Cherbourg travel guide

Cities and towns

About Cherbourg

Cherbourg, in Normandy, is a port town with a seafaring history that is second to none.

One of the first places that the Titanic visited on its fateful journey and quickly liberated from the Nazis after the Normandy Landings, Cherbourg has a rich and often tragic past. Both events are marked in outstanding museums in the city, with a brilliant Titanic exhibition in the famous Citè de la Mer ('City of the Sea'), which is also home to the incredible La Redoubtable, the world's largest submarine open to visitors, and the Musée de la Libération ('Liberation Museum') inside the 19th century Fort du Roule that crowns the summit of the Montagne du Roule. 

From the fort, you are afforded a splendid scene of the sprawling city, port, naval arsenal and yachting marina. First noted by Vauban who realised the importance of Cherbourg as a defensive naval base against the English during a visit in 1686, the harbour's main dyke began construction in 1782 and took over 70 years to build. Beside the marina is the Plage Verte, a large green space that is perfect for enjoying a stroll by the coast and is popular for events and outdoor activities.

Explore the coast around Cherbourg where dramatic cliffs rise up between sandy beaches along the Cotentin Peninsula, producing a magnificent coastline. The Cap de la Hague, in particular, offers spectacular rugged cliffs and a rustic moorland landscape. The Saire Valley also offers some beautiful wild countryside that is subject to tidal flooding.

Cherbourg has lots of good restaurants and is a great place to try some of the tastes of Normandy, a region famous for its apples, cider, mussels and rich butters and cheeses. A visit into the heart of the Old Town will take you to the fresh fish market at Le Vieille Ville, or you can wander through the grand markets of the Place de Gaulle, for fresh produce, delicatessens and flower stalls. If you're looking for great shopping, there is the shopping centre beside the river, Les Éléis, which has big international and national brands, as well as some local stores, all housed inside a spectacular glass and metal building that is designed to reflect the light.

Why visit Cherbourg?

  • Cité de la Mer
  • Cap de la Hague
  • Food and Drink
  • Musée de la Libération

Overview

  • Country: France
  • Region: Normandy
  • Department: Manche
  • Population: 43,000
  • Coordinates: 49.687178,-1.636963

Coordinates shown are based on the WGS84 system, please check driving directions before departing.

Nearby attractions

Cherbourg has been an important naval base since the 19th century and it was Napoleon himself who pushed for Cherbourg to be a major transatlantic port by creating large artifical breakwaters.

Cherbourg's markets are mainly held in the Place du Gaulle, which is named after the great French hero and has, at different times in history, been known as Castle Square and Freedom Square.

Leaving from the Pont Tournant, the Adèle operate various boat trips in the summer. Daily boat trips with a commentary can be taken around the harbour.

An unmissable attraction when you are in Normandy, La Cité de la Mer is a fantastic place to spend the whole day learning about man's adventures under the sea.

Places to visit nearby

Carentan in Normandy is a quaint town surrounded by vast wetlands and marshes teeming with wildlife - but it is most famous as the site of the Battle of Carentan during the Battle of Normandy in WW2.

Coutances in Normandy is an historical market town, set amongst beautiful countryside and close to the coast, that is famous for its beautiful cathedral.

Bayeux in Normandy is a beautiful medieval city, brimming with history, and is the home of the famous Bayeux Tapestry.