Best things to do in Fécamp, Normandy, besides the famous Benedictine Palace?
Fécamp is an ideal destination for a weekend in Normandy or a vacation on the Alabaster Coast.
Here is our guide with more than 18 ideas of places and activities to visit Fécamp and its region, with advice, map and photos.
What to do in Fécamp in Normandy ? Our Top 5
Is Fécamp worth a visit?
Fécamp offers a beautiful combination:
- Religious architecture
- Renaissance Architecture
- History of the Second World War
- and more…
It is often a little known destination, yet it is an ideal place on the Alabaster Coast to explore the whole region.
We think it is worth spending at least a day there. But it can also be an excellent starting point for your vacation.
Top 5 – What to do in Fécamp
If you don’t want to read the whole article (with the 18 best things to do in Fécamp) or if you have limited time, my 5 absolute favorites are :
- Enjoy the views and bunkers at Cap Fagnet
- Visit the Benedictine Palace
- Walk along the waterfront and the dykes of Fécamp
- Admire the architecture of the Trinity Abbey and discover the Dukes of Normandy
- Learn more about the history of the region at the Musée des Pêcheries
Why is Fécamp famous?
Fécamp is especially famous for 2 reasons:
- Its Benedictine Palace: its architecture which is a masterpiece of Gothic and Renaissance and its distillery of the famous Benedictine liqueur.
- It was the birthplace of many Norman dukes, since the castle was the residence of the dukes of Normandy until 1204.
More photos after the planning boards.
Tips and Map – Visit Fécamp, France
How to get to Fécamp – Map and location
- Located in the Seine-Maritime department – along the Alabaster Coast
- Northern part of Normandy
- Rouen to Fécamp = 1h drive
- Le Havre to Fécamp = 40 minutes drive
- Caen to Fécamp = 1h40 drive
- Paris to Fécamp = 2h40 driving time
- Here is a map to help you orient yourself and locate the town of Fécamp in Seine-Maritime and Normandy:
OUR ADVICE FOR RENTING A CAR IN Normandy
- Compare prices on our preferred platform: DiscoverCars – one of the best rated sites.
- Choose a car that is comfortable enough (distances can be long) but compact (some parking lots and villages are narrow).
- Think of thecomplete insurance (some roads are tortuous and narrow).
- There is a lot of demand, book it early.
Tips for visiting
- Several parking lots along the waterfront and the harbor (but during sunny summer weekends, they can be full!)
- The downtown area is fairly flat – but if you want to see the churches, there are slopes.
- Many restaurants in the downtown area
- How long to visit? One day is the bare minimum to get an overview of the city. It is an ideal destination for a weekend. Or you can plan a vacation here, as a base to explore the beautiful region.
Where to eat in Fécamp
Here are some of the top rated restaurants in Dieppe to help you plan:
- La Table de Benoit – 3 Place Adolphe Bellet – French cuisine.
- La Plaisance – 33 quai de la Vicomté – Seafood with a view of the port
- And in the area of Fécamp, in Valmont: Le Bec au Cauchois (1 Michelin star)
Where to sleep in Fécamp – accommodation
Fécamp offers a good range of accommodation with charming apartments for rent, bed and breakfast and hotels. For example:
- Hotel Le Grand Pavois – with view on the sea, the city or the harbor – lots of light – see prices, pictures and availability
- The Sunset Beach – apartment directly on the beach – See photos and availability.
- B&B A la Maison Blanche – located in the center of the city – See photos and availability
- Front row seats – modern apartment with great sea views, further from the city center – See photos and availability
- or see the best rated accommodations in Fécamp
2 most beautiful views – What to see in Fécamp
Fécamp is located at the end of the valley, in the chalky plateau. There are high cliffs on both sides of the city, offering great views. Here are 2 of the best views:
#1 – Cap Fagnet
Cap Fagnet is our favorite place to see in Fécamp, and in Normandy(see our list of favorite landscapes).
Just north of the city, you can climb to the top of the cliffs. You will find:
- a view on the city, its port and its beach.
