Visit Cherbourg (Normandy, France)
Cherbourg, at the northern tip of the Cotentin peninsula in the Manche department of Normandy, is best known as a port town and arrival point for cross-channel ferries from the UK. But don't overlook Cherbourg as a destination - the town itself also deserves investigation...
Cherbourg, a city of museums, castles and churches
A visit to Cherbourg can start from one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the city, the Museum T. Henry (1776-1836). This Museum was founded in 1831 by a donation of more than 160 paintings by Henry, commissioner of the Royal Museums and today has a collection of 300 paintings by French, Italian and Dutch artists from the Middle Ages to the present.
Among these works are "The Ascent to Calvary" by Murrillo (1618-1682); the controversial "Christ Died" currently attributed to Filippino Lippi (1457-1504); the "Conversion of St. Augustine," by Beato Angelico (1395 ca.-1455) and then a very impressive collection of works by J.F. Millet (1814-1875)
Among the religious buildings, visit the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, which, according to tradition, was built by St. Ereptiole in 435, destroyed by the Normans in 841; then it was rebuilt and reconstructed in various ways over the centuries. The last large destruction took place during the World War II.
The church, rebuilt after the war (very wide, 46 meters long and 28 wide) has three naves, with four large side chapels; the Tower, built in the First half of the 19th century, is over 20 metres high. It owns valuable and antiques paintings, such as "The Visit of the Holy Women at the tomb of Jesus" by Flemish painter Gaspard Crayer (1582-1669), and the “Adoration of the Shepherds” by Philippe de La Hire (1640-1718).
A true masterpiece of religious architecture at cherbourg is the Abbey du Voeu, dedicated to the Virgin and founded in 1145 by Matilda (1080-1118), wife of Henry I (1068 ca-1135); it was consecrated in 1181, during the reign of Henry II (1133-1189) and Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204), who were present at the ceremony. Over the centuries it was badly damaged.
It is a vast and beautiful church, of ogival shape, decorated with stained glass and mosaics, and the treasury of the Church has a ciborium and reliquaries, alabaster statues depicting the Virgin and St. Augustine (354-430); also many paintings by artists of the 19th century such as “The Empress Voeu de Mathilde” by M.me de Beaudrap.
Another curious building worthy of mention is the famous "Cité de la Mere" (City of the Sea), which is a vast tourist building started in 1928. Among the curiosities it includes the so-called “Ocean Pole”, with several very deep aquariums (more than 10 metres), and the “Submarine Pole”, where you can admire the “Redoutable”, a huge submarine very popular with visitors due to its war time associations.
To conclude with another visit to a museum in Cherbourg, visit the Fort of Roul, built under Napoleon III (1808-1873) to defend the harbour.
Today the fort it is home to the Liberation Museum, which contains many memories of the World War II relating to the people of Cherbourg, with photographs and documents of the period, also accompanied by audiovisual material, which tell the occupation of the fort by the Germans and the Allied struggles for the liberation.
Places to visit near Cherbourg
Nearby there are places of great charm such as Tourlaville Castle, very old and rebuilt under the reign of Henry IV by Jean II de Ravalet (1549-1625), with four large rooms and a large staircase with a magnificent flight of iron; outside the towers of various shapes (octagonal and round) are particularly noteworthy.
In both Cherbourg and nearby you can enjoy the typical cuisine of Normandy. In some restaurants you can taste various local dishes such as the roasted scallops and, in general, various dishes fish, such as mussels, fish soup and the famous "tartiflette au Camembert", and the “filet de porc aux pommes et au Calvados”. If you eat a bit too much, you may want to sip a bit of the famous Calvados, a liqueur made of apples and aged for two years in wooden casks.
Photos taken within 10 km
Tourist classifications for Cherbourg
Cherbourg is classified as a village in bloom (ville fleurie) 4*
Address: Cherbourg-Octeville, Manche, Normandy, 50130 || GPS: latitude 49.633, longitude -1.6167
Map of Cherbourg & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Cherbourg, France
- Parc du château des Ravalet - remarkable garden (3km)
- Château de Beaurepaire - remarkable garden (5km)
- Parc du château de Nacqueville - remarkable garden (10km)
- Jardin botanique du château de Vauville - remarkable garden (16km)
- Valognes - town of art and history (17km)
- Cap de la Hague - site of natural beauty (22km)
- Jardin Jacques Prévert - remarkable garden (23km)
- Barfleur - most beautiful village (26km)
- Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue tours (Vauban fortifications) - heritage site (26km)
- Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin - regional natural parc (43km)
Market days in Cherbourg: Regular market(s) are held in Cherbourg each Tuesday & Thursday all day & Thursday all day & Sunday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Cherbourg (Francais)