When visiting Mont St. Michel,...
When visiting Mont St. Michel, it is good to spend one night on the island. The mystery of the island is fascinating and it is breathtaking to stand on the ramparts and take in the view. The Architecture is awesome, the people friendly, the shops neat, the food good, the history fascinating, the countryside beautiful. Visiting the Mont St. Michel is a fantastic experience. Walking on those medieval streets feels like going back many centuries; Going through the abbey and dungeons gives you a feeling of mystery, specially when you know that it was also used as a prison. So, sometimes you ask yourself: What can there be behind this locked door or wall? Certainly, Le Mont St Michel is one of the most interesting places someone can know and visit.
If you are in Cherbourg with...
If you are in Cherbourg with your car and have some time, then drive West along the top of the peninsula to Cap de la Hague - a quaint little fishing port with an enormous lighthouse and a delightful restaurant down by the water's edge.
Fort du Roule
Perched on a cliff high up on the Point de Vue above the town, the Fort du Roule is an imposing building that offers great views of the town, the sea and the surrounding countryside. The fort itself is rather ugly, but has an impressive history, much of it documented in the Liberation Museum inside. The fort is a classic French 19th century "star fort" and was used by the Germans during World War 2. It was finally liberated by the Americans on June 26th 1944 in the battle of the Contentin.
Cherbourg city park and botanical gardens
Of course a town like Cherbourg has several parks and green zones. The most beautiful one however is at the foot of the fortress hill (rock) and houses a botanical part as well as mini zoo. The park is especially in summertime coloured by the many flowers. It is also a great place on a warm summerday to find shelter under the shadowy trees and let the kids play in the green fields. For them the animals in the park are also a great thing to look at. There are a few sealions in a bassin, birdcages and a small children's farm. Of course a few play grounds are available as well in the park. To get a full explanation on the botanical variety in the park, one best can book a guided tour at the tourist office in Cherbourg (see mentioned webpage). In Cherbourg, like anywhere else along the Cotentin peninsula's coast, the sea climate is so mild, that many (sub) tropical plants can thrive well here.
The port of call at the tip of Cotentin
"Cherbourg-Octeville, the French City of the Sea"
Here we are, at the Northern coastline of Cotentin peninsula, sticking out far into the English Channel (La Manche) under Atlantic currents and winds. Cherbourg, a true city of the sea (Cite de Mer), already is a harbourtime for several thousand years, however ... only in the last few centuries it is proud to be the largest deep water harbour in the world. It was Napoleon Bonaparte that immediately recognised the importance of this harbour in his strategic plans for France. He created (on a submerged rim of rocks) several artificial islands on which fortresses control the port of Cherbourg. It easily can have several huge cruiseline ships in it's outer bassin, while leaving many smaller harbours for smaller boats, fishermen's ships, yaughts and sailing boats. Cherbourg is as well an important Marine Base for France.
"Cherbourg, the centre of Cotentin on the edge"
Cherbourg is actually a double town. It's official name is Cherbourg-Octeville, named after both towns that merged into one over the last few decades. Surrounding Cherbourg-Octeville many other villages have as well become a part of this agglomeration, such as Tourlaville, Querqueville and Nacqueville.
Cherbourg also can be seen as the capitol and centre of Cotentin peninsula, though it is situated completely in the North of this piece of Normandie. Here's the end (as well as beginning) of the Normandian Autoroute (A29) that starts in Paris, as well as the place where many ferry ships leave for England and Ireland. A true gateway to the sea.
"Our supplier of daily holiday "bread""
For us, Cherbourg was during our holiday 2006, the main supplier of our daily bread. As in the small village of Maupertus-sur-Mer (where our Camping was situated) there were hardly any large supermarkets or shopping malls. Furthermore, Cherbourg had some beautiful sightseeing places in and around the town. Above all Cite de la Mer (a nautical museum) is a must see. Furthermore, the town offers more interesting places, but this you can read in my tips throughout the standard VT-tip categories.