Enjoy the bucolic charm of this quaint farming village, with locally made apple brandy, delicious cheeses and its very own saint.
Lisieux is a charming village in the heart of Pays d’Auge, a rich agricultural region in Normandy. The area is made up of hedged farmland where milk cows roam and cider apples hang from the trees. Although more than half of the town was destroyed in 1944, you can still see some fascinating historic monuments.
With fields of grazing cattle and abundant apple orchards, it’s no surprise that cider and cheese production is so popular here. Stop at local distilleries to try Calvados, the famous apple brandy named after the region. Learn about cheese-making at Domaine Saint Hippolyte, a beautiful country mansion. Take a tour of the estate, browse exhibitions where you can learn about cheese and other local products and taste samples.
Explore the Basilica of Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux, constructed in honor of St. Thérèse who lived and died in the town. It was built to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims coming to worship the new saint, after she was canonized in 1925. Admire the 300-foot (91.3-meter) high dome and descend to the crypt. Tour the convent where St. Thérèse trained as a nun and find artifacts from her life in the Room of Relics.
Lisieux’s Saint-Pierre Cathedral is one of Normandy’s first Gothic buildings and one of the town’s few monuments to survive the allied bombing in 1944. Admire the rib vaults and flying buttresses of this 12th-century church, as well as the Norman-style lantern tower and the western façade.
Other notable landmarks include the 15th-century castle of Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet. The castle, which combines medieval and Renaissance architecture, is located at the bottom of a picturesque valley and is surrounded by a moat and peacock garden. Inside, it is filled with elegant 18th and 19th-century furniture, various works of art and 16th-century frescoes.
For a fun family day out, head to Parc Zoologique CERZA (CERZA Zoo), where you can take a safari train around the 148-acre (60-hectare) park. There are more than a thousand wild animals here, ranging from giraffes to kangaroos to lions.
Lisieux is a 30-minute drive from Deauville-Normandie airport and just over 2 hours’ drive from Paris. There are regular train services to and from Paris too.