The port of Cherbourg is situated on the English Channel at the northern end of the Contentin peninsula in Normandy. With direct ferries running to both Rosslare and Dublin, many visitors from Ireland may mainly be familiar with Cherbourg for its ferry port. However, the town and surrounding area have much more to offer than just convenience. If you are driving to or from our Normandy park, Domaine de Litteau, it is well worth stopping off for a visit.
Days Out & Special Events
Perhaps the most famous of all Cherbourg’s attractions is the unmissable ‘Cité de la Mer’ a museum and exhibition space located in impressive Art Deco edifice of Cherbourg’s former transatlantic liner terminal. It is home to a range of brilliant ocean-related exhibitions which make for a fascinating day out for all the family. not to mention the ‘Aquarium Abyssal’ which is Europe’s deepest aquarium at 11 metres deep. Cité de la Mer is also home to Le Redoubtable (which is the largest submarine in the world currently open to visitors) and an interactive exhibition about the Titanic and its link with the town of Cherbourg. It really is a museum like no other. Another fascinating museum about life in Cherbourg during the Second World War with a particular focus on the liberation and the Battle of Cherbourg in 1944 is the ‘Musée de la Libération’. Situated in the fortified building of the Fort du Roule it also has the advantage of some stunning views out over the whole of Cherbourg and the coastline. To step further back in time, visit one of town’s oldest monuments the Sainte-Trinité Basilica which dates back to the Cherbourg of the 14th and 15th centuries.
Exploring the town
You’ll have to head slightly outside of Cherbourg town itself to find beaches for swimming, but there are still loads of opportunities to enjoy the sea air and ocean views in the town itself. La Plage Verte in the town centre is a huge green expanse of grass just opposite the port area which is perfect for sports and relaxing. It’s also hope to a range of local cultural events throughout the year. You can also walkout along the harbour wall the Digue de Querqueville to get a view of the impressive 19th century fort building the Fort de Chavagnac which is perched on a rock in the middle of the sea.It’s also worth taking wander through the streets in the heart of Cherbourg to discover its shops, cafés and restaurants. For a true Normandy experience make sure you check out Place De Gaulle which is home to a range of open-air-markets on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (The Thursday market is the largest with around 115 stalls). Don’t be surprised if you come across some ‘umbrella art’ or umbrella related memorabilia, the town gained nationwide fame with the 1964 musical film ‘Les Parapluies de Cherbourg’ and today it is home to one of the ‘Parapluie de Cherbourg’ brand which produces extremely high-quality (if expensive) luxury umbrellas!
Local discoveries and hidden gems
It only takes just over an hour to drive from the ferry port at Cherbourg to our Siblu holiday park Domaine de Litteau, however there are number of brilliant options for stopping off on the way to break the journey if you’re keen to explore the Contentin peninsula further. With just a slight detour you can stop off at some of Normandy’s most beautiful beaches (found on the South West side of the peninsula) in the Barneville Carteret area. Or if you’re looking for some French delicacies to take home on the ferry, why not stop at the Maison du Biscuit in Sortosville-en-Beaumont? A trip to this wonderfully old-fashioned shop and tearoom crammed full of delicious local produce feels a bit like stepping back in time. You may also want to make some time to stop off at the charming Sainte-Mère-Eglise which was one of the first towns to be liberated during the Allied invasion of 1944. If you look carefully you will see that its church steeple bears a memorial to the American parachutist private John Steele who found himself suspended there for over 2 hours pretending to be dead as the fighting continued below him (amazingly he survived!). You can find out more about his story and this little town’s important role in the Allied operations of 1944 in the small but fascinating ‘Airbone Museum’.
Distance/driving time from Cherbourg