2023: A Nautical Year in Normandy

Normandy is planning to celebrate all things nautical in 2023.  With its 370 miles of coastline and its world-famous River Seine, the French region of Normandy has a rich and storied maritime history.

Its three coastal départements of Manche, Calvados and Seine-Maritime boast world-class facilities and fantastic teams of experienced instructors.

On top of this, they are lucky to have consistent winds and great conditions for sailing all year round whether it’s a catamaran, optimist, dinghy, sailing boat or regatta. Inland, the Suisse NormandeSeine Valley and Regional Natural Parks are the perfect places to try your hand at all manner of water-based activities.

2023 will be the year to celebrate the region’s nautical heritage in style, with three international events: Arrival of the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race in Cherbourg, the 30th Anniversary of the Transat Jacques Vabre in Le Havre, and the Armada in Rouen.

Unmissable Events for 2023

David Hockney Exhibition – “A Year in Normandie” – Until 23 April 2023

The British artist David Hockney presents « his » Normandy at the Bayeux Tapestry Museum. The original work, recently presented in the main gallery of the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, takes the form of a 90-meter-long frieze celebrating the arrival of spring in the Normandy countryside.

Painted on an IPad, it was greatly inspired by the thousand-year-old narrative embroidery. The Bayeux exhibition will bring Hockney’s frieze and its muse together in an unprecedented face-à-face. bayeuxmuseum.com/en

Set sail for the Armada – Rouen – 8 to 18 June 2023

Come and marvel at the world’s finest tall ships during this festival on the banks of the River Seine in the host city of Rouen. This key event in the international sailing calendar will bring together visitors from near and far with thousands of French and foreign sailors.

Fifty magnificent tall ships, along with military boats and submarines from all over the world, will line Rouen’s quaysides for ten days of celebrations, finishing with the parade along the River Seine, which will see the fine ships head downstream towards the estuary between Honfleur and Le Havre.

The Rouen Armada is the only event of its kind in France. In 2019, around 4 million spectators were welcomed to Rouen over the 10-day period, and thousands of sailors from across the world walked the streets of Normandy’s capital city. 2023 promises to be bigger and better than ever before. armada.org

Arrival of the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race in Cherbourg – 17 to 29 July 2023

For the second time, the city of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin will host the finish of the iconic and successful Rolex Fastnet Race for the 50th edition of the biennial sailing race. In 2021, a record breaking-sized fleet of 337 boats from 24 nations took part in the sailing contest.

A Race Village and many festivities are planned in the heart of the city to invite sailing enthusiasts to take part in this great ocean festival. Cherbourg-en-Cotentin is one of France’s most famous channel ports, closely linked to naval history and transatlantic adventures, and the Cotentin Coast is home to the many prominent water sports events. In September 2022, the city’s ‘Cité de la Mer’ (sealife centre) was crowned ‘France’s Favourite Monument’. rolexfastnetrace.com

30th Anniversary of the Transat Jacques Vabre, Le Havre – Departure on 29 October 2023

In its 30 years of existence, the biannual Transat Jacques Vabre has managed to establish itself as the toughest and longest-running two-handed transat. The original concept is simple: the source of this great race is a historical route, the coffee route. Le Havre and coffee share the same legend, that of the trade which saw the best sailors of their time taking on the Atlantic to bring back to Europe the beans used to extract the precious beverage.

The regatta is the ideal opportunity for visitors to discover this famous sailing competition, for a whole week in the bustling race village, which is traditionally set up around the place where the boats are moored. The festivities end the day before departure with a huge party and a spectacular firework display over the basin. transatjacquesvabre.org