Several centuries ago Barfleur was the largest port in Normandy, and has seen several important historical events. It was here in 1066 that the Normans prepared for the Battle of Hastings, while late in the night of 25th November 1120 at Barfleur the ship carrying Prince William to England struck a rock that caused the death of the heir to the English throne and chaos in the monarchy.
The town was burned by Edward III in 1348 and then again during the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1692 it was just off the coast from here that a great ship battle took place, known as the Battle of Barfleur.
Barfleur has managed to avoid such major events since the 17th century, and even tourism hasn't taken its hold to the extent of many of the 'most beautiful villages of France'.
It is an unspoiled little coastal town and fishing port, worthy of a stop on your way to or from the bustling port of Cherbourg, to watch the tides entering the harbour and to enjoy the quiet charms of the port village.
Your visit will focus around the harbour and its picturesque fishing boats, which is situated in a small natural inlet. Fishing and mussel and oyster harvesting are still the main activities of the fishermen in the port.
Barfleur has an attractive and active fishing port, dominated by the Church of St Nicholas and lined with sturdy grey granite houses, each with white shutters to brighten the sombre facades. The 17th century church and its associated cemetery stands at the end of the harbour and is interesting, if a little austere.
It is the granite houses around the harbour and in the village centre that give Barfleur its character. Most of the houses you can now see around the town and port were constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the town was made prosperous by its fishing.
Within the village you can see the medieval courtyard of Saint-Catherine and the pretty little Jardin des Augustins.
There are some pleasant small beaches nearby in walking distance.
About two miles to the north of here is Cape Barfleur, with a lighthouse 233 feet high (the 'phare de Gatteville') being one of the highest in France. follow the coast path to reach the lighthouse and to enjoy the attractive coastal scenery.
Barfleur is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Barfleur, Quettehou, Cherbourg-Octeville, Manche, Normandy, 50760, France || GPS: latitude 49.669, longitude -1.265
The French version of this page is at Barfleur (Francais)