theatre director at the Théâtre du Nord in Lille and director of Ecole du Nord drama college. Two high-flying careers that began here in Normandy!

David Parry / CRT Normandie

The ODIA Normandie agency helps promote the art industry in the region and train people working in the sector. Renar, Normandy’s street art network, supports regional companies and co-hosts as many as 15 street art festivals in summer.

Literature, calling all you bookworms!

Normandy has been a breeding ground for famous artists for centuries. Some of the best-known classical authors in France hail from the region including Marie de France, François de Malherbe, Michel de Montaigne and Gustave Flaubert, the writer who gave us Madame Bovary! Modern authors continue to fly the flag for Normandy: Annie Ernaux, best-known for her autobiographical work and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2022; Jean Echenoz, winner of several literature awards; Maylis de Kerangal, the author of Heal the Living among other acclaimed novels; Michel Bussi, famous for his best-selling crime novels and, if you ask most French people, in their top three favourite authors. 

  • 130 publishers and editors
  • 500 Normandy authors
  • 100 independent bookshops
  • 750 libraries

One contemporary literature hotspot lies outside Caen and captures Normandy’s creativity: Imec – Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine houses 50,000 publications, 650 review collections and INA audiovisual resources inside the beautiful Ardenne Abbey. It hosts exhibitions and tours. 

Thomas Le Floc H / CRT Normandie
les franciscaines deauville vie culturelle

The Normandie Livre et Lecture literary cooperation agency brings industry figures together to promote literature throughout the region. It also hosts events including Le Goût des autres in Le Havre; Les Boréales and Epoque in Caen; Polar et SF à la plage in Lisieux and Deauville; Poesia in Eure; Terres de Paroles in Seine-Maritime etc.

Theatre, dance, music, cinema, literature, performing arts… Is your inner culture vulture chomping at the bit? Normandy is the place to live and breathe art and culture. Whether you’re a keen art lover or simply curious, there’s always something to do or to see here in Normandy!

News

Major events in 2024: Normandy in the spotlight 

France is celebrating several major events in 2024. Sports, culture, history, crafts and innovation are key themes for the new year. Normandy will be there for all of them to, once again, showcase its quality of life, vibrant economy and ambitions for the future. Here’s a sneak peek. Salon du Travail et de la Mobilité…

Normandy and England: celebrating our shared history and culture at major events

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