- infinite views of the chalk cliffs that make the reputation of the Alabaster Coast
- A charming chapel
- World War II bunkers in excellent condition, including a famous Mammut.
Read more about my article on Cap Fagnet
#2 – Enjoy the view from the top of the museum
If you visit the Fisheries Museum (see the next section of article #4), don’t miss the top level of the building. There is a large room with views of the city in all directions and an outdoor terrace.
You can also see a model of the area.
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6 experiences – What to visit in Fécamp
#3 – Visit the Benedictine Palace
As I wrote earlier, the most famous thing to do in Fécamp is to visit the Benedictine Palace.
Already from the outside, even if you don’t visit, the building is fascinating. Its architecture is Gothic and Renaissance with a grand staircase. It was built at the end of the 19th century.
But it can also be visited in 3 parts:
- A free exploration of the museum with some beautiful rooms featuring an intriguing mix of exhibits: ancient books and manuscripts, locks, religious objects (including the ancient and sacred art of its founder Alexander the Great), sculptures as well as advertising pieces on Benedictine liquor.
- A guided tour of the distillery where you can better understand the history (created by a Benedictine monk who lived in the abbey of Fécamp in the 16th century), some of the ingredients (they will not reveal the secrets) and the process of making the liqueur.
- And a tasting!!!
Don’t forget to book your ticket.
See the opening hours here.
#4 – Discover the region at the Fisheries Museum
All the small museums of Fécamp have been grouped together in a central building that was once a cod drying factory.
In the different levels, you will discover :
- fishing objects and explanations on the traditions.
- historical objects
- the local way of life through history
- works of art.
See the opening hours here.
#5 – Trinity Abbey
Located in the heart of the old city, travelers are often surprised by this little-known religious building.
Legends say that the monastery was built from the trunk of a fig tree in which the Precious Blood of Christ had been hidden and which miraculously washed up on the beach of Fécamp.
History tells us that the abbey of the Trinity (also known as the abbey of Fécamp), was founded by the dukes of Normandy from the 11th century (but chapels and abbeys were established there since the 7th century).
Its gothic structure is quite large: 127m long and lit by natural light.
- the astronomical clock of the tides of 1667.
- the tabernacle of the Precious Blood,
- the sculpture of the Dormition of the Virgin,
- the Renaissance doors around the choir
- and decorations of the 15th and 16th centuries.
Guided tours are organized. See the opening hours here.
#6 – Saint Stephen’s Church
The most visible church is not the abbey but Saint-Etienne. There is often confusion.
This church is also worth a visit, with a very different atmosphere from that of the abbey.
It is already mentioned at the beginning of the 11th century. The present church was built in the 16th century and completed in the 19th century by sailors and navigators.
And don’t forget to walk around, because it’s a mix of architectures:
- a Renaissance portal
- a flamboyant neo-gothic bell tower
- 19th century western portal
- Great paintings from the 19th century
Open every day from 9am to 6pm.
#7 – Chocolate Museum
Hautot is an institution in Normandy. When you talk about chocolate in the region, this is the name that comes to mind.
In their store in Fécamp, they have created a museum on the making of chocolate: from the history of cocoa, to its cultivation and processing.
Even if you don’t visit, don’t forget to taste some of their creations! I think I’ll go back to their store in my city (Le Havre) to treat myself…
See the opening hours here.
#8 – Boat trip
If you’re looking for a more unique experience, check out some of the sailing excursions offered.
First, you will be able to see the cliffs of the Alabaster Coast from the sea, which is already great. But, it can be on an old sailboat!
With “Au gré des vents”, you can enjoy a trip on one of the 2 old lobster boats: the MilPat and the Tante Fine.
Book your tour here
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO Normandy
5 Other things to do in the center
#9 – Walk along the beach of Fécamp
The beach of Fécamp is made of pebbles. A promenade has been built along the beach and you can enjoy beautiful views of the cliffs in both directions.
