A date in Cherbourg?
A date in Cherbourg? This is for my VT friend Mehmet, in Istanbul. Mehmet (Vt member 'Yakacik) and I became VT Friends through my Cherbourg Page. I have since visited him and his family in Istanbul.
I'm well aware thatthe 'Sell by' date is well past, but friendships only get better with age!
Some monuments in Cherbourg
Cherbourg saw a fierce battle around and in town, when the Americans rushed in to conquer the harbour. It's importance became huge after the Mulberry port in the America sector got destroyed in an heavy storm, during the months after D-day and Cherbourg had the possibilities to secure a steady supply route for the advancing allied forces. Therefor many monuments are related to the battle of Cherbourg, but in this the Liberation museum takes the most important spot. It's on top of the fortress hill.
Other monuments that I saw in Cherbourg were the general commemorating monument for all that fell during the Great and second Worldwar and the modest monument at the piers in the harbour, for the fishermen that were lost at sea while busy with their profession.
A famous sailing ship in the harbour of Cherbourg
In the inner docks of the Cherbourg harbour one can visit one of France's most famous (and most impressive) sailing ships. It is the "Belem", which has a home port the harbour of Cherbourg. This three mast bark sailed the seven oceans and is a pure beauty. In the outer harbour, near the Saint-Trinity church, another museumship also attracts the view with it's colourful flags.
Enjoy the magnificent view from the fortress
High on top of a rocky hill that is dominating over the city of Cherbourg, stands the fortress. The strategic position is well choosen and from the terraces of the fortress one can see over the whole town, as well as over the complete harbour and wide into the English Channel. Inside the fortress you can visit the liberation museum of Cherbourg. The museum shows how fierce the battle was in and around Cherbourg during the second world war. The allied forces needed the harbour badly for supplying the forces that tried to liberate Europe from Nazi terror, especially after the Mulberry port in the American sector was destroyed in an autumn storm.
Fish, Ferries and Frigid French Women
"Cherbourg was filled with the smell of fish when we arrived in the early hours of the morning. I was surprised by the number of multicoloured apartment blocks around the town, and it made the place feel a lot bigger than it really was. Ioan practiced his French on a black man selling sunglasses in the town's market. He swore that by calling him sir, and using his most polite, but basic, French, the guy had responded as if nobody had ever treated him with such respect before. He bought a pair of cheap mirror shades, to go with his shock of bleached blonde hair. Ioan was now dressed to impress, with a crumpled black short-sleeved shirt and a pair of thin cotton knee-length shorts in a mess of colour that I'd bought in Indonesia. The shorts didn't quite fit him, being a much bigger lad than me, and they stretched over his pale white legs, which were stuffed into a pair of huge black shin high army boots.
We pitched the tent at the camp site some distance from town, and there we drank the bottle of the free wine our ferry tickets had awarded us, watching the old men play boules in a tiny courtyard lit in the same yellow as the halogen lamps that French cars use to pierce the night. Later we took a walk along the coast in the pitch black of the evening, nearly falling over two Dutch guys sitting on a bench looking out over the sea to England. They were drinking too, as there was little else to do in Cherbourg, and were complaining bitterly about how difficult it was to bed French women. "They don't ***", he stated in his gruff Amsterdammer accent. Their sexual odyssey was next to lead them across the channel to England, where they'd heard the girls were much easier." - from my travelogue.
Things I Loved
The smell of fish in the morning.
It's hard to be disappointed when your expectations are so low.
The town, on the northern edge of the Normandy penisular, is a key ferry port on the Channel, daily taking in ships from Poole and Portsmouth several hours away across the water. This gives the place a lot of hustle and bustle for its size, especially around the market place. As a haven for Nazi U-boats during the last great war, it was heavily bombed by the Allies, but it retains a pleasant harbour front, and a certain amount of charm. There's not a great deal to see, however, and most people will want to move quickly on to the next destination, in Normandy and beyond.
Being such an vital port on the channel, Cherbourg's history is inextricably linked with military and conflict. The port was initially a Roman settlement, but the French community of Carusbar or Carusburc had developed by the 11th century. Surviving several sieges by the British over the subsequent years, it was finally captured in 1758, and its port was destroyed. The city was captured again in 1940, this time by the Germans, and it played a very important role in the war, housing the German E-boat and U-boat submarines in huge concrete pens, built to protect them from Allied bombing.