Coutances travel guide

Photo of Coutances

Visit Coutances (Normandy, France)

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The town of Coutances is found in the Manche department of Normandy, to the south of the Cotentin peninsula, 45 kilometres north of Mont-Saint-Michel and 65 kilometres south of Cherbourg.

Exploring Coutances

The town suffered severe damage during the Second World War, but has recovered remarkably well and is an interesting town to explore. While the cathedral is the principal attraction in Coutances allow time to discover the other attractions.

Coutances cathedral

There is one principal attraction, that has dominated the town for more than 1000 years - the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

Towering above both Coutances town and the surrounding countryside, the original cathedral was built in the 11th century in the roman style - although the current cathedral is predominantly a 13th century rebuild in the gothic style.

facade of the cathedral

The cathedral has an elaborately decorated facade with two substantial towers to the front, a separate lantern tower above the transept, and the sides of the cathedral feature extensive buttresses.

Typical of the gothic style, these buttresses are structural elements that allowed the walls to be much higher than in earlier churches, and nabled the side walls to include windows.

Inside Coutances Cathedral the highlight is the view into the inside of the lantern tower, with a dome above the octagonal structure that features 16 decorative stone arches. There are also some notable stained glass windows, dating from as early as the 13th century.

If possible visit the cathedral during summer evenings when a sound and light show makes the most of this dramatic building.


Elsewhere in Coutances

There are various other sights of interest in the town that you will discover during your explorations of Coutances including two important churches: the Church of Saint Peter (14th century) and the Church of Saint Nicholas.

The church of Saint-Nicholas is a simple roman style church now used for exhibitions that provides an interesting contrast to the grandeur of the cathedral.

You will enjoy a stroll in the streets around the Hotel-Dieu (ancient hospital) which include the 17th century brick cloisters of the augustines.

If you visit during spring or summer be sure to visit the public botanical gardens next to the cathedral in Coutances. These date back to the 17th century and each year numerous flower beds are planted in the gardens, as well as being nicely lit in the evening.

The Museum Quesnel-Morinière is a museum in an attractive 18th century building, and features many paintings and objects of art, mostly 'realist' type paintings from the 17th - 19th centuries.

Church of Saint-Pierre

Attractions nearby

Another religious monument of interest is Hambye Abbey, about 20 kilometres south-east of Coutances. As well as the abbey church you will find an ensemble of monastic buildings in an attrctive countryside setting.

To the north-west you will also enjoy a visit to Lessay Abbey, an imposing abbey built in the 11th century.

There are various small towns and villages along the coast to the west of Coutances, including Donville-les-Bains and the popular resort at Granville to the south-west towards Mont-Saint-Michel and Blainville-sur-Mer, Gouville and Agon-Coutainville to the west of here.

You can find more travel ideas in the Manche guide and the Normandy guide.

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Lessay abbey

Lessay abbey

The abbey church at Lessay is an important example of roman style architecture

Lessay abbey guide


Granville is best known for its long sandy beach, and the 19th century villas that follow the seafront

Granville guide


No visit to Normandy would be complete without visiting the iconic Abbey and island of Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel guide


Cancale is the perfect place to try the famous Brittany oysters, fresh every day!

Cancale guide


When you visit Vire be sure to also explore the Route des Gorges de la Vire' through the woods and valley of the River Vire

Vire guide
Normandy landing beaches

Normandy landing beaches

70 years on and the Normandy Landing Beches still attract thousands of visitors interested in the D-Day landings in 1944.

Normandy landing beaches guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Manche

Tourist classifications for Coutances

Coutances is classified as a listed town of Art and History

Address: Coutances, Normandy, 50200, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 49.04, longitude -1.47

Plan your visit to Coutances, Manche

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Argences: remarkable garden (4 km)
  • Granville: recommended detour (24 km)
  • Parc zoologique de Champrepus: zoo or wildlife park (25 km)
  • Villedieu-les-Poeles: village d'etape (29 km)
  • Chausey: site of natural beauty (31 km)
  • Roches de Ham: site of natural beauty (31 km)
  • Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin: regional natural parc (32 km)
  • Domjean: ville fleurie 4* (32 km)
  • Torigni-sur-Vire: village d'etape (35 km)
  • Forêt de Saint-Sever: site of natural beauty (40 km)
  • Abbaye de Cerisy-la-Forêt (Cerisy-la-Foret): religious monument (43 km)
  • Baie des Veys: site of natural beauty (45 km)

Market days in Coutances, France

Regular market(s) are held in Coutances each Thursday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Coutances (Francais)