Along the promenade you will find many restaurants with terraces to enjoy a sunny day.
#10 – Dikes
At the northern end of the beach you will find the entrance to the harbor with the seawalls.
This is my favorite place to walk in the city and photographers should take advantage of it.
You can walk along the seawalls with beautiful views of the beach, cliffs and the city.
#11 – Walk along the harbor
In the heart of the city is the port, Fécamp has a long history of fishing.
Take time to walk along the waterways and enjoy the ever-changing lights of Normandy.
From different points of view, you will be able to appreciate : the port with the church, the port and the cliffs, the port and the houses…
#12 – Ducal Palace
Built between the 10th and 12th centuries, the ducal palace (or castle of Fécamp) was the residence of the first dukes of Normandy.
In 1067, William the Conqueror celebrated the victory of Hastings.
You can see the ruins from the outside.
#13 – Casino
If gambling is an activity you enjoy, you can go to the Casino, located right on the beach.
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5 Excursions from Fécamp
And if you have time, you can set up your base in Fécamp and explore the area with excursions. Here are some of my favorite places you can visit on a day or half-day trip from Fécamp.
#14 – Yport
Yport is much less known, and it is one of my favorite villages on the coast (but it is still touristy with French visitors). But it became popular in the 19th century when sea bathing was in fashion. We love the beach, the blue and white huts, the typical flint houses and the beautiful little church.
#15 – St-Pierre-en-Port
The small valley “Valleuse” of Saint-Pierre-en-Port was cut by the water. The opening is quite large and the experience different from other valleys.
The views are without too many houses and the views of the cliffs are impressive. So, it’s great to explore
I recommend a visit at low tide to see all the locals picking seafood. This is one of my favorite beaches in Normandy for the landscape.
#16 – Étretat
Étretat is not far (25min drive), but it is the jewel of the Alabaster Coast. You must not miss it!
It is here that the chalk cliffs present the most amazing formations and arches!
For more information, see my article on Étretat.
#17 – Le Havre – Unesco site
Only 45 minutes away is also the city of Le Havre, my hometown.
It is not a typical French city, but it is a Unesco heritage site because of its particular post-war architecture.
What I like most is the mix of modern art with the square lines of the architecture and the incredible skies we sometimes have.
To know more about it, see my article on Le Havre.
#18 – Rouen
Only 1 hour south-east of Fécamp, you can reach the historic city of Rouen.
It is one of the most fascinating cities in Normandy with many architectural wonders, as well as art and history museums.
Weekend in Fécamp – itineraries for 1 or 2 days
Fécamp is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
Here are my suggestions for planning your itinerary.
1 day in Fécamp
- Morning : Walk along the port and the beach + Cap Fagnet
- Afternoon: visit of the Benedictine Palace, the church of St. Stephen and the Trinity Abbey.
2 days in Fécamp
- Morning Day 1: Walk along the port and beach + Cap Fagnet
- Afternoon Day 1: Visit the Benedictine Palace, St. Stephen’s Church and the Trinity Abbey.
- Morning Day 2: Visit the Les Pêcheries Museum
- Afternoon Day 2: Chocolate museum and relaxation at the beach or excursion to Yport or Etretat according to your taste.
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Other info on Fécamp
Short history of Fécamp
Fécamp was added to the national network of “Cities of Art and History” in 1992. You will find information signs throughout the city.
The setting with high cliffs on both sides has made Fécamp a place of interest for a long time.
In the 10th century, the city of Fécamp became a capital under the reign of the Dukes of Normandy. The abbey of Sainte-Trinité is built and becomes a place of pilgrimage.
In the 19th century, the port of Fécamp became the main cod fishing port in France. The fishermen leave on an expedition to Newfoundland (Canada). The cod became as famous as the herring.
Today, the port still welcomes fishing boats, but also more and more yachts.
About the name
One theory is that the name Fécamp comes from the old name of the river Valmont at the bottom of the valley. Its old form “fiscannum” comes from the word “fish” meaning a place near the river full of fish (source in French here).